Agile is not necessarily “better” in all situations. Saying “Agile is better than Waterfall” is like saying “A car is better than a boat”. It depends on the environment that you are in. Agile is generally better for projects that have a higher level of uncertainty that require a more adaptive approach and also where creativity and innovation are important. Many software projects fall into that category. A traditional plan-driven approach (what many people loosely call “Waterfall) is better where there is a relatively low level of uncertainty and some level of planning and control is needed to achieve predictability. A construction project might be an example of such a project. This is also not a binary and mutually-exclusive choice as many people seem to think. It is very possible to blend these two approaches in the right proportions to fit a given situation. It requires more skill to do that but it definitely can be done. Rather than force-fitting a project to one of those extremes, in some cases, a better solution is to fit the methodology to the nature of the problem.
Agile is better in achieving certain goals in certain environments and because these “goals” and “environments” are almost everywhere today, agile methods can help many teams and companies. Just always be clear, what agile promises:
- Flexibility: react to changing demands and information.
- Speed in delivering value: deliver (a little) value early and keep honing in on what customers really need.
- Keeping teams motivated and energized: maintaining a sustainable pace instead of doing crunch time all the time. Also providing an environment for them to exude their expertise instead of being handed down work items.
It is equally important to state, what agile will NOT promise:
- Working faster: NO! Quite the contrary: agile teams will work at a sustainable pace and their engineering practices will make them seem slower in the beginning (though this pays over the long run).
- Sparing you to plan deliberately: NO! Agility does not mean that you can skip planning or requirements engineering. Agility is supposed to make you flexible in case unforeseen things like changing market demands happen (and they always do). It is not supposed to allow for sloppy work – quite the contrary is true: agility demands very disciplined work.
- I have a velocity that I can simply increase: NO! Velocity in Scrum is just a measure of the reality (like a speedometer in a car). You will not be able to make that car faster by bending the speedometer to 200.
- Engineers will automatically work better: NO! Agility takes very skilled professionals. The whole purpose of an agile mindset is to give professionals the space to do the work as they please – if these people don’t know their profession and their engineering methods, agility will wreak havoc on your project.
Agile software development methodology includes various methodologies in itself. Agile methodologies like Scrum, FDD, etc. are all part of the agile manifesto, which was introduced in the year 2001. Agile methodology is often compared with the waterfall model in the software development industry. However, agile approach is considered to be better.
- Agile Methodologies have overcome the traditional methods of waterfall model by becoming flexible, fast, lean, responsive, and consistent.
- Agile method focuses on people and is more communication-oriented
- Agile methods are tested in a dynamic environment and prove to be very flexible by adapting to the change happening in the business.
- Agile methods include regular inspection in a disciplined manner, which consequently improves the leadership qualities to boost the teamwork.
- Agile method follows best practices that help in getting high-quality software very quickly.