Project Management

Agile vs Waterfall

Project management methodologies work best in different scenarios, here's an overview of two popular techniques.

Project management methodologies work best in different scenarios – agile project management allows for iterative releases of a product or software, whilst Waterfall is perfect for a more structured and refined product release. There’s no right or wrong approach, and at Herdl, we’ve found a mixture of the two is usually appropriate, depending on a client’s goals.

How agile works?

Agile project management is the concept of getting a product to market as soon as possible. This allows the product to start becoming profitable early, whist development and further versions of the product are worked on behind the scenes and released as later iterations. Agile project management is most common in industries like the software market but theoretically is useable in many other sectors, such as web design or marketing.

Agile project management focuses on an MVP (or minimal viable product), which is a stripped-back analysis of the absolute essentials a product or service needs to launch. The team working on the project break the MVP down into chunks, called user stories, and work on these in Sprints – which are usually 2 week periods of time. At the end of each Sprint, the team can review what did and didn’t go well – this allows the team to continuously improve and iteratively strengthen their workflow, meaning each Sprint becomes more and more productive.

Ultimately, Agile Project Management is terrific for clients who are happy to break down their project into varying levels of importance – using methods such as the MoSCoW priority method – in the interest of getting to market way ahead of a final, fully-formed product.

What is Waterfall?

Agile is an iterative process, allowing a team to get a product to market quickly. Waterfall is a more structured approach where a product is released in its entirety as intended. Waterfall is a linear process where the project is broken down into tasks – one task is worked on and completed before moving onto the next in a (you guessed it) waterfall fashion. It may sound strict, but this methodology’s origins lie in manufacturing and construction, sectors where it’s arguably necessary, especially when compared to an agile approach.

Waterfall management is excellent when the product requirements are fixed, but the timings, deadlines and budget remain flexible. With Waterfall, changes needed to the product later come at the expense of further cost and time, so if the project’s parameters are agreed upon and don’t change, and there’s no short deadline, Waterfall can be perfect. It allows a team to create the finished article without time pressure, focusing on quality at every turn – and ultimately – release the whole product in all of its glory.

project meeting

So which do you choose?

Well, that entirely depends on the product and client! Some products can’t be released in an agile way, whilst some clients are pressured by time, ruling out Waterfall. It’s generally a good idea to apply a mixture of both – but the critical thing is to be practised in both project management methodologies, so you can use which will provide the best outcome! If you’d like to learn more about our approach, please get in touch.

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