Business
April 7, 2015

Agile vs. Waterfall Development

In the world of software development, two primary development models reign: Agile vs. Waterfall. Each possesses its own distinct features, and is right for particular kinds of projects. This article briefly examines both models to help you understand which is right for your development needs.

Waterfall

Waterfall methodology is akin to a meticulous plan in which every stage of development, from the conceptualization, design, development, and testing, is all laid out in a static framework. The hours are calculated and the client pays an agreed-upon fee for the project.

This kind of methodology works when you need something that’s been done before. Payment systems, databases, CRM systems are all great examples of software projects that may best be suited to a waterfall development model.

Agile

Agile development is just that: agile, and flexible. Agile development methodology consists of the planning stage and then developing the software throughout a series of brief iterations, usually referred to as sprints. The sprints typically last from two to four weeks each, and at the end of each sprint, the client has the opportunity to evaluate progress thus far, experience a working prototype with functionality, and call for changes if necessary.

When it comes to mobile application development, Agile methodology is better suited to apps that require a bit more creativity and offer the possibility for extended functionality and user customization (which is all apps). Changes can be implemented at any time, alterations can be made, and functionality can be added: all with minimal addition to the original cost-estimate.

So which is better?

When deciding the answer to this question, one must understand that software development is a relatively young industry. It is still growing into itself, and the very nature of this uniquely dynamic industry is changing the way projects must be managed.

Waterfall methodology, it may be fair to say, is a relic from an earlier stage. Software development companies relied on this business model because, well, that’s just the way things have always been done. For the past ~100 years, businesses have been executing projects in the waterfall fashion: meticulous planning followed by execution and testing, then going back to fix things as a whole.

Agile methodology presents an alternative that is more compatible with the Digital Age. Since consumer electronics and software has grown to the point of global use and massive integration with all spheres of life, software development has reached a point where it develops organically as the result of feedback from user experience and continued development.

This is why Agile methodology is the stronger choice: it facilitates future change on the go. Such a technique ultimately saves the product owner time and money, and leaves the project’s development open for future changes (of which there will be no shortage).

While waterfall once had its place in software development, it’s truly no longer necessary. The agile model is a product-centric model that focuses more on client satisfaction and efficient development than project management dogma. It’s simply common sense. Trust us, we know what we’re talking about.