Waterfall vs Agile: Differences, Pros and Cons

What is the Waterfall Methodology?

To understand the difference between Waterfall vs Agile, first, let’s understand The Waterfall Model methodology which is often called Linear Sequential Life Cycle Model. The waterfall approach to software development is profoundly consecutive and can be divided into seven particular stages. There’s a standard guideline of stages, each taking after the other, that ought to be completed one by one. Phase two cannot be initiated until step one has been done.

The phases of the waterfall methodology are:

  1. Overview: The idea phase, when developers pursue what they should design and why. 
  2. Starting & Analysis: This stage involves collecting and enlisting what the software development project will need – encompassing system and software specifications for the product or project.
  3. Design: In this phase, developers ascertain how they want the software to operate and settle which pieces are essential to code.
  4. Development & Coding: This phase comprises coding each section of the software and testing it simultaneously, as well as integrating pieces following the software architecture from the design stage.
  5. Testing: This comprises testing the software system-wide; it may involve user testing, bug testing, and returning through to repair any specific bugs. 
  6. Implementation: In many situations, this involves delivering the final product to the client or testing out the system-wide software. 

What is an Agile Methodology?

Agile methodology is a system that helps perpetual iteration of development and testing in the software development method. In this idea, development and testing projects are parallel, different from the Waterfall model. This procedure enables us regarding more interaction between clients, developers, managers, and testers.

There are various types of agile development that all have some fundamental overlaps. These encompass:  

  • Scrum
  • Extreme Programming (XP) 
  • Kanban
  • Agile Unified Process
  • Lean Software Development 

The agile technique has two main components: collaboration and time. Rather than making a timeline for one expansive software development venture, agile breaks the venture into person deliverable divisions. These ‘time-boxed’ stages are known as ‘sprints and last some days. Once each sprint is completed, the criticism from the past stage is utilized to arrange the following one. 

Fundamental Concepts of Agile Development

  • Adaptability: Agile development highlights the importance of having the ability to vary the style, design, needs, and deliverables on the means.
  • Customer Involvement: as a result of the constant changes in style and deliverable units, agile software system development needs to shut collaboration between the client and the development team.
  • Lean Development: Agile development values creating the final product as easy as attainable. If an equivalent consequence is achieved with 2 steps rather than 5, agile development can consequently plan the software system.
  • Teamwork: As we tend to mention on top of, agile values cooperation above everything else. Groups should regularly assess how they will become more practical and modify the agile project as they’re going. Extreme Programming (living up to its name) suggests that developers add pairs on the principle that 2 heads are always higher than one.
  • Time: Agile development takes a totally different approach to time management throughout a project, breaking projects into tiny modules against the time. These are the “time-boxed sprints” represented above.
  • Sustainability: Rather than pushing for faster deadlines for an unfinished defective project, agile development adds value to setting up a sustainable speed for software development.
  • Testing: Unlike the waterfall Technique where there is an individual testing stage, agile models emphasize testing through every stage of the project. 
waterfall vs agile

Fundamental Variations

  • The waterfall model is a Linear Sequential Life Cycle Model, whereas Agile is a simultaneous repetition of development and testing in the software development method.
  • Agile methodology is praised for its adaptability, whereas Waterfall is a structured software development strategy.
  • Agile serves an increasing method, whereas the Waterfall methodology is a persistent design method.
  • Agile delivers testing simultaneously with software development, whereas, in the Waterfall methodology, testing comes after the development period.
  • Agile supports changes in project development demands, whereas Waterfall has no chance of altering the claims once the project development demands.

Benefits of the Waterfall Model

  • It runs excellent for tinier sized projects where necessities are easily comprehensible.
  • It is one of the simplest models to operate. For its characteristics, each stage has particular deliverables and a review step.
  • The process and outcomes are properly documented.
  • Quicker delivery of the project
  • Effortlessly flexible approach for shifting teams
  • This project supervision methodology is useful for maintaining dependencies.

Advantages of the Agile Model

  • It is an intensive client procedure. So, it authenticates that the buyer is continuously connected during every stage.
  • Agile groups are incredibly motivated and self-organized and are likely to render a better outcome from the development projects.
  • The agile software development method ensures that the quality of the development is controlled.
  • The method is entirely based on increasing progress. Therefore, the customer and team know precisely what is complete and what is not. This reduces the risk in the development procedure.

Potential Drawbacks of the Waterfall Model

  • It is not a perfect model for a large size project.
  • If the specification is not apparent at the beginning, it is a less effective approach.
  • Very hard to move back to make modifications in the previous stages.
  • The testing method starts once development is accomplished. Hence, it has a high chance of glitches to be discovered later in development where they are challenging to repair.

Potential Drawbacks of the Agile Model

  • It is not a beneficial process for short development projects.
  • It demands a specialist to make crucial decisions in the meeting.
  • The expense of implementing an agile method is a little more compared to other development approaches.
  • The project can smoothly go off-trail if the project manager is not clear what result he/she wants.

Key Differences between Agile and Waterfall Model

It classifies the project development lifecycle into sprints.The software development process is segmented into distinct phases.
It serves as an incremental procedure.The waterfall methodology is a constant design process.
Agile methodology is known for its adaptability.The waterfall is a structured software development strategy, so most of the time, it can be quite rigorous.
Agile can be regarded as a collection of many diverse projects.Software development will be performed as one single project.
Agile is quite an amenable method that permits changes to be done in the project development specifications, even if the initial planning has been completed.There is no chance of replacing the requirements once the project development begins.
Agile methodology follows a repetitive development method because of this planning, prototyping, development, and other software development stages may arrive more than once.All the project development stages like designing, development, testing, etc. are performed once in the Waterfall model.
The test plan is reexamined after each sprint.The test plan is hardly discussed during the test phase.
Agile development is a process in which the requirements are anticipated to change and evolve.The method is prototypical for projects which have definite specifications and changes not at all required.
In Agile methodology, testing is conducted parallelly with software development.In this methodology, the “Testing” phase appears after the “Build” phase
Agile proposes a product mindset where the software product meets needs of its end clients and adjusts itself as per the customer’s demands.This model exhibits a project mindset and places its target exclusively on completing the project.
Agile methodology runs exceptionally well with Time & Elements or non-fixed funding. It may enhance stress in fixed-price situations.Reduces risk in the firm-fixed-price deals by getting risk negotiation at the beginning of the process.
Prefers short, but dedicated teams with a high quality of integrity and synchronizationTeam coordination/synchronization is minimal.
Products buyer prepares specifications just about every day during a project.Business study prepares specifications before the outset of the project.
Test team can work on the requirements switch without difficulties.It is tough for the test to initiate any change in claims.
Summary of project details can be switched anytime during the SDLC running.Detail information needs to perform waterfall software development strategy.
The Agile Team posts are interchangeable, as a result, they work quicker. There is also no requirement for project managers because the whole team manages the projects.The method is always straightforward in the waterfall method, so the project manager plays an essential role during every step of SDLC.

Agile Vs Waterfall in the Best Project Management Software

How do the best project supervision software solutions on the market compare within the lens of agile vs waterfall? We took a look at the most studied Project Management tools on TrustRadius with surveys that call out agile or waterfall to see how often each development methodology was part of the discussion. Each of these products highlighted below is customer-verified.

Among the project management tools below, agile is considered more often than waterfall across every product. Of the approximately 400 feedback that includes the naming of agile or waterfall, 83% call out agile. That’s the fact that more people practice agile development than waterfall development. It’s more usual to discover project management software designed for agile vs waterfall.

Jira software has the most remarks of agile project management, with 58 feedbacks mentioning agile. For waterfall project management, Workfront leads the discussion with 20 reviews.


Agile is mentioned 2.2x more often than the waterfall approach.


Agile is mentioned 7 times more often than waterfall, which was not mentioned at all.


Agile is mentioned 9x more often than waterfall.


Agile is mentioned 9x more often than waterfall, which was not mentioned at all.


Agile is mentioned 1.4 times more often than waterfall.


Agile is mentioned 9.6 times more often than a waterfall.

Actual B2B Examples of Agile vs Waterfall 

To know how agile and waterfall development approach run in actual contexts, here are some instances of how  B2B companies incorporate these methodologies:

  • Avoiding AgileFall: In his report “When Waterfall Principles Sneak Back Into Agile Workflows”, Steve Blank goes into some of the deadfalls of not having a clear method set in the first position. It’s very simple to fall into the “AgileFall” trap of integrating agile workflows with the waterfall approach, and that can cause procrastination and defects. Steve dives into speak about how he assisted in getting a client back on track by featuring more regular, ongoing communication and feedback and assuring their developers felt supported throughout the development procedure.
  • Agile + Feedback: As they are the experts of getting reviews, it is no surprise that SurveyMonkey uses an agile approach to their development process. Agile methods stress the effect of regular, on-going feedback. This feedback can be expedited by phone calls, collaboration accessories, web discussions, and of course—surveys. The qualitative review allows to provide you with the authenticity you require to succeed in the business.
  • Agile Reduces Costs: According to a statistical study by CollabNet VersionOne, 71% of companies choose agile over a waterfall, indicating cost reduction as the main reason they selected an agile strategy. However, the waterfall approach typically demands customer sign-off before the development process starts, whereas agile does not. The plan of committing to a specific deliverable is very enticing for more conventional project managers. 
  • User Feedback is Crucial: With agile, you can run the risk of designing something that doesn’t meet your customers’ demands. The strategy itself is intended to decrease some of this risk by receiving “user feedback early on in the development process to avoid unrequired facilities and enable the process to be restricted before too much money or the time has been spent”, says Nacho de Marco, CEO of BairesDev, a reputed outsourcing development company.
  • When Waterfall Really Works: While agile methods indicate cost-savings as a fundamental determinant for pursuing their technique, some professionals recommend small organizations, especially startups, that waterfall may be a better choice regarding a financial basis. Technologist, Eric Boersma, thinks that waterfall, in particular, maybe befitted for companies that already know surely what their product will be and specifications, and who cannot waste time experimenting. If your company puts a higher significance on plotting ahead and is typically risk-averse, the waterfall method’s approach may be the best. 

How Can You Make the Choice Between Agile vs Waterfall?

Which development methodology you pursue—agile vs waterfall—relies very much on several key factors. Waterfall may be magnificent when there is no or limited access to a client to provide an instant review. It will best fit projects with a dispersed group, fixed scope, and cost-plan.

Agile is more suitable for longer, more complicated projects, where there is simple access to client feedback. Because of the agile method’s inherent adaptability, it is favored for projects with regularly changing specifications. 

waterfall vs agile
Source: “Ouriken

In the last few years, agile development grew the powerful product development methodology, being adopted by a vast majority of development companies. The poll on TrustRadius.com shows this trend. Only 19% of participants indicated that their firm practices waterfall rather than agile.

Because far more organizations are now adopting the agile approach, it can also feel out of sync with the industry at large. Developers may feel discouraged that they’re not getting the important experience managing in an agile system.

Even development teams still using the waterfall approach tend to use a hybrid methodology using both agile and waterfall. Despite the agile method’s moving advancement, the waterfall method is still a valid strategy in certain situations.

No matter what development methodology you pick, there is a wide selection of project management tools available for you. 

Advice for Software Buyers

After pursuing which method of software development or project management you would like to take, it can still be difficult to estimate how well a given solution will satisfy your specifications. Here are some pieces of advice you can do to help test different products for their usability:

Use the full free trial of the software

Mockup realistic projects that you and your team would be working on. This helps you get a good experience for how difficult the accessory is to practice and how simple it will be to show the rest of your team. Additionally, you’ll walk away with an indication of if it has all the particular features and integrations you are looking for.

Ask questions

Ask the sellers questions about all the facilities you are looking for, and the time it takes to learn the software thoroughly. If your product will require particular alliances, ask the seller about those to observe how deep the combination goes. 

Read reviews 

Learn about experiences from fellow project management software consumers to obtain the pros and cons of each software you’re examining, the obstacles and limitations, others in similar positions and companies have faced, and how they modified the tool to suit their circumstances.


No matter which methodology you pursue out of the two, the right software will allow you to maintain projects with greater competence. Genuine, verified reviews are the best position to begin searching for that perfect fit.

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