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Agile vs Waterfall Similarities and Differences

Similarities and Differences Agile vs Waterfall project management methodologies, agile vs waterfall comparison table
Similarities and Differences Agile vs Waterfall project management methodologies, agile vs waterfall comparison table

Agile vs Waterfall – Project managers often wonder about which methodology is best for their projects. Because methodologies are very important in the field of project management. But why do we need them and why does choosing the right methodology really matters? What are the similarities and differences between agile and waterfall? In this article, we are going to discuss the similarities and the differences between the agile and waterfall project management methodologies and discuss which one you should select for the situation. We will also provide agile vs waterfall comparison table for better understanding.

What are the Project Management Methodologies?



Methodologies provide frameworks to help you to organize your project’s initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and closing processes. From this aspect,¬† there are lots of methodologies still in use in the world of project management. Some of them provide traditional solutions, some others provide more innovative frameworks. Waterfall, Agile, Lean, Extreme Programming, Six Sigma are some of the most common ones. Although they have the same goal: carrying out the project to successful completion, their principles are various. We recommend you to read this article regarding the project management methodologies if you don’t know the key differences between them.

In this article, we are going to focus on the two methodologies which are agile and waterfall.

Agile vs Waterfall

What is the Agile Methodology?

Agile is a project management methodology which aims continuous improvement and iteration at every stage. Continuous collaboration and iteration is key for agile implementation. Scrum, Kanban Methodology, Extreme Programming (XP), and Adaptive Project Framework (APF) are the agile frameworks.

It is obvious that all the projects and organizations are not suited to agile. Considering the requirements of various projects, agile is not the best way to run all the projects.

Agile vs Waterfall – Advantages of the Agile Methodology

  • Since the agile projects are client-focused, the agile makes sure that the client is involved in every stage continuously.
  • The team members demonstrate better performance. Because coordination and collaboration among team members are key for the success in agile projects.
  • The agile project management methodology ensures that the quality of the product is maintained.
  • Risks are minimized because the process is based on incremental progress.
  • It is applicable to large and complex projects.

Agile vs Waterfall – Limitations of Agile Methodology



  • It can not be effective in smaller projects.
  • If the client is not clear about the final product, the project can easily go off track.
  • The Agile methodology¬†requires a senior programmer to take important decisions during the meeting.
  • It is costly considering other methodologies.

For better understanding the Agile vs Waterfall concept, let’s talk about the Waterfall Project Management Methodology.

What is the Waterfall Methodology?

Waterfall is a liner sequential model in which the project work is completed sequentially in each phases. This means the predecessor phase ends and the successor phase starts just after. Waterfall is a straightforward methodology for project management which helps to perform progress measurement easily. The testing phase takes place at the end of the development. The client or stakeholders are not too much involved compared with the agile methodology.

Agile vs Waterfall – Advantages of Waterfall Methodology

  • Each sequential phase has specific needs and deliverables. This makes easy to plan and manage.
  • It suits best to the projects with well-defined scope and requirements.
  • It suits best to the smaller projects.
  • It speeds up the deliveries of the project
  • Everything is well documented

Agile vs Waterfall – Limitations of Waterfall Model

  • It is suited to smaller projects rather than large and complex ones.
  • If the project requirements are not defined well at the beginning, it will be less effective.
  • It will be difficult to turn back to the previous phases and apply changes as the project progresses.
  • Testing takes place just after the end of the development process. For this reason, it is expensive and time-consuming to turn back and fix the errors.

What are the Similarities and Differences Between Agile and Waterfall Methodologies?



Here below you can understand the key differences by checking the Agile vs Waterfall comparison table.

Agile vs Waterfall Comparison Table

Agile MethodologyWaterfall Methodology
Divides the project development lifecycle into sprints.Divides the software development process into distinct phases.
Follows an incremental approachFollows a linear sequential approach
It s a flexible methodologyIt is a rigid structural methodology
Agile can be considered as a collection of various projectsIt will be done as one single project.
It is easy to make changes because of its flexibilityIt is difficult to make changes
Test plan is discussed after the completion of each sprintTest plan is reviewed during the testing phase
Project requirements are subject to changeThe waterfall is suitable for projects with definite requirements. Changes are not easy. Agile vs Waterfall
Agile is a customer-focused methodology. Changes on the product is as per the customer’s requirementsWaterfall methodology relies on definite project requirements
Fixed project budget is not suitable for the implementation of agile methodology. There may be some flexibility.Since all the requirements and the project scope is defined well, the project budget does not change too much.
High communication and collaboration among the team membersLow communication and collaboration among the team members
Products owner and the project team collects the requirements every day.All the requirements are defined before to start the project.
Follows an iterative development approach so that planning, development and testing phases may appear more than once.Phases are linear and sequential. Once a phase is completed, the next phase starts.
Testing is performed in conjunction with software development.Testing phase comes once the build phase is completed.

Conclusion

Agile vs Waterfall is an interesting topic. Agile and Waterfall are two different methodologies used for project management. Waterfall is suitable for projects with well-defined requirements and scope. Changes are difficult and costly. Therefore it is more applicable to smaller projects. On the other hand, Agile is more applicable to large and complex projects with various requirements. It is a flexible methodology allows making changes in any phase of the project. Both methodologies have pros and cons. Therefore the best methodology is the one which best suits your projects and customers requirements.

In this article, we discussed the similarities and differences of these two methodologies by the help of agile vs waterfall comparison table. If you want to add or share anything regarding project management methodologies, you can use the comments section.

Further Reading

AgilePM Practitioner

See Also

Cost Benefit Analysis Example

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