The Differences Between Waterfall and Agile Software Development Methodologies

In the world of software development, Agile and Waterfall are two major methodical approaches a development team may choose to employ when faced with a project. Both methods have been heavily utilized successfully over the years but are very different in terms of overall philosophy and approach.

Waterfall, also sometimes referred to as the “traditional” approach, describes a linear process in software development that has a starting and finishing point in which different stages are completed along the way. Originating from the world of manufacturing, the waterfall approach as applied to software engineering is sometimes credited to computer scientist Winston Royce. The standard waterfall approach engages in five fundamental and sequential stages that include: requirements, design, implementation, verification and maintenance. Traditionally, software developers using the waterfall model move from one stage to the next, preceding through each stage only after the preceding phase is fully complete.

Agile software development describes a newer approach to product development that gained a foothold about a decade ago. A primary feature to the agile methodology involves breaking projects into a series of regular and predictable iterations, or development time periods. With agile development, software testing is done repeatedly throughout the computer engineering process. Agile promotes adaptive planning which encourages a rapid and flexible response to changes throughout all phases of a given project. Agile is an organized, dynamic and collaborative approach that effectively utilizes cross-functional teamwork to achieve a common goal.

6 Reasons Agile Development is often the Best Choice

As signaled by the recent popularity and successes of the agile approach to software development, there are a number of different advantages provided when using this methodology. Agile software development has proven to be an effective choice for many teams engaged in product development projects. Here are five reasons why agile may be the best choice for product development:

  1. Adaptability– Agile methodology relies heavily on adaptive planning. Recognizing that a project may change throughout its course due to client demands and requests, the team remains flexible and responds rapidly to those changes.
  2. Encourages Creativity – Because change is embraced as a normal part of the agile process, new products created with an agile approach may be refined, modified and improved during development. This enables the product team to stay more creative throughout the development process.
  3. Interaction and Communication– Collaboration is at the heart of the agile method. Interaction between designers, stakeholders, developers and other team members plays a major factor in the agile approach. A clear process for daily communication enables tighter team bonding and greater project clarity and focus.
  4. High Production – When using an agile methodology, the project workload is generally broken up into smaller chunks and the deliverables are completed in shorter iterations. This decreases the chance that programmers, designers, and other team members get too far off track on a project. When problems do happen, they tend to be found earlier and more quickly and are typically fixed more easily.
  5. Predictable Costs – Since estimates for project costs are generally provided at the start of every iteration in the agile software development work cycle, estimating costs tends to be more straight forward. Predictable tend to simplify decisions that need to be made about any project changes, which features are a priority, etc.
  6. Superior Quality – Agile software development often leads to a better end product because the project work is divided into smaller pieces which are simpler for testing and validation. This tends to lead to a reduction in errors and better quality, overall.

Software development projects tend to be unique in many ways. With this in mind, a software engineering team will want to employ the best method possible in order to achieve a top-tier end product. Agile software development yields many benefits to the process of creating a successful product. Given the benefits of the approach, agile development is important to consider for your software development needs.

Source by David Easterling