Agile Vs Waterfall : Difference Between Agile & Waterfall

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Mar 19, 2019

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Managing project is the key in every software development process. There was one method followed until 2001 and hence it is called traditional, an old fashioned way of handling stages in the project. However, this iterative way introduced in 2001 made developers and team realize the fact that there is an alternate approach too. With the advent of this approach, there was continuous contemplation about which is right, how to choose the best, what to do etc. Yes, we are here to reduce this anxiety and give you a clear picture of what is what and how to go in the right direction.
First, let know the names and then you can know the details. The former method is called the waterfall model. The latter one is called agile methodology. Both these methods have their upside and downside and it depends on the situation and needs from the customer the team decides to choose the ideal method.
Coming to the point, now this article will discuss the details, why use, advantages, and disadvantages of both the implementation methods.
Waterfall model vs agile methodology

What is Waterfall Model 

Before you know why to use falls model, in simple words understand what it is. Every development cycle begins with collecting the requirement, designing, developing, testing, deploying, and maintaining. This, when done in steps waiting for each step to get over, is called the waterfall method. Can you imagine how the water flows in a falls? It happens from the top to the bottom. The reverse will never happen. Similarly, going back to the previous step is not possible in the waterfall model. 
With this basic info let us proceed to understand why to use this model. 
  • Why use a Waterfall Model
It is easy to understand and implement. This robust system is preferred in places where taking risk is not affordable. For instance, in places where human life is involved in development, then this model is a fool-proof one as the complete planning is done before implementation. 
Even today defense projects are executed using this method. 
The stringent standards followed in this approach leave no room for errors and hence cost is saved. 
Understanding requirement thoroughly helps to plan contract and delivery in advance. Government projects prefer traditional way as it is attuned with the attainment and meticulous oversight process. 
Overall, the linear-sequential life cycle model as the name implies each step occurs in sequence and easy to comprehend. 
Managing deliverables are direct as each phase has a defined process. There is no overlapping of phases and allows completion in a phased manner. 
Small projects with the well-defined requirement and clear expectation can go with this model for a perfect outcome with minimal expenses. 
  • Disadvantages of the Waterfall Model
Needless to say, this method has a major setback in the testing phase. It is not that the testing method is wrong but due to lack of chance to revisit will not only consume time but also entire work must be reworked. For instance, when testing and development happens concurrently, then fixing issues becomes possible. This facility is not available in this method which leads to chaos in huge projects. 
Working software model cannot be seen and the client has to wait until the end to see the result. Therefore using this in object-oriented projects or complex projects will lead to risk. 
Dynamic requirements can never rely on this method as a change in the requirement is not allowed during the middle of the project. 
All this obviously conveys that the cost of implementing using the waterfall method is high in case of any issue cropping in any stage of development. 

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What is Agile Methodology 

Agile means are responsive. From that meaning, it is easy to interpret that this model will allow the team to respond with their concerns at any stage. Therefore, corrections can happen and then proceed with development. This will allow for modification as the entire process will be divided into iterations and hence each iteration is a small development life cycle. Since each cycle is independent of each other client can request a change at any stage. 
Now, understand the agile model in technical terms. Agile is also called an incremental model. Several frameworks are used to implement the agile method. Scrum is the most used one in which the entire project is divided into sprints and the planning will happen per sprint and not for the whole project. Each sprint will last for not more than 2 weeks and the team gathers to explain the status. What went wrong is discussed and the backlog is moved to the next sprint. The daily meeting will allow the team to discuss and continue. This leads to a transparent development process and there is no room for surprises from any stakeholder. 
Scrum training offers detailed education about how to effectively implement the agile model in projects. 
  • Benefits in the Agile model
Teams meet daily and hence all communication is weeded out. Everyone feels empowered and hence work with unity. 
Implementation happens in stages and hence the review of the end product is visible to the customer which helps them to fine tune their expectation. This means there is no need for additional investment in development and customer can add inputs in the middle of the project. 
People are important than the process so there is no rigid rule in what is to be done and when. Especially the quality team takes equal right like the development team and they can also share their views.  
Even when the scope of the requirement is not known, the agile method allows the team to start the process. In short, the agile method can be used in small and medium-sized projects which require changes till the end of producing the end final product. 
Obviously, time and money are saved and there is no concern about untimely optimization. 
  • Any downfalls in Agile model?
1.Report writing takes a back seat and hence new team member finds it difficult to get along in the project. 
2.Complex projects become more complex as timelines are not clearly defined in the beginning. 
3.The client might take advantage and not come with a proper requirement definition leading uncertainty among developers. 

Waterfall model ideally suits

When the client clearly mentions what they want, then go with the waterfall model and travel through each step one at a time. 
Every stable defined product can be developed with the traditional model. 
If understanding technology is the key to development, then this model will help.
When resources are available with ample time and expertise, then allot them in this way as they will implement without any downfall at any stage. 
Customer interaction is limited and projects that do not require their input can adopt this method. 

The right time to adopt Agile Methodology

Use agile way when there is a dynamic environment and client wants to review each stage to decide on the next stage. 
When the team requires freedom, then this way will make them feel independent. Every individual can share their view. 
It is more of a mindset and hence new team members can be trained in an agile way and they can quickly adapt to the method. 
When there is a huge project and you don’t want to lose on the client, then choose the agile way and complete modules until the client comes back with their complete requirement. 
At the time of limited resources available with expertise, then swap them between the project as each person can work on the selected module. They may not be required during the entire development phase. 
Testers and developers can change seat as both will learn all the process since they work concurrently. 

Difference Between Agile Vs Waterfall Model

Review happens at every stage and plan keeps changingOnly after all stages are completed review happens. If anything found wrong, then the entire work must be reworked
Saves time as implementation takes place in an incremental way.Exhaustive process and time spent by each member are long.
All members must be present throughout the project. No other project can be worked in parallel.Not all members need to be present at each phase happens in sequence. During their respective phase, they can make themselves available. Otherwise, they can work on other projects
Testing team also must learn development as they work in concurrence with developing team.The testing team works in silos with the development team.
Communication is part of the implementation phase and the entire team meets daily. All stakeholders meet during sprint which happens once in 2 weeks.Communication happens in the project inception and the end. No talk’s in-between also never all stakeholders get a chance to meet together.
No hierarchy and all get equal importance in each iteration. Self-governing teams and all feel empowered.Strict standards and the chain of command must be followed.
User acceptance takes place after every sprintUser acceptance happens only at the completion phase.
Informal architecture but depends on the engineering practice including design factors etc.Well, defined architecture and dependency on engineering practice are limited.
People are giving more weight age than the processThe process is the key and everyone must abide by the procedure

Verdict: Agile vs Waterfall which is the best?

There is no right or wrong method as we all know that people implement project until 2000 successfully only in the traditional way. Since agile method has brought in convenience in implementing methods, it is good to choose the right method based on the project need, cost, situation and time. 
Let us now see which now to choose based on each criterion. 
Time More timeLess time
Resource AvailabilityBoundless Limited
Project ComplexityComplexEasy

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From the above explanation, it is now evident that everyone must know how to implement using both models. However, with the advancement in technology, the agile model takes the front seat and it is a must that every individual aspiring to grow in IT business must know the right approach to use agile methodology. 
Having said that, getting trained to use scrum framework will allow everyone to quickly adapt to an agile way of implementing projects. Certified Scrum Master, CSM certification program will start with the agile mindset training and go in detail about understanding and implementing. 
If you are a beginner in the IT career, then CSM certification will help you find the right job and in case you are already in a job, still, you must consider a CSM training course to add a feather in your cap. Quickly move up the ladder by getting professionally trained.

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