What's the Difference Between Agile and Waterfall, Really?

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What's the Difference Between Agile and Waterfall, Really?

And is one really better than the other?

· Agile Zone ·
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Two very different methodologies

Sure, waterfall and agile may appear similar; both do end with software products, after all. But how they get there is vastly different.

Everything changes over time. From music to clothes to cars, the list is endless.

Software development has followed the same evolution. For most of its history, software development was dominated by the Waterfall methodology. There just wasn’t a better alternative.

Then came Agile, and it rocked the software development world.

Today, we’re going to pit these two tried-and-true software development methods against each other.

You may also like:  Waterfall vs. Agile: Can They Be Friends?

Old school vs new school.

Waterfall vs Agile.

It’ll give you a broad overview of the major differences between them, along with their pros and cons

The Major Differences Between Agile and Waterfall

You’ve probably already picked up on some major differences between Agile and Waterfall, but to make sure you understand nearly all of them, let’s break them down one by one.

1. Structure

Waterfall has a rigid structure. One stage has to cascade or “fall” like water careening over rocks into the next stage. Developers are forced to move in a sequential pattern.

Agile has no strict structure. Even the structure we gave you in the last section can and does change depending on the method used and the team deploying the method. Each project starts in small modules and receives regular feedback.

2. Documentation

Waterfall relies on heavy documentation from the very beginning. Without it, development teams cannot proceed.

Agile has very little documentation. Agile teams gather what they need to get started and then just...start. Because sprints are done in short periods of time, there is a lot of review and change. Essentially, documents are built in real-time along with the software.

3. Teams

Because of Waterfall’s strict structure, developers are assigned specific roles that are usually unchanging throughout the development process.

With Agile’s lack of structure, team members are interchangeable.

4. Prioritization

Waterfall prioritizes the completion of the entire project rather than individual components.

Agile prioritizes the most essential and valuable features of a software product to be developed and implemented first - reducing the risk of unusable or wasteful features.

5. Customers

Waterfall uses customer feedback at specified milestones in development or at the very end when the product is complete.

Agile relies on customer feedback constantly, throughout the entire process, at any time they want to solicit feedback.

6. Testing

Waterfall typically only tests software products at the very end of the development cycle.

Agile tests software products throughout the entire development cycle, many times over, to find and remove bugs as soon as possible.

7. Requirements

Waterfall almost never allows for requirements to change throughout the development process. It needs clearly defined requirements upfront.

Agile encourages change and if requirements suddenly evolve during the process, Agile teams can easily adapt.

Who Wins in the Battle Between Agile vs Waterfall?

Customers today demand high-quality products that are put out quickly.

The competition in software development is more fierce than it’s ever been, and it’s only getting fiercer.

If you want to stay ahead of your competitors and please your customers, then we recommend Agile far above Waterfall.

The problem is…putting Agile into practice in your business won’t happen overnight. You probably know that.

It takes the dedication of your team, organizational leaders, and top executives to make a new software development model work consistently for you and your clients.

Further reading

What I Learned From Moving From Waterfall to Agile Testing

If Waterfall and Agile Got Into a Bar Fight, Who Would Win?

agile development, agile methodology, agile transformation, waterfall, waterfall method

Published at DZone with permission of ATC Team . See the original article here.

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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