Agile vs Waterfall Project Management methodologies

Agile vs Waterfall Project Management methodologies

In this article, briefly, I enclose information about the terms Waterfall and Agile.

The creation and implementation of a project, in each industry, is always subordinated and occurs in certain phases:

As a sentence of the process of creating a project, I will use the words of Napoleon Hill: “First comes thought, then, the organization of that thought into ideas and plans, then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination. ”

As a result of this sentence comes the question: How? How can an idea be realized and turned into a real project? What is the path, the steps?

The answer to this question, strange as it may sound, lies in “philosophy”:
The “Understanding and Concept” of the company for creation, development, and realization of the project on the one hand, and the “Philosophy and Culture” of the client/user of this project – on the other hand, related to the specific market conditions and business specifics. Reference: “Agile vs Waterfall management methodology”,

In this regard, Waterfall and Agile are methods, methodology for project management, ie. Different “philosophies” for structuring, organization, processes, relationships, and relationships in the implementation of a project.

Both (and many other) methodologies are created and implemented as a result of specific market conditions, business needs, and consumption, at specific times and with clearly defined goals, roles, and tasks, both for the business and for the client. Both methodologies have their positive and negative characteristics, pros and cons. Over time and gaining experience, both methodologies have been modified, supplemented, expanded, etc., with the main goal being only one: “winning the war for His Majesty the Client” – price, quality, time, profitability, and profit. Reference: “What is Kanban methodology”,

Waterfall project management

Waterfall – is a linear, consistent methodology of implementation of processes from the beginning to the end of the implementation of a project (such as a waterfall or production line). The life cycle of the project is divided into separate phases/stages of development, as the course of development of the project is consistent, ie. After the completion of one phase – the next begins. Reference: “Waterfall and Incremental model in project management”, At the beginning of the project, all its characteristics, specifics final goal, and result (task) are defined, the implementation of the project is planned in detail and carried out in successive steps, based on schedules, specifications, plans, etc. In the course of the project implementation, what is set and developed at the beginning is implemented for the specified time, and the result is = planned. Neither better nor worse. Reference: “Agile, Scrum and Waterfall project management”,

Any change from what was originally planned is costly, especially as the project progresses, so it is avoided, necessarily. The investment process (investment cost) for the implementation of the project starts with its beginning, based on a pre-calculated budget, and continues until its end, ie.

The investment is in the amount of the full volume of the project, until the creation of the final, planned result (project/product). Finally, comes the assessment of the Client, respectively the finding: this project is successful/unsuccessful. Reference: “Comparison of Agile, Scrum and Waterfall project management”,

In this sense, the investment income from the project – unpredictable.

Examples of project implementation using the Waterfall methodology:

  • Manufacture of household appliances (white/black);
  • Car production;
  • Construction;

Etc. Each industry is associated with consistent processes in the construction of the project. Reference: “Waterfall or Agile? What methodology to choose for your project?”,

Agile Management

Agile – is a methodology for project implementation, inspired and created mainly by the imperfections and inapplicability of the Waterfall method for specific industries (IT, software, etc.), implemented at specific times, market conditions, and different “philosophy and culture” of the Client. Reference: “Waterfall and Agile project management”, The main “philosophy” of this method, expressed in three sentences, is:

  • What matters is the goal, not the way it is achieved;
  • The ultimate goal of the project consists of many smaller goals;
  • Phased delivery, quick feedback from the customer, quick changes and adaptation of the project;

Agile divides the project into many stages (called sprints), each with a specific “mini-goal” and a short lead time (usually 2 weeks). The purpose of this approach is implementation and delivery at a very early stage of the project (literally at every step), with minimal investment costs, receiving timely evaluation from the client, fast and with minimal investment costs adaptation of the project based on feedback.

This methodology mainly relies on the high expertise of the contractors (human resources) and that they determine the way to reach the goal (at each stage of the project), based on their experience, choice of strategy, and expert potential. Reference: “Waterfall vs V-Model vs Scrum vs Kanban”,

The processes that accompany each two-week “sprint” occur simultaneously, without a specific plan and rules, ie. Something is made, tested – worked – delivered. The processes are accompanied by the so-called Daily Standup (to know who works on what and what), which are managed by a special manager and …. that’s how the system works.

Respectively, the Client receives a part of the project/product earlier, starts working with it, starts modifying and/or changing it in the course of the implementation, thus being a direct participant in the process, in terms of feedback, which provides after each stage of implementation.

The investment cost is smaller in size (covers only the first and/or the first few steps of development) in the initial course of the project, but in reality – at the end of the process, often exceeds the initial budget due to various changes and additions to the product. project. Investment income is faster, usually increasing with the development of the project (if it develops in the right direction), but maybe short in time.

One of the disadvantages and risks of this method is the real possibility in the process of creating the project and after the many numbers of stages, changes, and additions… to lose the ultimate goal, ie. the project to be realized in a completely different form from the one originally conceived. Reference: “Agile vs Waterfall: The Difference Between Methodologies”,


In conclusion, both methodologies have achieved market penetration, both – have positive and negative characteristics, and both – are fully applicable in some business segments and not applicable in others.

Ultimately, a good result in the implementation of a project/product depends on the specifics, organization, and resources of a company on the one hand and the other – the right strategy, concept, and organization of implementation.

2 thoughts on “Agile vs Waterfall Project Management methodologies”

  1. Agile and Waterfall are the two most popular methodologies in a project, but they follow different approaches to serve a common goal, namely to deliver the required product in the shortest possible time without errors.

    Agile follows a more flexible approach to project development that provides monitoring and change throughout the development cycle. Agile allows changes to be made during the development cycle, which reduces the risk of complete failure.

    Waterfall, on the other hand, does everything consistently, starting from start-up to implementation and maintenance, and moving on to the next phase only after the successful completion of the first phase, which limits the changes, thus increasing the risk of failure.

    And here are the differences in more detail:

    The waterfall is a structured methodology for project development mainly in the IT field and more precisely in software development and this can often be quite unstable, while the Agile methodology is known for its flexibility.

    The software development process is divided into different stages in the Waterfall model, while the Agile methodology divides the project development life cycle into sprints.

    According to the Waterfall model, we have to complete the development as one project. Then we divide this into different phases. Each phase occurs only once during the project. On the other hand, the Agile methodology can be seen as a collection of many different small projects. Projects that are nothing more than iterations of the various stages are aimed at improving the overall quality of the project with feedback from users or the QA team.

    All phases of project development such as design, development, testing, etc. are completed once in the Waterfall model, while as part of the Agile methodology we use an iterative approach to development. Therefore, planning, development, prototyping, and other phases of project development can happen more than once during an Agile project.

    If you want to use the Waterfall model for project development, you must clear all pre-assignment requirements. There is no room to change the requirements once the project development begins. While the Agile methodology is quite flexible and allows changes to be made even after the initial planning has been completed.

    While the Waterfall methodology is an internal process and does not require user participation, Agile’s approach focuses on user satisfaction and thus on user participation during the development phase.
    One of the main differences between Agile and Waterfall’s development methodology is their patented approach to quality and testing. In the Waterfall model, the “Testing” phase comes after the “Build” phase, but in the Agile method, we usually perform testing at the same time as programming or at least during the same iteration as programming.

    We can look at the Waterfall model as a rigorous, consistent process, but Agile’s methodology is a very collaborative process of developing a project, leading to better team deployment and faster problem-solving.

    The Waterfall model requires project thinking and focuses exclusively on completing project development. Agile has introduced a product that aims to ensure that the developed product meets the requirements of consumers and is adapted if the needs of consumers change.
    In conclusion:

    The Waterfall model is best suited for projects with clearly defined requirements and where no changes are expected at all, while in the Agile model development supports a process in which we expect requirements to change and evolve, so if you plan to develop a product that we need to upgrade regularly and keep up with new user requirements, Agile is the better approach.

  2. As far as you know, the waterfall implies a consistent transition to each stage of development and the inability to go back one step.

    It will be possible to make changes only after the launch of the project. There is no interaction with the client himself, and the interaction between the stages of development is completely absent. These facts deprive the project of flexibility.

    While the Agile methodology, in addition to allowing changes to be made during the project creation process, allows you to reduce all risks, as there is always interaction with the client himself.

    Of course, there are some shortcomings in the Agile methodology, such as the fact that it is almost impossible to calculate the final costs, and that constant changes can reduce the quality of the product. But at this stage, most companies still resort to this method, as the flexibility in creating a project makes it easier to create.

    In the case of our organization, we must remember that when we decide in favor of a particular method, the main task is to create not only a high-quality product but also the ability of this method to solve the assigned tasks.

    First of all, however, we must choose a methodology that can implement the project as effectively as possible.

    However, when choosing a specific methodology, the client must carefully study the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches, take into account the advice of our specialists and determine the scope of requirements for the project. And then the choice will be much easier.

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