Waterfall Development vs Agile Development



Waterfall development and Agile development are two models of software development that are widely used in the industry today. Waterfall development is a more traditional, linear approach to software development that involves separate stages of development that must be completed before the next stage can begin. Agile development, on the other hand, is a more iterative and incremental approach that focuses on flexibility and collaboration.

In this article, we will look at a broad overview of these two models and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of each:

  • Waterfall Development: Benefits – linear approach, clear milestones; Drawbacks – rigid and inflexible, difficult to make changes.
  • Agile Development: Benefits – flexible and iterative, encourages collaboration; Drawbacks – lack of clear milestones, can be difficult to manage.

Definition of Waterfall Development

Waterfall development is a software development model that is linear and sequential. It involves a review and planning process, followed by analysis, design, coding and testing before the entire system is completed. This type of model works well for when all of the requirements are specified in advance and little or no change is needed during the design process.

In waterfall development, each phase of a project must be finished before starting on the next phase; this means that usually code must come first before any testing can begin. The main advantages to this method are predictability, control over costs and productivity. However, if any changes or updates need to be made to any existing phases during the process, it can cause serious problems as there are no easy ways to adjust after coding has begun.

Agile development, on the other hand, is an iterative approach which emphasizes collaboration between stakeholders throughout the software development process with an aim for continually improving products resulting from iterative design cycles. Instead of focusing on completing tasks in one large length of time (such as one quarter or one month), Agile focuses on smaller intervals called “sprints” (which typically last from two days up to four weeks). This approach allows for more flexibility with updates and adjustments as feedback can be quick incorporated while allowing teams to focus only on one goal at a time. Additionally, agile has been proven to provide better results than waterfall in terms of customer satisfaction due in part because customers gets previews sooner rather than waiting until a big reveal at completion.

Definition of Agile Development

Agile Development is an iterative approach to software development that focuses on delivering working software quickly and incrementally throughout the development cycle. It values individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working software over comprehensive documentation, customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan.

Agile Development teams structure tasks into short phases of work called sprints. Throughout the software creation process, developers work closely with customers to understand their needs while regularly producing usable pieces of work. This framework allows teams to respond quickly to change and make refinements in real-time rather than at the end of the entire project when feedback may be too late or not cost-effective. Agile also embraces old methods such as incremental development and test-driven development (TDD).

The main focus of this framework is value created for customers by delivering usable products faster with fewer resources compared to traditional ‘waterfall’ approaches where deliverables are handed off from one phase to another without any form of testing or customer feedback until the product is considered ‘finished’ or reached its final stagecompletional. Many organizations have found success in Agile Development because it reduces risk by ensuring stakeholders are involved in product delivery from start to finish.

Advantages of Waterfall Development

Waterfall Development is a type of software development methodology that follows a linear design process. This approach is often the most traditional and structured of the software development models. It follows a linear path, with each phase of the project completed before the next phase begins. Although it takes more time to complete due to its linearity, the Waterfall model does offer certain advantages.

In this article, we’ll discuss some of the advantages of using Waterfall Development:

Clear planning and structure

The waterfall development process is unique among software development frameworks in that it encourages clear and distinct planning phases, which enables teams to know exactly what tasks need to be completed during the software development life cycle. Each phase allows for rigorous testing, reviews, and modifications that ensure that the team is continuously producing quality products. Its structured development view places emphasis on consistent product delivery and effective time management.

Additionally, the strict order of tasks followed in Waterfall Development assists in ensuring no steps are skipped or left incomplete. Tasks can begin once the previous task has been verified. Moreover, individuals involved in the project need only have minimal knowledge about other sections outside of their designated role as each role provides its own individualistic deliverable. Effectively, this allows for mature design decisions with regards to engineering effort resources needed when producing a minimum viable product requirement and feature set.

  • Ultimately, this saves both time and money while producing an effective and accurate product at minimum costings.

Easier to manage

Waterfall represents an organized approach which is easier to manage; potential issues can be identified at early stages and addressed quickly. At the beginning of a project the requirements are analyzed and agreed upon, then the team produces a comprehensive plan before coding begins. This allows for smooth project flow from one phase to another.

The waterfall approach also allows you to estimate completion times more accurately, provide more project visibility and maintain better control over resources. With each stage of development clearly laid out in chronological order it’s simpler to anticipate delays and resolve problems before they occur. For example, if a prototype is produced first, then the areas which require improvement can be identified before development takes place which reduces the chances of costly errors later in the process.

Additionally, waterfall is simpler than agile when it comes to resource allocation: roles and expectations are well defined at the start of a project, so there is no ambiguity when applying human resources or allocating tasks. The waterfall method also offers good traceability throughout each stage of product life cycle and increases accountability on individual members since most tasks are assigned in advance with clear deliverables from every participant in place before development work begins.

Easier to track progress

Waterfall development offers the ability to track progress more easily. Generally, tasks within a Waterfall development project can exist as isolated entities, requiring less frequent communication between the software development team and other stakeholders. It is also straightforward to tell when a task is complete – something that helps to better monitor progress of the project itself. This feature makes it easier to create accurate estimates of how long it will take for a product or project feature to be completed.

Additionally, if there are delays during any stage of development, they can usually be quickly identified due to the element-by-element approach used for Waterfall projects. This allows the project managers and other stakeholders to have more detailed insight into everything that needs doing.

The visual illustration of each stage from start to finish also plays a part in helping track progress in Waterfall software development projects. The graphic representation enables clients or managers with no knowledge of the coding involved in software creation such as Application Programming Interface (API) or Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) can understand roughly how far along something is during each step in its evolution and where exactly problems may arise if needed, without needing any in-depth computing knowledge or requiring too much effort for troubleshooting issues.

Advantages of Agile Development

Agile development is a software development methodology that has become very popular in recent years. It focuses on delivering incremental improvements and responding to customer feedback in real-time. This approach can provide greater flexibility, improve communication between team members, and help to create high-quality software products.

Let’s explore some of the advantages of agile development in more detail:


Agile development processes offer organizations the ability to rapidly adapt to changing customer requirements with a minimal amount of disruption. Instead of following a strict plan for development, agile processes assess the project goals on an ongoing basis and adjust the development plan accordingly. This approach provides maximum flexibility in responding to customer needs throughout the development process.

Agile processes also allow teams to focus on tasks that have a higher priority or provide more value. As opposed to waterfall development which may require teams to complete tasks in a specific order, agile teams can prioritize tasks based on their value and focus on them first. As changes occur during the project cycle, agile teams can quickly deprioritize lower-value tasks and shift resources towards higher priority goals. This level of flexibility enables organizations to save time and make better use of their resources while still delivering projects in a timely manner.

Faster feedback

The Agile framework offers the benefit of providing faster feedback loops compared to the Waterfall model. In Agile, communication among stakeholders occurs more frequently and efficiently because it is built into the iterative planning approach. This constant interaction ensures that teams can detect any changes or issues quickly before they snowball into larger problems, allowing for better use of resources – both from a financial and human capital standpoint.

The shorter iterations also allow for team members to more effectively manage their energy levels when working on tasks and to maintain a better work/life balance in comparison to a lengthy waterfall project which can span months or even years. Additionally, teams tend to develop greater trust through frequent interactions since clear guidelines and expectations have been set from the very beginning and during each cycle, where they can report on successes, areas requiring improvement and results of completed tasks.

Easier to adjust

Agile development offers organizations an easier way to adjust their course and make changes than waterfall development. With the traditional waterfall approach, it’s easy to become stuck in long, lengthy processes that don’t provide much flexibility. Agile development helps to break down these processes, providing teams with more freedom to move from one phase of the project to another more quickly and easily.

Because agile development is divided into smaller sprints that feature shorter time frames for completion, it’s also easier for developers and other stakeholders to re-evaluate and make adjustments as needed. This makes agile a much more attractive option for those who are interested in making adjustments during the course of the project. With fewer hoops to jump through, stakeholders can get feedback faster and create solutions that meet current needs without putting the project too far off track.

Additionally, agile is known for being centered around customer feedback loops which involve testing different versions of a project throughout its lifetime – something that can be especially beneficial when teams need flexible solutions or when projects are constantly evolving due to user needs or market trends. Agile also provides teams with a lot of visibility into their work since they are able to share progress with stakeholders throughout each sprint cycle – enabling those involved in the project identify issues early on before they become bigger problems down the road.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Development

Waterfall development is a rigid process where each step must be completed before beginning the next step. This can be a disadvantage because it does not allow for any changes or adjustments in the development process. It also does not allow any scope for feedback from users while the development is taking place. These factors can lead to a lack of product quality and customer satisfaction.

Let’s look at more disadvantages of waterfall development:

  • It does not allow for any flexibility in the development process.
  • It does not allow for any scope for feedback from users.
  • It can lead to a lack of product quality and customer satisfaction.

Lack of flexibility

Waterfall development is notoriously rigid and unable to readily adapt to changes in the initial product constraints. Despite being based on an iterative process and offering a blueprint for the development of any given project, once the product requirements are defined, all subsequent stages must follow in strict sequence. This means that should any modifications be required during implementation, not only must the preceding steps be revised but often times resources are over-allocated due to forgotten aspects of the project.

Moreover, changes made late in the cycle require extensive reworking of earlier processes – impacting both overall timelines and objectives – due to its inability to incorporate feedback from previous stages until after said stage is completed. This lack of flexibility prevents teams from rapidly reacting to customer feedback or insights generated since requirements gathering began. Consequently, processes such as prototyping and comprehensive user testing can become all but impossible within such a framework; ultimately leading to wasted effort and cost overruns should the inevitable need for change arise during later stages of development.

No feedback until the end

One of the main disadvantages of the Waterfall approach to software development is that it does not provide for any feedback until the very end—when it may be too late to make changes within the budget and timeline established. Without feedback along the way, it is impossible to identify and solve problems as they arise and therefore impossible to deliver a solution that meets user needs.

The lack of iteration in Waterfall also prevents software development teams from doing extensive testing along the way which can create significant time-to-market delays or limit features due to limited resources at the end of the project. In addition, its rigid structure does not account for changing needs throughout a project and its linear approach can lead to misinterpretations made during project scoping and requirements gathering stages which can create more costly changes in build times or even missed deadlines due to lack of quality control.

Ultimately, this results in an overall strain on resources (namely time, money, personnel) leading to disappointed customers and revenue losses.

Difficult to adjust

One of the main disadvantages of waterfall development is that it is difficult to make changes during the process once a stage has been completed. The different steps of the process are rigid and linear, with one step flowing into another, making it especially hard to go back and make adjustments. This can lead to underdeveloped projects since teams won’t be able to adjust until the project is complete. As a result, businesses may find themselves having to make costly alterations after deployment.

Waterfall development also makes it challenging for teams to accurately predict timeline estimations due to its linear nature. This presents an issue when attempting to assign resources and cost projections, making budgets nearly impossible for these types of projects. Additionally, agile development follows more iterative cycles than classic waterfall does, allowing for flexibility that isn’t typically present in traditional methods.

Overall, waterfall development puts teams at risk of failure due to inflexible processes and timelines that can easily go off track or over budget. By contrast, agile methodologies tend to work better within rapidly changing markets since they provide teams with greater levels of flexibility while maintaining focus on quality delivery as well as effective resource management throughout the entire development cycle.

Disadvantages of Agile Development

Agile Development can be a great way to quickly get projects off the ground, but it’s not for everyone. Agile development involves shorter development cycles, which can make it difficult to properly plan and strategize. These shorter development cycles can also make it difficult to test the product thoroughly.

In this section, we’ll look at the disadvantages of agile development in detail:

Lack of structure

One of the major disadvantages of Agile development lies in its lack of structure. Compared to the traditional Waterfall development process, which provides a more linear progression and defined ordered steps, Agile development does not offer that same framework. Rather, it follows an iterative and incremental approach.

With this method, features are developed, tested and deployed one piece at a time instead of waiting for completion before undertaking testing. While this offers an exhilarating pace of development and allows for easy adaptation to business needs as they evolve, it also means departments must have a deep understanding of where the product should be going from a strategic level in order to succeed in delivering value at every release cycle.

If there is no proper advance planning or goals are not continually managed throughout development cycles, there is a risk that teams will get caught working on features based on preferences rather than usefulness.

Difficult to manage

The nature of Agile development, with its iterative system and the integration of feedback from customers, makes it more difficult to manage than the traditional Waterfall development process. This can make it challenging to control costs and resources, forecast outcomes or establish reliable deadlines for completion.

In the Agile system, teams frequently consist of several members with different specialties and skills that are assigned to projects on a part-time basis. This can create tension between developers and management because of disagreements over project priorities or conflicts about how much time each team member should be dedicated to specific tasks.

Additionally, individual contributions in an Agile environment can be more difficult to quantify due to the team approach and lack of traditional discrete output measurements than they are in Waterfall. It is common for individuals on an Agile team to only have ownership over small aspects of a project at any given time making it hard for supervisors or stakeholders evaluate individual performance.

Difficult to track progress

Agile development, while providing many advantages, also comes with a few difficulties. One of the biggest is that it can be difficult to track progress. This is especially true when dealing with a large set of tasks or requirements that span multiple projects and teams.

The lack of a solid plan or timeline makes it harder to understand where each team is in the development process and precisely what needs to be done. It can also be difficult to estimate lead times or budget since all ones’ activities aren’t aligned under specific milestones, making traditional project management methods inefficient.

Because teams don’t have a clear understanding of how far along they are at any given time, feedback and assessments from stakeholders may also be delayed until the end of the project. This makes agile projects prone to delays due to unexpected surprises arising from misunderstandings halfway through. Additionally, shorter timelines may lead to stress for teams as they juggle external demands and customer expectations against their planned objectives for each iteration.