Traditional VS. Agile Software Development Method: Which is the Best?


Traditional vs. Agile Software Development Method: Is Old Still Gold? traditional vs agile software development

Agile software development methodology came out of the shortcomings of the traditional software development method. But even now, many large enterprises hold the traditional method in high regard, and it’s still a viable method.

So how about we compare both methodologies today and determine what makes agile different from traditional project methodology? Let’s begin, as always, with simple introductions.

Definition of Traditional Software Development

Traditional software development is where the development team works on a pre-determined set of stages and completes each stage before proceeding to the next one till the final product is fully developed. The development flow here is unidirectional.

A great example of traditional software development is the waterfall model, where product development goes through several stages. Every stage has specified deliverables, and the entire process has documentation that contains every possible change the product has undergone throughout the development cycle.

Traditional approaches are more suitable when all the requirements and end goal is clear. If the customer requirement is clear and the project has no chance of changing or evolving, then the traditional method is a good choice.

Though software development can utilize traditional methods for smaller projects with clear goals, it’s highly unreliable in the ever-changing and evolving software market.

Here are the key characteristics of traditional software development:

  • Business needs have to be specified in advance. It can be as early as during the ideation phase.
  • A set of requirements must be submitted before the development begins without any chance of later changes.
  • Users can’t evaluate immediately to ensure the product development is aligned with the visions of the product owner and business requirements.
  • End users receive a system based on the developer’s understanding, which might not always meet customer needs.
  • Documentation becomes a high priority and becomes more expensive over time.
  • Fewer chances to create or implement reusable components.
  • Inffeciency often can cause projects to get scrapped due to efficiency, resulting in huge losses.

Definition of Agile Software Development

Agile software development approaches are more suitable for the modern audience and more user-friendly for the market. Users have a better opportunity to make modifications throughout different project phases. Agile project methodology offers multiple benefits, including:

  • The initial requirements can be changed at any time.
  • Through periodical sharing of user stories, collaboration between developers and users increases.
  • The entire project can be sectioned into different modules, and the software team can deliver each module separately and periodically.
  • Users get to evaluate solution models to determine quality outcomes from the product by meeting business needs.
  • It’s possible to create and implement reusable components
  • While documentation still exists in agile, agile values focus more on working software than documentation, so it’s optional and can help save valuable time and resources.

Traditional vs. Agile Software Development: The Ultimate Comparison

ParametersTraditional Software DevelopmentAgile Software Development
Model PreferenceRelies on predictability and planning beforehandEmphasizes adaptability through higher flexibility
Project PrioritiesStrict plans to meet project requirementsAchieving maximum customer satisfaction with working software.
Team CommunicationWritten documentation and formal communicationFace-to-face communication for better collaboration
Project PlanningLonger phases for delivery with a rigid, near-unchangeable planShort sprints for planning and delivery with high adjustability throughout the project
Team FunctionalityFunctionally dividedCross-functional
Team OrganizationHierarchically organized teamTeams are always self-organized
Recommended Project ScaleSmall-MediumLarge-Scale
Development ModelEvolutionary delivery modelLife cycle model
User RequirementsInteractive inputsAlways defined before coding or implementation
Client EngagementHighLow
Customer InvolvementOnly before the project has startedInvolved throughout nearly every process and also allowed to offer feedback
Escalation ManagementEscalates to managersEntire team resolves escalation issues together
Product or ProcessEmphasizes the processEmphasizes the product
Test DocumentationComprehensive test planningTests planned one sprint at a time
Effort EstimationProject managers offer estimates to get approval from the POScrum masters facilitate 
Approvals and ReviewsReviews and approvals come from the PO after the project is overReviews done after each iteration for improvement

Why Agile Scrum Is More Preferred Than Traditional Software Development Methods

Higher Flexibility

Agile methodology believes in adapting to constant changes to get the best results from a software development cycle. If one or more developers feel like a change is required within the development, they’ll discuss the possible changes with the rest of the team and implement the changes right away based on how crucial it is.

Being able to implement sudden changes in requirements is what gives agile methodology a considerable edge over traditional software development.

Better Transparency

In agile, every development step is done with consultation from internal and external stakeholders and other decision-makers. They are constantly involved with the project throughout initiation, planning, review, and testing.

On the other hand, the project manager holds all the leashes in the case of traditional software development. Only the development team members can participate in the process until it’s time for either testing or the product has already been published.

Equal Ownership & Accountability

In traditional software development, the project manager is the team’s leader. As a result, all the ownership and accountability falls on them entirely. While the customers might be involved during the initial planning phase, their involvement ends as soon as development begins.

In agile, each team member is responsible for the segment of the task assigned, so everyone holds the same amount of accountability after completing a sprint within the deadline.

Constructive Criticism Through Feedback

Traditional software development doesn’t allow outside meddling in the development process, so the team doesn’t receive any kind of constructive criticism or any feedback throughout the development from the ideation phase until it’s time for either testing or publication. Also, since everything is pre-planned, feedback doesn’t have any place during the development phase.

In agile, all users are involved with the development team by providing valuable user feedback after every iteration. The feedback helps the developers to update their user stories and reiterate the app according to the upgraded stories.

Lesser Complications In Project Completion

Traditional software development is better for handling smaller or medium projects where the end is predictable and the requirement specification process is easy. But it gets highly complicated in terms of more sophisticated projects.

With agile, you can proceed with a project of any scale, even when the project is so complex it has multiple interconnected phases. The nature of agile allows it to be the best fit for enterprise-level, more sophisticated projects.

How Do You Choose The Right Method For Your Project?

  • Analyze the project requirements. If they’re prone to change or are at a larger scale, go with agile. Otherwise, the traditional method should suffice.
  • Consider the tech stack that you’re choosing for the project. Agile methodology does best with the latest tech stack, while traditional methods are not good until you use old technology or tools.
  • Calculate the risk factors. Is the project prone to high-risk factors? If so, you should go with Agile for maximum risk mitigation. The traditional method should suffice if it’s a safe race to the finish line.
  • “How available are all the required resources?” is a great question when choosing the right method. Agile can help you gather your team from a world full of specialized talents, while the traditional method requires significant professional expertise that is more niche than you might feel.
  • The criticality of your end product depends on the method you choose. With the traditional method, you spend much time and resources on documentation, and the product might not end up as you wanted. Meanwhile, it focuses more on creating functional software rather than hefty documentation.

To Wrap It Up

Agile methodology is a clear winner in this competition of two of the most used software development methods. So it’s understandable if you choose agile for your next project.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy software development partner who follows the best agile practices, Impala Intech is here to assist you with our professional in-house agile team.


Can Agile Development Work in Regulated Industries Like Healthcare or Finance?

Agile can work in regulated industries by ensuring compliance through documentation and validation processes.

How Does Quality Assurance Differ Between Traditional and Agile Development?

Quality assurance is ongoing in Agile, with continuous testing, while in traditional development, it typically occurs in separate phases.

Which Approach Is Better for Managing Complex Projects With High Uncertainty?

Agile is better for managing complex projects with high uncertainty due to its adaptive and iterative nature.

Is Agile Only for Software Development, or Can It Be Used in Other Industries?

Agile principles have been successfully applied in various industries beyond software development.

What Is the Role of the Customer in Traditional Development?

In traditional development, the customer’s involvement is more limited and often occurs at the beginning and end of the project.