Waterfall vs Agile – comparison

11.04.2022 Angelika Siczek

In many companies, regardless of whether it is the IT, marketing or e-commerce industry, work involves completion of more or less complex projects. Teams of employees, consisting of back-end and front-end programmers, UX and UI specialists and graphic designers, expect a good action plan that would allow them to work efficiently and confidently to meet the deadline. In order to make this possible, we should choose from work methodologies that are best suited for the specific project. For several seasons now, projects increasingly are being carried out on the basis of agile methodologies. However, the use of more traditional forms such as Waterfall is still justified. So, which methodology should you choose? Do any of them give you an advantage in running a project?

What is Waterfall?

It is one of the traditional methods that are used in project management. The name directly refers to the work process itself. The linear, sequential process assumes completing each subsequent stage of work one after another; a predefined hierarchy that must be maintained. The project is described in detail in the documentation, which precisely defines the budget and deadline for completing the task.

Thus, teams are obliged to act methodically, which obliges them to follow the established rules and previously defined guidelines.

The advantage of this methodology is the fact that all the teams working on the project have access to precise and clear documentation. The Waterfall method allows to learn all the requirements and dependencies occurring in the project. However, the rigidity of the method makes it extremely difficult to introduce any changes or unforeseen functions. In such cases the difficulty of implementing modifications may result in introducing a “mess” to the whole project implementation.

It should be noted that the phasing of this method, the division of the project into specific sequences that result from the development of the documentation is an advantage that facilitates the execution of work. Each stage must be preceded by the completion and acceptance of another. The advantage of the Waterfall method is also its invariability regardless of the project stage. The entire project, which imposes the order of implementation of each point, must also assume the possibility of its implementation.

Waterfall works well for teams looking for a predictable and sequential project plan. The financial element is also important; Waterfall assumes that the budget will be fixed. This method will also work well in less experienced teams, as well as in environments with lower tolerance for any changes and risks. Limited time or resources are also important as they eliminate the possibility of frequent consultations.

What distinguishes Agile?

Lying on the opposite pole from the Waterfall methodology is the Agile methodology. The essence of this methodology is to divide the project into smaller stages, which are called iterations or sprints. The specific conciseness of the stages is a great value that makes the running of the project characterized by great flexibility, focusing on people, action, collaboration and response to change. These qualities stem from Manifesto for Agile Software Development, published in 2001, which identifies four core values of this way of project management:

  • people and their interactions over processes and tools,
  • working software over extensive documentation,
  • collaborating with the customer over negotiating contracts,
  • responding to change over executing the plan.

The difference between Agile and Waterfall stems from the fact that the former methodology allows you to run projects that do not have a precise vision, where we must assume that many and relatively sudden changes can be introduced during the course of the work. However, there is nothing stopping you from presenting frequent reports to the client to keep them in control of the project. Agile allows you to bring good and transparent communication to the project, where the client is a participant in the entire development process. This transparency and flexibility also means that the project will be down to the smallest detail, and this is greatly enhanced by the regular presentation of work plans and the testing of every part of the project.

Risk management is also worth mentioning. Agile, which is characterized by continuous planning, allows for a relatively quick start with the work on programming, which means minimizing the risks. Regular reporting is also important for this issue, it is possible to adapt the project to the expectations set by the customer and, at the same time, market requirements.

Therefore, Agile methodology will be perfect for efficient teams that are already experienced in software development. It will be great for companies that are working to streamline their work and project management processes. Agile also helps large teams that are looking to simplify processes to respond to change more efficiently and quickly. Agile will also be a desirable methodology if project teams are working closely with customers and looking for solutions to get quick feedback on products or services that are being developed.



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