Published on March 7th, 2017 | by Guest


A Quick Guide for Agile Vs. Waterfall Project Management Methodology

The subject of project management (PM) can be tough for the beginners. And all the terminologies and technical jargons make it even more difficult for the students of the subject and people generally interested in knowing more about PM. Thus, the project management methodologies guide or introduction in this regard hold immense value for anyone who wants to learn the basics of project management.

Agile and Waterfall are two of the most widely used methodologies but project management students are often confused about which one to choose in different situations. The demand for guides have grown tremendously, which is why project management experts are writing many such guides to help students. I will try to keep this guide simple and focused to make it easily understandable, especially for those who want to adapt a single methodology for a project.

Defining the Project Management Domain

One can find project management helping businesses and people in virtually every field. Whether it is engineering, construction or military/defense projects, PM is the pillar on which everything is planned and then executed in different conditions. The activities related to PM has been in use for thousands of years in one form or the other. Informal methods were being used by project managers until the middle of last century. These informal approaches were replaced by latest methods as project management evolved.

Methodology Explained

Generally speaking, a methodology is simply a system of methods used in a particular field. In the context of PM, a methodology is simply a model which project managers employ for the design, planning, implementation and successful completion of the projects they are overseeing. Now I will come to the main topic of this article, i.e. explaining the most popular project management methodologies for easy reference. The first one is the agile and the second one is waterfall.


The agile methodology refers to an iterative, incremental process of managing the design and build activities of various fields like business, engineering and IT. The agile manifesto focuses on four values: communication, focus, collaboration and lastly changes. It is often referred to as extreme process management as it is a variant of iterative life cycle where deliverables are submitted in stages.

The one difference between agile and iterative development is that agile methods complete small portions of deliverables in each delivery cycle while iterative deals with evolving the entire set of deliverables over time completing them near the end of the project.


The waterfall is termed as a part of traditional work management methodologies, employing a sequential, top-down approach to project management. Under this methodology, projects managers try to eliminate risk and uncertainty by outlining all the steps in a project. Scope is defined, budget is set and a schedule is created from the start of the project.

One of the main ideas of the waterfall is that by investing time in the early stages of the project, to make it certain that the proper design and requirements have been met ultimately saving time and effort for problems later on. This is done by ensuring that one phase of a project is fully completed before starting the next phase..

Agile vs. Waterfall: Which is the Perfect one?

This question arises immediately in mind and is a valid one. After all, they are the two most popular project management methodologies and that’s the reason why a kind of rivalry is established between these two methodologies. The project managers try to find the perfect balance between the two and apply the one that fulfill their needs in a better way. Most project managers uses project management software to get the best out of these methodologies.

The waterfall is the most widely used but Agile is also not far behind, gaining rapid growth in terms of popularity. It is chiefly due to the more iterative or change-driven approach. Agile has positioned itself with as a project management methodology which has faster turnaround time and ability to quickly adapt to the changes and even allows you to make changes on the fly.. Waterfall, on the other hand, is sequential and rigid (non-iterative) a major letdown, especially when compared to Agile.

If you Need to Choose Between Agile and Waterfall

There are times when as a project manager you need to choose between a single methodology. In our case, its Agile vs Waterfall. The truth is that there are just exceptional cases where you can say with surety that only Agile or Waterfall will work. In short, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You need to incorporate both the methodologies and create a type of Hybrid approach for getting your work done efficiently and effectively.

You have just read that getting a mixed approach can be the best way in starting and finishing a project but it is easier said than done. This approach surely has some challenges but there is a remedy for this problem too. You can use a project management software that can handle both Agile and Waterfall including integrating and enabling the communication flow between the different styles.

Final Word

You can easily guess that I don’t have a definite favorite when it comes to selecting one methodology from Agile or Waterfall. Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and that’s the reason project managers do apply anyone of them or both for different projects according to the requirements.

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