Waterfall vs Agile: Difference Between Waterfall and Agile Methodologies

One of the most challenging tasks faced in project management is deciding what software to choose and how to organize the work. Both of these challenges are overcome if the main concern is reduced to the development methodology. You must learn about agile methodology steps and phases which can help to understand further in detail.

The two most essential and popular methods of managing projects in today’s modern software development industry are:

  • Waterfall- Can be termed as a traditional method of software development 
  • Agile- This belongs to a specific category of Rapid Application Development. It is more recent than Waterfall (2000s), and it operated along with Kanban or Scrum. 

Even though both the methodologies of software development are dependable and serve the same function of ruling out the best possible approach to get a project done in the least amount of time, they do their jobs very differently. 

Key Differences Between Waterfall and Agile 

While both seem to be two sides of the same coin, they do have their share of differences. 

Key Differences Between Waterfall and Agile Methodologies

Waterfall methodology is a model in which each stage of the product’s lifecycle occurs sequentially. The progress of the project flows progressively downwards through phases mimicking a waterfall. This kind of model considers a one-time massive whole delivery. Product/s are delivered at the end of the SDLC.

Agile methodology is a model which follows a proper sequential, linear, and an iterative approach. It is termed agile because it is swifter and has a more flexible approach to project management.   This model allows delivery in multiple and small chunks at definite time intervals. A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is delivered at the end of each sprint.

Waterfall methodology divides the software development lifecycle into different phases. Therefore, it comprises of a single cycle and single release.

Agile methodology divides the software development lifecycle into sprints. Therefore, it comprises of a repetitive number of iterations and several releases.

Waterfall methodology can be said to be very structured and rigid in terms of its model.

Agile methodology model is extremely flexible.

In Waterfall methodology, the distance between the customer and the developer is long. Long-term planning scale, along with a longer time between specification and implementation.

In Agile methodology, the distance between the customer and the developer is short. Short term planning scale, along with a shorter time between specification and implementation.

In Waterfall methodology, detecting problems within takes a lot of time. High project schedule risk

In Agile methodology, problems are discovered very efficiently and quickly. Low project schedule risk.

Waterfall methodology’s ability to quickly respond to changes is less. 

Agile methodology: high ability to respond quickly to changes.

In Waterfall methodology, the testing phase occurs after the development phase is completed.

In Agile methodology, testing is usually carried out in parallel with the development phase so as to ensure consistent quality.

Waterfall methodology is quite fitting for projects which have definite requirements and those where the constant modification or changes are not needed.

Agile methodology is suitable for projects which continually evolve and those involving altering requirements. Learn more about agile methodology steps.

even though both Agile and Waterfall are the popular software development methodologies used in ERP projects, their methodologies are strikingly different. The image below captures the difference between the two very effectively.


Both Agile and Waterfall follow different ways of serving a common goal- to deliver the necessary result or product, free from bugs and errors, in the least time possible.  

Key Differences Between Waterfall and Agile Testing

Both Waterfall and Agile follow different approaches to their testing. The waterfall is not divided into many parts- but treated as one single, consolidated project which is, in turn, further divided into different phases.

Agile, on the other hand, is not a single entity but divided into multiple smaller projects, where each of the small projects has an iteration of different stages. Everyone must be curious about what is agile testing or what is waterfall testing lets know furthermore about it by going through the difference between them.

Key Differences Between Waterfall and Agile Testing

In Waterfall Testing, the testing begins after the development and builds phases of the process are completed. 

In Agile Testing,  The testing starts in concert with the development phase.

In Waterfall Testing, the process of planning is finalized and done before the testing phase.

In Agile Testing, the process of planning is not just done before the project starts, but also continues until its completion. 

In Waterfall Testing, the test plans are not revised during the project.

In Agile Testing, the test plans are reviewed after each sprint.

Waterfall Testing is very challenging to propose or implement any changes in the requirements once the process has started.

Agile Testing actively accommodates all required changes throughout the process.

In Waterfall Testing, test cases are created just once for all functionalities.

In Agile Testing, test cases are created after each sprint for the functionalities. 

In Waterfall Testing, the acceptance testing is performed only once by the client after the release.

In Agile Testing, acceptance testing can be conducted after each iteration. 

In Waterfall Testing, there is a clear distinction between the Test teams and the Development teams. 

In Agile Testing, the Test teams and the Development teams work as an integrated unit which allows them to have a free flow of communication. 

In Waterfall Testing, regression testing is hardly ever done, and it entails the execution of all the test cases.

In Agile Testing, regression testing is religiously done after each iteration and it entails only those test cases that are relevant.

Also read: Agile Methodology Interview Questions & Answers

The key to deciding which development methodology one should go for depends on five key considerations. They are as follows: Choosing between Agile And Waterfall 

  1. The ease of use
  2. Ability to integrate with other software
  3. Project reporting
  4. The flexibility allowed by the software
  5. High-level view of project statuses


In conclusion, if we look at Agile and Waterfall as whole software, they do highlight key differences. A smart project manager understands the differences and decides which one to implement as per project-specific requirements. If your project is short, simple and does not require changes and updates, Waterfall can be a first choice. But, if it is large, complex, and has to be changed and checked at intervals, Agile is the best working option.

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