Choosing a proper software development methodology is like choosing an ice-cream flavor. You might think a particular flavor would work for you but then you try it and realize that you actually need a completely different thing!
Some are project managers’ poster child (even though they don’t know how it works precisely), and some are a developer’s North Star for successfully finishing a project before the clock strikes midnight.
Even though Waterfall is thought to be awful, ancient, and useless by the majority of the development world, some old-fashioned clients might still insist on using it.
In this article we’ll explain why the Waterfall methodology isn’t such a good choice and provide valid reasons for going Agile.
Waterfall software development methodology
The Waterfall methodology is when you take all the project activities and put them in a linear, one-after-another manner. Starting the next task is impossible until you deliver the previous one. Going like a waterfall, you can’t come back to a previous task. What’s done is done, until you reach the final feedback stage.
You probably already see the problem in doing that. Since this methodology only goes one way, like a train to Mexico, it makes it extremely difficult to adapt to rapid client changes. And don’t get me started on the troubleshooting in the final stage — you’re better off starting the whole thing from scratch than trying to find a bug.
Once the go-to methodology for many development teams, the Waterfall software method is now obsolete. You could use Waterfall if you face a project with clearly defined boundaries and no expected changes in the requirements. However, the modern development world is nowhere near as static. The fast dynamic nature of today’s market needs almost always forces some changes throughout the development, rendering Waterfall useless.
Note to project managers: Please don’t enforce this method on your software devs. You’re just going to irritate them to infinity.
Some people might argue that Waterfall still has some uses. I’m not one of them.
Waterfall might have been a nice fit for other kinds of projects, mainly within the manufacturing and construction industries. Those gave birth to the methodology, as the building phase was far more expensive than the design phase. From there, it was ported to the software development world, back in the prehistoric times.
Today, Waterfall definitely has no place in software development, where needs and perspectives change all the time, thus requiring flexible models for work.
Waterfall software dev methodology – TL; DR
Waterfall is a very rigid software development method that could work in projects with clearly defined requirements that don’t change over time. However, that feels like an utopia in today’s world, so I highly recommend you to consider using any of the many popular methodologies. The reasons for that include:
- Project requirements change during development.
- There aren’t feedback instances.
- Testing comes late in the process and it’s often lengthy, costly, and inefficient.
- Senior developers don’t like the rigidity of this approach.
- Junior developers don’t have opportunities to learn and grow as professionals.
Now, let’s shake off that awful feeling of entrapment and helplessness and move on to the methodology that can actually work wonders.
Agile software development methodology
Agile software development method encourages non-stop development and software testing throughout the whole project lifecycle, and with minimum documentation. Through small constant tweaks by different self-organized teams and 24/7 customer feedback, this methodology tries to address the obstacles present in the Waterfall methodology.
If I got a cent every time a project manager pushes this methodology onto their team just because they saw a fancy LinkedIn post about it, I’d be a millionaire.
The agile software development methodology was initially conceived by Toyota. Back then, they figured being flexible to rapid changes and addressing them without endangering the deadline with transparency in tasks is what will set them apart. Now that the history lesson is over, let’s jump to when you should use it.
Use the Agile method when you’re building software in a new niche. A niche where you’re constantly changing your software requirements.
But all that flexibility comes at a cost.
Being overwhelmed with constantly popping requirements will make you lose focus. It’s what the Agile development method is notorious for.
Note to project managers: Agile is your dream come true and an opportunity to brag about it on LinkedIn, but make sure you have experienced independent devs able to handle it.
And have you thought about the software support team?
Agile frameworks do not prescribe documentation, but it doesn’t go out of the window either. It is against fat, aka things that do not add value. The definition of ‘Done’ that is agreed with the client can certainly include documentation tasks that are necessary for the success of the project.
Before jumping on the Agile dev train get yourself familiar with the most popular dev methods.
Agile software development methodology – TL; DR
Here’s a recap of when you should use Agile methodology:
- When you have a team that’s unafraid to communicate and be transparent
- When detailed requirements are in the clouds and documentation isn’t a priority
- When you need to get clients’ feedback as quickly as possible
- Don’t use it when you have to put a number on your budget since you’ll be constantly changing the project.
- Don’t use it if your team isn’t built for non-stop software testing and improvement.
Waterfall is an old-school methodology used for large, intertwined projects and is most favored by the old-fashioned developers. As the development world is constantly changing and requires a methodology that will allow that change, Waterfall is best to be avoided.
Agile, on the other hand, includes the methodologies of the new developers’ era. In today’s fast-changing world with tight budgets, increased flexibility, and efficiency, these methodologies are must-have skills on your resume!