Difference Between Waterfall and Agile Methods

By Yuni Ayuningsih | Published On: 12 December 2022
Difference Between Waterfall and Agile Methods

In project management, of course, it is necessary to pay attention to what methods can be used to make it easier for the team to complete projects that aim to be on time with good product quality. Waterfall and Agile methods are project management methods that have been known for a long time. Both have been tested and widely used in IT project management. These methods also differ in several aspects. This article provide a brief explanation of the difference between Waterfall and Agile methods and how to choose the right method for a project.

What is Waterfall and Agile methods?

According to Atlassian, the Waterfall method is a project management linear work system with a clear sequence of implementation with project phases that do not move forward until the final approval of the next phase. It will be difficult and expensive to go back to the previous phase.

While the Agile method is an iterative approach that focuses on the next phase by receiving customer feedback. Agile methods provide the flexibility to adapt and iterate throughout the development process.


How does the Waterfall method work?

The Waterfall approach has 5 stages of how it works, namely:


The main aspect of the waterfall method is that gathering all the customer requirements early in the project which allows every other phase to be planned without further correspondence with the customer until the product is finished. It is assumed that all requirements can be collected in the waterfall phase.


The design phase of the waterfall process should be divided into two subphases: logical design and physical design. In the logical design subphase when possible solutions are brainstormed and theorized. In the physical design subphase, theoretical ideas and plans are converted into concrete specifications.


The implementation phase is when the programmer takes over the requirements and specifications from the previous phase and creates the actual code.


In this phase, the customer evaluates the product to ensure it meets the requirements set at the start of the waterfall project. This is done by releasing the finished product to the customer.


The customer regularly uses the product during its maintenance period and encounters bugs, inadequate functionality, and other errors that arise during production. The product team makes corrections as necessary until the customer is satisfied.


How does the Agile method work?


The first is the concept phase. This is where the product owner determines the scope of their project. If you have multiple projects, prioritize the most important ones. The product owner will discuss the key requirements with the client and prepare documentation to outline them, including what features will be supported and the proposed finish. It is recommended to keep the requirements to a minimum, as they may be added at a later stage. In the concept phase, the product owner also estimates the potential project time and cost. This detailed analysis helps them decide whether the project is feasible or not before starting work.


Once the concept is defined, the next phase is building the software development team. The product owner will check the availability of colleagues and select the best people for the project by providing the necessary tools and resources. Next start on the design process. The initial stage involved further input from stakeholders to refine the requirements on the diagrams and define product functionality. Regular check-ins will help ensure that all requirements have been incorporated into the design process.


Next is the iteration phase, also referred to as construction. This tends to be the longest phase because most of the work is done in this phase. The developer will work with the UX designer to incorporate all product requirements and customer feedback, turning the design into code. The goal is to build the product’s bare functionality by the end of the first iteration or sprint. Additional features and tweaks may be added in later iterations. This stage is the cornerstone of Agile software development, which allows developers to create working software quickly and make improvements to satisfy clients.


When the product is almost ready for release, the quality assurance team must test that the software is fully functional. These Agile team members will test the system to ensure the code is clean — if a potential bug or error is found, the developer will address it quickly. User training is also arranged in this phase, which will require more documentation. Once all of this is done, the final iteration of the product can then be released into production.


The software will now be fully deployed and available to customers. Then the next stage is to move it to the maintenance phase. During this phase, the software development team will provide ongoing support to keep the system running smoothly and fix new bugs. They are also willing to offer additional training to users and make sure they know how to use the product.


There are two reasons why a product is discontinued in the retirement phase: either it is being replaced with new software, or the system itself has become obsolete or unsuitable for the organization over time. The software development team will first notify the user that the software will be discontinued. If there is a replacement, the user will be migrated to the new system. Finally, the developer will perform remaining end-of-life activities and remove support for existing software.


Difference Between Waterfall and Agile Methods

It will be easier to understand waterfall if you compare it to Agile. Waterfall and Agile methods are two very different project management methodologies, but both are equally valid, and can be more or less useful depending on the project.

An important difference to remember is that a waterfall project is a fixed, linear plan. Everything is pre-mapped, and the customer only interacts at the start and end of the project. Whereas the Agile method, on the other hand, is an iterative process, where new priorities and requirements are introduced into the project after sprints and customer feedback sessions.

 WaterfallAgileTimelineWaterfall has a fixed timeline. The idea is set at the beginning and end of the project.Agile is much more flexible and responsible for experimenting in different directions. Agile methods do schedule adjustments as the project progresses.Client EngagementOnce the final goal is set, Waterfall does not engage the client or project owner throughout the process, other than for special check-ins or for delivery. The course of the project is outlined from the start, so incorporating client feedback is not part of an ongoing process.A fundamental part of the Agile method is involving the client in the development of the project at every stage. The Agile Manifesto states, “Our highest priority is satisfying our customers through the delivery of valuable software from the start.” Therefore, business owners are expected to be involved and provide feedback to the software development team at every stage to support the development of the project phases.FlexibilityWaterfall is not as flexible as Agile in that each phase must be fully completed before moving on to the next. Projects are also pre-planned, so this management system is ideal for teams that have a clear vision of their goals from start to finish. Flexibility is built into Agile methods. Agile values short bursts of work, called sprints. This method welcomes adaptation to adjustments in different directions, incorporating new information even at a later stage of the project.BudgetPermanent.The budget for projects using the waterfall methodology is generally fixed. Because projects are defined from start to finish, there is less room for changing budgets in the middle of a project.

Flexible.Agile is open to adjustments, encourages experimentation, and welcomes changes in direction even in the final phase of a project. Because of this, budgets for Agile methods tend to be more flexible.


How to Choose the Right Methodology for Your Project

When choosing between Agile and Waterfall, consider how involved the project owner or stakeholders are in the project. Agile is better suited for projects where stakeholders are closely involved at every stage. Waterfall is a more structured method of project management and doesn’t have the same flexibility.

What should a modern startup do? Do you plan a clear path to the proposed product, enforce strict controls on everything, and deliver the best polished product at the very last stage? Or go for maximum versatility, hire a team of free-thinking creatives and developers, and focus on bringing customer-oriented products to market as quickly as possible?

In many cases, the determining factor is not what each approach can do, but the risks inherent in each approach. The waterfall methodology offers more control over the project, but at the expense of flexibility. In short, if things don’t go according to plan for whatever reason (e.g. budget constraints), the team has to completely rethink and rearrange their plans from scratch – which can be time consuming and very expensive. In contrast, the Agile approach offers more flexibility and agility but without total control over everything.

The choice between these two approaches is ultimately a trade-off between risk and reward. For example, if you are building something completely new from scratch with your creative team, it is best to choose an Agile methodology that maximizes adaptability and prioritizes product delivery. For startups, that offers an opportunity to show investors and potential customers something concrete early in the process.

Likewise, an Agile methodology is likely a better choice for startups that prioritize speed. This is more effective in identifying risks early on while fostering creativity among employees who work with minimal supervision or direction from management. If you want to quickly iterate your product as customer feedback rolls in, this method can ensure a greater chance of success.

For larger, more established startups, or those looking to deliver a more complex product on unconventional requirements, the waterfall method provides complete control over everything from start to finish. For this reason, some startups like waterfalls for their ability to offer predictability in planning. That predictability is something that many investors look for in startups. Delivering a complete success plan via the waterfall method can also be a powerful tool for promoting your business to potential investors.

Regardless of the method you choose, you and your team need to align which one works best for what you’re trying to achieve together and how much control each person has over making decisions throughout the process. That way, when challenges inevitably arise, you and your team are in the best position to address issues and deliver results – regardless of methodology.


Comments (0)

1000 Characters Remaining

Recommendations For You

Get to Know More About Warehousing Management

29 May 2023

Get to Know More About Warehousing Management

The Role of Industrial Estate Management in Indonesian Economic Growth

27 May 2023

The Role of Industrial Estate Management in Indonesian Economic Growth

The Importance of Apartment Management to Maintain Relationships with Residents

24 May 2023

The Importance of Apartment Management to Maintain Relationships with Residents

The Right Way to Improve Your Warehouse Management System

23 May 2023

The Right Way to Improve Your Warehouse Management System

Maximize Company Performance with Tomps

Tomps provides multiple products utilized by thousands of enterprises and industries across Indonesia. Increasing business performance, productivity, and efficiency are among the proven outcomes.

Schedule a Demo

icon-copyright 2023. Tomps.id by Telkom Indonesia | Tomps telah terdaftar pada: icon-copyright

Find Us on

  • icon-fb
  • icon-linked
  • icon-instagram
  • icon-youtube