How do I choose between Agile & Waterfall?

Choosing between Agile and Waterfall methodologies depends on various factors such as project requirements, project complexity, team size, resources available, timeline, and more.

It’s an important decision so here are the considerations you should make to help you choose the correct approach for your project:

Requirements: Waterfall is well-suited for projects with clearly defined requirements and a fixed scope. Agile is ideal for projects with evolving requirements or those with a less clear picture of the desired end result.

Team Size & Composition: Waterfall projects often involve large teams with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. Agile teams are smaller and self-organising, with members taking on multiple roles and collaborating to achieve smaller project goals within the wider project vision.

Project Timeline: The Waterfall methodology works well for projects with a well-defined scope, if you have this then a fixed timeline should be easily agreed and achieved with the correct resources. Agile projects require more flexible timelines on account of the potential for the scope to evolve and to allow teams to adjust their approach as needed and as more data is collected and consumed.

Involvement: Agile methodology emphasises close collaboration with between the development team and the customers product owner / wider project team. This allows teams to challenge eachother, gather feedback and make dynamic changes and improvements as the project develops. The Waterfall methodology has less customer involvement and scope for change, more time is required at the beginning to plan and specify the project and deviation may have implications on cost and delivery times. If the project is clearly defined and the scope to deviate during the project is required, customer involvement is not required and so Waterfall will be better. If closer oversight is required and the ability to change direction along the way, Agile is a better fit.

Risks and Uncertainties: Agile methodology allows teams to adapt to changes and uncertainties that arise during a project, reducing the risk of poor initial planning sabotaging the project, but also decreasing certainty in terms of budget and delivery times. Where good planning and detailed project specification is possible, the Waterfall methodology minimise time and cost uncertainties and risks.

Documentation: Waterfall methodology requires a lot of upfront documentation, including detailed project plans, requirements and specification documents and progress reports. Agile methodology relies on less start-up documentation, a simple vision is all you need to get started and clear and regular (often daily) communication and collaboration will guide the project.

The choice between Agile and Waterfall methodology does depends on various factors but in most cases project specifics will leave little confusion as to the appropriate approach. In some cases, a hybrid approach may also be appropriate, combining elements of both methodologies to achieve the desired outcomes. If you need help understanding and choosing between Agile and Waterfall please feel free to contact us for a free consultation where after establishing the key facts of your project our team will be able to point you in the right direction.

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