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Should You Go Agile, Waterfall or Leverage a Combined Approach?

19th Feb, 2024
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    Should You Go Agile, Waterfall or Leverage a Combined Approach?

    Choosing the best project management methodology is not an easy task. One must keep many parameters in mind while choosing a methodology. That is how a lot of confusion occurs when the management tries to choose between Agile, Waterfall, or combined approaches.

    Waterfall and Agile are both very popular project management methodologies. Both of these methodologies can do wonders in software development. However, these methodologies work best for a particular kind of assignment that differs from each other. 

    Waterfall methodology works best for linear projects that do not allow the project members to move on to the next phase if they did not complete the first phases. Only after the completion of a phase is when the members of the project will be allowed to move on to the next phase.

    However, that is not the case in Agile methodology. Agile allows team members to work simultaneously on multiple phases of a particular project. It does not restrict the members from completing a phase to move on to the next. A good way of learning and upskilling yourself in agile and scrum methodologies is by completing Agile Project Management with Scrum Training certification.

    Keep reading to understand both methodologies in detail and know whether combining Agile and Waterfall is possible. 

    Which Methodology is Better: Agile or Waterfall?

    1. Agile Methodology

    Agile methodology is a newer one as compared to Waterfall. Agile was developed for projects that needed simultaneous functioning and less rigidity. So, Agile methodology incorporates much fluidity as against Waterfall.

    Project management related to software development requires dynamic changes in the changing environment of technology. Agile testing is a combination of Waterfall and iterative testing that allows changes in the procedure and direction of a project as and when required. This way of incorporating changes is missing in the Waterfall methodology.

    Agile methodology allows the team members to work on short deadlines while simultaneously working on different project phases. The team involving Agile methodology works on the direction of the project rather than strictly relying upon the project manager. This makes the individuals motivated and self-directed. 

    2. Waterfall Methodology

    The Waterfall technique best suits projects where the final product is known from the outset. It is more rigid when compared to Agile methodology and its focus on the linear form of project management. The deliverables and expectations for each phase of the project are clearly defined before the project begins. One must fulfill each phase's expectations to move on to the next.

    Waterfall methodology is very low on flexibility as it will not allow the team members to progress to the next phase without completing the earlier ones. So the approach of the waterfall technique is only applicable to such projects that have clearly established the end product at the time of the beginning of the project. Since the directions and strategies cannot be changed after starting the project, this methodology requires a lot of prediction.

    3. Agile vs Waterfall: A Comparison

    Agile and Waterfall are two very different types of methodologies of project management that are appropriate for different types of projects. Every project has different needs and requirements. So whether Agile is better or Waterfall that cannot be blatantly said.

    If you clearly understand the result of the project at its initiation, then it is a linear form of the project. Hence, the Waterfall methodology is best suited for such scenarios. When a project must function under strict guidelines, the waterfall methodology is preferable because it demands deliverables during each step before progressing to the next. 

    On the other hand, Agile methodology is best suited for dynamic projects. The projects that do not know the end result yet and require a lot of experimentation should incorporate Agile methodology to manage the project. When there is a need to increase the pace of the project to make it more flexible and collaborative, Agile methodology is the best fit.

    Agile also allows team members to continuously update their stakeholders about the progress of the project. When there is a need for constant check-ins, adopting Agile methodology is the perfect option. It increases transparency and collaboration among the team members. 

    What works best for most organizations nowadays is combining Waterfall and Agile. Both of the methodologies have an immense number of pros and cons in them. Thus, making a collaborative effort to produce a combination of Agile and Waterfall methodology will result in the best sort of project management techniques. 

    Why is Agile Preferred Over Waterfall?

    Before the commencement of the Agile methodology, the Waterfall technique was preferred by almost all IT companies. The Waterfall technique was considered very reliable and predictable, resulting in positive project management outcomes. But soon, the shortcomings of the Waterfall methodology came to light, and there arose a need for a better project management technique.

    As a result, Agile methodology was developed, which was more flexible, fast-paced, and effective for handling dynamic projects. However, Agile and Waterfall combined work the best. Here are some of the reasons why Agile is preferred over Waterfall methodology: 

    1. Less prone to errors

    Waterfall methodology relies heavily upon initial portability and requirements. The correct documentation of prerequisites is very important. If any misunderstanding or incorrect documentation takes place, then the whole project can become a compromise. In such a scenario, there are always high chances of errors. 

    The Agile methodology does not require initial documentation for the entire project. In this methodology, constant updating and check-ins take place. So, the project's requirements are checked and confirmed throughout the process. Any updating and changes, when required, can also be incorporated without any issues. 

    2. Offers more flexibility

    Waterfall methodology is so rigid that it does not allow moving on to the next step without completing the previous one. Also, it is very difficult in the Waterfall technique to go back to any prior steps to make changes in them. So there is a lack of flexibility in this technique. No outline of the actual project is presented to the customers before the start of the project.

    The customers cannot put forward any perspective points because they don't know how the project will perform in reality. So the customers only get a vague idea about how the project will function.

    On the other hand, Agile methodology offers more flexibility in which customers can make changes. It is the discretion of the customer how the project will be built and taken forward.

    A working model of the project is built before starting the actual project. This working version clearly explains the whole functionality of the project. The customer can see it and state what they like and dislike about the same. They can also put forward points of changes that should be done in the actual project.

    3. More predictable end result

    Waterfall methodology makes a lot of predictions at the start of the project, and the end result of the same is tested only after the completion of the project. Hence, the testing is conducted very late to make significant improvements if the customer's demands weren't initially properly understood or if they have changed since the project's inception. 

    That is not the case in Agile methodology. Agile constantly tracks the results and progress of the project and matches it with the customers' expectations. It does not wait for the completion of the project to conduct a test. Regular tests are conducted at certain intervals to check the progress, and a final test is conducted after the completion of the project. 

    4. More open to changes

    The Waterfall methodology does not consider a customer's changing demands. If there is a need to incorporate heavy changes at the time of conducting the project, the Waterfall technique is not equipped to adapt to such changes. In such cases, the client may feel trapped in a project that does not successfully meet the present-day requirements of the business world. 

    The Agile methodology also takes the provision of changes into account. It not only incorporates changes in a better way but also prepares for them beforehand. Projects incorporating Agile methodology are used in dynamic projects, and they often expect changes to occur soon.

    5. Involvement of customers

    A major benefit of using Agile technology is that it doesn't leave the client completely out of the process. Agile encourages the involvement of clients while progressing with the project and does not exclude them.

    On the other hand, Waterfall mythology spends a lot of time with the clients before starting the project. It helps them to capture all the knees and requirements of the client. However, the implementation team often takes control of the project, excluding the clients from the process after the discussions and predictions have occurred. 

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    Is It Possible to Combine Waterfall and Agile?

    Agile methodology and Waterfall have their own share of advantages and disadvantages. Both methodologies are important for project management, and none of them cannot be completely ignored. If an organization does not want to completely discard one methodology and switch to another, then the Agile and Waterfall combined is the best approach. 

    So if someone thinks that it is possible to combine Waterfall and Agile or not, then the answer is yes, it is possible. Some major hybrid methodologies are designed keeping in view all the advantages of both Agile and Waterfall techniques. These hybrids help combine Agile and Waterfall's strengths and direct it as a unified approach. 

    Here are two well-liked hybrid approaches in the software sector. 

    1. Agifall

    Agifall is a comparatively new approach to project management. By injecting Agile into a loosely designed Waterfall project, the finest aspects of both Agile and Waterfall can be seen in the project. Hence, Waterfall and Agile combined can produce wonderful outcomes.  

    The objective of this hybrid methodology is to increase the quality of the project by producing effective outcomes. Agifall also takes into account the need to decrease the cost of the project and increase its pace.  

    This incorporates prototype tools that are based on the needs of the users. The functionality is based on the requirements and planning of the waterfall project in an Agile manner. So, frequent sprints are conducted after breaking the project into phases, as happens in Agile. 

    The Agifall methodology does not require a waiting period for moving on to the next phase as it can simultaneously allow the working of multiple phases. As a result, some modules can be independently developed while some remain in the planning stage. The Agile concepts are followed during the development and implementation process. 

    The Agifall hybrid model also supports the multiple facets of graphic designing and constant testing. This enhances the efficiency of the development phase. 

    2. Water-scrum-fall

    The Water-scrum-fall model has been developed to support business analysis and end-product management. The traditional Waterfall method is followed by the management and development team, whereas the testing team follows the scrum model with limited restrictions. 

    This module applies the Waterfall method for planning, gathering the prerequisites, allocating the budget, and documenting the whole project. Seeing the project's progress and at the time of arrival of the development phase, the project suddenly switches to the scrum Agile method. Scrum is specifically used for project development. This approach applies Agile principles and the strategies of scrum communication to routine product development tasks. 

    The water-scrum-fall model is ideal for projects requiring strict budget allocation and a detailed planning stage. This also allows the management to be better convinced about the idea and outcomes of the project. Hence, the management will feel that their investments are safe and secured in the project.  

    The common tendency of software testers and developers to significantly use Agile approaches throughout development is another factor in adopting the Water-scrum-fall paradigm. This occurs as a result of Agile methodology empowering them and providing them with opportunities to collaborate as required by the project's restrictions. 

    Thus, both the hybrid models combine Agile and Waterfall methodologies to their best form. Such a combination allows developers and project managers to select and proceed with the best method fit for a particular project. Such hybrid models must be clearly understood before implementation to produce the most effective results.  


    Agile waterfall or combined approach incorporates the best practices of both methods. A project can be a huge success if the perfect hybrid technique is incorporated. The Professional Scrum Master Training by KnowledgeHut can be the best pick for individuals who want to learn all the insights about the combination of Agile and waterfall methodology.  

    Adopting hybrid module results in effective cooperation among the team members that help them execute complex projects easily. Combining Agile and Waterfall has been adopted by multiple organizations in recent times, and none have given any negative feedback about this approach. Thus, the Agile-Waterfall hybrid module meets the needs of the present business industry.  

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1Which methodology is better: Agile or waterfall?

    Both Agile and waterfall are used in different types of projects. The Agile method is useful in dynamic projects that require constant check-ins and changes. On the other hand, the waterfall method is best suited for linear forms of projects. Such projects do not require many changes, and they already know what the end result will be at the time of starting the project.

    2Is it possible to combine waterfall and Agile?

    It is possible to combine Agile and Waterfall, but this collaboration should happen at the time of the beginning of the project. The clarity of such a combination must be specified before the project development stage starts.

    3What is the difference between Agile and waterfall?

    The primary distinction is that Agile encourages the team to work simultaneously on various project phases, whereas Waterfall is rigid and does not allow the user to move to the next phase before completing the previous ones.

    4Is it recommended to use both waterfall and Agile approaches together?

    The mix of Agile and Waterfall uses the finest features of both approaches, which is why project managers widely recommend it. This approach also produces software or an object that combines hardware and software.


    Lindy Quick

    Blog Author

    Lindy Quick, SPCT, is a dynamic Transformation Architect and Senior Business Agility Consultant with a proven track record of success in driving agile transformations. With expertise in multiple agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum, and Kanban, Lindy has led impactful transformations across diverse industries such as manufacturing, defense, insurance/financial, and federal government. Lindy's exceptional communication, leadership, and problem-solving skills have earned her a reputation as a trusted advisor. Currently associated with KnowledgeHut and upGrad, Lindy fosters Lean-Agile principles and mindset through coaching, training, and successful execution of transformations. With a passion for effective value delivery, Lindy is a sought-after expert in the field.

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