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Agile Vs. Waterfall: What Is The Difference?

Project management methodologies help businesses organize their processes and perform them in a systematic way. They help you move in the right direction for attaining your business goals while sticking to a solid plan.

Especially when it comes to software development, Agile and Waterfall are two of the most sought-after project management methodologies. While they apply to many projects, they are very common among software development companies building custom software applications.

To choose the methodology that best suits your needs, it is important to understand the difference between these two popular alternatives. Complete knowledge of the Waterfall methodology vs. Agile helps you analyze your requirements and execute your project in the best way possible.

Let’s start by briefly understanding each of the two methodologies:

What Is The Agile Methodology?

Agile is a fluid and holistic project management methodology that enhances the efficiency of software development projects. Software development and maintenance is an ongoing process. Technologies and trends are likely to change during the course of your project.

Agile acknowledges these changes and makes provisions for the same. This makes Agile a much more flexible methodology as it prepares developers for the changes that may come their way during project execution. Agile also gives a lot of importance to the stakeholders’ feedback throughout the course of the project. It ensures seamless collaboration between all team members to bring out their best.

The Agile methodology involves all team members working on different project stages simultaneously. Here, the delegation of responsibility is clear, and everyone works with short-term deadlines. Instead of the project manager, the team drives the project. The methodology empowers all team members working on the project to bring it to fruition.

What Is The Waterfall Methodology?

The Waterfall methodology is a more linear project management methodology that involves performing one task at a time. It is best suited for projects whose final outcome is clearly defined at the beginning. Here, the project manager establishes the scope of the project and the expectations for every stage before the execution begins.

In the Waterfall methodology, the team must fulfill the requirements of one phase to move on to the next. It follows a more rigid approach that does not leave enough scope for making unplanned changes during the course of the project.

Agile Vs. Waterfall: A Detailed Comparison

The key aspect to consider while looking into the Waterfall methodology vs. Agile is the approach of both methodologies. While the Waterfall methodology is more rigid in accommodating changes, Agile is more adaptive and flexible.

In fact, the Agile methodology was created as a response to the Waterfall methodology. It can be considered an antidote to Waterfall as it overcomes all its shortcomings.

Here are some of the most important parameters that help you differentiate between the Waterfall methodology and Agile:

Project Timeline

The Waterfall methodology involves a fixed project timeline. The project manager clearly maps out the project’s fixed beginning and end. Here, the entire course of the project is defined before the execution begins, leaving little scope for improvisation.

On the other hand, the Agile project timeline is more flexible , with provisions made for changes. It allows the team members to experiment in different directions. Here, the schedule develops and adapts to changes over the course of the project.

Involvement Of The Client

The Waterfall methodology does not involve the client during project execution once the beginning and end are established. Apart from minor check-ins or reviews, the client is not actively involved in executing the project. Waterfall does not incorporate the client’s feedback while executing the different project phases.

Agile actively involves the client at every stage of the project. It takes its feedback seriously and incorporates it throughout the course of the project. As the team progresses with the project, the clients are updated with the ongoing status with necessary changes made according to their requirements. The Agile methodology prioritizes client satisfaction over everything else.

Project Flexibility

The Waterfall methodology is not flexible as it clearly defines your project’s beginning and end. Here, the entire project is mapped out and executed precisely according to the plan. Moreover, the Waterfall methodology focuses on only one project phase at a time. The team members do not progress to the next stage without completing the previous one.

On the other hand, the Agile methodology is much more flexible. It involves simultaneously performing multiple stages of a project, ensuring holistic project completion. Agile gives importance to short bursts of work known as sprints. It doesn’t involve a fixed and rigid plan of action, leaving space for changes and improvisation. Whether the course of action needs to be changed during the early stages or toward the end, the project methodology facilitates the incorporation of new information at any time.


Just like its project timeline, the budget of the Waterfall methodology is fixed. As all aspects of the project from start to finish are clearly defined, the fixed budget is calculated in advance. Here, there is little to no room for altering the budget mid-way.

On the contrary, the Agile methodology budget is flexible. It is more open to changes and adaptations during the course of your project’s execution. As an Agile project can change its direction at any time, the budget can be altered mid-way. If you discover a way to reduce your expenses during the project, Agile helps you accommodate relevant changes hassle-free.

Agile Vs. Waterfall: What Should You Choose?

You should consider many different factors before choosing the right project management methodology. If your project’s scope is clear and requires strict regulations, you should implement the Waterfall methodology. It lets you clearly define all your requirements so you know exactly where you are headed.

On the other hand, if you want your client’s active involvement in the project and seek seamless collaboration, you should go with Agile development. The Agile methodology is ideal for projects with shorter deadlines. If you are open to changes and want to accommodate them in your project, Agile methodology is the way to go.

Whatever your decision, ensure that your project management methodology syncs with your requirements and business needs. Either way, provides you with both Agile and Waterfall project templates to choose from, so you don’t have to switch between tools when the project scope is different. Try for free.

Originally published at on December 28, 2022.

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