Waterfall or Agile – what methodology should you use?

16.07.2020 Angelika Siczek
waterfall or agile when to choose which methodology

What is the implementation methodology? This is nothing more than a way to organize an IT project. It enables the optimal implementation of the entire project, taking into account its most important aspects. It is worth emphasizing that in the case of software for companies, it is necessary that all technical assumptions go hand in hand with business assumptions and match their needs. For this reason, two methodological approaches to the project were created – the traditional ones called Waterfall, i.e. the cascade methodology and the agile approach, including, for example, the Scrum framework. How do the individual methodologies differ from each other and which and in what circumstances should you choose? We advise.


Cascade methodology – Waterfall

Waterfall methodology is one of the most popular approaches in project management that modern organizations eagerly choose. It is a classic system based on the cascade decomposition of the project. This means that the individual stages of the project follow one another and constitute separate activities. If one phase does not end with a satisfactory result, then the next one goes on until the goal is achieved.


The most important element of the Waterfall methodology is a detailed plan that assumes the sequential implementation of the above-mentioned individual project stages. The basic feature of this traditional methodology is a predetermined budget that you have to stick to. One of the most important stages of the project is also the preparation of a detailed Software Requirement Specification. It also includes a list of necessary works to be carried out, which are within the specified budget agreed by both parties (called fixed price). Waterfall is based on conscientious adherence to deadlines and keeping records of all actions taken.


The cascade methodology works well in various areas of the economy – in production, in construction, as well as in services that are characterized by repeatability. Due to its very nature, Waterfall performs well in cascading company structures, in various industries where there is little competition between companies, in stabilized process markets, and in all processes that have been standardized and otherwise regulated.


Agile methodology

As already mentioned, Agile belongs to the group of agile methodologies. Therefore, the activities that take place during the implementation through this methodology are planned in stages and based on the current experiences of users. Iterations lasting several weeks are called sprints. Each of the sprints provides a fragment (growth) of the newly created system. It can be constantly tested by end users, both in terms of correctness of operation and in terms of practicality of use in achieving real business goals. Such action allows for the cyclical correction of solutions, as well as the introduction of changes that precisely respond to the current needs.


Agile was formulated as part of a manifesto that was published on the internet. The methodology comes down to a few most important principles. Above all, people and interactions are more important at work than processes and tools. It is also important to focus on the working software instead of comprehensive and complicated documentation. Cooperation with the client is more important than negotiating contracts. And also that you should focus on responding to change, rather than strictly following a predetermined plan.


In the agile methodology, the client has full freedom to control the budget and the scope of work to be performed. It can also prioritize them accordingly. The settlement of the entire project is carried out in accordance with the Time & Material principles. This means that the investor’s financial outlays focus only on the time and resources devoted to implementing the system.


It is worth remembering that Agile is not only reserved for the IT industry. Agile methodologies can also be successfully used in other branches of business. For example, in the production industry, as well as in various areas of the organization, for example in HR.


Waterfall vs Agille – which methodology to choose?

If you are wondering which methodology is the best to implement IT systems in your company, start with a detailed analysis of your business. Regardless of what decision you ultimately make, there is no point in starting the process without thoroughly analyzing the requirements. Both traditional and agile approaches involve a precise study of the environment and internal conditions that determine the entire architecture of the new system. Which methodology you choose should depend on how active you want to be in the entire implementation process as a client.


By focusing on the individual features of both methodologies, it can be stated that Agile requires constant communication and cooperation due to the need to verify the work performed on a current basis. If you know that it will be a significant burden for you and your employees, do not choose this type of solution and focus on the Waterfall methodology. However, if you want to take an active part in the implementation, choose Agile. Often this approach translates into a very effective system implementation!

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