Agile vs Waterfall: Which One Is The Best Software Development Model?

One of the first and foremost decisions a project manager  has to make for the project implementations is “Which software development methodologies should be the best for the project?” Something that is more like a stepping stone leading to the success of the project. 

The ideal definition of software development methodology is; it’s an approach of organizing the work of software development, a style or project management model that makes the task easier for the professional. 

However, when you’ll Google for the best methodologies most of the Software development company tend to render, you’ll come across these names:

  • Agile Software Development Methodology, 
  • Spiral Model, 
  • Waterfall Model, 
  • Scrum Development Methodology, 
  • Lean Methodology,
  • Prototype Model

Although according to the report of Pulse of the profession the two most dominated development methodologies are: 

  1. Agile Software Development Methodology
  2. Waterfall Model 

They are the most applied software development model by project managers. It’s time to be familiar with the reason why is it so? 

Why is the Software Development Model Important?

Working with the help of a software development methodology is  more like cooking your favourite dish with known methods or recipes. As we make the dish following the recipe, in the same manner, a development model guides us through the phases and steps to build a software product successfully. 

Some methodologies are more authoritative compared to others; and that’s why implying these methodologies makes your project successful.

  • With a software development model, you can produce high-grade quality maintainable software in a short span and at a moderate rate, which is only possible because of the model. 
  • Applying these models, you can estimate the time and effort required for the outcome, thus giving you the freedom to choose the best methodology for your project. 
  • This methodology helps you determine the finest framework for your product that you can practice, structure, plan, and control the process of development. 
  • These methodologies arose the necessity to make the software development procedure a constant and efficient activity for software engineering. 

Methodologies place a standard of control over the software project to make your task easy.

In the same way, both the agile and waterfall methodologies provide their own set of benefits and limitations. 

Agile and Waterfall both are beneficial to a software development team as well as both of them have drawbacks. 

That’s why we’ve listed down the main aspect of these methodologies to make your task easier of picking the best between Agile and Waterfall as per the requirement of your project. 

First, let’s have a brief introduction of Agile and Waterfall before we explore their Pros, Cons and Key differences. 

What is the Agile software development methodology?

Agile is an iterative and a team-based strategy for the development of software products. With the complete functional components of Agile, you can expect rapid delivery of an application. 

The stages of Agile software development:

  • Plan
  • Design
  • Develop
  • Testing
  • Release
  • Feedback

Image source


When you imply Agile development, the deliverables are prioritized by the programmer keeping the demands of clients in mind. Each sprint of Agile can reprioritize, and the data of those steps are useful for future sprint preparation.

What is the Waterfall software development model?

A waterfall is a linear strategy for software development in the easiest way. In this methodology, the phases of Waterfall is something like this:

  • Requirements
  • Design
  • Implantation
  • Verification
  • Maintenance
  • Deliver the finished product

Image source

In the Waterfall development model, each of these phases guides you to complete the software product following these stages, and each step must be finished before you start with the next one. 

The best or worst part(as you want to take it) of Waterfall is that before you start with the next part, the finished phase must be evaluated and approved by the clients.

It’s time to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of these both methodologies to make the decision for opting the best among them. 

Benefits and Limitations of Agile and Waterfall model 

Benefits of Agile:

  • Agile will give you flexibility. One of the most appreciated elements of agile is it proposes a flexible method to build a software product.
  • In Agile, learning is encouraged and embraced with open arms. Learning is an essential part of the agile process as the product is known as the team iterates. Allowing the team to learn, adapt and improve rapidly as the name Agile suggests the characteristics. 
  • Agile lets the customers be involved in the project as much as it can because of the continuous changes in design and deliverable units. It collaborates with the development teams and consumers closely.  
  • Agile development has a unique way to approach the time through the projects. It breaks the project in small units, which is known as  “time-boxed sprints” making the task easier.  

Limitations of Agile: 

  • The constant involvement of the client is not appreciated by all the consumers. 
  • Agile doesn’t have peculiar documentation. And in a few organised verticals, such as healthcare, finance documentation is the most necessary part. 
  • It has a lack of structure compared to the waterfall model, that makes the project challenging without the proper plan.

Benefits of Waterfall:

  • Waterfall has the most manifest framework than any other model. It gives a clear perception of the project timeline and deliverables even before the project starts. 
  • The different phases of this model do not take all of a development team’s time and attention on a particular aspect. It divides the task of each phase to the expert of that particular stage as per their expertise. 
  • This model is tried and implied by big brand business verticals because of the straightforwardness of it towards the outcome of the project. 
  • It has less complexity as the phases don’t overlap with each other. And the reason is Waterfall uses a clear structure compared to the other development methodologies.

Limitations of Waterfall: 

  • The delivery time of the waterfall is slow. Also, the customer can’t see the product till the completion of it.
  • In waterfall, the requirements can be variously misinterpreted by the team members making the task hard for the developers.  
  • The testing process in this model starts after the complete development. Therefore, the bugs are hard to fix for the developers. 

The key differences between Agile and Waterfall

Agile Waterfall
Agile performs testing concurrently Waterfall performs testing after the Build phase
It let’s change whenever is required You can change after the compilation of project
It’s the most flexible method  It’s the best-structured method
Agile is a Continuous Iteration Model The waterfall is a Linear Sequential Model

It’s time to pick one:

So, the exact differences between the modern Agile and the traditional Waterfall software development methodologies are the way of building the project. 

However, considering all the aspects listed in this post with a comparison of the pros and cons of each model, you can select the  most appropriate software development model. Furthermore,you can also choose by evaluating these below-mentioned factors:

  • The workflow 
  • Procedure
  • Formation of product
  • Collaborating experts  
  • Your budget of the project
  • And the delivery timeline 

I hope you enjoyed reading the post! Good Luck with your upcoming Software development project.

Guest article written by: Harry Waugh working as a Technical Content Writer.

Leave a Comment