Agile and Waterfall Methodology

10 Differences Between Agile and Waterfall Methodologies

Posted on January 28, 2016

In software development, the conventional waterfall methodology is losing sheen as the preferred way of development while Agile methodology has gained popularity and is being readily embraced by companies globally for development.

The Waterfall method is a sequential development process where the entire development lifecycle is set apart in pre-defined phases; for example – analysis, planning, design, build, test, production, and support. On the other hand, Agile development methodology follows a linear sequential path and can adapt to changing project requirements, as they occur.

Here are the top 10 differences between Agile and Waterfall methodologies:

  1. The Waterfall model divides the software development process into different phases while Agile methodology segregates the project development lifecycle into sprints.
  2. Waterfall is a structured methodology, and is generally quite rigid in nature, whereas the Agile methodology is known for its flexibility.
  3. The Waterfall model approaches software development as one single project divided into different phases, and during the SDLC, each phase appears only once. However, the Agile methodology allows us to view it as an assortment of different smaller projects, which are nothing but the instances of the different phases focusing on the overall development and software quality evolving with feedback from the users or the QA team.
  4. If you want to use the Waterfall model for software development, then you have to confirm all the development requirements before the start as changing the requirements is not an option once the project development starts. The Agile methodology, on the other hand, is quite flexible, and allows for changes to be made in the project development requirements irrespective of the set plans.
  5. All the project development phases such as designing, development, testing, etc., are completed once in the Waterfall model while as part of the Agile methodology, they follow an iterative development approach. Consequentially, phases like planning, development, prototyping, etc., have the flexibility to appear multiple times during the entire SDLC.
  6. One of the major differences between Agile and Waterfall development methodologies is their unique approaches towards quality and testing. In the Waterfall model, the “testing” phase comes after the “build” phase, but in the Agile methodology, testing is typically performed along with programming or at least in the same iteration as programming.
  7. Waterfall methodology is mostly an internal process that does not encourage the participation of users. The Agile software development approach, on the other hand, focuses on the user satisfaction and thus, involves the participation of users throughout the development phase.
  8. The Waterfall model can be viewed as a rigid and sequential process; however, the Agile methodology is an acutely collaborative process leading to effective teamwork and quicker problem solving.
  9. The Waterfall model is highly recommended for projects which have well-defined requirements and in which change is not expected at all, while Agile development supports a process in which the requirements are expected to change and evolve. Thus, if your software development process warrants frequent overhauls incorporating changes in the technology landscape and user requirements, Agile is the best approach to follow.
  10. The Waterfall model demonstrates a project mindset and focuses on the completion of project development, while Agile brings in a product mindset that focuses on the product behavior of satisfying its end users and changing itself as the requisites of users change.

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18 thoughts on “10 Differences Between Agile and Waterfall Methodologies

  1. David Murray

    Very intuitive as an explanation between each as they apply to project development but in some instances, depending on the technology in which the project relates, I’m not sure Agile can be used on all instances.

  2. raushan kumkar

    I was always try to get clarification on the Waterfall Model and Agile method of Project Management but unable to understand from other portal.But today i get my 100% understanding towards above methodology.
    Now i am very confident to attend my upcoming interview and give the proper answer to interviewer.
    I hope you will mentioned your view upon some other important topics.

    Thank you so much for this tutorial.

  3. Pugazhedhi

    It is very useful and easy to understand… Keep posting similar kind of articles for who new to this domain or wiling to learn new skills.

  4. VG

    Turns out Agile is far less secure than waterfall, in that the QA cycle leaves out much of what was tested in previous module sin order to get the code, Whitehat security states “For every 100KLOC (100 thousand lines of code), a monolithic application will have an average of 39 vulnerabilities whereas a microservice application will have an average of 180 vulnerabilities. You read that right. According to the data gathered from WhiteHat Security’s 2018 Stats Report, the transition of enterprise monolithic applications to distributed microservices architectures is actually increasing the overall average of total vulnerabilities”
    With that context, it sure makes the list above look like marketing an excuse for insufficient QA models.
    The other piece left out above in the article, is that training and documentation are, from the experience of many – lacking or non-existent. But hey, you’ll save time, and only the customer will be less secure, not your problem anymore, on to the next startup gig I’d venture guess.


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