Agile vs Waterfall: the pros and cons of each method (2023)

Do you know the difference between Agile and Waterfall and have you thought about what would work best for your business?

Don't chase waterfalls - unless you're looking for a project management methodology. 😁 The waterfall method is a common framework that teams have used for years. But it's not the only way to do things, and it might not be the best method depending on your team's needs.

In this post, we covered the differences between agile and waterfall methods, including the pros and cons of each. We will also present a possible alternative called the hybrid method, which can offer the best of both worlds for specific teams.

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When it comes to Agile vs. Waterfall, these methods don't have much in common. In many ways, agility is the answer to the limitations of the commonly used waterfall method. However, there are definitely still pros and cons to each framework.

Let's look at these two methods in more detail.

(Video) Agile vs Waterfall Project Management: Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Methodology

The waterfall method

We'll start with the waterfall approach because it's a little easier to explain. While the idea of ​​a waterfall might seem majestic and bold, the waterfall method is quite traditional and uncomplicated.

The waterfall model is used to describe traditional project management, where a project plan is created by a project manager before work begins. Project requirements and tasks are planned in advance and given to the team, who then work on one task and then the next until the project is delivered.

Tasks are completed in the order they were defined in the original plan. The sequential order of tasks cascading from one to the next gives waterfall project management its name.

Waterfall is a widely used project management method, but it has its limitations. The rigorous approach helps teams know what to expect at each stage of a project, but it's not very adaptable and can lack input from the team as a whole.

This lack of flexibility has hurt modern teams. This makes it more difficult to shift gears if and when needed. A pre-determined plan doesn't leave much room for change and fails to adapt to invaluable feedback from stakeholders and customers.

waterfall professionals

  • At the beginning, clear goals and objectives are defined.
  • There is a direct structure that is repeated project after project.
  • Team members can easily understand what is expected of them.
  • The general pressure on employees is less.
  • Training is easier, especially for new employees.
  • Information is easily shared with all team members.
  • Success is measured by completing tasks, leading to faster gratification.
  • Budgets can be forecast more accurately.
  • The end result of a project is clear from the start, so the path is clear for everyone involved.
  • Most planning is managed by one person.

waterfall cons

  • The process is not as flexible as agile approaches.
  • It is difficult to foresee obstacles and dependencies that could delay the work.
  • Work is not always distributed evenly across the team.
  • A project overload is possible.
  • Ephemeral teams can skip conflicts to get to the end of the project.
  • It is difficult to change direction or scope once a project has started.
  • There is less customer involvement throughout the design or development of the product.
  • Stakeholders may not see progress until the end of a project or until a final product is completed.
  • There is no initial testing phase to ensure a project or product is on track.

The agile methodology

Agile vs Waterfall: the pros and cons of each method (2)

(Video) Agile vs Waterfall Methodology | Difference between Agile and Waterfall | What to choose?

Agileit is an iterative approach that emphasizes testing and tuning. It uses early feedback and stakeholder engagement to determine the best way forward. There's still a model with Agility, but it's not rigid or rigid, leaving plenty of room for adaptation and growth along the way.

The plan evolves as new information is gathered to ensure the end result meets the needs of customers and stakeholders. Adaptability is a big part of agile practices and this is what attracted so many teams to this methodology. The ability to adapt in the face of change is a highly sought-after strength today, given the pace at which change is occurring in technology, business, global markets and more.

agile professionals

  • The whole team is involved in the planning.
  • Feedback is at the heart of the process.
  • Customers and stakeholders are involved.
  • When it comes to decision making, the focus is on the customer journey.
  • The team can adapt as new information is gathered.
  • Changes can be made along the way to avoid roadblocks or stalled work.
  • The capacity (workload) of each team member is continually assessed to prevent burnout.
  • Longstanding teams continue to learn how to work together.
  • Processes are continuously improved at all stages of the project/product.
  • All voices on a team, regardless of role, are heard when it's time to come togetherRückblickOpinion.

Agile Disadvantages

  • Agile techniques and terminology can be difficult to understand.
  • It can take a while for teams to learn the right agile methods.
  • Agile teams may not get the support they need from management and business owners.
  • Not all team members may believe in the agile framework, leading to team disconnect.
  • Lack of documentation can make details unclear.
  • Budgets can become unpredictable if the project/product needs to go in a different direction.
  • The scope of a project/product can continue to grow (scope creep).
  • The manyagile meetingstake a long time.
  • It is more difficult to find new employees who have experience with agile methods.

Agility is a broad term that encompasses many different frameworks that use agile practices. Lean, DevOps,Kanban, and Scrum are different forms of agility that serve different needs.

For example, the Scrum framework includes repetitive sprints, which are commonly used by agile software development teams. If you've never heard of Scrum, this can be a lot to digest. 🇧🇷

A Scrum lasts two weeks, starting withSprintplanung, when the product owner makes prioritization decisions about which backlog items (tasks) should be completed in the next sprint. From there, the team works on the defined tasks, guided by aScrum Masterleading daily meetings to keep everyone updated on project/product progress. Finally, at the end of the sprint, a sprint review and sprint retrospective takes place to ensure that the team continues to develop and improve.

Want to learn more about other popular agile methods? There are so many to choose from! we cover8 popular development methodsin a previous post.

The hybrid methodology

Agile vs Waterfall: the pros and cons of each method (3)

Does the choice have to be agile or waterfall? You might be thinking, can't we sum all these benefits together? That onenimble hybridApproach may offer the best of two words for some teams.

A hybrid model combines the valuable techniques provided by waterfall and agile frameworks. For example, you might start with a series of agile sprints for prototyping and gathering feedback, followed by a single action plan associated with non-agile techniques. It can be the best of both worlds and can serve as a stepping stone as a team tries to complete it.agile transformation.

A hybrid approach often comes into play with agile project management and other non-traditional agile applications. Agile was originally created for software development, but teams in all types of industries are continually adopting aspects of Agile. The agile methods observed by software developers don't always work for other types of teams. Agility can be a tough transition, especially when teams are used to doing things differently.

An approach that fits your needs

When choosing the approach that works best for your team, business or company, take the time to consider the needs of the team as well as your customers and stakeholders. Agility can be a tough transition, but if you feel the benefits will improve your processes and help your business in the long run, it might be time to make the switch. A hybrid approach can help you get there gradually without as many disruptions to your current processes.

Easy Agile is passionate about helping teams work betteragile tools built for Jira🇧🇷 If you want to learn more about agile and other methods, follow theEasy Agile-Blog🇧🇷 It's packed with guides, tips and strategies - and if reading the content isn't for you, we've got aPodcastFurthermore! 🇧🇷

(Video) Agile vs Waterfall — Find Out Which One Is Better!


What are pros and cons of Waterfall and Agile? ›

Agile projects are typically cheaper and can be delivered quickly. They offer greater flexibility, but also produce less predictable results due to the uncertainty and unclear nature of many of the project characteristics. Waterfall projects are typically more expensive and take longer to deliver.

Which model is better Agile or Waterfall explain your answer? ›

If the project timeline is fixed and can not be moved, Waterfall will offer a more predictable outcome. If you need to get the project delivered in a short amount of time, Agile is the appropriate choice here where action and getting things built is more important than documentation and process.

What are the pros and cons of the Waterfall methodology? ›

The pros and cons of Waterfall Development
  • Pro: Everyone gets up to speed quickly. ...
  • Pro: Timescales are kept. ...
  • Pro: No financial surprises. ...
  • Pro: Testing is made easy. ...
  • Pro: The outcome is crystal clear. ...
  • Pro: Deal with issues in the design. ...
  • Pro: What you plan is what you get. ...
  • Con: Needs can be difficult to define.
Feb 27, 2017

What are 3 main differences between Agile and Waterfall methodologies? ›

Difference between Agile and Waterfall Methodologies
It follows an incremental approachWaterfall methodology is a sequential design process.
Agile methodology is known for its flexibility.Waterfall is a structured software development methodology so most times it can be quite rigid.
14 more rows
5 days ago

What are the pros and cons of Agile methodology? ›

What Is Agile?
More flexibleHard to predict
Product get to market fasterFinal product is not released first
Better communicationDocumentation gets left behind
Dec 20, 2021

What are the cons of Agile? ›

5 Key Disadvantages of Agile Methodology
  • Poor resource planning. ...
  • Limited documentation. ...
  • Fragmented output. ...
  • No finite end. ...
  • Difficult measurement.

What are 3 advantages to agile methods? ›

Streamline proofing and reporting for seamless campaigns. Take control of billable hours and increase client satisfaction. Plan Agile projects, track deadlines, and deliver results. Create high-quality assets and get them approved in record time.

Why is Agile more successful than waterfall? ›

More flexible

Once a step has been completed in Waterfall, it's difficult to go back and make changes. In contrast, Agile builds a working version of the whole project (an MVP) so the customer can shape how it's built.

Is Agile more successful than waterfall? ›

There is plenty of supporting evidence that Agile wins out over Waterfall Projects. That data comes from 25 years of studying project success and failure rates is pretty clear. Agile projects are 2X more likely to succeed and less than half as likely to fail than Waterfall.

Why is Agile model the best? ›

Agile methods can help teams manage work more efficiently and do the work more effectively while delivering the highest quality product within the constraints of the budget.

What is the cons of waterfall? ›

Disadvantages of waterfall

Unlike agile, this methodology does not allow for discovery, iteration, and refinement whilst developing the product. Instead, new requirements must be written.

What are the pros of waterfall model? ›

Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of the waterfall model is its clear and precise structure, which lays down the role that you and your associates need to perform at every phase of the project. Such clarity is crucial when planning and executing complex projects as without it, the project can easily get muddled.

What is the difference between waterfall and Agile? ›

The key difference between Agile vs. Waterfall is that Waterfall breaks down software development into isolated phases that flow into each other, while Agile advocates iterative development cycles in which multiple lifecycle phases can run in parallel.

What is a key difference between Agile and Waterfall teams? ›

The main difference is that Waterfall is a linear system of working that requires the team to complete each project phase before moving on to the next one while Agile encourages the team to work simultaneously on different phases of the project.

What is the main difference between Waterfall testing and Agile testing? ›

In agile testing, testing is performed alongside the development. In waterfall testing, testing is carried out only after the completion of development. In agile testing, development team and testing team work together. In waterfall testing, development team and testing team work separately.

What are the main differences between Waterfall and agile projects Why do we use both today? ›

Agile and Waterfall are two popular methods for organizing projects. Waterfall is a more traditional approach to project management, involving a linear flow. Agile, on the other hand, embraces an iterative process. Waterfall is best for projects with concrete timelines and well-defined deliverables.

What is the problem with Agile? ›

However, agile projects face a set of challenges and problems related to applying a different approach to project management. According to VersionOne, the top three reasons for agile project failure are: Inadequate experience with agile methods. Little understanding of the required broader organizational change.

Why do people dislike Agile? ›

Process-oriented development teams

Another reason developers dislike Agile is the way their superiors treat the concept more as a religion than a process that can increase productivity. Which means, they blindly stick to their beliefs and refuse to budge towards a more agile approach of product management.

What are the 4 key values of Agile? ›

The four core values of Agile software development as stated by the Agile Manifesto are:
  • individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • customer collaboration over contract negotiation; and.
  • responding to change over following a plan.

What are strengths of Agile process? ›

It is one of the easiest and traditional model to manage. Because of its traditional development nature, each phase has specific deliverables and a review process. It works well in smaller size projects where requirements are easily understandable. It has a faster product delivery model.

What is the most important thing in Agile? ›

An Agile focus should be on improving the product and advancing consistently. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential. The goal is to get just enough done to complete the requested project.

How much more effective is Agile? ›

You can run your team traditionally or adopt an agile mindset and watch your developers become 25% more productive.

Why do most agile projects fail? ›

A lack of management support is a primary reason why agile transformations fail. One part of the success involves finding the right collaboration partner to take care of the agile transformation process.

Is Agile more flexible than waterfall? ›

It's clear that agile is more flexible, and waterfall is more rigid. Each methodology has its pros and cons, meaning these methodologies are better suited for different project types.

What are the disadvantages of Waterfall to Agile? ›

Disadvantages of waterfall
  • Unlike agile, this methodology does not allow for discovery, iteration, and refinement whilst developing the product. Instead, new requirements must be written.
  • As it is static, this methodology is not suitable for projects where client or business requirements may change during development.

What are the disadvantages of waterfall model over Agile? ›

Waterfall Cons

Project overload is possible. Short-lived teams may ignore conflict for the sake of getting to the end of the project. It's difficult to change directions or the scope of deliverables once a project begins. There's less customer involvement throughout project or product development.

What is the difference between Waterfall & Agile? ›

The main difference is that Waterfall is a linear system of working that requires the team to complete each project phase before moving on to the next one while Agile encourages the team to work simultaneously on different phases of the project.

What is the biggest difference between Agile and Waterfall? ›

The key difference between Agile vs. Waterfall is that Waterfall breaks down software development into isolated phases that flow into each other, while Agile advocates iterative development cycles in which multiple lifecycle phases can run in parallel.


1. Agile vs Waterfall | Difference Between Agile and Waterfall Methodologies | Invensis Learning
(Invensis Learning)
2. Agile vs Waterfall | Which Software Development Approach Would You Choose? | Edureka
3. Agile vs Waterfall Methodology: What are Similarities and Differences Between Agile and Waterfall?
4. Agile vs. Waterfall Project Management - Wrike
5. What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Agile and Waterfall?
(Project Mgmt Made Simple)
6. Agile vs Waterfall - The best software method for you
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