Waterfall Model vs Agile Model in Software Development

Waterfall Model vs Agile Model in Software Development

Waterfall model vs Agile model are two well-known project management methodologies. Although both of them are widely used in the software development industry, they are each most effective for various projects. The major distinction between waterfall vs agile method is that while Agile encourages simultaneous work on many project phases, waterfall is a linear style of working that demands the team to finish each phase of the project before moving on to the next.

Waterfall vs agile methodology in comparison

Waterfall vs agile model are two very distinct project management approaches, yet both are equally acceptable and might be more or less effective depending on the project. The key difference is that a waterfall project has a set, linear plan. Customers only contact with the project at its inception and conclusion because everything is planned out in advance. In contrast, the iterative nature of the Agile methodology allows for the introduction of fresh goals and specifications into a project following user feedback sessions and sprints.

waterfall model vs agile model

Waterfall Model

The waterfall software development model is a linear project management approach where stakeholder and customer needs are gathered at the beginning of the project and then a sequential project plan is constructed to suit those requirements. Because each project phase flows into the next, following steadily downward like a waterfall, the waterfall technique is so named.  It’s an approach that has been used for a long time since it is detailed, systematic, and effective. Construction, IT, and software development are a few fields that frequently employ the waterfall paradigm. The waterfall software development life cycle, sometimes known as the waterfall SDLC, is a common tool for managing software engineering projects.

  • Approach: Hands-off strategy with predetermined objectives and results
  • Flexibility: Low 
  • Requirements: Deliverables must be completed to go on to the next step.

waterfall model

Waterfall Pros:

  • Lays out a clear schedule for the entire project.
  • Initial project requirement analysis by the group helps speed up the process.
  • The project’s workflow is more regimented because each step requires a deliverable to go on to the next phase.

Waterfall Cons:

  • The procedure can take longer because each project phase must be finished before moving on to the next level.
  • Before moving on to the following phase, you might not be aware of a problem with a previous one. This would need to go back through each step to see where the error or mistake happened, which can take time.
  • When using the Waterfall process, you must first create a complete project overview. This limits the amount of flexibility and adjustment that may be made. Furthermore, if the stakeholders disagree with the project’s vision and don’t discover this until the project is completed or in a later stage, this might become troublesome.

Agile Modelagile model

In terms of linear action and client interaction, the agile methodology differs significantly from the waterfall approach in both areas. Agile is a quick and iterative approach where the customer receives the product in phases for review and input. The Agile development model operates in “sprints,” where priority tasks are finished within a condensed time, often around two weeks, as opposed to having everything planned out by milestones, like in waterfall. Instead of having all activities prioritized at the beginning of the requirements phase, these tasks are dynamically ranked and emerge based on the performance of previous sprints and client input.

  • Approach: Regularly communicate with stakeholders
  • Flexibility: High
  • Needs: Team initiative and tightening deadlines

>> Learn more: XP In Software Engineering

Agile Pros:

  • Short deadlines promote efficiency and productivity
  • There is a lot of flexibility to experiment with new directions and modify the course of a project.
  • The approach is client-facing, so the group communicates progress and takes client comments into account.

Agile Cons:

  • Since team members are working on several phases simultaneously, there is a chance of overlap or needless time being spent on later stages if an early phase needs to be changed.
  • Deliverables are not necessary to move on to the next stage. In large teams with multiple departments, it may be more difficult to guarantee that everyone is on the same page. Additionally, it implies that work may be overlooked or miscommunicated between team members, particularly if new team members join in the middle of ongoing tasks.
  • The project schedule is more difficult to establish at the outset and more subject to change.

So what is the better option in every aspect?

Before choosing a methodology, there are a lot of things to take into account. We’ve compiled these elements about waterfall vs agile method so you can choose which is best for your project.

1. Requirements and Regulations

This is the first and foremost factor to identify the better option between waterfall model vs agile model

  • Your project will be pushed toward the Waterfall software development technique if it must adhere to rigorous regulatory standards and has little space for adjustment.
  • The use of an Agile development methodology will increase project creativity and shorten the time to market if your project has few initial requirements and doesn’t need to adhere to rigorous standards.

2 . Existing Organizational Processes

  • It may be difficult to apply Agile methods cross-functionally in an organization where they must be followed, in which case the Waterfall technique will be more appropriate.
  • Agile offers enough advantages to be used if your company doesn’t have to adhere to rigid procedures and you have the option of working flexibly.

3. Product Owner Involvement

  • Since requirements and project expectations are outlined in detail from the beginning, this software development model only permits input during milestone project check-ins if the product owner doesn’t wish to be extremely involved.
  • Agile development methodologies allow the product owner to be actively involved if they choose to be more hands-on. The team member who owns the requirements for the product is known as the product owner. All choices about the scope and functioning of the product are ultimately made by the product owner.

4. Nature of the Project

  • Waterfall can be a better choice if your team is delivering an improvement to an established legacy product with well-defined features that must interface with other known or current products.
  • Agile software development methodologies are ideal for projects when your team is attempting to create something novel that doesn’t already exist in any form. It helps the product owner to discover the project’s features and needs in an iterative fashion.

5. Timeline

Practice of waterfall vs agile project management is distinguished thanks to this factor

  • Waterfall project management will provide a more predictable result if the project timeframe is fixed and cannot be changed.
  • Agile is the best option if you need to complete the project quickly because action and getting things built take precedence over paperwork and process in this situation.

6. Budget

  • Waterfall will deliver a more predictable result if the project budget is fixed and cannot be increased.
  • Agile promotes features and speed to market over rigorous budget adherence if you do have any room for it. Occasionally, while using Agile development, a novel, valuable feature is found that, in order to be implemented, will take a bit more effort and money. Agile is the greatest option if this works for your team.

When to use waterfall vs agile?

Regarding to agile vs waterfall approach and waterfall vs agile development process, it is not quite hard to answer this

  • Waterfall is a more traditional approach to project management, involving a linear flow. Agile, on the other hand, embraces an iterative process. 
  • When the project is limited by budget, schedule, or both, and the requirements and scope are clear, the Waterfall methodology is preferred. In these situations, the Waterfall technique offers a set of procedures based on the idea that each phase must be approved before moving on. The Waterfall methodology performs better overall at delivering a well-defined feature set within a certain budget or timetable.
  • When the product team is unsure of what needs to be built from the start or wants to determine what should be built depending on changes they make along the way, Agile wins the day. Agile will help the team deliver more features in less time while also granting them greater flexibility so they can seize opportunities as the project progresses.


In conclusion, waterfall model vs agile model are two distinct project management techniques that are best suited for various project types. Waterfall might be the greatest option if you have a clear understanding of the project’s goals from the start. When a project must adhere to stringent guidelines, the waterfall technique is preferable because it calls for deliverables for each step before moving on to the next.

As an alternative, Agile is better suited for teams who want to move quickly, experiment with direction, and start without knowing exactly how the project will turn out. Agile is adaptable and calls for a cooperative and self-driven team as well as regular updates on the progress from stakeholders and business owners. But both software development life cycle waterfall vs agile will make your software engineering process more efficient. 

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