Agile vs. Waterfall — the 3 key factors you need to consider

Jul 31, 2020

There are two popular paths to manage your software development project – the agile framework and the waterfall framework. Our first article discussed the key differences of both frameworks. Even though there is no one size fits all framework, this article will discuss the key factors that you need to consider when you have to decide on the best approach for you or your client.

The 3 Key Factors

Based on our experience, we recommend considering the three factors in your decision making:

  1. Time
  2. Flexibility
  3. Complexity

If you’re in a rush, here’s a cheat sheet that will give you the quick answers.

Timeline

Projects that need to follow a fixed timeline would be better suited with the Waterfall approach. You can plan your phases to clearly meet your deadline without any interruptions or changes in between.

For projects that need to be finished within a short amount of time you would benefit from the Agile approach where documentation on each phase is not as important. This allows you to be more time efficient.

Complexity

If milestones can be clearly outlined without the need of the client’s approval through every step of the software development project – the Waterfall approach is the way to go.

If there is no clear description of the end result of your product due to the complexity of the situation, you should consider to go for the Agile approach as this leaves room for changes as you develop your software.

Involvement

If you are working remotely and do not have clients that you can come in frequent contact with, the Waterfall approach may be better suited.

If clients are heavily involved and you can work closely with your colleagues and employees throughout the entire project, you would be better suited to use the Agile approach.

So, is there a one-size-fits-all?

If there is one key takeaway here, it’s that there’s unfortunately no one-size-fits-all framework.

Recently, project managers have seen success working with an Agile-Waterfall Hybrid framework. A software specific team and a hardware development team, for instance, could flourish using different frameworks. According to Erick Bergmann and Andy Hamilton, this could be a more efficient solution for both parties.

Nonetheless, we see more project managers adapting the agile approach. But know that it all depends on your expertise and your personal and practical skills to decide which methodology will guarantee the most success for your client.

At the end of the day, it only matters that you’re delivering a product that solves your client’s problems. How you deliver it, will be entirely in your hands!