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Difference between Agile and Waterfall Methodology

Updated Jun 26, 2019

When it comes to deciding between Waterfall vs. Agile development, programmers are often confused about which method to use for creating their projects. It is important to know what development methodology is before opting to understand the difference between agile and waterfall. Development methodology deals with how to organize software development processes. Agile and Waterfall are among the most popular methodologies in use in 2019. While Waterfall follows the more “traditional” approach, Agile relates to new age technology Rapid Application Development. More often than not, it is implemented using Scrum.

Here, we aim to discuss these two usable, mature methodologies. This article begins with a comparison chart of the differences between agile vs waterfall. The following paras will also throw light on the pros and cons of agile waterfall methods of development.

Waterfall vs Agile

The Agile vs Waterfall comparison chart depicts the main differences between these two methodologies on the basis of some important features and benefits.

Comparison Chart:

Basis of Differentiation



Division of development process

The project development lifecycle in Agile is separated into sprints.

The entire development project is divisible into different phases.


An incremental approach is followed by Agile. Its iterative development approach comprises of the planning, development, and prototyping stages, along with other software development stages that may be repetitive.

The sequential design process approach is followed by Waterfall. Designing, development, and testing, along with other phases of development are completed only once in this model.

Flexible or rigid

Agile methodology is very flexible. It allows for changes in the requirements of project development requirements - even though the initial planning may have been completed.

Waterfall may prove to be rigid as it is a structured method of software development. The requirements cannot be changed once the development of the project starts in Waterfall.


Agile is comparable to a set of many different projects.

Software development in Waterfall comprises of one single project.


Test plans in Agile are reviewed once every sprint is completed.

Test plan are not discussed in the course of test phases.

Changes and evolution

In Agile development, the project requirements may change and evolve.

Waterfall method is helpful for projects with definite requirements; especially where changes are not expected at all.


Testing is performed alongside software development in Agile.

In Waterfall, the testing phase occurs once the build phase is over.

Risk factors

Agile methods perform well with non-fixed funding. They work equally well with Time & Materials. The fixed-price scenarios may lead to stress.

As the risk agreement is made at the beginning of the Waterfall process, the stress related to fixed price contracts stand reduced in this method.

Team size

Small yet dedicated teams that are well-coordinated and synchronized are preferred in Agile.

Team coordination and synchronization of developers is limited.

Participation of test teams

Test team can participate in the change requirements without any problems.

It is impossible for test teams to make any changes in the requirements.

Definition of Waterfall Methodology?

Waterfall Model methodology or Liner Sequential Life Cycle Model is a popular development methodology. Waterfall follows the sequential order of programming. Given this feature of Waterfall, developers can only move on to the next stage of testing or development after they have completed the previous steps successfully.

Pros of Waterfall Model

  • The development teams and customers can come to an agreement about the deliverables right at the beginning of development lifecycle. Resultantly, the planning and designing processes become more straightforward.
  • It is easy to measure the development progress as the scope of work can be ascertained in advance.
  • Various team members can get involved or continue working on other project tasks as per the active phases of the development project. For instance, those performing tests can prepare the test scripts on the basis of the requirements documentation, even while the coding is in process.

Cons of Waterfall Model

  • In Waterfall method of development, once any application reaches the testing stage, there is no way to go back and make changes to something that has been planned in the concept stage.
  • There is no sign of any working software being produced until the life cycle is in its late stages.
  • There is a high degree of uncertainty and risk involved.

Definition of Agile Methodology?

Agile methodology refers to a practice that sets the platform for continuous iteration of testing and development tasks in the ongoing software development processes. Unlike in the Waterfall model, the testing and development processes in Agile are concurrent in nature. Such processes are useful for encouraging more effective communication channels between customers, testers, developers and managers.

Pros of Agile Methodology Model

  • If needed, customers can assess and view the work being delivered before project completion. It is also possible to make changes and decisions across all stages of project development in Agile.
  • Development processes are quite user-focused; this can be attributed to a high degree of customer participation in all phases of development.
  • Instead of releasing all project features at the initial launch, a basic version of the software can be introduced and thereafter developed further through successive iterations.

Cons of Agile Methodology Model

  • Agile methods allow for a very high degree of involvement by customers. This serves to be difficult for those who neither have the time nor the interest to indulge in such participation.
  • Agile development, being iterative in nature, may cause frequent refactoring. This is especially true if the scope of the entire system is not brainstormed upon in the initial stages of architecture and design.

What to Choose - Agile or Waterfall Methodology?

The discussion about topics related to waterfall and agile methodologies often leads to debates in organizations and development teams. Now that you are aware of the features, pros and cons of Waterfall vs Agile, you will find it easy to decide between the same. In case you have any further queries pertaining to agile vs waterfall then do write to us in the Comments section below – we shall address your concerns at the earliest.