Scrum Vs Waterfall

Shaun Coghlan

Shaun explores the pro, cons and differences between the Scrum and Waterfall development methodologies.

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Throughout the solution development industry, there is a flurry of different methodologies that each developer will share their thoughts and opinions on. Today, I want to explore two of these methods and see how they compare. 

Now, I know the title of this article is probably going to perk people's ears up straight off the bat: “They're both good at different things,” I hear you say. Well, you’re right... kinda. Starting with the more traditional and well-known of the two, we will be exploring the ins and outs of the “Waterfall” methodology compared to a newer addition to the scene, “Scrum.”

But before we can do that, we have to ask: 

What are Software Development Methodologies? 

Software Development Methodologies are structured approaches used to manage the software creation process. These methodologies provide a framework for planning, executing, and delivering software projects. They help teams organize tasks, collaborate effectively, and produce high-quality software. Some of the more well-known methodologies across the industry include Waterfall, Agile, Scrum, and Kanban. 

 Now that you know what methodologies are, we can ask: 

What does Waterfall mean in Software Development? 

Waterfall is often referred to as the “traditional” and “linear” approach to project management. This methodology is widely adopted throughout the industry due to its easy-to-understand nature, breaking each project down into distinct phases: Requirements, Design, Implementation, Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance. For this sequential process to work, each phase must be completed before moving on to the next stage. 

A breakdown of each stage can be shown as: 

Requirements: Detailed documentation of all project requirements. 

Design: Architectural and detailed design based on requirements. 

Implementation: Coding and development based on design specifications. 

Testing: Verifying that the system meets all requirements. 

Deployment: Releasing the final product to users. 

Maintenance: Ongoing support and bug fixes after deployment. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Waterfall in Software Development? 

Pros: Waterfall is Simple and Easy to Understand 
Due to its clearly defined stages, Waterfall projects are easy to track. At every point, every team member knows exactly where they are in the solution development cycle. 

Cons: Going Back is Difficult 

While clearly defined stages are Waterfall's biggest strength, they also lead to its biggest issue of inflexibility to change. Once a stage has been completed, it becomes very difficult to return to a previous stage. This would be fine if there were never any last-second discoveries or issues found, but unfortunately, in the software development industry, that is always a rarity. 

What does Scrum mean in Software Development? 

On almost the opposite side of methodologies, we have “Scrum” development. Instead of breaking development into stages, Scrum is a project management process that aims for speedy development by breaking into fixed-length iterations called sprints. Using the Agile framework, these sprints last anywhere between 2-4 weeks, with each aiming to deliver a shippable product increment. 

What are the Pros and Cons of Scrum in Software Development? 

Pros: Flexibility and Customer Collaboration 

At the beginning of each sprint, every team member is given tasks to complete within the time frame. Providing these deadlines keeps every team member accountable for their own tasks while also allowing for review and collaboration at the end of each sprint before moving on to the next. This is ideal for speedy development as it allows for issues to be addressed as they arise and for changes in the solution direction as needed. 

Cons: The Risk of Scope Creep 

Without a set “start, middle, end” like Waterfall, Scrum falls into the risk of “scope creep,” which is the constant addition of new features and functions that were not initially in the project requirements. However, this can be avoided through good project managers who keep their team focused on an endpoint while mitigating additions. 

What's the Difference Between Scrum and Waterfall Methodologies? 

So now it comes to this, after reviewing the pros and cons of each methodology, can we answer which is better? While both have their pros and cons, the difference mainly stands out in their approaches. Scrum is iterative and incremental, allowing for continuous feedback and adjustments, while Waterfall is sequential, with each phase completed before moving on. This difference greatly affects the flexibility and requirements of each, with Scrum’s high flexibility welcoming changes even late into a project while Waterfall does not. 

So Which is Better? 

That’s really up to you. 

However, that being said, Scrum is the Lynkz team’s preferred methodology as its flexibility and allowance for collaboration with our clients have granted us the ability to create some incredible solutions cheaper, faster, and to a higher degree than with any other methodology. So if you’d like to learn more about our Scrum projects or how we can implement Scrum-based roles into your team, please feel free to reach out. We’d love to chat.