Waterfall vs. Agile: which development methodology will appropriate for your project?

6 min read

When creating a new project, the customer should determine not only the choice of the contractor, but also the appropriate methodology for developing the project. The most popular development methodologies for the current time are Waterfall and Agile. Waterfall is a clearly planned and detailed approach where the implementer sticks to the plan. Agile is the exact opposite, which implies development flexibility with the ability to make changes at each stage of the project.

In this article, we will try to determine what the specifics of these two methodologies are, let's name the positive and negative sides, and also we'll figure out which implementation method is suitable for the project you have chosen.


Agile is a system based on the principle of “flexible” project management. A key feature of this approach is the creation of a project in several cycles (iterations), at the end of each one you see a concrete result that allows you to understand what path to move on.

Flexible methodologies are built on the principle of iterations. Creating a new product is divided into several cycles from one week to a month. Depending on the features of the project, time frames are negotiated separately. Each cycle is a complete mini-project, which has the stages of analysis, planning, testing and implementation. As a result, the client receives a product that, if necessary, is being corrected.


Waterfall involves a sequential transition to each stage of development and the inability to go back a step. Make any changes will be possible only after the release of the project.

Choosing this model for your project, you must understand that the final product will have shortcomings. It is simply impossible to envisage everything at the analysis and planning stage, new requirements may appear in the development process. However, in Waterfall it is impossible to make edits during the project as well as to go back a step. The classic approach is a cascade model, which is based on the sequential creation of the project, divided into cycles.

Benefits of Methodologies


The introduction of necessary changes and the introduction of new functionality can occur independently of the product development cycle, which significantly increases the competitive advantages of the finished project.

The project consists of short and understandable cycles, after which the client receives a working product.

A flexible adjustment process at any iteration reduces production risks.

Quite a quick release of the trial version for further adjustments and testing.

High degree of involvement of all team members and constant interaction with the customer. He always knows, at what stage the project is.

The indicator of efficiency is a working product, which requires high professionalism from the performers and competent organization of the work process.


The cost and timing of implementation are clear even before the work starts. Therefore, the customer will know exactly when the project is completed and what budget is required to spend.

Intuitive structure of work, both for experienced professionals and for beginners.

Detailed structured work plan and thoughtful documentation.

Thanks to convenient reporting, it is easy to track time spent, potential risks and resources used in the process of working on a project.

The tasks that are assigned to the team are clear and do not change throughout the entire project.

The quality of the project takes the first place, and the time spent and the budget fade into the background.

Disadvantages of methodologies


Calculate the final costs is almost impossible - the requirements can constantly change depending on the features of the project. The difficulty lies in the fact that they can contradict the already existing structure.

Agile requires great involvement in the process and full immersion in it, which is difficult, especially for young contractors.

The possibility of frequent revisions can be a risk in the endless improvement of the project. Here, the downside is also possible - reducing the quality of the product.


Requirements for the project are fixed at the beginning and can not change until the end of the work. This fact deprives the project of flexibility.

A large amount of money, time and resources is spent.

The inability to make changes in the development process.

The customer will see the finished project only after its release, if necessary changes may require additional funds and time.

The interaction between the stages of development is completely absent.

When using a cascade model, the product is tested after its release. Therefore, in most cases, problems are identified only during the testing phase.

Application of methodologies

Agile is used:

When the list of requirements is not clearly defined, and the changes should be made as quickly as possible.

The project employs an experienced team with a high level of professionalism.

The customer takes an active part in the development throughout the project.

It is important for the customer to make changes as quickly as possible at any stage of the work.

If you need to quickly create a working version of the product.

The niche for which the product is developed is subject to constant changes.

Waterfall is suitable if:

The design requirements are carefully thought out and unchanged. The customer has a clearly formulated product concept.

Technologies and tools are known in advance.

The product being developed is complex and expensive.

Priority is the quality of the product. Time and money spent are of secondary importance.

The customer does not plan to participate in the project. He sees only the finished product. The project is fully developed on outsourcing.

It is important for the client to know the exact timeframe for completing all the work on the project. The contractor is fully responsible for the failure of the deadline and an unplanned increase in the budget.

When choosing a particular methodology, the customer should carefully consider the strengths and weaknesses of the approaches, take into account the advice of specialists, determine the set of requirements for the project. Then the choice will be much easier. Some developers believe that within the same project, you can optimally combine Agile and Waterfall.

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