While Agile may be the newer methodology, it’s not necessarily “better” than traditional methods of development. Agile methodology and Waterfall methodology both have their place, depending on the type of project. Here’s how you can choose between both popular development types.
Agile Development Strategies
Under agile development, a product’s specifications and requirements may evolve and change over the course of the project. Agile developers work with multiple collaborative teams, all of which work together to review and revise the product. Products are analyzed and tested, user responses are investigated, and modifications are made.
Agile development is often used for software development as a way for the team to remain flexible and responsive. Rather than remaining constrained to the original product specifications, developers can evolve their product initiatives based on what is most effective. Agile development therefore allows for the team to learn more about what the client truly needs over time.
Pros: allows for rapid development strategies, allows a project to evolve and conform to changing needs, allows for highly-mobilized, self-organized teams.
Cons: may make it difficult for team members to hit pre-existing targets, may be inefficient for larger projects, may become hectic or chaotic over time.
Waterfall Development Strategies
Waterfall development is a linear development process where specific targets are hit based on a project’s scheduling and deadlines. Unlike agile development, waterfall development follows a linear route. While agile development may go back and forth between stages, waterfall development progresses smoothly from one stage to the other, only when prior stages have been completed.
A more structured type of development, waterfall methodology often provides more predictable results. Waterfall development demands that the project remain on course. As a consequence, waterfall development is often used for things like construction projects or manufacturing projects — projects where the final specifications must be met.
Waterfall development has been used as early as 1956, and though it is an older method, it is not outdated. It tends not to be well-suited to smaller projects or smaller teams, however, as it requires a lot of overhead regarding the project management. Further, because waterfall development doesn’t allow for the continued evolution of a project, a client may ultimately end up with the result that they initially requested without getting something that is optimal to their actual needs.
Pros: allows for predictable and measured results, allows a team to meet deadlines, allows a team to ensure that a final project meets all needed specifications.
Cons: may be too constrained to allow for necessary changes, may not allow for agility in a smaller team, may offer the client what they asked for but not necessarily what they needed.
Choosing Between Agile and Traditional Development
As you can see, Agile and Waterfall development strategies are quite opposed to each other — and that can make the process of choosing between them easier. Agile development is best-suited for small, agile teams and the rapid development of products that may have changing and evolving specifications. Waterfall development is best-suited for large, cumbersome projects and the linear development of products that must be designed to the right specifications.
Of course, there are also different types of Agile development and Waterfall development. Depending on your project or your team, you may find that you need to customize your development strategies to be more effective. Either way, the development type you choose is going to depend on your ultimate goals.