Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Understanding Project Management: The Waterfall v. Agile Strategies

By Dan Burdick

     For years, project developers have followed a logical, sequential approach to project development. Following this classic project development model, projects would move along slow and steady with a concentrated focus on reaching the end result through completion of a series of processes and milestones. Due to the slow, sequential and flowing nature of this model, developers came to call this development model the “Waterfall Model.”
      In recent years, developers started using another development model, which throws the old Waterfall model out the window, in search of a quicker, more dynamic path to the project finish line. This quicker development model is called “Agile,” and it calls for multiple cycles of discovery, design, development and tests. This method allows for project review at a more rapid pace than the Waterfall method and seeks to improve project development time by allowing for more open-mindedness in the project development cycle. The Agile method generally includes low overhead costs and an emphasis on values and principles over processes.
     Even though more and more developers are using the Agile method of development today, there are still several pros to using the older Waterfall method. One pro to using the Waterfall method is, it is a classic method which has been proven effective time and time again. This method also necessitates all requirements gathering to be done up front, which helps start the project in a positive, focused direction. The method provides developers with a clear focus and is recommended for shorter projects where “clear vision and stakeholder commitment exists” (Ganeshan). One major con of the Waterfall method is that project requirement changes become more difficult and expensive to deal with the deeper into a project one gets. The Waterfall method also provides less time for testing designs as a project goes along.
     Like the Waterfall method, there are also several pros to the Agile method of project development. Two benefits of the Agile method are, it can potentially deliver critical business value faster, and it allows for the testing of a product in components. One negative to the Agile method is, “developers sometimes take a laissez-faire attitude and step away from the rigor needed to deliver successful IT projects” (Ganeshan).

      In conclusion, the Waterfall and Agile methods of project development are both very useful to developers today. Which method works best for each person depends on the type of person one is, the type of project one is working on and the timeline and budget associated with said project. The Waterfall method is a tried and true development method, with a sequential flow of milestones to meet and a standard set of processes to follow. The Agile method is a faster development model with multiple chances to review, rethink and retest a product before development is finished. Both methods have pros and cons, which must be weighed by a project manager before undertaking a project. A combination of both methods is also often used and can be effective when the situation calls for a merger of styles.


Ganeshan, Deepika. "Waterfall versus Agile Methods: A Pros and Cons Analysis." The Server
Side. Tech Target, 6 June 2011. Web. 12 May 2016. <>.

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