Waterfall vs. Agile

26 May 2017

Pros and cons

If you don’t know the main difference between Waterfall and Agile, we will be glad to help you understand the issue. In comparing Waterfall and Agile, you should understand that Waterfall is a detailed and well-articulated methodology, whereas Agile is a set of practices and principles that maintain different methodologies for flexible development of projects.


Waterfall Agile
  • It is simple in terms of understanding and usage;
  • It is well-structured and makes implementation much easier for inexperienced teams;
  • Stable requirements for the project/product from the start;
  • The projects can be easily controlled, and resources, risks, and time are monitored;
  • The high priority is quality in contrast with cost and time.
  • Iterative development;
  • Usage of time boxes;
  • The end-user is engaged in the process from the very beginning;
  • Rapid availability of the first trial version of the product for testing;
  • Corrections and changes in the development process can be made quickly


Waterfall Agile
  • All of the requirements should be defined and described in detail before development;
  • Expensive and slow;
  • Sensitive to changes;
  • There is little opportunity for the end-user to affect the objectives of the project and requirements for the product;
  • Problems are frequently identified at the stage of testing;
  • A lot of technical documentation that may be unclear for the end-user or customer.
  • It may lead to lower quality products;
  • The project may not be completed;
  • There are problems with product extensibility.

When you should use it:

Waterfall Agile
  • The requirements for the product are clear and stable;
  • Instruments and technologies used are well known;
  • The project is big, expensive, and difficult;


  • New version implementation of known product;
  • ERP systems implementation.
  • The end-user is engaged in the project from the very beginning;
  • Business goals of the product/project are clearly defined;
  • Small or medium-sized project, to be delivered in a relatively short amount of time;
  • Team is stable;
  • High-quality team;
  • Technical requirements are acceptable; they are correlated with technologies that would be used for development;
  • The system may be modular.

What is the conclusion?

Waterfall and Agile are two different approaches, and each of them has their own pros and cons. They are each appropriate for projects with different requirements. There are cases when product supply can be implemented by the means of the two methodologies. But input data such as time, cost, team qualification, and the end-user have a significant impact on the choice of methodology.

The task of a project manager is to choose the most suitable way to achieve project goals. Waterfall, RUP, Scrum, RAD, XP, FDD, TDD will help you on the road to success as long as you understand the essential differences between them, their principles, advantages, and disadvantages. In some cases, it is a combination of approaches that is required for every project stage. Waterfall and Agile can be optimally implemented in the same project.