Project work is gaining ground in companies from different sectors as it is a flexible methodology that reduces fixed costs and speeds up delivery times , while increasing the level of commitment and motivation of workers. Currently there are different project management methodologies, although probably the most popular are Waterfall and Agile. Both allow planning, executing, monitoring and closing projects, but they differ in their philosophy and way of working.
What is the Waterfall methodology?
The Waterfall development model is based on a series of sequential phases , so that one must be completed before moving on to the next. Initially, you work with the client to collect the project requirements and understand their scope , which means that there is a well-defined vision of the final product in its entirety that will not change.
In a second moment, the project manager estimates the necessary resources and plans the actions to carry out the project . Throughout it, different members of the team can intervene or continue with other work guided by the technical documentation, which serves as a compass throughout the project since it collects all the requirements and advances. In fact, in this methodology tests are carried out at the end of each phase of development.
What is the Agile methodology?
The Agile methodology focuses on creating efficient work teams that can flexibly plan work to implement it quickly . It involves continuous improvement as it is based on periodic and early delivery of value to the client, practically from the start of the project.
Thanks to iterations, the work team receives a continuous flow of customer feedback to adapt the product or service to their needs . However, instead of solving all issues at once, the team runs shorter phases in the development cycle that cover a few updates, leading to incremental quality improvements. Thus, it is possible to choose the best option in each delivery without compromising the entire project.
Waterfall vs Agile: the 3 main differences
Way of working
The Waterfall methodology involves a sequential and highly structured way of working that makes it easier to measure progress and establish clear milestones from the start. In contrast, the Agile methodology prioritizes responding to change over following a plan. It focuses on getting products that can be shipped quickly, rather than spending time thoroughly determining requirements and planning. It organizes itself to respond to changes in an agile manner and works with requirements that are constantly evolving. As a result, the Waterfall methodology is more rigid, does not allow retrofitting and makes it difficult to correct errors, while the Agile method is more flexible and allows bugs to be corrected on the fly .
Type of projects
The Waterfall methodology is simple and practical, so it is ideal for projects that are well defined from the beginning, with a fixed time and budget, in which there is little uncertainty since they are implemented in stable and more traditional markets . Agile methodology focuses on individuals and interactions, so communication is key to executing the project. Early tests and reviews are carried out that minimize reaction times and facilitate decision making. Therefore, it is ideal for the largest, open-ended and complex projects that require a lot of development work, targeting ever-evolving markets where speed and flexibility are key to success .
Level of customer involvement
Another difference between the Waterfall and Agile methodology is the way of working with clients. The Waterfall methodology does not require much customer involvement, except for the initial phase where requirements are established, as well as the corresponding reviews, approvals and status meetings. On the contrary, the Agile methodology demands a close collaboration with clients since they must provide constant feedback and actively participate in the entire process.
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