Home 9 Daniel Zacharias 9 Agile Development Model and Waterfall Model – The Battle Begins!

Agile Development Model and Waterfall Model – The Battle Begins!

Before starting the project, some factors must be considered, such as choosing the right team and managing the development process. Among those factors, one of the most important ones is picking the right development model to organize the work. But which model works best for you?
Daniel Zacharias

Daniel Zacharias

September 6, 2022
agile development model vs. waterfall development model

Finding suitable solutions that best fulfill the needs of the project and the client is crucial for company growth. Before starting the project, some factors must be considered, such as choosing the right team and managing the development process. Among those factors, one of the most important ones is picking the right development model to organize the work. At this stage you can choose to either follow the traditional management model or switch to agile development model. 

But which model works best for you? Let’s go over them to discover their strengths and weaknesses as well as types of projects they are suited for, so that you can confidently choose the right one. 

The Waterfall development model

The Waterfall model represents a traditional working model mainly used in software development. The process is linear, meaning all tasks get executed sequentially, starting from the top task and descending through various other tasks. Each stage is run through only once. 

The Waterfall model is associated with the fixed-price model. This working model requires having clearly defined requirements from the start of the project. 

The downsides of this working model are limited possibilities of scope change and a minimum of flexibility. All three parameters (price, time, and scope) are fixed, which is why detailed planning before signing the contract is crucial. Any additional changes influence the cost and the delivery date. 

The advantage of this model is that its nature is highly methodical, as it provides a clear structure that organizes the work and gives a clear picture of what to expect at any given moment of the development process.

This working model is mainly used for shorter projects (less than six months)as well as for simple and predictable projects, like adding simple features to an existing product or refreshing the UI.

The Waterfall model is based on seven phases:

Requirements

In the beginning, understanding the product, its design, processes, and future functionality is a must. For the upcoming product to be adequately envisioned, it must be carefully studied. At this stage, decisions are made regarding selecting the hardware and software needed for all future phases of the development process.

Analysis

All requirements are defined in detail. Feasibility is carefully calculated by assessing multiple factors, including requirements, complexity, cost, and others. A feasibility assessment provides a general idea of what it will take to turn the project’s idea into a reality, so that it can be presented to the client as an offer. The last thing in this stage is analyzing the current situation and a target concept.

Design

It is time for system design – to determine tasks, strategies, and requirements. Developers create the software architecture and a detailed software plan. This phase should result in a draft document, providing information on a software construction plan and the plan for testing individual components. It should be studied and verified before moving on to the next phase.

Implementation

After verifying the system design, it is time to start the implementation process. This process includes software programming, troubleshooting, and module testing. Components are developed, tested, and integrated into the product individually. After this phase, the software product is tested as a complete product for the first time ( the alpha testing stage).

Test

At this phase, it is checked whether the product meets the defined requirements or not. Three types of activities are included in the system testing phase:

  • Alpha testing: The development team does the testing.
  • Beta testing: A team of customers and users does the testing.
  • Acceptance testing: This phase comes after the alpha and beta phases are finished. Customers do the testing, after which the team decides whether the product is ready or not. 
Operation

After the finalization of testing, the product is deployed to the user or customer system or released for productive use. This phase includes installation, migration, and support of the complete system to the user or customer environment.

Maintenance

The last stage covers the software’s delivery, maintenance, and improvement. This step comes just after installation. Here the product or system is appropriately modified depending on changing needs and demands. The point of this phase is to improve the system’s performance.

This phase requires more than twice the effort compared to the previous phases.

The Agile development model

The term agile is defined as the ability to respond well and adapt to changes. Thus, Agile development is the model that helps developers work on their products while adapting the development process as new needs arise. In reality, as the process progresses, new information gets revealed. Suppose the requirements cannot be known from the beginning, or the process requires more flexibility – in that case, an agile working model is the right choice. 

Even though an Agile development model can be applied to all working processes, it is highly recommended for complex projects. It is based on incremental planning, following the 12 principles for software development, known as

The Agile Manifesto: 

  1. Make the customer satisfied by continuously delivering valuable software ahead of time.
  2. Be open to changes in requirements, even in the latter stages of the process. More than often, competition dictates the changes. 
  3. Frequently deliver working software, and shorten the timescale as much as possible. 
  4. It is needed daily for all teams to work together, mainly developer and business teams. 
  5. Find motivated people and let them build the project using their ideas and experience. 
  6. Whenever possible, talk face to face to better convey information.
  7. The most important way to measure progress is whether the software works or not. 
  8. Everybody involved in the process should be able to keep a steady pace since the Agile working model is all about sustainable development. 
  9. The things that enhance agility are continuous attention to technical excellence and proper design.
  10. Try to work smart, not hard. 
  11. Self-organizing teams always bring the best results and ideas. 
  12. The team should regularly reflect on past work and find ways for improvement. 

AGILE VS. WATERFALL

Process

The agile development approach focuses on continuous improvement monitoring, thanks to consistent client feedback. Involving the client in the development process and paying attention to their feedback makes it easier to satisfy their needs and maintain a healthy development process. 

The Waterfall approach doesn’t involve the client until the delivery date and until the product is fully developed. 

Documentation

Agile prefers small index cards.It doesn’t require defined documentation. The business owner establishes requirements through informal discussions, and they don’t get finalized until the product reaches the final touch stage. 

More documentation is needed for Waterfall. The documentation is more formal than Agile’s and requires proper analysis by a professional business analyst. All documentation must be gathered before the starting point. 

Time and money

Since  the process and requirements in Agile are reviewed regularly, it saves a lot of time, money, and energy. More productive work is done per hour. Since there are fewer errors which are caught on right away, agile projects are cheaper per unit of value. Costs can be adjusted, and priorities can change during the process. The project team can release early versions of working functionality and generate revenue from an early stage, creating a self-funding project. 

In Waterfall nothing is reviewed until the last stage, and then, if changes are needed, the process goes back to the first phase. People are working at a low level of effectiveness, and much time is wasted on error fixing at the end of the development process. Nothing can be changed after the process starts, resulting in common cost overruns. The project only generates revenue after completion.

Teams

In Agile all work is divided into separate teams, grouped mainly by the features they work on, and with each taking responsibility for their part. 

In Waterfall work is divided into phases, and the team works closely together.

Types of projects

Agile is excellent for complicated and complex projects. 

Waterfall is only suitable for smaller projects.

Changes

Agile welcomes changes at all stages.

Waterfall welcomes changes only in the requirements phase, and no changes can be made after the process starts. 

Organization of work

Agile divides work into sprints, assigning them to corresponding teams and team members. 

Waterfall divides work into phases, one following the other. 

Showing working software

Agile keeps showing the working software to the client throughout the process, even at an early stage, welcoming feedback and necessary adjustments. 

Waterfall shows the working software to the client at a delivery time, not before. 

Deadline

There is no tight deadline in Agile, and the client is not in a rush as they are aware of the development process as a whole. 

Waterfall works with a tight deadline. 

Taking everything into consideration, the Agile development model wins the battle. 

It’s based on constant adaptation, reducing costs and time consumption. Agile includes the client and provides continuous improvement by implementing the client’s feedback. It’s a flexible and more effective approach, all of which are the reasons why so many development teams trust in agile methodologies to empower their projects.

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