With rising competition to deliver early and efficiently, organizations are faced with frequent decisions on choosing the best methodology to use for software development. However, software development is a complicated process. In order to meet with customer’s needs, organizations gather requirements, plan, design, code, and deploy product features. Nowadays, there are two most widely used software development methodologies are Agile vs Waterfall development.
1. Agile Methodology
What is Agile?
Agile software development is based on an incremental, iterative approach. Instead of in-depth planning at the beginning of the project, Agile methodologies are open to changing requirements over time and encourages constant feedback from the end users. Cross-functional teams work on iterations of a product over a period of time, and this work is organized into a backlog that is prioritized based on business or customer value. The goal of each iteration is to produce a working product. Agile methodologies consist of a wide range of different forms such as SCRUM, Extreme Programming, Feature-Driven Development, and Crystal.
Principal Mechanics of Agile
- Iterative approach: Development is divided into short time frames of 2-4 weeks known as iterations. Those iterations include cross-functional team performance that focuses on delivering the finished product by the end of the given schedule.
- Change-management: Each stage of development will be reviewed and analyzed to ensure that they are satisfied by customers and matched with the scope of the project. Changes are encouraged to be made and adopted whenever required for optimization and improvement purposes.
- Prioritization: Each team unit communicates with the other unit to share their progress report and work collaboratively to mitigate existing loopholes or imminent roadblocks in such phases like planning, designing, coding, testing, and evaluation.
Agile Development Life-Cycle
There are six phases in the Agile development cycle. It’s important to note that these phases shouldn’t happen in succession; they are flexible and always evolving. Many of these phases happen in parallel.
- Plan: When the scope of the project is finalized, the outline is broken down into smaller and achievable objectives in order to assign to iterations that have goals and features exclusive to themselves.
- Analysis: In this phase, the main requirements of the project is outlined. Moreover, the purpose and demographics of the usage of the product are realized by stakeholders and managers.
- Design: Software design and system design are used to meet with the requirements in the analysis phase.
- Coding: Features and aspects of the development are created and then tested for flawless functionality in this phase. Coding is the implementation phase where the development begins with the first iteration.
- Testing: This phase is characterized by all kinds of testing that can improve production efficiencies such as unit testing, systems testing, integration testing, and acceptance testing. However, this can be done once coding and development are finished.
- Deployment: At this phase finished product is deployed to the customers. Next, customers will give feedback or any changes or improvements that need to be made.
The agile development method cuts every part of the project down into smaller pieces of a puzzle and works on them one by one. When the pieces are done correctly, they will be placed together. This method is able to adapt to continuously changing programs until customers are completely satisfied. Agile evolved from different lightweight software approaches in the 1990s and is a response to some project managers’ dislike of the rigid, linear Waterfall methodology. It focuses on flexibility, continuous improvement, and speed. However, while the level of flexibility in Agile is usually a positive, it also comes with some trade-offs. It can be hard to establish a solid delivery date, documentation can be neglected, or the final product can be very different than originally intended.
2. Waterfall Methodology
What is Waterfall?
Waterfall methodology follows a sequential, linear process and is the most popular version of the systems development life cycle (SDLC) for software engineering and IT projects. It is sometimes planned using a Gantt chart, a type of bar chart that shows the start and end dates for each task. Once one of the eight stages are complete, the development team moves onto the next step. The team can’t go back to a previous stage without starting the whole process from the beginning. And, before the team can move to the next stage, requirements may need to be reviewed and approved by the customer.
Stages of Waterfall
In the Waterfall method, stages must be happening in sequential order.
- Conception: This is the first stage where the ideas and a rough assessment of the project are made.
- Initiation: When the ideas are formed. The project team should define objectives, scope, purpose, and deliverable.
- Requirement Gathering and Analysis: All the requirements are gathered and analyzed to see if the project is actually feasible.
- Design: The requirements are studied and evaluated, and the design of the system is prepared in this phase.
- Coding/ Implementation: At this phase, all the flowcharts or algorithms are translated into a programming language.
- Testing: Once the code is complete, the software needs to be tested for any errors. The software is delivered to the customer when the testing is finished.
- Maintenance: In the period of using the software, if the customers find any errors, the development team will resolve, change, or modify the software.
The Waterfall development method only tests the product towards the very end of the development. In addition, when the project is finished there is no going back to revise anything as a consequence the client will have to deal with the end result unless they want the developers to build the entire software all over again which would cost extra money. The waterfall is best used for simple, unchanging projects. Its linear, rigid nature makes it easy to use and allows for in-depth documentation. On the other hands, the biggest drawback of Waterfall is how it handles change. Because Waterfall is a linear, sequential model, phases cannot be bounced even changes occur.
3. What to choose?
When deciding how to approach a software project, one should understand that there is no right or wrong way to develop software. Both agile development and waterfall development have their advantages and disadvantages. Choosing the methodology that suits the development team and philosophy is the important decision for meeting customers needs and the company’s goals.
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