Agile, Scrum, and Waterfall are all project management methodologies that can be used during the app development process. Some of these are more rigid and structured, while others allow you to easily introduce new ideas or make changes in the middle of a project.
When beginning a new app project, you might ask which methodology is best for you. For example, what are the differences when comparing Agile vs. Scrum vs. Waterfall, and how can you tell which is best suited to your project?
Let's take an in-depth look at each of these methodologies to help you make an informed decision.
The waterfall project management methodology is less flexible and iterative than some of the other approaches we'll discuss later. Commonly used in engineering design, progress in this model generally flows in one direction (hence the name "waterfall") through each phase.
When you use the waterfall model, you are ordering each task in your project into linear sequential phases. Each of these phases relies on the previous phase's deliverables.
It was way back in 1956 that a waterfall-type model was discussed in relation to software engineering. During a presentation at the Symposium on Advanced Programming Methods for Digital Computers, Felix Torres and Herbert D. Bennington discussed the development nation's first air defense system, SAGE, and the waterfall-style phases they used.
Winston W. Royce is often cited as the first person to create a formal, detailed diagram of the waterfall method, though he didn't use the specific term in his 1970 paper.
His original model looked like this:
In this model, you should only move on to the next phase when you have reviewed and verified the previous phase. There are many modified waterfall models that have been created since Royce's initial model.
Waterfall can be a good choice for simple projects that are unlikely to change in scope during development. It is easy to use because it is straightforward, linear, and rigid. This also allows for thorough and in-depth documentation.
Some of the major advantages of waterfall include:
One of the reasons that software developers came up with a number of more lightweight methods in the 90s was because of the most apparent downside of the waterfall method: its inability to effectively deal with change.
You can't switch back and forth between phases in this method, no matter what happens.
Here are some of the primary drawbacks of using a waterfall method:
Agile first became popular in 2001 thanks to the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. Several lightweight software development models were created during the 1990s in reaction to waterfall methods, the reason being that waterfall models were seen as overly planned, micromanaged, and regulated.
During this time, lightweight methods like RAD, UP, DSDM, Scrum, XP, and FFD were developed. Even though the Agile Manifesto came after the introduction of these various models, all of the aforementioned methods now fall under the umbrella of agile software development methods.
The authors of the Agile Manifesto clearly stated that they wanted to focus on the following in creating their new method:
There are twelve principles of Agile that are outlined in the manifesto:
Agile software development focuses on product development with non-deterministic, non-linear, and dynamic characteristics, as well as complex systems. Rather than trying to create stable plans, predictions, and accurate estimates in the early stages of a project, agile development understands that both the requirements and design of the project will emerge as things progress.
The thinking here is that it isn't economically sound to create big up-front specifications at the beginning of a project. Instead of having a firm, unmoving method that can't react to the inevitable changes and obstacles that occur along the way, agile prioritizes iterative, adaptive, and evolutionary software development.
Focusing on speed, continuous improvement, and flexibility, agile evolved as a response to the linear and rigid methodology of waterfall.
Some of the major advantages of agile include:
Even though agile has a lot of advantages over the waterfall method, that doesn't mean it doesn't have its downsides. Here are some of the cons of the agile method:
Scrum has been used in a number of fields, including sales, marketing, research, and advanced technologies. However, it was primarily created with an emphasis on software development.
Designed to be used by teams of ten or fewer, Scrum instructs teams to break their work down into different goals that are able to be completed within "sprints." Sprints are time-limited iterations, usually about two weeks and no longer than one month.
A part of this method involved "daily scrums," which are meetings of fifteen minutes or less to assess progress. Two more meetings are held at the end of each sprint, one to review the work done for stakeholders and receive feedback and another to give the team a chance to reflect on their work and make improvements for the future.
The name "scrum" was chosen because of its implications for teamwork (referencing the rugby term describing a specific formation of the players.)
Scrum is a lightweight, incremental, and iterative framework intended for the development, delivery, and maintenance of complex software products. Rather than taking a sequential approach like the waterfall method, the scrum method focuses on daily face-to-face communication between all parties involved and self-organizing teams.
One of the primary ideas behind Scrum is that customers inherently change the scope of a project during its development. Another is that unpredictable challenges always crop up during the process.
Because of these two ideas, Scrum recognizes that a waterfall-type approach (where everything is planned out and predictive) is simply not suitable. Instead of trying to force a fixed system on an inherently changing process, the scrum method argues that any obstacles or changes should be embraced, accepted, and thoroughly analyzed to find the benefits hidden inside these seemingly inconvenient occurrences.
One of the most popular ways to implement an agile methodology, the benefits of Scrum include:
Teams need to be committed and have quite a bit of experience in order to truly benefit from Scrum. Let's look at some of the cons of this project development method:
Which model is best for your next app project depends on your specific needs and circumstances– in short, there is no right answer when you're deciding between agile, Scrum, and waterfall. That being said, you will want to take the nature of the project, the delivery deadline, and the size of the team into account when making this decision.
You might choose the waterfall method due to its rigid rules and linear structure if you have a fixed budget, scope, and deadline. However, if you want to get the product out on the market quickly and then make changes based on customer feedback, you might prefer to go agile. The scrum method is a good agile model if you want to create quite a bit of structure for your team without sacrificing flexibility in the overall project development model.
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