Waterfall vs. Agile: Which Methodology is Right for Startups

There are different development methodologies applied to choose from. In this article, we are going to discuss Waterfall vs Agile pros and cons for startups. Both of the methodologies are popular and widely used, however, making the best choice is possible only after you analyze the goals of your project. However, there is a difference between Agile and Waterfall. It has to be mentioned that choosing the wrong methodology can cause critical issues for your project, so below, we are going to enlist features and the area of application for both of the methodologies.

What is an Agile Methodology?

Agile project management is a methodology based on the principle of flexible project management. Scrum and Kanban are methods related to Agile software development. So what is Agile approach all about? This approach is featured by the development of a project in several iterations. Each iteration ends with a specified result, on the basis of this result you decide what to do next. 

All the flexible methodologies are iteration-based. Development of new product takes several iterations which last from a week several months. Each iteration represents a mini-project which consists of analysis stages, planning, testing, and realization. As a result, the client gets a product which can be modified if needed.

Main Agile principles:

  • Effective team collaboration is a priority. Goal – development of a high-quality project.
  • You can add amendments at any stage of the project.
  • The best way to get feedback from colleagues and clients is personal communication.
  • The product is being updated once a month or once in several months.
  • Being ready for modifications during the development process is more important than adhering the initial plan.

What is the Waterfall Methodology?

Waterfall software development is a model that can be visualized as a stream of successive stages of demands analysis, engineering, realization, testing, integration, and support. Following the principles of the waterfall, the model developer comes from one stage to another in successive order. At first, one has to finish completely the demands analysis stage, then you get the list of demands to software.

After the demands are defined, you start engineering stage which considers the creation of documents that describe the method and plan of the project realization. On the next stage, you conduct integration of separate components developed by separate teams of developers. After realization and integration are completed it is time for testing and debugging – on this stage the bugs are fixed. Afterward, the software is realized and gets supported (adding new functions, fixing errors).

The classic Waterfall project management looks like this:

  1. Project demands analysis.
  2. Engineering.
  3. Software realization
  4. Testing
  5. Integration
  6. Support

This model considers only successive and one-time execution of each stage. You only can leap from one stage to the next one after finishing the previous one. Each stage has to be planned in details and consider the ideal state of stage ending.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Agile Model:

Learning Agile one has to know both its pros and cons. Let’s start with the pros:

  • Agile software is really flexible. For example, Waterfall methodology demands indication of the specified process stages, while Agile method can be easily adopted to the demands of any product or client demands.
  • In the finished product, the number of bugs is minimized as it is a result of scrutinous quality assurance that is conducted after each stage completion.
  • Agile software development can be launched quickly, easily reacts on modifications, allows the team of developers and clients to keep in touch in real-time mode.

These are good reasons to use Agile for mobile app development.

Now let’s disclose the cons of this method:

  • Continuous feedback support can lead to constant break of deadlines so you should take the risk that the project becomes never-ending. If the client sees only results and doesn’t understand the efforts you bring he will demand improvements continuously.
  • You always have to adopt your engineering documentation because of the changes made in the project. In case of absence of proper feedback between the teams when it comes to modifications applied or added functions, project documents with functional demands or architecture can lose actuality for the current moment.
  • It is necessary to conduct meetings all the time. Those, of course, are good when it comes to increasing work efficiency, however, when your team members always have to distract from the development it can negatively cause the workflow.
  • A client has to be on-site always, you cannot build long-term plans and there is always a demand in motivated and high-qualified employees.

Advantages and Disadvantages of the Waterfall Approach

The waterfall approach is good for the development of big and complicated services and systems with pre-defined functionality or simple mobile app development. It should be used when you work on large contracts or scientific projects.

So let’s analyze the advantages of this approach:

  • It is simple to understand and realize.
  • It is simple to manage the project as you have a strict structure of tasks and stages.
  • For this model, stages are processed and completed only once.
  • It is an ideal approach for large or small with pre-defined demands.

Now let’s get to the cons of this method:

  • When an app is going through the testing stage it is very hard to return to the previous stage and add modifications on any stage.
  • No prototypes.
  • A high-risk level in case of poor planning due to the high cost of a mistake.
  • Not applicable for complex and object-oriented projects.
  • Not applicable for long-term projects.
  • Not applicable for projects that are likely to have to get changed demands.

Agile vs. Waterfall

So is it Agile or Waterfall? Each model observed above has a pre-set list of features and is applicable for different types of projects. Both Agile development and Waterfall can help you create a good product for your startup, however, it is better to choose Agile methodologies for long-term projects where there is a risk that changes might be needed. Use Waterfall development if you are sure about the pre-defined demands to the project.

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