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Comparison of Waterfall and Agile project management

In this short report, you will find information about Waterfall and Agile concepts and their applications in business and project management.

Agile and Waterfall are two very popular software development methodologies used in organizations today. There are differing opinions regarding the superiority of the two methodologies. Both have their own characteristics, pros, and cons and work better in different circumstances. Reference: Agile vs Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall characteristics

Waterfall is the oldest method and the most common project management methodology. The basis of this methodology lies in the sequence of tasks until the delivery of the final product, each of which is performed one by one, in a row. Reference: Comparison of Agile, Scrum, and Waterfall project management, There are various stages of development such as identification of specification, concept, analysis, design, coding, testing, debugging, installation, and ultimately maintenance.

The team that develops the model moves on to the next stage only after completing the previous one. Software engineers spend a lot of time at each stage so that there are no errors once the program is ready for testing.

Once the software is designed, its coding is performed without changes introduced at later stages. It is common practice to require design, coding, and analysis teams to work separately on different parts of the project. Documentation is an integral part of software development in the Waterfall methodology. Reference: Agile, Scrum and Waterfall project management,

Advantages of Waterfall Project Management

Each step is pre-planned and is based on an exact sequence.

One of the easiest management models. Due to its nature, each phase has specific results and an evaluation process;

Waterfall works well for smaller projects where the requirements are easy to understand;

Faster project implementation;

The development process and results are well documented;

Easily adaptive method for different phase teams;

Specialists in specific fields are better;

This methodology is useful for dependency management; Reference: Waterfall and Incremental model in project management,

Disadvantages of Waterfall

This is not an ideal model for a large project;

If the initial requirements are not clear, this is a less efficient model;

Easy to implement, any change in user needs or priorities can disrupt the sequence of tasks, making them very difficult to manage. This model lacks flexibility, but if the goal we want to achieve is clear, then this would be the most appropriate model.

It is very difficult to make changes in the closed phases;

The testing process begins immediately after development. That’s why there’s a good chance of bugs that we’ll find later in development. This makes their repairs more expensive;

Software delivery is late, changes are difficult, high risk and uncertainty, difficult to measure progress in different phases. Reference: Project Charter – real detailed example for Project Planning phases,

What is Agile

Agile is a set of methodologies called ‘practices’ that avoid formalizing the process and emphasize that the product is delivered on time. In this methodology, each team member can work on any element of the project that is within his competence.

This methodology is most often used in software development. Agile is a flexible approach to the solid system in the waterfall, and the distinguishing feature of this system is flexibility and adaptability. Agile does not follow a specified model. Includes some iterations, including all stages of design, coding, and testing. Reference: Agile vs Waterfall management methodology,

Advantages of Agile

It is focused on the customer process and ensures that the user is constantly involved in each phase;

Agile teams are highly motivated and self-organized, so they are likely to achieve better results in development projects;

The method guarantees the maintenance of the quality of development;

The process is based entirely on progressive insights. That’s why the user and the team know exactly what’s done and what’s not. Reference: Waterfall or Agile? What methodology to choose for your project, PM.MBA

This reduces the risks in the development process.

Disadvantages of Agile

This is not a useful method for very large projects.

This requires an expert to make important decisions during the meeting;

The costs of implementing the Agile method are lower than other development methodologies;

The project can easily derail if the owner of the product does not know what result he wants.

Difference between Agile and Waterfall

Agile is more effective because it is adaptable and responsive to real-world problems;

Releasing the products in less time is possible by a flexible method, as last-minute changes can be included, while the waterfall in a consistent, nimble is iterative in nature;

Agile is more popular and used in wider circumstances than waterfalls;

The waterfall is more suitable for developing programs that are stable and need only a small transformation;

The waterfall is easier to manage and the associated costs can be known in advance;

Unlike the waterfall, which does not allow changes after the design is completed, Agile is not a rigid approach and any changes that can lead to improvement can be introduced even at the last minute of software development.

Even teams created to develop software through a flexible approach are multifunctional in nature, and close collaboration and sharing of expertise is a common feature in contrast to Waterfall. Instead of time-consuming documentation, the focus is on faster software development.

Agile vs Waterfall

Indeed, both concepts are mentioned almost always when talking about projects, their planning, the implementation I will try to explain the similarities and differences in detail.

The so-called Waterfall method of management came from the Industrial Revolution in America when people had to perform strictly defined tasks at a specific time and in a pre-scheduled manner.

With Waterfall, there are several steps, initiating, planning, executing, checking, and controlling execution before we finally receive the project product. Reference: Agile & Scrum Programming Scrum Time (ISSN 2652-5445)

The project has successive steps, everything is planned in advance, depending on the initial requirements for the final product, the time of the project is determined, as well as its financing. The projects have very large documentation, covering every step and every process!

The Agile management method, on the other hand, originated in Japan, and was applied to production activities rather than project management, but was subsequently adapted to project management. It gave freedom, even required employees to show initiative and innovation in their daily work. Employees gave feedback on what and how can be changed in the work process to optimize processes.

Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the management of the project in question.

While with the Waterfall method, all steps of the project life cycle are clearly defined in the Project Planning and the changes are extremely undesirable, expensive, and in most cases impossible (the construction of a hospital building can be taken as an example).

With the Agile method, the project can change constantly at almost any time, no matter what stage of its development it is, on the one hand depending on the needs and desires of the client (as an example is the development of software for an online store) from, on the other hand, the technologies are changing so fast that it is possible while developing a project, new, better technology will appear that will allow improving the project and this requires flexibility in the realization of the final product.

This is also possible because software projects are developed in modules and it is easy to replace one module or functionality with another while developing the product. At Agile, when planning the project itself, it is clear that there will be changes in the work process, they are expected. Projects are made in modules or so. iterations and jumps, after the completion of each of which we have a ready module of the project, which can be presented to the client, who can assess whether this is enough or something needs to be changed in this iteration (in this module).


Author: Anton Radev

Front-End Web Developer

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