Traditional vs Agile SDLC: How To Skyrocket Your Project With Agile Model

Agile SDLC is increasingly popular as an alternative to traditional software development models. Especially among software development and IT teams, Agile project management has proved to be a very efficient methodology. The traditional methodology is a sequential development approach, in which development flows steadily downwards through several phases. While Agile SDLC offers one of the most practical and flexible approach that exist today. If you are still wondering which methodology to use or how both approaches differ from each other, you’ve come to the right place. This article will shed some light on these methods, explain key differences between Agile and traditional SDLC as well as how to get benefits from them.

What is Agile SDLC?

Agile SDLC is one of the most popular software development models. It follows heavily on a non-linear process, teamwork, collaboration, and flexibility to change as quickly as possible. When we talk about Agile methodology, it helps team in an evolving landscape and maintain a focus on the rapid delivery of results with high quality. Here are 5 benefits of Agile methodology:
  • High product quality
  • Higher customer satisfaction
  • Increased project control
  • Reduced risks
  • Faster ROI
In traditional software development, project manager has to make a detailed overview of predicted needs and sticking to it throughout the whole development process. It makes the traditional development process time-consuming. While there are regular checkups during the cycle in agile model. Therefore, the project owner can make change if needed. The development team follows an iterative process with regular checkpoints. If any issues appear, team members can experiment and figure out better. More importantly, they must complete a phase before moving to the next one. This is the main differentiating factor when comparing agile and traditional SDLC. During the whole software development life cycle, user can see the actual progress of projects. It is all about iterative planning, making it very easy to adapt when some requirements change.  The idea delivering business value early in the process also lowers risks associated with development. There are many Agile SDLC approaches including Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, etc. However, it all follows to one goal – continuous improvement, flexibility, input of the team, and the delivery of results with high quality.

What is traditional SDLC?

In software development, we often talk about the “traditional model” which refers to Waterfall, V-shaped, Iterative and Spiral models. While Agile SDLC is a part of the adaptive subcategory, traditional methodology belong to the predictive approach. Each and every project follows a fixed sequence which include stages such as initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure. As per the traditional method, time and cost are variables and requirements are fixed. Here are 4 benefits of traditional model:
  • Clearly defined objectives
  • Controllable processes
  • Clear documentation
  • More accountability

V-shaped SDLC Model

The V-Shaped model is an extension of the Waterfall SDLC approach. With the V-Model, the process is like flowing water. In other words, the development team does not move in a straight line but step by step after testing and coding. Especially, early testing is typical for V-Model SDLC projects. There, every development stage has a parallel testing phase. And a team moves on to the next only after the previous stage is completed. Advantages:
  • Easy to use and explain
  • Smooth tracking of potential defects
  • Offer simplicity, clear verification at every stage
  • Fit for small projects with understandable requirements
  • Save a lot of time as planning and designing related to testing which has been done before the actual coding takes place
  • Less flexible than the Waterfall model with no support for iterations
  • No early prototype available during the implementation phase
  • Hard to make adjustments due to no handling of parallel
Just remember that V-Model are the same as in Waterfall. But the V-shaped SDLC model you cannot easily turn back a step to fix or add something. If your software product is new, or you are not sure about the final functions, this model won’t work for you.

The Iterative approach

Instead of beginning with complete knowledge of requirements, the team develops a product in cycles, building small parts in an evolutionary way. In this case, a team only needs the requirements for the functional part. Subsequently, all requirements can be expanded upon later in the development process. This model contains the steps from other SDLC models — analysis, design, coding, testing, and back to analysis. Unlike agile, the iterative model requires less customer involvement and has a pre-defined scope of increments. Yet it still shares the same goals as an agile model. Advantages:
  • Identify functional or design flaws at the earliest stages
  • Each iteration is easy to evaluate
  • Allow more focus on user value
  • Provide space for flexibility like changing needs of the clients as well as the project
  • Decrease the delivery cost
  • Make the delivery of the end product faster
  • As incomplete requirements at the early stages, the design problems may occur
  • Require more time to take care tasks for management
  • May be hard to integrate resources if they aren’t planned in advance
As a result, the Iterative model works best for projects where major requirements are defined but some functionalities may evolve. Or, products with high-risk features that may need to be changed. Besides, the process of this model should be used wisely. Otherwise, it may quickly drain the resources for unnecessary changes. Therefore, the iterative approach is not the best choice for startups with limited financial ability.

Spiral SDLC Model

The Spiral methodology is one of the most flexible SDLC models. The whole development process is divided into a lot of small phases for teams to follow. Typically, it features the same phases as Waterfall in the same order such as requirements gathering, design, implementation, and testing. Advantages:
  • Estimate new changes at the later stage of the development
  • If the prototyping is done in small increments, cost estimation becomes easier
  • Easier detect risk at each phase
  • Faster involvement of the development team and users
  • High risk of management due to not meeting budget or schedule deadlines
  • More money and time required to get the finished product
In response, the Spiral methodology works best for complicated projects with small functionality or strict budgets. It is also suitable for projects with no clear requirements at the early stages, or with requirements that need to be evaluated.

Waterfall vs Agile SDLC

In the Waterfall model, tasks and phases are completed one by one in a strict order. You need to finish one phase before moving to another one. Plus, there is no going back. And every stage depends on the previous one. Advantages:
  • Easy to manage for the team
  • Simple to explain to the clients
  • Plan and schedule with clear milestones
  • Errors are easy to verify at each stage
  • Technical documentation is easy to understand
  • Inflexibility
  • High risk of bugs
  • Compared to the Agile model, it take more time to make the final delivery
  • Difficult to measure client needs in terms of a functional specification during the requirement phase
To sum up, this SDLC model is easy to manage providing a stable and clear definition of the product. But the fact that there is almost no room for revisions once a stage is finished, fixing any problems is quite a challenge.

Traditional vs Agile SDLC: Which method is more successful

Unlike traditional SDLC like Waterfall, agile frameworks have a collaborative and cross-functional approach to planning, analysis, design, and delivery. This involves the whole team. According to the CHAOS Report by the Standish Group (2020), agile projects are more successful than Waterfall projects, which have fewer challenges and fewer failures.
With Agile methodology, big projects are broken down into small. Before moving into design and development, team members works simultaneously toward the same goal and follow an iterative process with regular checkpoints. Each Sprint ends with a review and test from actual users and customers. If a result is under standard, you will jump back to requirement analysis. This is the process with every sprint. Now, look at the table below and see the key difference between traditional SDLC and Agile.
Traditional SDLC Agile SDLC
Clear plan at first and won\’t change after the project starts Adaptability and may change any stage in the development process
Top-down responsibility Shared responsibility and ownership
Initial research and planning Ongoing research, planning, and testing
Different teams in different stages Ongoing collaboration
Customers are involved from the time work is being performed Customers get involved early in the project but not when the execution has started
Suitable for small and medium project Suitable for large project

Agile vs traditional risk management

In agile SDLC, unknown risks may occur at any stage of project development. While in traditional SDLC, the risks are well-known from the preparation stage. For example, each team member get features done at the end of every sprint. If they finish at the end of sprint 1, 20% of the functionality is finished. It allows them to engage better with stakeholders and deliver value earlier. During every sprint, they usually mitigate bugs by fixing them and closing bugs to make sure they have a good quality state very sprint. As a result, they have an early warning indicator which allows us to mitigate risk. Meanwhile, in waterfall, project manager as well as product owner can try to identify and mitigate risk as early as possible. However, there is nothing more valuable to mitigate risk like getting working tested software as early as possible.

Agile contracts Vs traditional contracts

Any project has three variables: scope, time, and cost. However, Agile software development focusses on value-based delivery, which only one variable can be fixed.
As using agile methodology, Agile contract is flexible, fostering collaboration, and decomposing projects into smaller and easier tasks. Here are 3 benefits of Agile contract management:
  •  Place heavy emphasis on flexibility
  • Broke down long-term contracts into shorter cycles
  • Encourage frequent collaboration and effective communication among all key parties
To sum up, Agile contracts provide more flexibility. The product development can be broken into shorter iterations with frequent releases. And it also provides mutual benefits to both the parties.

Traditional testing vs Agile testing

Traditional testing is primarily based on pre-organized phases/stages of the software testing life cycle. In this case, the end product is not released unless all the defects are fixed. However, Agile testing follows an iterative and incremental approach. Both the development and testing tasks are performed collaboratively while ensuring an exclusive tester for testing purposes.

Agile vs traditional project management

When comparing Agile to traditional project management, in the traditional teams, Project Manager is responsible for the success of the project. The team members are chosen on the bases of their skills, capabilities and their knowledge. They all report to their Project manager. Unlike traditional project management, there are self-organizing and cross functional teams. There is no boss. It’s all about collaboration among the team.

How to implement Agile SDLC to skyrocket your project?

It’s not as simple as just choosing the Agile SDLC model. But it doesn’t have to be complicated. The main secret of making agile SDLC work for you is constant collaboration and feedback sharing. Here are 7 agile practices for your SDLC:
  • Ongoing collaboration with your stakeholders
  • Arrange daily meetings to track the progress of the iterations, what they need to change and help move the process forward.
  • Choose the right Agile framework for your company
  • Create potential features and required user stories for your product
  • Plan the sprint after discussing which part should be prioritized in the upcoming project
  • Accept changes regardless of the project stage
  • Review your sprint, what went well and what didn’t.


Agile software development lifecycle aims at enhancing productivity and satisfying customers’ needs. Therefore, agile SDLC is one of the best consideration for startups. Because it has room for this flexibility. However, to make Agile SDLC work effectively, you need to choose the right dedicated development team. At AgileTech, we apply practices and techniques that allow the solutions we build to reach the next level and hit successful deliveries. Based on our team’s expertise, we can define and recommend how to make the best use of Agile practices and when to apply them into the life cycle of your web app application or testing process. If you have any questions, let\’s contact us via: Related articles:

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