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Traditional vs. Agile Software Development Methods – Which One Enhances Your Project Outcome?

June 8, 2022
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What is the difference between traditional vs. agile software development methods, and which should you choose for your project? This tutorial will guide you to choose the suitable approach for your software development project based on the comparison of traditional vs. agile software development models.

Over the last decade, agile software development models have taken over traditional software development models. In comparison to the traditional method which is a sequential development that flows steadily downwards through several phases, agile project management has proved to be a very efficient, practical, and flexible approach. In the constantly changing marketplace, the choice of software development models should be made based on the nature of the business and the objective of the project. 

If you still wonder whether an agile software development approach is right for your project, or what are the differences between traditional vs. agile software development, Newwave Solutions prepared this exclusive guide for you. Now, let’s get started!

1. Overview of Traditional Software Development 

Traditional software development is a sequential development that flows steadily downwards through several phases, often used to design and develop simple software with minor security and functionality required. Traditional software development methodologies are based on pre-organized phases/stages of the software development life cycle: Analysis – Design – Implement – Coding & Testing – Maintenance. In each phase, there are specific deliverables and detailed documentation that have undergone a thorough review process.

This approach is suitable for projects with precise requirements which means project owners know exactly what they want and can confidently say that there won’t be any major changes in scope throughout the project development. However, with a project that requires constant development and modification, traditional development procedures might fail to achieve project goals. In the traditional software development approach, the entire set of requirements has to be given in the initial phase without changes in later phases which impact the final outcomes of the project. The disadvantages of this approach are cost, team effort, and time. 

2. Overview of Agile Software Development 

Agile software development is a precise and customer-friendly approach that is used to design complicated software with a focus on flexibility and security. Throughout three phases of agile software development, namely Project initiation – Sprint planning – Demos, users have the opportunity to make modifications based on business context and changes in customer demand. It enhances mutual understanding among developer and user through evaluating solution modules to determine whether the business need is being met thus ensuring quality outcomes. 

In this approach, the project can be divided into different modules and can be delivered periodically. Agile proposes an incremental and iterative approach to development to increase cost and time efficiency. 

Newwave Solutions - Traditional vs. Agile Frameworks Software Development, which to choose - Agile framework
Agile software development is a precise and customer-friendly approach

3. Traditional vs. Agile Software Development Methods – Why is Agile Preferred over Traditional Software Development Method

Are you wondering which one tech enthusiasts would choose between traditional vs. agile software development methods? Developers and project managers prefer Agile methodology for a variety of reasons. 

Enhance flexibility and transparency

Agile software development methodology gives more flexibility than traditional methods when it comes to making changes during the process. Developers have rooms to experiment and try new things that are different from planned. The best thing about agile methodology is that it focuses on the outcome of the projects rather than following a rigid structure, or top-down approach. As a result, the project still operates smoothly regardless of all changes without disrupting the project schedule.

The agile software development methodology is more transparent, as it allows project owners and decision-makers involved in all phases of the project from the initiation, planning, review, to testing. Meanwhile, in the traditional approach, developers hold the reins of the project, thus the project will fail in case developers have a different understanding from others. Besides, in an agile approach, all team members must actively contribute to the project from the start to the end to increase final outcomes. 

Ownership and accountability

In traditional project management, developers are the decision-makers while customers would not be involved during the development process. The ownership belongs to the customers, but the accountability is put on the developers. It raises gaps between ownership and accountability that affect the project outcomes. To be specific, every single process is clearly defined and planned from the beginning of the project within the estimated time and budget. So, any big modification that affects the pre-set objective is skipped. 

Meanwhile, in the agile approach, every member involved in the project shares ownership as they play an active role to complete the sprint within the estimated time. Every member is encouraged to provide constant feedback that improves the quality of the project with the ultimate goal being to respond to customer requests as customers get to validate each iteration to deliver a high-quality product or service.

4. How to Choose the Correct Approach

It is important to note that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach for every project. The choice to implement a method depends on many factors such as the project’s objectives, size, resources, etc. The project manager should discuss with related stakeholders of the project to choose a suitable methodology. Analyzing the project requirements, the technology involved in the project, the risks and threats as well as the time and budget.

If project requirements are unclear or tend to change, the agile methodology is ideal because the traditional method fits with project requirements that are clearly defined and well understood from the first go.

If no new technology or tools are applied, the traditional project management methodology is more appropriate to reduce costs; meanwhile, agile software development methods allow more space for experimentation with the latest technology.

If the project is prone to unwanted risks and threats, it’s not advisable to go with the traditional methodology. The agile approach will allow the project team to implement risk management and essential modification to optimize final project outcomes. 

The traditional approach works best with significant and complex teams and projects which increase the required budget while an agile team is less labor-intensive.

5. Conclusion

We hope by now you have gained a sufficient understanding of the difference between traditional vs. agile software development methods. When you involve developers and customers in essential processes, the result is much more rewarding in terms of quality, productivity, better business value, lower costs, and quicker time-to-market speeds.

In case you need help getting started with your project, Newwave Solutions has an adept team in the agile software development approach. Read what our clients have to say about us on Clutch and Good Firms. Why wait? Contact us now for a free trial!


To Quang Duy is the CEO of Newwave Solutions, a leading Vietnamese software company. He is recognized as a standout technology consultant. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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