Agile VS Waterfall: Difference Between Methodologies

June 12, 2024Kiruthika Devaraj
Difference Between Agile and Waterfall Methodologies

Start automating your tests 10X Faster in Simple English with Testsigma

Try for free

Hey there, you can do project management in many different ways. And let me tell you, each has its perks and drawbacks. Two of the most popular methodologies are Agile and Waterfall. The waterfall method was the primary software development approach used by people ever since it was introduced in the 70s. Later, in 2001, people built Agile to address a few of the constraints of Waterfall. Though both have proven to be effective approaches to project management, they differ in several ways. This blog post will discuss the Agile vs Waterfall methodologies key differences.

waterfall vs agile
waterfall vs agile methodology

Simply put, Waterfall involves completing each project phase before moving on to the next. It emphasizes planning upfront the different phases of development, such as requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. In contrast, Agile involves breaking a project into smaller, more manageable chunks and continuously iterating and improving upon them. Instead of following a predetermined plan, Agile emphasizes flexibility and collaboration between team members throughout the entire project cycle to accommodate change.

While both methodologies have strengths and weaknesses, understanding their differences is essential for choosing the right approach for your project. By learning about these methodologies and their unique characteristics, you can make informed decisions to help you achieve your project goals more efficiently and effectively.

Agile Methodology and Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall methodology is a step-by-step approach to software development that focuses on sequentially progressing through each stage and phase of the development process. 

It allows for a structured and organized way to create a software product, starting from understanding the problem and ending with the software going live. 

This approach typically involves specifying all the requirements and features upfront, detailed analysis and design, coding, testing, and deployment.

Agile methodology is a way of managing projects that focuses on delivering quick results, being able to handle changing requirements and emphasizing teamwork. It encourages an iterative approach, with frequent reviews and adjustments, so that the end product meets the customer’s needs. 

Agile differs from traditional project management because it treats projects as shorter sprints instead of significant, monolithic processes. This allows for greater flexibility and collaboration, leading to quicker completion of projects with higher quality results.

When is Waterfall Better than Agile?

Agile and Waterfall are two different project management approaches, so you cannot say that one is better. It depends on the project and team’s goals, resources, constraints, and deadlines. 

Generally, Waterfall is best suited for projects with a clear set of requirements that don’t change much over time and where risk and uncertainty are low. Agile is better for exploratory projects where conditions may evolve or change over time.

When Should You Choose Agile Over Waterfall?

Agile is best suited for projects that require frequent changes and updates, whereas Waterfall is better for projects with predetermined, fixed results.

Can you Combine Agile and Waterfall?

Yes, combining aspects of Agile and Waterfall project management approaches is possible. You can see people referring to this as the “hybrid” approach. It involves taking the best elements of both approaches and combining them into one cohesive plan to achieve the desired outcome. 

The hybrid approach focuses on a more flexible process that allows for rapid feedback and re-prioritization while having milestones and clear deliverables rooted in the project scope. This helps create a more cohesive integration of daily activities and tasks within the framework of the larger project goals.

Waterfall Methodology VS Agile Methodology: Advantages & Disadvantages

Here are the advantages of each methodology, presented in separate points:

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology:

  1. Clear and Defined Objectives: The Waterfall methodology is a linear approach that follows a sequential process. This means each project phase is completed before moving on to the next one. This approach provides clear objectives, making planning and managing the project easier.
  2. Predictable Outcomes: Since the Waterfall methodology follows a sequential process, predicting the project’s outcome is easier. This makes estimating the time and resources required for each project phase easier.
  3. Documentation: The Waterfall methodology requires detailed documentation, which makes it easier to maintain and update the project in the future. This documentation also helps ensure that the project meets the stakeholders’ requirements.

Advantages of Agile Methodology:

  1. Adaptability: The Agile methodology is an iterative approach that allows flexibility and adaptability. The project can be adjusted based on stakeholder feedback or market changes.
  2. Faster Time to Market: Since the Agile methodology is iterative, it allows for faster development and deployment of the project. This means the project can be delivered to the market faster, giving the organization an advantage.
  3. Collaboration: The Agile methodology highlights the collaboration between the development team and the stakeholders. This collaboration helps to ensure that the project meets the needs of the stakeholders and that everyone is on the same page.

Let us delve into the major drawbacks of Waterfall methodology and Agile methodology, presented in separate points for clarity:

Disadvantages of Waterfall Methodology:

  1. Firstly, The Waterfall methodology is a rigid approach that does not allow for changes or modifications once the project has begun. This lack of flexibility can lead to delays and increased costs if changes are required.
  2. Second, High Risk: The Waterfall methodology is a high-risk approach as it relies on accurate planning and forecasting. If any assumptions made during the planning phase are incorrect, the entire project can be jeopardized. It is quite risky to conduct all the extensive testing once the project is almost done due to the temptation of rushing through it, especially when working with tight deadlines.
  3. Thirdly, The Waterfall methodology does not prioritize customer involvement throughout the project. This can lead to a lack of understanding of the customer’s needs and requirements, resulting in a product that does not meet their expectations.
  4. At last, it is time-consuming and can take months or even years to complete. This can be a disadvantage in today’s fast-paced business environment, where time-to-market is critical.

Disadvantages of Agile Methodology:

  1. Firstly, Agile methodology can be challenging to implement in larger organizations. The flexibility and adaptability of Agile can lead to confusion and miscommunication among team members, particularly when working on complex projects.
  2. Secondly, Agile methodology requires high collaboration and communication between team members. This can be difficult to achieve when team members are geographically dispersed or have conflicting schedules.
  3. Thirdly, Agile methodology can result in a lack of documentation, which can be problematic for future reference or compliance purposes.
  4. Lastly, Agile methodology can lead to scope creep, where the project’s scope expands beyond its original parameters. This can result in delays, increased costs, and a lack of focus on the project’s original goals.

Test Automation in Agile VS Waterfall Methodologies

Regarding test automation, there are distinct differences between Agile and Waterfall methodologies. Understanding these differences is important for choosing the right tools for your testing needs.

  • In Agile, test automation is integrated into the development process from the very beginning. This means testing is done continuously throughout the development cycle, allowing quick feedback and adjustments.
  • On the other hand, test automation in waterfall methodologies follows a more linear approach to development, with testing typically occurring at the end of the cycle. This can lead to delays and a lack of flexibility.

Here is a guide that talks in detail about automated testing

Learn More

Many test automation tools exist that can help in both types: Testsigma, Selenium, Apium, and Cucumber.

One tool that stands out in both categories is Testsigma. This cloud-based test automation platform offers a range of features for Agile methodologies, including easy test case creation, test maintenance, and integrations with popular tools like JIRA and Slack. With Testsigma, teams can streamline their testing processes and improve overall efficiency. Testsigma automates end-to-end tests for web, mobile, APIs, and Desktop applications.

Testsigma is a tool made to adjust to your test automation needs

Check out how

Agile methodologies are best suited for projects that require flexibility and adaptability, while waterfall methodologies are best suited for projects that require a detailed plan and a structured approach. Ultimately, the choice between the two methodologies will depend on the specific needs of your project.

Read about Agile Testing Methodology.

Agile VS Waterfall Methodologies – A Summary

To help you better understand the differences between Agile and Waterfall methodologies, we have created a comparison table below:

ApproachIterative and IncrementalSequential
FlexibilityHighly flexible and adaptableLess flexible
PlanningMinimal planning is enoughDetailed planning required
Customer InvolvementHigh level of customer involvementLow level of customer involvement
Risk managementContinuous risk management Risk management at the beginning of the project
Documentation Minimal documentation requiredExtensive documentation required
Time and costChallenging to estimate time and costEasy to estimate time and cost

How To Choose the Right Methodology for Your Project?

Waterfall and Agile are two popular methodologies with unique advantages and disadvantages.

Waterfall methodology is a linear approach that follows a sequential process. It is ideal for projects with a clear beginning and end, well-defined requirements, and a fixed scope for unexpected changes. This methodology is suitable for projects that require a high level of documentation and planning.

Read all about Waterfall Model in Software Testing

On the other hand, Agile methodology is an iterative approach that focuses on delivering value to the customer in small increments. It is best suited for projects with changing requirements and flexible scope. Agile is ideal for projects that require frequent feedback and collaboration between the development team and the customer. This methodology is suitable for projects that require a high level of adaptability and flexibility.

Read all about Agile Model in Software Testing


So we conclude here that selecting the right methodology for your project is essential to its success. By understanding the differences between Waterfall and Agile, you can make an informed decision based on your project requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Agile better than Waterfall?

Agile is better than waterfall because it provides a flexible and iterative approach to software development. Agile promotes customer involvement and satisfaction by continuously delivering increments of working software rather than waiting until the end of the project to release a final product.

When to choose Agile vs. Waterfall?

It ultimately depends on the project’s size, complexity, risk factors, and the team and stakeholders’ preferences. Agile is suitable for projects requiring flexibility and constant requirements changes, such as software development, where customer feedback and engagement are critical. On the other hand, Waterfall is ideal for projects with well-defined stages and straightforward, linear requirements.

Subscribe to get all our latest blogs, updates delivered directly to your inbox.


Automated Test Oracles in Software Testing
Accelq vs Provar | Which One You Should Choose?
Breadth Testing in Software Testing