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Waterfall vs Agile: Which Is Better For You And Why?

Last updated on Nov 26,2019 5K Views

6 / 13 Blog from Introduction To DevOps

Are you confused about choosing the software development model for application development? Are you having a difficult time choosing between Waterfall and Agile? If yes then this blog on Waterfall vs Agile will clear all your confusion. Here we will discuss all the differences between Waterfall and Agile. After understanding the differences, it would make more sense to know about DevOps.

The topics that we will cover in this blog on Waterfall vs Agile are as follows –

  1. What is Waterfall?
  2. Pros and Cons of Waterfall
  3. What is Agile?
  4. Pros and Cons of Agile
  5. Comparison of Waterfall and Agile

What is Waterfall?

The waterfall model is a model of software development that is pretty straight forward and a linear. This model follows a top-down approach. This model has various starting with Requirements gathering and analysis. This is the phase where you get the requirements from the client for developing an application. After this, you try to analyze these requirements.

waterfallNext comes the Design phase where you prepare a blueprint of the software. In this phase, you think about how the software is actually going to look like. Once the design is ready, you proceed further with the Implementation phase where you begin with the coding for the application. The team of developers works together on various components of the application.

Once the application is developed, it is tested in the verification phase. There are various tests conducted on the application such as unit testing, integration testing, performance testing, etc. After all the tests on the application are done, it is deployed onto the production servers. At last, comes the maintenance phase. In this phase, the application is monitored for performance. Any issues related to the performance of the application are resolved in this phase.

Pros and Cons of Waterfall


  • By having clear goals and directions, planning and designing becomes more straightforward and simple. As such, the whole team ideally remains on same page for every phase.
  • You can easily measure progress and you know when to move on to the next step. There are clear milestones and the phases indicate how well the overall project is going.
  • This methodology saves time and money. Through clear documentation and planning, your whole team is more prepared and wastes no time in the future.


  • Gathering and documenting your requirements on each step of the way can be time-consuming, not to mention difficult. It’s hard to assume things about your product so early into the project. As a result, your assumptions might be flawed and different from what the customer expects.
  • If the above is indeed the case and your customers are dissatisfied with your delivered product, adding changes to the product can be expensive, costly and most of all, difficult to implement.
  • In general, the risk is higher with the Waterfall approach because the scope for mistakes is high as well. If things go wrong, fixing them can be hard as you have to go a couple of steps back.

What is Agile?

Agile is an iterative based software development approach where the software project is broken down into various iterations or sprints. Every iteration has phases like the waterfall model such as requirements gathering, design, development, testing, and maintenance. The duration of each iteration is generally 2-8 weeks.


So in Agile, you release the application with some high priority features in the first iteration. After its release, the end-users or the customers give you feedback about the performance of the application. The necessary changes are made into the application along with some new features and the application is again released which is the second iteration. This procedure is repeated until the desired software quality is achieved.

Pros and Cons of Agile


  • Because of the high customer involvement, you receive feedback quickly and make decisions on the fly. There’s more frequent communication, more feedback and a closer relationship with your customers.
  • There is a lesser risk since your work output is reviewed at every stage. You also save money and time from unnecessary expenditures, because you’ll be prioritizing providing value for your users.
  • You’ll be improving the quality of your output with each cycle. By breaking down your project into bite-sized pieces, you learn from each iteration. There is a lot of trial and error involved, but for the most part, you’re still focusing on high-quality development, testing, and collaboration.


  • For the approach to work, all members of the team must be completely dedicated to the project. Everyone must be involved equally if you want the whole team to learn and do better on the next run. Because Agile focuses on quick delivery, there might be an issue with hitting deadlines.
  • The approach may seem simple but be hard to execute. It requires commitment and for everyone to be on the same page, ideally, in the same physical space.
  • Documentation can be ignored. Because Agile methodology focuses on working software over comprehensive documentation, things might get lost through each stage and iteration. As a result, the final product can feel different from what was first planned.

Comparison – Waterfall Vs Agile 


Works well when the scope is defined. Doesn’t support changes.

Suitable for projects with an unknown scope. Advocates and facilitates change.

Change is conducive as it is inevitable. But change comes at the expense of cost, effort and time.

Customer Input

Supports customer interaction at major milestone stages only.

Encourages customer feedback at all points during product development.

Customer involvement is beneficial to both models.


Doesn’t require continuous team collaboration, independent performance is more emphasized.

Encourages synchronized teamwork at all stages of product development, requires teams to have skills.

Collaborative effort results in greater productivity, contracts of varying nature assigned to various vendors fail to work well under high team synchronization.


Budget is fixed at the start, includes backup plans for identified risks.

Budget is not defined just like the scope, likely to become expensive when unforeseen changes and risks occur.

Fixed budget is good for small businesses, fixed budget can also cause a disturbance if necessary changes arise at some point in time.

When You Should Use Waterfall and When to Use Agile

Use Waterfall if :

  • You know that there will be no change in the scope and your work involves fixed-price contracts
  • The project is very simple or you’ve done it many times before
  • You know very well that the requirements are fixed.
  • Customers know exactly what they want in advance
  • You’re working with orderly and predictable projects

And use Agile if:

  • There is no clear definition of the final product.
  • The clients/stakeholders are capable enough to modify the scope
  • You anticipate any kind of changes during the project
  • Rapid deployment is the goal


Which One Is Better? Agile vs Waterfall

There is no clear winner here. You cannot say that Agile is better than Waterfall or vice versa. It really depends on the project and the level of clarity that surrounds the requirement.

You can say that Waterfall is a better model if you have a clear picture of the final product. Also, if you know that the requirement will not change and the project is relatively simple then Waterfall is for you. This model is a straightforward, efficient process if you don’t expect to deal with change.

Agile is superior When you don’t have a clear picture of the final product, when you anticipate changes at any stage of the project and when the project is pretty complex. Agile can accommodate new, evolving requirements any time during the project, whereas it is not possible Waterfall to go back to a completed phase and make changes.

This is it, this brings us to the end of this ‘Waterfall vs Agile’ blog.

Now that you have understood the difference between Waterfall and Agile, check out this DevOps training by Edureka, a trusted online learning company with a network of more than 250,000 satisfied learners spread across the globe. The Edureka DevOps Certification Training course helps learners to understand what is DevOps and gain expertise in various DevOps processes and tools such as Puppet, Jenkins, Nagios, Ansible, Chef, Saltstack and GIT for automating multiple steps in SDLC.

Got a question for us? Please mention it in the comments section and we will get back to you.

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Waterfall vs Agile: Which Is Better For You And Why?