Updated July 12, 2023
Difference Between Agile vs Waterfall Project Management
We will start by defining Agile and then link Agile vs waterfall frameworks. Agile and waterfall are very popular among software developers. This is because they assist these developers in delivering software quickly and efficiently. An agile manifesto lays down and outlines software development concepts; using one of the development methods stated in the agile manifesto and developing on it is called agile development.
What is Agile?
Agile is an iterative and collaborative approach to project management and software development. It emphasizes flexibility, adaptability, and customer collaboration throughout the development process. Agile methodologies, such as Scrum and Kanban, promote shorter development cycles, frequent feedback, and continuous improvement to deliver high-quality products efficiently.
Features of the Agile Model:
The agile manifesto has primarily three essential features.
- Iterative Approach to Development: This approach allows us to deliver working software to clients quickly, and we use the feedback we receive from clients to improve the next versions of the software. This will enable teams to incorporate changes and fix bugs even late in production.
- Short Feedback Loops: This means that customer feedback is essential and valued by software developers. Also, they spend their time and resources on things that matter the most.
- Disciplined Project Management Process: The team has structured and organized the project well. Each team knows its role and timelines within which they need to finish their tasks.
What is Waterfall?
The waterfall is a software development model that breaks down the project into linear sequential phases; this implies that each phase is contingent upon the completion of the deliverables from the preceding one. This model is typically used for projects where the requirements are well-defined, and the project goals are clear.
The waterfall model is divided into 5 phases:
- Requirements gathering and analysis
Features of the Waterfall Model:
The waterfall model was one of the first software development models; it was effortless in its structure, making it easy to use and understand by software developers.
- Feasibility: Before we develop software, we check if it’s feasible to work on this software. Given the client’s requirements, can the software be built? What would be the cost, and how many resources would need to be allocated?
- Requirements Analysis and Specification: We perform requirements analysis and specification to understand the customer’s needs and to determine if our company has the resources to meet those needs.
- Design: After completing the above two steps, developers can outline and plan to execute their tasks. They spend time on the drawing board analyzing all the steps.
- Coding: After completing the above steps, developers move to the coding stage, where they write code. This is also a testing phase, where they test their code, make changes, and try to improve it as much as possible.
- Integration and Testing: This is the final phase of testing; we merge all the steps and produce the final software; we perform one final test before giving it to the customer.
Head To Head Comparison Between Agile vs Waterfall Project Management (Infographics)
Below is the top 6 difference between Agile vs Waterfall Project Management.
Key Differences Between Agile vs Waterfall Project Management
The key differences between Agile vs Waterfall Project Management can be highlighted as follows:
- The development process is not separated into discrete sections and is sequentially completed in the Waterfall model, while the Agile methodology divides the project into single development cycles called sprints.
- The waterfall is a structured and rigid methodology, whereas the Agile methodology is popular for its flexibility.
- Waterfall management does not allow any changes in between the process; in case there is a mistake, then the project has to start from scratch, while Agile management allows intermittent changes during the ongoing process.
- All the project phases are completed at once in chronological order in the Waterfall model, while in the Agile methodology, an iterative development approach is followed.
- In the Waterfall model, the testing is done after developing the project, while in the Agile methodology, testing is performed simultaneously with programming or in the same iteration as programming.
- While Waterfall methodology requires customer participation only at milestones, the Agile Project management customer is available throughout the process and gives regular feedback.
- The Waterfall model is the best fit for projects which have well-explained requirements, and change is not expected anywhere while Agile development supports projects in which the requirements are expected to evolve.
- The Waterfall model is very time-consuming for the kind of groundwork it requires, but Agile management is comparatively less time-consuming as it does not require any prior knowledge regarding a project.
Agile vs Waterfall Project Management Comparison Table
Below is the topmost comparison between Agile vs Waterfall Project Management
|Traits||Agile Management||Waterfall Management|
|Customer Availability||Prefers customers to be available throughout the project.||Requires customer availability only at milestones.|
|Scope||Changes can be made well in advance with time in hand and within the given budget. Works well when a scope is not known in advance.||Works well when the scope is known in advance and contract terms limit changes.|
|Feature Prioritization||Features of a project are prioritized, and issues are resolved on a priority basis, increasing funding efficiency and allowing partial success by evading complete failure.||Features are not prioritized, which leads to either complete success or complete failure by maximizing the risk of failure.|
|Team||Prefers small and dedicated teams with high coordination.||Prefers large teams that decreases co-ordination among team members.|
|Funding||Works extremely well by increasing funding efficiency.||Works well by reducing fixed funding through up-front contracts.|
|Feasibility||Agile is better when it is feasible.||Working on waterfall management does not depend on its feasibility.|
Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile Project Management
Agile management is iterative in nature and is completed in sections. So, it has many advantages of its own:
- Short iterations increase the adaptability of the project, and changes are feasible and cost-friendly.
- The process is not time-consuming and can be easily tracked, giving regular feedback to the customer and the management.
- The customer is always available and works very closely with the team. It helps in both individual and business development.
Whenever there are advantages, they are followed by certain disadvantages:
- For example, agile prefers a working application based and not documentation based. This can be beneficial depending on a project and its complexity, but proper co-ordination between coding and documentation is preferred.
- This methodology is made for small teams. Therefore, each team member must be proficient in their roles and self-dependent.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Waterfall Model
The Waterfall model is traditional in nature but can be advantageous in many ways.
- A predictable and static workflow exclusively allows the team to calculate the budget of the project appropriately and gives a picture of the deadline.
- Since the process requires documentation, one has physical evidence of each phase of the project. Reference to prior projects also helps in doing the much-needed groundwork better.
- The team requires no prior knowledge to embark upon the Waterfall management model.
However, the cons are there as well:
- Any major changes can be costly for both the customer and the firm since the entire project and its phases are terminal in nature.
- The requirements of various project phases take a lot of time before the actual view is presented to the customer.
This has been a guide to Agile vs Waterfall Project Management. Here we also discuss the Agile vs Waterfall Project Management key differences with infographics and comparison table. You may also have a look at the following articles to learn more –