Agile vs. Waterfall Methodology: What’s The Difference?

Waterfall vs. Agile methodology

by | 09-01-2020


In any software development organization, the first decision before starting any new project revolves around the selection of a suitable software development methodology. In the rapidly evolving field of digital technology, choosing the appropriate project management framework is paramount in ensuring the smooth completion and delivery of the project.

Two of the most popular project management frameworks, especially prevalent in the industry, are Agile and Waterfall methodologies. Let’s dig deeper to compare these two techniques.

Agile vs. Waterfall: Which One to Choose?

Here is an in-depth comparison of both of these methodologies.

The Waterfall Methodology

The most popular version of SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle, Waterfall, is the traditional approach commonly followed in the IT industry. In the Waterfall methodology, a linear, sequential procedure divides the development lifecycle into several distinct steps. Following is the sequence of events that must be followed as per the Waterfall guidelines:

  • Requirement Gathering
  • System Design
  • Implementation
  • Unit Testing
  • System Testing
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

The most important rule to keep in mind is that in the Waterfall approach, one can proceed to the next stage only if the previous stage has been completed and approved.

The Agile Methodology

In direct contrast to Waterfall, the Agile framework is a team-based, iterative methodology. Instead of establishing a strict timeline and fixed stages, Agile focuses on various phases known as “sprints.” Throughout the project’s scope, this approach involves a series of iterative cycles highlighting the progress made so far.

Each sprint has a peculiar duration and a set of deliverables that needs approval before the completion of that stage. The following phases, which don’t take place in succession, are mostly considered in an Agile framework:

  • Planning
  • Requirement Analysis
  • Design
  • Implementation
  • Testing
  • Deployment

In short, Agile is more about applying the principles in the most suitable manner rather than following a pre-defined set of rules.

The Agile Methodology

Both Agile and Waterfall have their pros and cons, and it’s essential to fully understand the scope of your project before finalizing the framework. Following are some of the key differences in the ways both approaches help in achieving the goal:

  1. Customer Interaction: While Waterfall requires the client’s involvement only at key milestones, Agile prefers the customer’s availability throughout the project.
  2. Team: Limited teamwork and collaboration are needed in the Waterfall approach. On the other hand, Agile focuses on an iterative methodology and requires smaller, dedicated teams.
  3. Changes: Waterfall works best when the scope of the project is known in advance, and limited changes are expected. Meanwhile, Agile welcomes amendments because of its iterative approach.


There is no definitive winner in the “Waterfall vs. Agile” debate. The framework you use must depend on the project’s scope and requirements. While Waterfall offers less ambiguity and more transparency in tracking progress, Agile is more flexible in terms of amendments. In the end, the choice depends on a particular project.

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Muhammad Mustafa is a software developer at Ropstam having rich experience of more than 5 years. With a background in software development, Mustafa combines his knowledge of various technology stacks with a passion for DevOps and software quality assurance. Besides coding and writing, he loves cricket and traveling.

Muhammad Mustafa

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