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Agile Vs. Waterfall: Which Methodology Should You Choose For Your Next IoT Project?

We discuss the two most prominent IoT development methodologies in the market today, where we will learn their differences, pros, cons and ultimately know which is ideal for our next project.

When we talk about the dynamic growth of IoT and its use cases across industries, we only have a one-sided perspective about it. While growth and rapid development are good, we have to look at the other side as well. The side where companies are burdened with enormous volumes of pressure to come up with creative IoT solutions, immediately launch an app or a solution, and consistently provide feature updates and upgrades post-launch as well.

As consumers, we are quick to expect sophistication in our products and services and this reflects on our collective behaviour, which shapes market dynamics as well. This makes businesses tackle a lot while developing their IoT solutions. There was a similar time in the software development space as well. Consumers and businesses wanted quick rollouts of stable software applications for a myriad of purposes and as they evolved, they cracked several ways to handle pressure – the major one being the onset of software development methodology.

IoT is exactly at the same spot right now. So, if you’re facing pressure because of limited time to market and are looking for ways to fasten your IoT development process, this post is just for you.

We discuss the two most prominent IoT development methodologies in the market today, where we will learn their differences, pros, cons and ultimately know which is ideal for our next project.

Let’s get started.

Waterfall Development Methodology

It is the more conventional development methodology that is systematic and sequential. As the name suggests, it is built on a framework of a cascade of events. The completion of one event triggers the next and it goes on till the project is completed. It is completely linear this way.

To give you a better idea of how waterfall methodology looks like, here are the steps:

  • The discovery phase – where business requirements from clients are identified by development teams
  • The design phase – where the actual designing of the product in terms of wireframes, UI, and UX commences
  • The development phase – where the backend modules are built, coding happens and the software undergoes rigorous testing
  • The launch phase – where the product is optimized for the final launch post the approval of clients

Pros Of Waterfall Methodology

  1. It’s straightforward and comparatively easier to manage and execute.
  2. Project managers and team members need not necessarily have specialized skills or knowledge to implement waterfall methodology.
  3. The scale or scope of a project does not influence the efficiency of the methodology.
  4. Every single step and action here is precisely documented.
  5. It helps managers bill their productivity accurately as the scope is completely fixed beforehand.

Cons Of Waterfall Methodology

  1. Ironically, it delays the start of a project as teams spend more time compiling details and requirements from clients.
  2. Teams have to go back and fix a correction in a previous step and pause the work on the current phase in case of changes.
  3. Testing does not happen simultaneously and commences only after the design phase is complete.
  4. It is completely internal, making it more opaque in terms of collaboration.
  5. It fails to acknowledge scope creep.

Agile Development Methodology

If you notice, the waterfall methodology isn’t airtight as it is supposed to be. In fact, agile development methodology stemmed from the attempts to fix the inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the waterfall method.

To begin with, the agile method is not linear but iterative. Meaning, the overall process is broken down into fragments or stages. Imagine a monolithic project being broken down into modules or iterations of small tasks and the work on each module happens simultaneously for faster completion.

The duration to complete these sprints often lasts only a few days or weeks and teams completely focus on finishing the tasks on time. Similar to the waterfall method, agile methodology has phases as well. Let’s look at them:

  • The planning phase
  • The development phase
  • The testing phase
  • The deployment phase
  • And the review phase

Now, it might appear to be similar to the waterfall model but understand that the completion of one phase does not trigger the other. All team members and stakeholders are perpetually in a state of constant planning, development, testing and deploying their modules or iterations.

Pros Of Agile Development Methodology

  1. This is a highly adaptive model that accommodates all changes and pivots from clients.
  2. The agile method is as transparent as it gets because teams set up weekly update sessions with clients for demos.
  3. Since testing happens constantly, bugs are fixed instantaneously and not prolonged until the time of launch.
  4. It primarily ensures on time delivery of an IoT solution with no compromise in quality.

Cons Of Agile Method

  1. While this is perfect for bigger projects, smaller ones would find it hard to experience massive benefits.
  2. It’s comparatively more expensive to implement than the waterfall model.
  3. There’s a learning curve involved as managers and team members should be aware of agile development methodologies and sprint strategies.
  4. If not managed properly, it could prove to be chaotic as it’s not structured enough.

Why IoT Development Is Shifting To Agile

IoT is evolutionary and so is its range of solutions. There are several reasons why IoT development is moving dynamically towards agile development methodology. Let’s look at what they are.

  • IoT solutions demand continuous testing and deployment for product validation. The market is at the right stage currently and any unique idea will push the corresponding business to roll out the idea to become pioneers. With minimal time to market and competition, companies want methodologies that could help them race against time. Agile fits the bill perfectly.
  • The agile model enables teams and stakeholders to automate several processes such as testing, building, delivery, and more. This ensures IoT solutions (connected devices) are consistently optimized for security, safety, and performance. Automation also guarantees consistent rollout of software updates.
  • In IoT, it’s not just the devices that need to be interconnected but development teams as well. Working in silos will give rise to tons of operational and output concerns and this is exactly what agile eliminates from the ecosystem. It fosters collaboration and communication among teams.

Agile Vs. Waterfall: Which Development Methodology Should You Prefer For Your Next IoT Project?

We believe it’s quite clear now. However, you still might have some questions or apprehensions about implementing agile methodologies for your IoT product development. To clear the air, here’s an extensive comparison of both.

Agile Model  Waterfall Model
Ideal if you have the budget to recruit agile specialists or scrum masters as it is more systematic yet result-driven. Ideal for bootstrapped businesses that simply intend to launch IoT solutions.
If the scope of your project is huge, agile is the best. Perfect for small-scale projects, where you could afford to work in silos.
The outputs are clearly defined but accommodate scope creep as well. Outputs are clearly defined but are unprepared for last-minute changes or pivots.
If you’re looking to strengthen your operations and internal workflows, the agile model is ideal. If completing a project is the only goal, there’s no better model than waterfall.

Wrapping Up

Agile clearly is the winner no matter how much we sugarcoat the shortcomings of waterfall methodology. The clear-cut reason why agile works today is because the market is agile as well. Tons of changes are happening in terms of consumer behavior, market conditions, volatility, economies, and more. If such massive changes have to be incorporated into your IoT project and your solution still has to function well and stay relevant, agile is the key.

Written By

Patrick R, A techno-commercial leader heading Intuz as Director of Growth With over 12 years of experience in the field of Information Technology. His experience and expertise will entice developers and business entrepreneurs with rich content on latest technology stack. Visit for more information:

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