It has become a very fast paced world, and companies involved in software development have to respond in a fast manner to changing customer needs and wants. Gone are the days when projects could be completed leisurely and as competition has increase and timely delivery of projects has become central issue in software development. Agile and Waterfall are two very popular methodologies for software development that are being used in organizations these days. There are mixed responses from people regarding superiority of one or the other methodology. Both have their own features and pros and cons, and work better in different sets of circumstances. It is prudent to learn the differences between Agile and Waterfall to choose one of the two systems that is better suited for your requirements.
Features of Waterfall
As the name suggests, waterfall model takes place in a sequential manner from one stage to another. There are various stages of development such as identifying specification, conception, analysis, designing, coding, testing, debugging, installing and in the end, maintaining. The team that is developing the model progresses to next stage only after completion of the previous stage. Software engineers spent a lot of time at each stage so that there are no bugs once the program is ready for testing. After software has been designed, its coding takes place with no changes introduced in later stages. It is a common practice to ask designing, coding and analysis teams to work separately on different parts of the project. Documentation is an integral part of software development in Waterfall methodology.
Features of Agile
Agile is a flexible approach as against rigid system in waterfall and the hallmark of this system is agility and adaptability. Agile is iterative in nature and does not follow a set pattern. Several iterations are involved involving all the steps of designing, coding and testing. Unlike waterfall where no changes are allowed once design is complete, Agile is not a rigid approach and any changes that can lead to improvement can be introduced even at the last minute of software development. Even the teams that are made to develop software through agile approach are cross functional in nature and close cooperation and sharing of expertise is a common feature unlike Waterfall. Instead of the time consuming documentation, emphasis here is laid on faster development of software.
Difference between Agile and Waterfall
• As far as efficiency is concerned, Agile is more efficient as it is adaptable and responsive to real world issues.
• Releasing products in lesser time is possible through agile method as last minute changes can be incorporated
• While waterfall is sequential, agile is iterative in nature
• Agile is more popular and used in wider circumstances than waterfall
• Waterfall is more suited for development of programs that are stable and need only a little makeover
• Waterfall is easier to manage and costs involved can be known beforehand