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Luke Phillips
Luke Phillips

Agile And Waterfall Differences And Similarities

Leadership requests PMOs to transform the organizational project approach to an agile approach. They often want a highly prescriptive, waterfall-like process and set of standardized documentation templates using agile words and practices; however, that is not agile.

Agile and Waterfall Differences and Similarities

When defining the project management strategy, determine when and how a project can iteratively deliver results. That is the point in which it makes sense to transition from a waterfall approach to agile.

Whether fully agile or hybrid, the various approaches can be used throughout. Perhaps a project cannot be released in micro-segments initially. However, the PM can start with a waterfall schedule in MS Project for the initial foundational components; create a Kanban board to help keep the team on track; and manage open actions and a JIRA site to track the requirements, dependencies, risks, and testing or reviews. Once the foundational waterfall aspect completes, they can then transition to a two- or three-week sprint model with incremental deliveries.

In any toolbox, the user selects the most useful tool to support the challenge at hand. They also combine the tools to get the job done. The project management tool box is no different. It is not a one-tool solution, but rather the flexibility to employ the right tools in the right combination at that right time. The best approach is one that factors in the complexities of the work which often can be found as a hybrid approach of both waterfall and agile tools. Select from the expansive options as they best fit the engagement type or solution, team needs, and organizational challenges.

Smartsheet is a leading work execution platform that has real-time work management features, collaboration and automation tools. Users are presented with a familiar and easy-to-use spreadsheet-like interface. However, it has enterprise-grade capabilities that even Fortune 500 companies like Cisco, Bayer, HP, and PayPal are confident to adopt in their business. Strong project management features enable teams to utilize different views of real-time data, and switch easily from Gantt, card, grid and calendar views. Smartsheet has automatic update requests, and can be used for waterfall and agile projects, product launch, sprint planning, and more. The resource management feature provides users the visibility who is busy, and who is not, in real-time. They can also attach files, share sheets, get notified, view the activity log, export, email, and print.

A very nice and well defined article highlighting the key features of both models. Both models have the plus and minus points as is mentioned very clearly in this article. I have worked on both models. For projects having a large scope, the waterfall model is the right choice as it requires robust planning, detailed specifications and well defined requirements subject to little or no change. The agile model can be used for projects having requirements subject to change.

Comparing these two methodologies can get confusing quickly, so we put together an easy-to-understand comparison table below based on input from Kurt Bittner, VP of enterprise solutions at The table highlights different project attributes in an agile vs. waterfall environment.

By perspectives, he means how each methodology looks at defining different aspects of the project. While waterfall requires everything be defined at the beginning, agile initiatives typically address an unknown or unclear problem where you may not be able to define everything up front.

Similarity: Feasibility studies that require consumer feedback is an inherent part of both agile and waterfall methods. No development project moves forward without passing consumer feedback tests that guarantee a certain level of adoption-based utility of the planned product. Both methods rely largely on conjoint analysis for market feasibility tests today.

Similarity: While agile is designed to work in several iterations, each iteration still follows the same stages as waterfall, namely, conceptualization, planning, developing, testing and release.

The agile methodology follows an iterative approach for software development because the planning, prototyping, development, and other phases of software development may appear multiple times. This is the complete opposite of the waterfall approach where development stages like testing, design, development, and so on, are finished once.

What are the waterfall and agile methodologies? What is the most appropriate for your team? What are the pros and cons? This article will cover both methodologies along with the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Agile prizes flexibility over the rigid structure of the waterfall method. The key goal of agile is to provide value to customers as soon as possible and as a result, gather feedback quickly. This allows teams to iterate and change their priorities based on that feedback.

As the new shiny methodology, many may assume that agile is better than waterfall. However, the real answer is one of them is not better than the other: it all depends on which methodology is a better fit for your team. Many factors need to be considered.

First, your team and business organization will have to define and fully assess the capacities of the personnel you have on hand. The next step is to determine how best to engage these assets to reach your business and software development goals with waterfall or agile.

Waterfall and agile are two very popular product development methodologies with key differences. Each has a clearly defined software development life cycle (SDLC). And in each, a set of clearly defined processes guides the workflow. Note that the agile method is the best choice for solely digital projects and will include software, like Jira, or Kanban boards, to manage and release software over the SDLC.

In contrast to the waterfall method, the agile process demands customer involvement at every stage, including proximity of teams and stakeholders for efficient communication. Most importantly, project team members must be both competent and completely dedicated to fulfill the agile principle of self-management. Product testing is performed concurrently by agile testers, instead of after completion of the development phase in waterfall.

Your project requirements will, of course, guide your choice of project management methodology, and the waterfall and agile approaches are designed to meet various business needs. Both waterfall and agile software development methodologies are founded upon teamwork and distinct phases of product development, but with significant differences:

The waterfall model is linear, highly structured, employs a sequential design process, tests only after the build phase, and allows no changes in project development once the process begins. The agile approach, by contrast, is famously flexible, allows changes in scope and direction at every phase of the project, engages an incremental approach to produce continuous iterations of software under development, and then tests that software concurrently with development.

In contrast to what's called the waterfall methodology, agility is in a completely different ball park. Trying to understand what waterfall vs. agile methodology is and which is more suitable when, can be quite confusing.

But what does waterfall vs. agile even mean in practice? The waterfall model is a linear process model, in which the procedure is organized in successive project phases with specifically defined start and end points. Roughly sketched out, it looks something like this:

Even when the waterfall model has good aspects and is effective in many situations, companies should get involved in becoming more agile. Why? Because the world in which we all operate, places ever more complex and contradictory demands on us, and with waterfall thinking, we often find it difficult to react to these situations.

It is often still difficult to make the processes in companies agile and iterative. This is because people are fundamentally more risk-averse and, sometimes in a professional context, have been socialized for decades with a waterfall-style mindset.

The agile vs. waterfall methodology require us to give up this supposed security: instead of using tried-and-tested methods and using fixed structures and principles, old thinking patterns of the illusion of planning are broken down, and iterative methods are used. Initially, this leads to a perceived increase in uncertainty, as new - and seemingly risky - approaches must be used, that interpret uncertainty as part of the plan.

With the FDD, one develops - much like the waterfall methodology - a concrete, long-term plan with individual, pre-defined sequences: known as the features. However, the individual features are very short, which means that short-term reactions to changing demands are possible. The procedure is not as iterative as agile methodologies, but it may represent an appropriate middle ground.

And so we come to the rather astonishing result: It doesn't always have to be agile vs. the waterfall methodology. The two methodologies can also complement each other. They are equally justified, depending on the project and context.

The Agile Manifesto took the center stage one year later with the creation of the Scrum Alliance by, among others, two of the original signatories of the manifesto. Time went by and scrum became the first framework contender to waterfall. Encompassing the agile principles to its core, scrum broke away from a hardline approach to software development in favor of an iterative stance on value delivery.

This fifth value has no counterpart on waterfall and is not present in the Agile Manifesto. Of all of the lean contributions to agile culture, this is the most important one. Based on the fact that we are in an ever-changing reality and that no one knows better than anyone else, being able to fail and learn with that is the fastest way to identify what is worth delivering. 041b061a72


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