Whats the Difference Between Agile and Waterfall



Software development comes in many forms, but two of the most popular frameworks are agile and waterfall. Both approaches have pros and cons and—depending on the application—each may be a better option than the other. In this guide, we will dive into both methodologies and explore their differences.

Agile is a methodology that focuses on delivering software quickly but with frequent feedback cycles, enabling modifications to be made on the fly. It is an iterative approach that ships working code at regular intervals while allowing for changing requirements as long as they remain within scope. On the other hand, waterfall follows a linear progression from analysis to implementation, requiring detailed plans up front that are difficult to modify or change later in the process.

Although both agile and waterfall can be used for large projects, each appeals to different types of software development needs based on factors like cost, complexity, project timelines, adaptability to changes and impact of those changes. We’ll begin by exploring each methodology’s features in greater detail before comparing them side-by-side.


Agile is a project management methodology that focuses on delivering projects incrementally and iteratively. The Agile approach encourages constant collaboration between team members and stakeholders to ensure that a project can meet its goals in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Agile methodology is a popular choice for software development projects as it allows for quick changes in direction and can quickly respond to feedback from stakeholders.

Let’s dive into the Agile project management methodology:


Agile methodology is a type of project-management tool commonly used in software development, and is becoming increasingly popular for managing all types of projects. It is based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams.

The Agile approach to software development focuses on short, iterative cycles of work known as “sprints” that allow for the rapid delivery of changes to a system. Agile values quality interactions with stakeholders over complex documentation and bureaucracy, encourages collaboration between teams and stakeholders, and depends heavily on continuous feedback loops throughout the project lifecycle.

Agile uses planning models like user stories, value stream mapping and backlog grooming to map out product features, prioritize tasks, reduce waste in production processes, identify areas for improvement, and share progress amongst all stakeholders. This can provide greater transparency into the process itself as well as the progress being made towards agreed upon objectives or deliverables. By using agile methodology companies can more easily adapt to changing conditions or customer demands through its emphasis on adaptive planning.

Agile contrasts with traditional Waterfall project management which relies heavily on documented analysis before any design is done or product built. The main difference between these two techniques is that Agile prescribes iterative deliverables whereas Waterfall builds toward one final deliverable at the end of the entire process—thus giving it an ostensibly longer completion time than an agile approach could provide.


Agile methodologies have several advantages over traditional waterfall methodologies, including better customer satisfaction, improved collaboration among teams, less rework and a quicker time-to-market.

Unlike waterfall, which is a strict linear methodology with preset phases and milestones divided into fixed sections in the development timeline, Agile is more focused on delivering meaningful solutions.

Agile encourages transparency between all participants in the development process through short reflection meetings, frequent testing and prototyping. This allows all teams involved to adjust quickly to changing customer requirements or respond effectively to problems that arise during the development process. Adaptability is essential with Agile because it permits teams to prioritize features and focus on important tasks every sprint in order to meet deadlines or move onto other projects.

The increased collaboration among team members due to Agile’s regular communication sprints significantly reduces rework and prevents costly mistakes from being made in production. The frequency of quick deliveries at the end of each sprint also produces measurable outcomes that customers can use to evaluate progress any time during the development cycle. Finally, since Agile practices are centered around an iterative approach, product releases happen much faster compared to traditional waterfall processes.


The Waterfall method has several disadvantages including:

  • Changes in scope and objectives of the project can occur, but the team often does not have the flexibility to adapt during the process unless a backtrack and review is done. This can be costly in both time and money invested.
  • Requirements and objectives may not be fully understood when scoping out the project, leading to more iterations than originally planned for. This leads to delays in launching products or services to market.
  • Errors that occur early on may not be realized until after much time and effort have been invested, causing time loss and added costs to rectify them.
  • Communication between relevant stakeholders is often limited, resulting in inefficient workflows where tasks are duplicated or gaps are present.

On the other hand, Agile project management focuses on embracing change while delivering value incrementally over an iterative process. Teams working on this methodology are better equipped to respond quickly at each stage while adapting changes as they come up along the way. The advantages of this approach are numerous including:

  • Adaptation: Agile allows teams to identify new opportunities or changes as they arise by creating incremental delivery of value at each stage rather than designing a product all at once with no room for flexibility or changes later on down the road.
  • Flexible Planning: Agile practices facilitate more effective communication among team members from all disciplines such as engineering, design and business operations throughout the project lifecycle which allows for rapid adjustments as needed with minimal external interference throughout each subsequent sprint.
  • Visibility: With Agile’s focus on delivering high visibility into project progress through continuous improvement cycles it allows teams greater visibility across different areas of focus allowing them to quickly narrow down potential problem areas through constant feedback gathering from stakeholders involved with implementation processes being managed within tight turnaround times usually combined with weekly meetings among teams discussing progress updates across different modules being worked on simultaneously throughout a given period of time (e.g., fortnightly story points).


The Waterfall Project Management Methodology is an older process that has been used in software programming and development for a number of years. It is a linear model of software development which uses a sequential design process. Waterfall is also considered to be a more traditional approach to software development and has been slowly phased out due to the introduction of newer and more efficient processes.

Let’s dive deeper into the Waterfall methodology to explore its features and advantages:


Waterfall is a software development methodology characterized by rigidly following the steps in the process, one after another. In Waterfall, each phase must be completed before the next phase can begin and there is no overlapping in the phases like with Agile methodology.

The main advantage of the Waterfall model lies in its simplicity. Its major tenets indicate that if one performs each step completely and thoroughly, then the development procedure will emerge as successful and result in a product that does not have any irreparable faults or exceptions.

The practices of Waterfall methodology include:

  • An agreement between team members to require complete iterations within specified deadlines.
  • Conforming to pre-set rules from simple processes.
  • Uniform testing methods.
  • Established tracking procedures.
  • Clear roles and responsibilities for all members involved.

The principles of Waterfall focus on reducing risk by breaking down tasks into easily measurable elements that allow for decisive decision-making while the whole project progresses forward without turning back to previous stages. Additionally, testing is done at every stage rather than waiting until the end of each cycle or project feature has been implemented before passing it along to other development teams for further examination or reworking.

The disadvantages of using Waterfall methods are well documented, including:

  • Strained communication between developers and customers.
  • Cost overruns as a result of last-minute modifications or fixes due to late discovery bugs.
  • Long completion times since each phase cannot begin until its preceding counterpart is finished.
  • Reduction of flexibility because no adjustments can practically be made once instructions are decided upon.
  • Little time given for learning from mistakes during development which can potentially lead to decreased quality products.


The Waterfall Method has been around since the 1970s and it is based on traditional methods of software engineering. It is a linear method that follows a sequential approach, with each phase consisting of specific deliverables and a review process before moving onto the next phase. This strongly defined and well-structured approach makes it an efficient process. Below are some of the advantages of using the Waterfall Method:

  • Clear Vision: The decisions and objectives are identified right at the beginning, enabling everyone on the team to have a clear understanding of where they need to go.
  • Easier Testing: Testing can start in the early phases when individual components have been created. This will be very beneficial for debugging as more details emerge further into development.
  • Time-Saving Process: The Waterfall Method provides an efficient stride towards completing projects, allowing them to move forward quickly without many changes or revisions along the way.
  • Visible Results: Initial results can be seen almost immediately as each phase builds off from one another, ensuring that all stakeholders know exactly how much progress has been made at each stage.


Waterfall development has several notable disadvantages when compared to Agile methodology. One of the most obvious is that metamorphosis – adapting as needed based on customer feedback and changing requirements – is much harder to implement with a Waterfall approach. This makes it ideal for projects where requirements are known at the beginning and won’t change drastically, or those where failure is not an option, such as medical or engineering projects.

The focus on big-picture milestones can cause issues with quality assurance, since various smaller tasks may be overlooked that could have been caught during earlier stages had they been present in the process. Additionally, there are communication barriers between production teams and stakeholders due to time constraints usually imposed by Waterfall approaches. Thus, stakeholders may only receive updates during each major milestone completion rather than shorter sprints as seen with Agile methods.

Finally, Waterfall development models depend heavily on accurate estimation of task duration and cost, which can be difficult even under ideal circumstances. If these estimations are off even just slightly, it can lead to delays or cancellation of projects due to cost overruns.


Agile and Waterfall are two of the most popular project management methods used today. While both of them have their advantages and disadvantages, it’s important to understand the basics of both approaches to make the right choice for your project. In this article, we will discuss the differences between Agile and Waterfall and how to decide which one is right for your project.


Agile and Waterfall are two distinct approaches to software development, each with its own unique set of benefits and drawbacks. Despite their differences, both approaches do possess some similarities.

One area of commonality is that both Agile and Waterfall emphasize the importance of communication between team members. Both methods strive to promote collaboration between stakeholders, so progress can be made in an efficient and sustainable manner. Additionally, both require developers to define a goal or objectives as part of the process.

Another similarity is that both rely on feedback loops for improvement. Agile encourages constant self-assessment and reflection after every iteration, allowing teams to identify areas for growth and address issues quickly before they become bigger problems. Similarly, in a Waterfall project, managers will conduct regular evaluations to assess your product’s performance as it moves through different phases of development.

Lastly, individuals who use either approach should employ a version control system like Git or SVN since it will allow them to track changes from multiple authors more easily throughout all stages of the process. Version control is critical for ensuring that code features can be rolled back if needed due to errors or changes in customer requirements, which helps projects stay focused on their original purpose rather than getting sidetracked by individual and sometimes conflicting tastes among stakeholders. All these steps help facilitate smoother management of projects and ensure better results for everyone involved in the project lifecycle financing process – from developers to customers.


When it comes to software development, Agile and Waterfall are two highly-regarded methodologies that are used to deliver solutions. Though it can be difficult to ascertain the differences between the two, this guide covers what you need to know and how they stack up against each other.

Agile and Waterfall both take a different approach toward software development, each having advantages and disadvantages. Agile focuses on collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams that instead of a traditional phased approach, rapidly develop software through iterations called sprints. Waterfall follows a more traditional linear model with each phase being completed in sequential order before moving onto the next one.

The main differences between Agile and Waterfall include:

  • The rapid development cycles of Agile versus the slower but more meticulously planned cycles of Waterfall
  • Requirements for Agile projects can change throughout the process allowing for flexibility whereas in Waterfall changes typically are not accommodated
  • Quality assurance is embedded into every sprint in Agile while it is done after the completion of all phases in Waterfall
  • Agile projects require more client involvement than those managed by waterfall; client input and feedback drives the course of action
  • Waterfall allows development teams and project stakeholders to plan further ahead due its linear structure while Agile offers an incremental way which leads to more frequent deliverables with less risk


In conclusion, Agile and Waterfall are two different types of project management processes that each have benefits and drawbacks. Agile is best suited for projects that require frequent communication or adaptation due to changing business conditions, while Waterfall is better for projects with firm requirements that don’t need to change as the project progresses.

Ultimately, deciding which project management method to use should depend on the specific needs of the project and the team. While both methods are valuable tools for managing projects, companies should thoughtfully evaluate how each one aligns with their needs before settling on either one.