As a business leader, you’ve probably deliberated over the differences between the Agile and Waterfall methodology. And if you’re an app developer, you’ve likely adopted one of these two methodologies to complete your projects.
But you’ve probably heard project managers and industry insiders throw the terms ‘Agile’ and ‘Waterfall’ quite liberally. Thus, often giving the impression that both are similar, even though this isn’t necessarily true.
Sure, both are popular methodologies that involve the planning, realization, and keeping track of projects as they advance. However, there are several glaring differences between the two that we need to understand clearly.
So, what are the differences between the Agile and Waterfall methodology? There are several, but we’ll focus on one key difference right now.
Agile relies on continuous iteration whereby the development team works simultaneously on a project, making it a flexible model. However, Waterfall requires the team to complete each stage of the project linearly, and thus, it’s way more rigid.
But let’s be clear about one thing, neither methodology is better than the other. Project managers must pick the one that best suits their needs. And to better understand the differences between the two and which to pick, we’ve compiled this handy list below to help you make the right decision!
1. Agile Methodology In A Nutshell
Due to the more strict nature of Waterfall, it soon became necessary for an alternative. And thus, Agile made its way into the world of project management to address a common problem. Since it often takes many years to complete most common software projects, technology undergoes tremendous change. Henceforth, development teams cannot realistically complete their projects while keeping up with customer demand with the Waterfall methodology.
But with the flexibility of Agile, it’s easy to make changes, even late during the timeline of a project. Moreover, company stakeholders, management, and customers may request changes or new features. It’s even possible to implement these additional changes or features without hindering the project significantly.
And that’s because Agile allows the team to complete several phases concurrently and frequently. Another benefit of Agile is that the team determines the project’s direction instead of the project manager. Ultimately, this energizes the team and helps increase productivity, but it also calls for more team independence.
2. Understanding The Waterfall Methodology
Projects with a known outcome benefit immensely from the Waterfall methodology due to its linear approach. Before a team can move forward, it must first meet the set requirements and complete the deliverables of the current stage of the project.
However, the project lead must have a well-defined vision for the app. More importantly, no major alterations may occur during the development process, as this will likely derail the project. Unlike with Agile, it’s difficult and costly to course correct with the Waterfall methodology.
And before a project commences, the project lead must have a clear picture of the budget and timeline. Any deviation from this during the development process will put the project at risk. However, this does not necessarily make Waterfall projects riskier than Agile projects.
3. Agile And Waterfall Methodology Impact Client Involvement
Depending on the scope of your project, you may decide to involve your clients. If that’s the case, then Agile is a great choice. And according to the Principles behind the Agile Manifesto, customer collaboration plays a vital role. Furthermore, it encourages collaboration between developers and business people and face-to-face discussion on a frequent basis.
With Waterfall, if you’re the project lead, you’ll hold weekly or monthly meetings with your development team. And you may share progress reports with company stakeholders, but you won’t collaborate with clients. Furthermore, you’ll only share information on a need-to-know basis with the right people in your team.
4. Rigid Versus Sprint Planning
With the Waterfall methodology, the planning phase takes far longer than with Agile. And that’s because the project lead and company stakeholders must evaluate the feasibility of the project. In most cases, the budget will be higher, as a Waterfall project must be completed in its entirety before it’s shipped.
Furthermore, there’s very little wiggle room, if any, for changes at a later stage. Any decisions taken during the planning phase must be adhered to during the entirety of the project. And to ensure that the development team remains committed to the project, the planning phase also includes the monitoring procedure.
Agile is an entirely different beast, which doesn’t prioritize planning. Instead, projects are broken down into sprints, and decisions that will impact the project occur before each sprint. These sessions are also known as sprint planning. And while Agile offers plenty of flexibility, major project changes may not occur during an active sprint.
Keep in mind that Agile requires constant engagement by the project manager and team members. Therefore, stand-up meetings have become customary for teams to stay informed. All attendees must meet regularly for small durations and must stand while the project lead updates the team in front of a whiteboard.
Stand-up meetings may occur every day or several times per week. In most cases, stand-up meetings work remarkably well. But difficult to implement with large teams spread across multiple locations. Also, holding too many stand-up meetings may disrupt the workflow of the team.
5. The Waterfall Methodology Is Losing Popularity
As you’re probably aware by now, Agile seems to have advantages that make it very attractive to development teams. And given the shift to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) from packaged software, Agile makes perfect sense. But it doesn’t end there, as many mobile app development teams rely heavily on a continuous iteration process.
Most savvy mobile app developers start with a prototype or a minimum viable product (MVP). And if these gain traction with users, then they’ll scale up to a full-fledged product. But given the constant introduction of new mobile devices and app store requirements, most mobile apps are not truly ever done.
And let’s not forget that users have become accustomed to receiving features that will keep them engaged after each app update. Therefore, the Waterfall methodology isn’t suitable for most mobile app development purposes. It’s better to adopt the Agile methodology and introduce new features and updates during every active sprint.
But don’t write off Waterfall entirely, as it may prove useful if you’re developing a premium mobile game. Most paid mobile games have high-quality visuals, gameplay, and features that make them closely resemble console games. And thus, it’s unlikely that you’ll introduce new content and features later unless these come in the form of downloadable content (DLC) or in-app purchases (IAP).
Even so, most premium games have a limited lifecycle, so don’t necessarily require continuous iteration. Their high budgets, long development cycles, and the necessity for specialist team member roles make the Waterfall methodology the right choice here.
Understanding the key differences between the Agile and Waterfall methodology places you in an advantageous position. It allows you to opt for the right methodology that best suits your project. However, company stakeholders will also affect your choice.
For example, if these stakeholders will support the project long-term and closely involve themselves, Agile is the way to go. But if these stakeholders prefer a more hands-off approach, consider Waterfall instead. Contact NS804 to learn how we’ll help you complete your upcoming project on time using the most suitable technologies and methodologies.