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Choose the Right Project Methodology: Agile or Waterfall

Published: Jun 6, 2016  |   | 

Managing the projects effectively is one of the major concerns for any organization. Your company projects can range from small & highly focused jobs to multi-faceted complex tasks that require involvement from all the departments of your company.

Managing the projects effectively is one of the major concerns for any organization. Your company projects can range from small & highly focused jobs to multi-faceted complex tasks that require involvement from all the departments of your company. Every project comes with a deadline, and it is important for your company to finish the project within the stipulated timeline. This is why your project requires a methodology that can take care of the timeline, mitigate the risks, improve the resource efficiency, and help you complete projects successfully.

A well-defined project methodology is what you need to ensure smooth completion of your project. Before we help you with choosing the right project management methodology, let’s understand what we mean to say by project management. A comprehensive methodology that defines the project approach as well as helps organize the processes involved in the project ensures success of the project. A project management methodology is a combination of approach, tools and organized processes.

In the initial stages, the projects were managed in an ad-hoc manner, which made it complicated for the managers to actually streamline the process, and finish off tasks on time. In fact, collaboration of the different departments was highly difficult in this ad-hoc management approach, which is why there was a need for a well-defined approach.

When you choose a well-established project methodology, you don’t need to reinvent the processes each time you begin the project; you just need to follow the steps listed out, and get started. You need to outline a specific approach for software development if you want to achieve successful completion of the project.

Here we will talk about two of the most popular project methodologies. We will discuss when is it appropriate to select a particular methodology and the pros & cons involved with each of the methodology.

Waterfall Methdology

Waterfall project methodology involves a linear or rather a sequential approach to project completion. The following is the sequence that is generally followed in waterfall methodology:

  • Requirement gathering
  • Design
  • Code & unit test
  • System testing
  • User acceptance testing
  • Fix the bugs (if any)
  • Project delivery

These eight phases are distinct stages of the project development. The next phase of development commences only after the successful completion of the previous stage, and there is a stage gate between the two phases. This means only after the client approval is received for requirement gathering phase can you start with the design stage. As with most project development methodologies, there are set pros and cons involved with this methodology.

The Pros

  • Planning is straightforward as clients & developers are on the same page of the development lifecycle
  • Scope of work is defined early on in the project, hence it is easy to measure your project’s performance
  • The involvement of the different departments can differ through the project, and they can continue getting the updates on the project while continuing with their current work. A Business Analyst can continue with their work, while receiving updates on an ongoing project from the developer.
  • In a project wehre multiple software components are to be designed, this framework works effectively, because the design phase is taken care of early on in the project. This can help you successfully deploy & integrate multiple software components to external systems
  • You have a complete underswtanding of the deliverables, which makes designing the software product easy and the success ratio is high in this case

The Cons

  • Requirement gathering and documenting them is not as effective as it should be in this methodology as clients may not be very keen on offering complete details early-on in the project, which makes developing mockups and wireframes slightly difficult
  • This methodology lacks flexibility, as it is pretty rigid. This cannot be suitable for projects that evolve with time, or fast paced changeable projects
  • The deliverables are based on the requirement gathered and documented, which means the customer cannot see what is going to be delivered till it is actually delivered. Changes are incorporated at the completion of the project, which makes its expensive and difficult to implement

Agile Methodology

Agile as the name suggests is more flexible and works towards rapid completion & delivery of the project. The approach does not consider tasks/schedules, rather it incorporates time-bound sprints that are iterative & team based. The individual sprints have a delivery schedule as well as list of deliverables, and these are planned right at the beginning. The client and the business needs help define and prioritize the deliverables. The methodology is flexible; hence the work can be reprioritized based on the way the project has evolved. The daily builds and end of sprint demos help keep up with the pace of development, and review the project as it is being developed.

The Pros

  • The client can see the work as it is being developed, which allows them to make changes and take decisions during the project development
  • The client feels more empowered, as they are involved throughout the project development. In fact the sense of ownership is high in this case
  • This methodology allows for a faster time-to-market, with the launch of a basic version. You can always keep building the product using successive iterations
  • Flexible & modifiable goals that help create quickly adaptable frameworks

The Cons

  • Client participation is desired in agile project methodology. Some clients are not interested or do not have the time for such involvement, which may pose to be an issue during development
  • There is always a possibility that some of the deliverables are not ready by the timeframe allotted for them. Additional sprints may add to the cost of the project
  • If the team members share the same physical space, then working is easy and even possible. But, when they are working in remote, the collaboration may be slightly difficult
  • Frequent refactoring to the initial scope may refactor the whole system, which can impact the quality of development. This can cause more issues when rendered to large-scale projects involving higher levels of integration

Which to Choose?

Depending on your software development needs, complexity of the project and the team size as well as client involvement, you can choose the agile software development methodology. It is important to make the methodology choice right at the start for smooth streamlining of the processes and completion of the project on time.

Semaphore Software helps deliver projects on time using defined project methodology, which we choose based on project needs and business goals. Connect with us at info@semaphore-software.com for more information on our project methods and standards.