SCRUM Vs. Waterfall: Which Development Cycle Is Best For Your Project?

Making a choice among business software methodologies means considering IT expertise levels, business needs and goals, timeframes, and times of application, among other considerations. Carefully considering the various pros and cons of using SCRUM versus a traditional SDLC Waterfall methodology is essential to making the right choice.

The Pros of Waterfall

The Waterfall strategy provides an easy way for developers and customers to agree right from the start on how the lifecycle will go. The Waterfall method also does not require the customer involved other than that very specific points. In the Waterfall method, progress can be easily measured, and since the design is completed at the beginning of the lifecycle, this method is particularly good for projects that use multiple components. The Waterfall strategy is also good for delivering a final business product that looks and feels fully integrated.

The Pros of SCRUM

SCRUM can be a great method when dealing with a customer who wants to be integral to the process throughout and have a sense of ownership by working extensively and intimately with the project team. This is also a good method for use if the customer is not completely sure what they want, but do know that they want to be involved and have a say at each point in the process. The SCRUM method is also fast, so if it's necessary to get from application to implementation quickly, this method can get the product out. The software can then be adjusted once it has been released.

The Cons of Waterfall

One of the difficulties of the Waterfall method is effectively meeting all of the requirements that a customer might make. It can be difficult for customers to understand at the beginning every single specific detail or to completely envision so early in a project what will be needed by the end of a project. This leads to the second issue with Waterfall, which is dissatisfaction on the part o n the part of customers once the final software product has been delivered. Even though deliverables are based on requirements that were documented and settled at the beginning of the project, once the customer sees the final product they may not be satisfied.

The Cons of SCRUM

With SCRUM, while customers are unlikely to be dissatisfied at the end because they've been involved from the beginning, it can be very difficult for customers who don't have time or interest for such a high level of participation. The SCRUM method also requires a development team dedicated to a single project, and it is also possible for this developmental method to run into issues because the full scope of the system was not properly considered during the initial design phase.

Which Method is Best?

Neither method is good or bad. If a customer is coming to a project knowing exactly what the end product should look like, Waterfall may be the best method for ensuring that the entire system functions as an integral whole. On the other hand, if a startup knows generally what is needed, but plans on being flexible and adapting to end consumer requirements, the SCRUM method can allow for flexibility while still minimizing cost-per-change. Waterfall is also the superior method for high predictability and inspecting capability or the capability to change everything significantly at any point.

What Questions to Ask:

To decide which method to use for any startup, there are some important questions to ask:

  • What are your deadlines? If deadlines are extremely tight, Waterfall is the better choice.

  • What level of personal involvement do you need? The SCRUM method will get the product out faster, but will require constant involvement.

  • Which is more important: flexibility or performance? it is essential that the end product perform perfectly, Waterfall is the method you need. If the most important thing is that the end product be adaptable and flexible, SCRUM is the better choice.

  • Do you know exactly what you want from the moment of application? If you know exactly what you want, it's probably worthwhile to go with Waterfall.

Both methods have their usefulness for any business software development. To choose, it's important to know what you want, what deadlines you have, how involved you want to be, how much flexibility you require, and how important it is that the end product worked perfectly. Answer these questions, and you'll be able to choose the best methodology for your individual business project.