Agile vs. Waterfall: Choosing the Right Development Philosophy for your Software Project

Agile vs. Waterfall: Choosing the Right Development Philosophy for your Software Project

As with any business, inefficiency is a big killer of software development projects. Remaining on task, managing productivity and ensuring the product is delivered to spec are all things that keep project managers awake at night. 

In order to minimise these issues, development teams will ascribe to a certain project ‘philosophy’ in order to complete a goal. Two of the more common development philosophies are the more traditional ‘waterfall’ approach and the aptly named ‘agile’ system. While both offer certain benefits, agile projects are becoming increasingly popular among software development teams.

Understanding the differences

Although both Waterfall and Agile approaches to development are focused on bringing a project to completion, the two development styles work in very different ways. Waterfall methodology, also known as the Linear-Sequential Life Cycle Model, works by having tasks completed in a sequence, with teams only being able to move onto the next phase after the previous task has been completed. 

On the other hand, Agile methodology works by taking an iterative, team-based approach to the project at hand, focusing on the rapid, bespoke delivery of the product. Unlike the Waterfall methodology, which works around creating tasks and schedules, Agile projects group each phase into ‘sprints’. As the tasks defined in a sprint are completed, they are consistently reviewed by both the project team and customer, opening a dialogue throughout the development process. 

Which is better?

While both are tested and matured methodologies for software development, the Agile option offers a range of benefits, especially for app developers. In comparison to traditional development methods, Agile allows for faster development times thanks to granulating large tasks into sub-projects, allowing teams to work independently and without relying on each other. 

However, arguably Agile’s greatest strength is its ability to give greater control to the customer, providing them with a bespoke end result. Thanks to consistent testing and increased transparency between the team and the customer, the final product will inevitably be of a higher quality and to the customer’s requirements. 

MyOxygen’s Briefing Process

As app developers, we’ve found that the Agile methodology is perfect for our team, which is why we have adopted it into our wider briefing process. Making assumptions is the bane of any software development project, which is why we ensure all things are considered in our two phase process.

Phase one

We begin our process by meeting with clients and carrying out informative discovery and scoping workshops which, in turn, help us to create a ‘user story map’. This acts as a rough draft, noting the client’s demographics and technical architecture. It also allows us to build maps of the various features desired for the app and to better understand the business and its aims. 

After a comprehensive meeting with the client, we bring everything back to our development team and break down every task and functionality into sub-projects. Then, after we have defined the user flow for the app and created time estimates for every task, we move into our second phase. 

Phase two

It’s in this phase that we make the most of the benefits of the Agile system. After presenting our user flow and giving cost estimates relative to each task in need of completion, we proceed to break our work requirements into those handy sprints, giving us a better estimate of the development timeline. These phases have been tried and tested, helping us to ensure that everything is covered and that assumptions are left at the door.