What Is the Iterative Process?

What Is the Iterative Process?

Effective research and development assist organizations in improving their offerings, understanding their client's business needs, and optimizing operations. Whether you want to improve a process, service, or product, using the right development strategy can help you accomplish your company's goals faster.

The iterative process is one of the methods companies apply to boost their business strategies and improve their offer. It also helps businesses manage efficiency, minimize risks, and dynamically approach problems.

This article will define the main aspects of this method and explore how the iterative approach through ActiveCollab can help your organization.

What Does the Iterative Approach Mean?

An iterative approach is commonly linked to information technology and mathematics since it's used to solve various formulas and equations by imputing data repeatedly. However, this approach isn't only reserved for these particular fields. You will find it in many areas of society.

For instance, various campaign formulas are applied in politics for a candidate to reach the best position. In economics, different strategies and approaches are implemented until prosperity is achieved.

When it comes to business, you can implement an iterative process in many of its areas. A financial department can use various setups to enhance profitability, a marketing department can test different advertising strategies, or a production department can use an iterative strategy to accomplish the highest level of production.

It all comes to a systematic repetition of formulas. You will test different data in this process until you accomplish the preferred result.

What Is an Iterative Approach in Project Management?

An iterative approach aims to deliver value as quickly as possible, incrementally, instead of in one go. The project manager or whoever is in charge will split the product development process into multiple iterations, each providing additional functionality or objective improvements.

This method creates improvement opportunities and continuous evaluation in the development process and throughout the project. The great things about the iterative approach are its simplicity and easy implementation, regardless of the context.

Agile Iterative Process

As we previously explained, the iterative process breaks down large tasks into smaller ones that can be researched, refined, and repeated throughout the development cycle. Project managers will look at the most recent iteration or development as a baseline and, from there, further design a process or a product.

This method wants to refine and enhance products and processes in every iteration. For a better understanding, let's briefly compare incremental development and iterative approaches.

Incremental development follows a linear progression path using a predetermined number of steps: conception, analysis, design, testing, release, maintenance, etc. The waterfall method is an example of incremental development because each phase relies on a previous step.

Even though an incremental approach is less flexible than an iterative one, they are frequently used together in project development stages. The agile, interactive model follows these four patterns: plan, design, check, and adjust.

Look into sprint and iteration differences as well. While they are part of the same project, they differ significantly.

Why Is the Design Process Considered an Iterative Process?

The iterative design process allows you to identify users' needs, generate ideas to meet them, and eventually develop a prototype. The next step includes testing the prototype to see whether it will satisfy clients' requirements.

Take what you've learned from the testing phase and change your design accordingly. After that, you design a new prototype and start this process all over again until you create the best possible product you can release to the market.

In the sense of testing and trying, the design process is, in fact, an iterative process. You can apply iterative designs to any phase of the design process, even when the product has already been launched in the market. This could be a great way to make necessary improvements further.

Iterative design is also more cost-effective because it's always cheaper to design a prototype than to develop a product and then amend it based on user feedback.

An Iterative Design Process Example

Perhaps the best example of iterative design is the use of Wikipedia. It contains user-generated content, and anyone is free to come along and improve the content at any time. An editor or a reviewer can easily access edits and decide whether to keep changes or take something away.

Over time, the idea is to turn Wikipedia into the most valuable online encyclopedia. However, we do have to mention that this approach is a rather challenging one. A vast community is involved, so one person's improvement might be another's detriment.

Using the iterative approach in your design process will give you more control over the decision-making process than Wikipedia does.

When looking at Wikipedia's logo, you will notice it alludes to the iterative cycle of the encyclopedia's development.

True or False? Conversion Optimization Is Not an Iterative Process.

False. An iterative process includes multiple cycles to reach the desired decision or result. The goal is to improve your chances of reaching your objective with each cycle.

Conversion optimization is a process that tries to increase the number of visitors to a particular website and meet its goals. Since it's an iterative process, conversion optimization makes a couple of assumptions about its audience and then tests everything to measure the response.

What Is an Iterative Planning Process?

This process adapts as the project moves forward by changing the plans. Plans will vary based on the feedback you receive from the monitoring process, schedule, budget, risks, changes in scope, and changes in project assumptions.

It's necessary to involve your team members in the planning process. When they are a part of a decision-making process, they will be more motivated to give their best.

After all, when you hired them, you knew they had the capabilities of understanding dependencies. Once they finish planning, they will own and accept the schedule. Make sure to include stakeholders as well because they will support you through procurement and financing.

Involve funding agencies, donors, or other partners who can offer you valuable information and insight on when the project needs to be completed. Don't rush this process; take some time to develop plans that can be useful to your team.

The Benefits and Challenges of Iterative Process Project Management

Before you apply this method, it's important to note that the iterative model isn't for every project or every team.


  • Better efficiency: it embraces trial and error and can help you accomplish desired results faster.
  • Better collaboration: instead of assuming a predetermined schedule, your team can actively work together.
  • Better adaptability: during the testing process, you learn new things, which can be applied to your iteration to reach your goals.
  • Affordable: if it's necessary to change the project scope, you can do it while investing minimum time and effort.
  • Reduced risk: during the iteration process, you can identify and address risks during each iteration.
  • Reliable user feedback: when users see or interact with your iteration, you receive incremental feedback on what works and what doesn't for them.


  • Increased risk of scope creep: due to its trial-and-error nature, your project can go in a different direction, one you didn't expect, and exceed the original project scope.
  • Vague timelines: The timeline can't be clearly defined because you test iterations until they reach a satisfying solution.

Fundamentals of Agile Project Management

Learn the fundamentals of agile project management so you can develop software and manage your team more efficiently.

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