The Hitchhiker's Guide to Agile and Waterfall Methodologies

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There is a theory which states whenever anyone discovers the difference between agile and waterfall, they must learn which method to use and when

Many were increasingly of the opinion that agile was the way to go. According to a CA Technologies sponsored survey, companies who've already implemented agile principles into software development, reported a 60% higher revenue rate.

But is agile right for everyone?

When it comes to deciding whether you should use agile or waterfall, you first need to determine whether your team is feature-based or cross-functional.

Let's look at the differences between the two.

The waterfall methodology, also known as a linear sequential life cycle model, follows a step-by-step project management structure, meaning that the software development team can only proceed to the next phase of development once the previous stage is complete and the ability to return to that previous stage is no longer possible.


The agile methodology has no linear model because development and testing happen concurrently (unlike waterfall, where they are completely separate phases). The agile model fosters open communication between developers, customers, managers and testers alike.agile-diagram-blue-250x206-1

A major differentiator between the two, is their approach toward quality and testing.

the benefits of an agile methodology include

  • A more collaborative work style.

  • The ability to catch errors at a faster rate.

  • A constant flow of feedback for a better end product with client involvement throughout.

  • Balance for the constant changes incurred by customer demands and proof of progress.

When does the waterfall model work best

Agile is often regarded as the ideal methodology to help brands keep up with continuous changing consumer demands, but there are times when waterfall may prove more beneficial:

  • For larger projects — the waterfall model enables bigger teams to figure out the work involved ahead of time.

  • It forces the project and the business creating the project, to be extraordinarily disciplined in design and structure.

  • Allows changes in design early on in the life cycle.

  • Works well for projects that require deadlines.


To summarise the summary

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but for most digital projects and entrepreneurs – agile is favoured. If you’re already scaling up and have determined stable project requirements and management – you may want to consider the waterfall approach.

Project success is not achieved specifically through one method over the other. Ultimately it comes down to your personal and practical skills. If you feel one methodology isn’t working, consider the latter — flexibility is key.

Whilst there are times where the waterfall approach works well, projects can become all-encompassing for the engineers involved. If these engineers can be given the autonomy and opportunity to shape a feature as they build it and break down the waterfall project into smaller more agile increments, there is a greater chance of success.

What matters most is delivering a solid and sustainable product to meet the needs of the customer. The methodology you use, is just the journey you take to get there.

May 14, 2019
Mehrnaz Karimi
Mehrnaz Karimi

Mehrnaz is a Content Marketing Executive with five years experience in freelance journalism & copywriting, she has seen her writing published in eight different outlets, over print, digital, & television, including tech copywriting.

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