If you are a software developer, the first crucial decision you need to make is what development methodology. Usually, the decision comes to agile or waterfall models. Selecting an appropriate solution for your project can play an important role in the end product.
Agile or Waterfall?
Agile and waterfall approaches both have several great features. However, there are some drawbacks, as well. To make sure you make an informed decision, it is important to be aware of both methods’ pros and cons. Therefore, you should weigh everything and then decide which model works best for your project.
Currently, a lot of software developers use Agile development. Agile is a development approach that includes development and testing iterations to improve your features until they are optimized. Throughout the project lifecycle, the team does development and testing concurrently, and improvements are made continuously.
In agile development, you do not follow a pre-set plan. Instead, you follow a set of rules that determine how your project development will take place. Agile has multiple implementations, including:
Scrum is an iterative method that uses sprints in cycles where the developers continuously test and improve the software according to the stakeholders’ feedback.
Kanban is a framework that utilizes cards to keep track of the flow of features. It is not exactly iterative but can be classified as an incremental approach.
Lean Software Development
This approach tries to reduce the extra activities which are not very beneficial. It is mainly focused on the development, deployment, and testing of features – one at a time.
Lastly, in extreme programming, you prioritize the features and develop them. Several engineering practices are used to make sure every feature is developed perfectly.
Out of the above four, the most popular approach is scrum. It helps break down the project into subparts that are easy to manage and implement. These subparts are referred to as user stories and are prioritized before the development process. Therefore, this allows for incremental development where the developers usually work in sprints of 1 – 4 weeks and develop the user stories. After every sprint, users provide feedback, and the developers improve the features according to it.
Agile gives you more flexibility in the development process. Therefore, you do not have to meet specific deadlines or work using one particular development path.
- Get started with your project instantly
- Adaptive learning that helps you change your software according to user feedback
- More predictive deliveries
- Gives you an active role in the development
- Reduces documentation
- Lastly, it improves customer experience
- May cause delays due to unexpected errors
- Scalability can be an issue
- Requires a higher level of involvement
In a waterfall development model, development takes place in a set pattern, one after the other. It includes tasks laid out in cascading intervals, so the developers do everything one step at a time. It is a traditional development approach and follows a linear structure, where everything has to be developed in order. There is no skipping or rearrangement of stages. Instead, the development proceeds from the initial to the final phase in a uniform manner. As compared to agile development, the waterfall model is a much stricter approach.
While most developers do not prefer the waterfall model, it is still used in many software projects today. To start with the waterfall model:
- Firstly, the development and research team should define the requirements and document everything in as much detail as possible. Everything should be understandable, and you should give a clear and crisp idea of how to begin your project.
- The development team will follow the timeline strictly and develop the features one after the other.
- Once the development is complete, the development team will move on to the project’s testing phase. This helps in detecting bugs and any improvements that the customers might require.
- Lastly, the testing phase issues are fixed, and a final product is delivered to the market or the client.
While the waterfall approach makes development much clearer, you are aware of your tasks throughout, and it does not leave much room for improvements. For example, fixing issues can be a problem since there only recognized after your whole project has been developed.
- A clear timeline of what to do
- Easy project management
- Allows for a hands-off approach
- Easy to track progress
- Initial requirements are extremely important
- Testing is left till the end
- Fixing bugs can increase the cost
- Have to wait until the software is completely ready to test and use
While developing software, you can either go for an agile or waterfall model. Both approaches can help develop optimal software. However, if your project has specific requirements that can be described accurately, and the risk is low, the waterfall model is more suitable. On the other hand, if your project is largely dependent on the users, going for the agile methodology is a better option. Overall, you should choose the waterfall model for short and low-risk projects, and for longer projects, you should choose the agile model.