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Agile Versus Traditional Project Management

22 July 2016

Dr. Swapn (Sam) Sinha
Strategism Inc


There are many approaches to developing software. The most common software development techniques are Agile and Waterfall. Both of these techniques have strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, when evaluating the pros and cons of Agile software development, a comparison is usually made between the Agile and Waterfall project management techniques. The Agile framework was developed to overcome the shortcomings of the Waterfall models.

Agile is an iterative software development concept. On the other hand, Waterfall is a procedural software development tool, done in phases. The number of software development phases varies depending on the type of Waterfall method chosen.

Weighing the positive and negative attributes of Agile helps project managers make better decisions about their software development life cycles. These are the potential pros and cons that I have experienced in my time watching both types of projects unfold.
 

Pros

The Agile framework can have the following positive attributes:

Better transparency: Under traditional Waterfall, the scope and features of a project are enumerated before its design and implementation. The other aspects of software development are adjusted accordingly after fixing the project scope. You cannot make changes to the phases that have been finished.

Agile techniques offer more flexibility to the software development team by allowing for variation in the scope of the project to match acceptable business requirements. All project stakeholders actively participate in the software development process. All aspects of the project, including times and costs, are discussed openly. This participation promotes better accuracy and product agreement.

Immediate feedback: Agile/Scrum iterative phases allow for immediate and timely feedback regarding the software development process. The feedback comes from clients, end users, and the quality assurance team. The testers and developers then incorporate the feedback into the software development process, allowing the end user to see progress in a shorter amount of time. On the other hand, making alterations to the software segments with Waterfall is more cumbersome and costly.

Fewer defects in the finished products: With Agile, quality assurance and testing are done in each cycle of the software development process. The regular debugging process allows for timely detection and correction of errors. Combining manual and automated testing procedures guarantees the best error-free results.
 

Cons

Agile can have the following negative attributes:

Variable pricing: The pricing model of the software product can vary with each phase of the iteration. Clients may not know how much the product will cost them until the iteration ends. The active participation needed from all stakeholders during the software development process may put a strain on the client's firm.

Client training: The software firm trains clients on the product's development process. A lack of understanding and participation may adversely affect the software quality. As such, Agile can be more involving and costly.

Scope creep danger: The immediate feedback may result in more add-ons, causing a deviation from the initial project scope. Also, as afterthoughts, clients might want the project team to make alterations to the products. The project team, or more so the project manager, should be firm and accept only changes within the scope of the project.

In spite of potential limitations, Agile software development offers a win-win situation for both software providers and their clients.
 

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.



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