Agile or Waterfall – which methodology will work better for your project? Should you bet on a classic or a more modern solution? What are the advantages of both solutions? In the following article you will find the answers to these questions.

Agile vs. Waterfall – table of contents:

  1. What is Agile methodology
  2. What is Waterfall methodology
  3. Agile vs Waterfall
  4. Timeline
  5. Employee engagement
  6. Flexibility
  7. Budget
  8. Summary

What is Agile methodology

Agile appeared at the very beginning of the 20th century along with the development of new technologies. First, it only referred to the IT industry, in which coordinating tasks in a classic way failed. Often, finished applications became outdated the moment that they were handed over to the customer. It’s not hard to guess that it generated huge losses for software companies.

This iterative approach to project management lets you achieve better results while putting less effort into the project. It helps teams bring benefits to customers faster and with fewer problems. It proceeds in several stages that make up iterative cycles. At the end of each one, you wait for the customer’s feedback and make suggested changes, if necessary. Being in constant contact and receiving feedback allows for regular product improvements.

Agile methodology involves the creation of interdisciplinary teams based on collaboration, whereas in the traditional cascade model, people responsible for specific areas of a project complete their tasks and then “throw the results over the fence” to the next team. Therefore, Agile is distinguished by: open communication, adaptability, and mutual trust. As a rule, the project manager prioritizes the work to be delivered, but it is the team that ultimately decides how it will be done.

Agile is usually used to oversee projects with enormous dynamics and risk. It is an excellent way to manage implementations that are prone to instability. However, Agile methods will not work where there is no room for flexibility. Its implementation should be very well thought out.

There must be adequate staff resources to make the system effective. There must not be frequent changes of personnel. You should bet on a small, close-knit group of people who show maximum commitment.

To make employees feel connected to the company, it is worth providing them with appropriate benefits so that they do not seek employment in competing companies. When implementing Agile, it would be useful to have at least one person on the team who has experience working on similar projects.

Agile vs Waterfall

What is Waterfall methodology?

Waterfall is also called the cascade model. It was first described by Winston W. Royce in 1970. It has been very quickly adopted in various industries because of its logical consistency and ease of implementation. It’s a classic, linear approach, in which customer expectations and guidelines are gathered at the very beginning, and then a plan is created to implement these requirements.

This model is quite rigid – the project develops quickly, and the deadline and cost are predetermined. The requirements must be clearly defined in advance for this approach to produce a satisfactory result. It is not possible to go back to a certain stage, and testing is done almost at the very end. It would be very costly to make any changes and possible only after the entire project is completed.

In this method all types of documents and instructions are very important. Everything must be written down. Thanks to it, the project is resistant to personnel changes. Team members can come and go during the task, but this will not affect the completion time. The group must be as focused and disciplined as possible to stay within the set plan and complete the project on time without going over budget.

Waterfall is a very simple and understandable model. Work on the project is divided into successive stages. The next stage of work cannot start until the previous one is finished. No stage can be skipped, nor can you go back to a previous stage to change something. There is no iteration which means that there is one common process for creating a product. Identifying and correcting errors is only possible at the testing stage. Once the list of tasks and requirements has been created, the customer is not involved in the creation of the product.

Agile vs. Waterfall

Agile and Waterfall are two methodologies for implementing projects. Agile is an iterative model that involves a cyclical process and is based on collaboration among team members. Waterfall, on the other hand, is a sequential model in which tasks are handled in a more linear way.


Waterfall has a predefined timeline. The beginning and end of the project are outlined from the very start. Agile, in turn, has no set timeline. Any deadlines are adjusted as the project progresses.

Employee engagement

In the Waterfall model, the client is involved in setting the end goal, and after that the client is no longer involved in the process of completing tasks. The course of the project is defined from the very beginning, so the customer feedback is not included.

In Agile, however, customers are involved in the process at every stage. That’s why business owners are involved. They check the product as it’s being developed and provide feedback to the team at various phases of the project.


Agile by definition must be flexible. Work on the project is carried out in short periods called sprints. This method involves adapting and incorporating new information even at a later stage of the project. In Waterfall, on the other hand, each phase must be completed before moving on to the next stage. Everything is planned in advance, so this is a management system ideal for teams that have a clear vision of where they are going.


In projects using Waterfall, the budget is fixed from the beginning. There is no room to change it, for example, in the middle of the work. In contrast, Agile is open to adaptation. This management model encourages experimentation, risk-taking and allows for changes even in the later phases of the project.


Agile and Waterfall are two of the most popular project management methodologies. Currently, the former is more popular. Waterfall is a linear nature, so it is best suited to projects with a clearly defined end goal. Meanwhile, Agile leaves a lot of room for adaptation and changes as the project develops.

Agile vs Waterfall. You’ve just learned the difference! Check out our other series about Python and Javascript!

If you like our content, join our busy bees community on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok.

Agile vs Waterfall caroline becker avatar 1background

Author: Caroline Becker

As a Project Manager, Caroline is an expert in finding new methods to design the best workflows and optimize processes. Her organizational skills and ability to work under time pressure make her the best person to turn complicated projects into reality.