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Waterfall vs Agile: Which Methodology Is Right For You?

As a business, if you want your operation to run smoothly, managing productivity and your workflows is one of the best ways you can stay on track.

Before you even get started on a project, you should first take a step back and plan out your approach.

What methodology will you use? How will you manage productivity and stay on track? SCRUM? SWOT?

Decisions, decisions…

The choices can be overwhelming. Not to mention, over the course of the actual project, you’ll have to make hundreds of other choices.

If you’re not sure where to begin, it’s best to think about your project as a whole and then select the right methodology you’ll follow – Waterfall or Agile?

The choice you make will impact you and how your team operates – so, choose wisely.

Both are tried and tested methods of project management that have been used over and over in the past.

But which one is right for you?

Well, it depends entirely on your project and requirements (something we’ll discuss later), but first, what’s the difference between the two?

To put it simply, Waterfall, aka the “traditional” approach, is all about taking things slow and steady. Under the Waterfall methodology, you’re aiming for one big outcome at the end that came as a result of careful planning of each task step-by-step.

Agile, meanwhile, is all about hitting those quick checkmarks throughout a project. This approach encourages iteration and experimentation, with a focus on a rapid delivery of your product. Under the Agile methodology, you’ll be learning a lot from trial and error, relying on customer involvement.

Which one is right for you? Well… Let’s discuss each of them more in-depth first.

The Waterfall Methodology

The Waterfall methodology was the first modern approach to systems analysis and large software developments. The method was first developed by Winston W. Royce in 1970 as a way to transform a risky development process into a linear process that would eventually provide the desired product.

The Waterfall methodology generally consists of 6 steps (or stages) and the process goes something like this:

  1. Planning.

  2. Analysis.

  3. Design.

  4. Implementation.

  5. Verification.

  6. Maintenance.

If the methodology sounds too strict and linear, that’s because of its history.

Waterfall projects were originally used for software development, where the project goal followed a linear flow.

If done well, it should be very simple to understand and resemble a linear sequential flow – like a waterfall.

Each step of the Waterfall methodology represents a stage of the project development you go through. And each step has to be finished before you move on to the next one.

The first stage, planning, is all about defining project requirements and any type of information you’ll need for the project. You can do that through careful research, clearly defining your target market and customers(interviews, questionnaires, etc.) and having a set of specific guidelines.