When it comes to performing any development project, the most crucial decision to consider is how to approach the whole project as a team. Well, making this ultimate decision is quite challenging due to the best two development techniques at hand. Merely put, a development technique or methodology regulates how the actual project tasks are acted on and organized.

The best two development methodologies are waterfall and agile. Well, agile and waterfall are often utilized in the software development industry. When it comes to waterfall vs agile product development, both come with their unique pros and cons. All in all, both can be helpful to your development team. So, the methodology to utilize highly depends on the circumstances and type of project.

A Detailed Review of Waterfall Methodology vs Agile Methodology

When we talk about waterfall methodology vs agile, it is essential to note that they are mature and useful. The use of a specific methodology comes down to the particular project and the organization carrying it out. In this post, you will learn much about waterfall vs agile pros and cons regarding system development.

What is Agile Methodology?

Agile gets its name from the famous 2001 Agile Manifesto, written by software developers, though its roots stretch back to the 1950s. These methods could be broadly described as “Agile.”

Agile application development is iterative and evolutionary. It proceeds through iterations or sprints, short periods of time lasting from 1 to 4 weeks. During each iteration, cross-functional teams handle all of the functions that are so rigidly stacked together under Waterfall: planning, analysis, design, etc.

The agile methodology offers constant repetition of development and testing throughout the development process. When it comes to the difference between agile and waterfall project management, it’s essential to note that development and testing tasks are simultaneous in agile while not in the waterfall. Well, this means that there’s much more communication between clients, developers, managers, and testers.

Pros of Agile

The advantages of agile have everything to do with the client gratification as well as the final results of the development process. You can easily adjust agile development provided you have got the appropriate development team. Here are the benefits of Agile over Waterfall:

Adaptability – first, adaptability is one of the essential features of agile development, and it turns out to be the leading benefit. As clients get a glimpse of what they require from the system, the development team can adjust the planned changes accordingly.

Flexible deliverables – agile technique allows you to set the deliverables according to their significance. Merely put, agile lets you to release a standard system before the full suite.

A top-notch and user-friendly product – since clients can offer feedback after every stage, the systems designed via this methodology ends up being user-friendly.

Stakeholder involvement –agile methodology enables and encourages constant engagement between the clients and the development team.

Cons of Agile

Like any other development methodology, the agile technique has some cons. Here are some of the cons that your team will have to deal with:

Probability for a more extended deadline and higher cost – time-boxed sprints may give you the much-needed planning; however, it’s always probable that a couple of deliverables may not be finished on time. Well, it is the ugly truth of development projects. Designing the essential extra sprints automatically translates to a costly project for the consumer.

Intense commitment – agile methodology only works best when your entire development team is devoted to the project throughout the development process. Well, this may be an issue for some development teams who have a lot of tasks to accomplish. In fact, the process is difficult for individual system developers.

Communication – since agile demands an intense collaboration level, the development projects utilizing this methodology will undoubtedly need a high communication level.

What is the Waterfall Methodology?

Waterfall is the older, more traditional method. Its roots lie in the 1950s, when software was in its infancy and was developed using methods similar to those used to develop hardware. Most software at that time was developed for government, and especially military purposes, and this method is still highly suitable for bureaucratic, top-down organizational structures.

Waterfall means a linear approach to development. Well, it’s a traditional approach that’s founded on strict planning and undertaking the planning bit by bit. When comparing waterfall methodology vs agile methodology, we can comfortably say that the waterfall methodology is perfect for the organizations with a hierarchical structure.

Here is the sequence of events you need to follow if you plan to use this methodology:

  • Gather and document all the needs. Upon commencement of the next work stages, all the tasks will be undertaken depending on this documentation. Here, the customer only takes part in the first and last stage of project performance.
  • The next step is the design stage. Here the system developers try to get a perfect form to meet all the consumer’s needs.
  • Coding and unit testing. The primary task of this stage involves coding and perform unit tests.
  • The next step involves testing the system and user acceptance.
  • Fixing issues.
  • The final step entails delivering the completed system to the client.
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The main difference when it comes to agile development vs waterfall development is that agile methodology has no strict structure when it comes to designing software. Naturally, there’s no need for documentation in agile because the client can see the work’s progress at all times.

Basically, agile methodology is more flexible than the waterfall. As a result, it satisfies the customers’ needs and end-users much better. That’s why agile is more helpful for most projects. Additionally, more and more software developers are opting for the agile methodology.

Pros of Waterfall Methodology

Superb documentation – every phase of the process is precisely documented to eradicate any shortcuts or misunderstandings.

Clear framework – before project commencement, the waterfall methodology provides a precise understanding of the project deliverables and timeline. Basically, the project’s full scope is agreed upon in advance by the customers and the development team.

Hand-off approach – the technique creates room for a more hands-off approach from the client. After finalizing the initial project plan and design, there’s minimal demand for continuous client presence until the review phase.

Shared load – the methodology doesn’t take the entire development team’s attention and time. Based on the phase, your development team can focus on other essential tasks within the company.

Cons of Waterfall Methodology

Remember, there is no single system without one or two defects. Here are the cons of waterfall methodology:

Changes can be tricky – the fundamentals of the waterfall technique are that it adheres to a set timeframe and precise steps. After setting these elements, it becomes tricky to undertake changes once the development personnel faces a hurdle. Adaptability is an essential part development team needs to consider because it can be difficult for clients to have an entire perception of the system before it starts.

Little client involvement – a hands-off approach isn’t ideal for all systems. You’ll often come across consumers who need much more participation as the project proceeds. Waterfall methodology may turn out to be a hindrance for both parties if there’s no participation framework.

Last-minute testing – another con of waterfall is that waterfall isn’t time-bound. Due to this, you may find that your projects may start running behind schedule. Since a lot of time is dedicated to the development phase, your team will always have a limited time when it comes to testing out the system.

Comparison- Agile vs waterfall methodology

Agile vs Waterfall comparison table and method
Agile vs Waterfall comparison table

In simple terms, agile means ‘the ability to move easily and quickly,’ and that’s what you’ll get upon utilizing this development methodology. Agile is a development methodology characterized by splitting activities into strict work segments with regular reviews and plan adaptations.

On the other hand, waterfall methodology is a linear sequential model where the progress primarily flows in a single direction. Generally, it flows downwards via different phases such as requirement collection, system analysis, system design, system development, system testing, system deployment, and system maintenance.

There is a difference between agile and waterfall methodologies, as indicated above, but the two are perfect in their individual ways. 

To summarize this article, let us outline the difference between agile vs waterfall methodology in this section.

  • While the waterfall is ideal for projects with precise requirements where you don’t expect changes, agile, on the other hand, works best in projects where you’ll need constant requirement changes.
  • The waterfall is a sequential and easy to manage approach while agile is flexible and lets you undertake changes in all phases.
  • While it’s not possible to alter the project’s description in the waterfall, you can easily edit in agile.
  • In waterfall, you can’t edit project needs, and the business analyst defines them once at the start of the project. When it comes to agile, you can frequently change the project requirements.


Product development is a forever evolving process. The industry today changes every moment and the products must be looked at and re-looked with every iteration to match the changing market and technology needs. While waterfall may be good for very small projects where the scope of the work will hardly change, agile is the recommended method for commercial software product development.

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Amit Tiwari is a member of JumpGrowth’s marketing team, and spends his free time to writing and publishing the tech news.

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