It can be difficult to choose between two popular methodologies. Making the right choice between agile vs waterfall boosts not only the success of your project but also your career.
If you are in software or app development, you probably already know quite a bit about the different types of project management systems that are in use in the field. The chances are that you have come across both the traditional and linear system of Waterfall, and the more flexible, iterative system of Agile at some point in your career.
Of course, you may also have your own views on which is the most effective for getting a project done, and which is the easier system to work with for your own personal preferences. Yet, few within the software industry have ever stopped to think about which project management system is best for their career progression in the long term.
Indeed, while the advantages and disadvantages of each system are frequently argued, the following article makes the case that the project management system used shouldn’t be chosen only for its project efficacy, but also on the skills it encourages in the individuals that use it.
This is because, by developing vital, and highly desirable skills such as teamwork, time management, communication, and critical thinking, developers can add value to their own skills sets making them much more employable. Thereby providing them with a clearer path to promotion in their field.
What is Waterfall project management?
Waterfall methodology was first defined by Dr. Winston Royce in 1970, concerning improving efficiency in software development projects. However, despite being a more traditional approach many argue that Waterfall methods still have a valuable role to play in modern software project management.
Indeed, proponents of the Waterfall approach argue that its many advantages including clearly defined development phases, that require little specialist training for programmers to use make it particularly helpful for short projects where the end goals are already well defined. Supporters also argue that the Waterfall method is effective at transferring information at the end of each discrete stage effectively, as well as defining and keeping the development team using it focused on the end goal throughout the entire process. However, despite these advantages, many see Waterfall as an outmoded choice and prefer an Agile approach instead.
Don’t go chasing Waterfalls!
Indeed, there are two significant issues with the Waterfall project management approach. The first is that in its strict structure Waterfall only allows for customer feedback once the project has been completed. Of course, this means that if the project team has missed the requirements of the stakeholder, or exercised an error in logic no one knows this until the very end. This is something that means by using Waterfall you are at risk of delivering software products that do not satisfy your customer.
The other issue with the Waterfall method is that it focuses teams members only on producing the very best code possible. Unfortunately, this often leaves them isolated in their own tasks, unable to see or communicate how what they are working on impacts the project as a whole.
Indeed, it is this lack of communication that is particularly relevant for the careers of those in the software development industry. The reason being that by ignoring the value of these skills, they not only potentially limit the success of their project, but also their own career progression as well.
The good news is that both of the major problems associated with the Waterfall project management approach can be resolved by switching to the Agile methodology. The Agile software development approach is one built on an iterative cycle rather than the linear progression encouraged by Waterfall. What this means is that each project can be corrected multiple times during the development process, something that means the Agile team is far more likely to deliver a successful product to the client at the end.
With Agile, the risk that the customer won’t be happy with the end product is greatly reduced because they are involved in the processes as a stakeholder at every step. Therefore any errors in logic or miscommunications are spotted and resolved as the project progresses, making it a much more effective way to develop software overall.
How Agile is great for your career
There is another specific advantage to using an Agile iterative cycle for software development too, and it’s that it can help boost the careers of those using it.
This is because of the need for constant communication, evaluation, and assessment at each stage of the Agile cycle, Something that means software specialists can learn valuable skills in addition to those of coding. What we are talking about are traditionally known as soft skills in a corporate environment and include things like communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and time management.
Indeed, it is through the development of these skills that each member of the team becomes more valuable and expands their potential for promotion, and employment in one of the most competitive sectors there is.
But that is not all! Not only do the skills used in the Agile project approach make better developers, but they also provide those doing the coding with the foundation to be able to take a piece of software or app from inception to final delivery and become a product owner. Thereby equipping them to create a product they could take to market themselves, and so expand their career potential in a hugely significant manner.
Final Thoughts on Agile VS Waterfall
In conclusion, an Agile approach is better for both the success of your project and the progress of the career of the individuals involved.
The reason for this is that it not only increases the likelihood of success of each project you work on but also necessitates the learning and practice of skills that make each individual involved more employable as well.
Indeed, by using Agile, programmers don’t just get good at programming, they also get good at time and team management, communicating with peers, and clients and thinking critically about the projects on which they are working, something that puts them in the best position possible to move up in their career, and remained employed in the competitive market that is software development.
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