Agile Vs Waterfall

Agile vs Waterfall – The similarities !2 min read

Agile vs Waterfall – The similarities !

A quick recap of the Agile Manifesto

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

Working software over comprehensive documentation

Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

Responding to change over following a plan.


That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

Lets start with the the fundamentals every project manager has to consider while starting a project. The iron triangle; Resources (Cost), Time (Schedule), Scope(Features). Agile approach and the waterfall approach both deal with the same 3 components just in a different way. These three components all on the offset effect Quality.

Lets see how different Agile and waterfall actually is ?

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In the waterfall approach we have fixed set of features which are clearly defined and then design, development and testing is carried out. Whereas the agile approach is iterative, set for a 2 week sprint the team then evaluates the prioritized features. Ideally the time taken to deliver the features would be similar in both approaches. Some might argue that the agile team might be able to deliver faster as they iterate through the product and only the most necessary components are built first. Which in my experience is true. But every project has different constraints so you could never really tell.

Waterfall Approach


Plan according to the full set of requirements

Iteratively plan with a smaller set of requirements.

Project Plan Development

Release & Iteration Planning

Change control via a Change Management Board.

Prioritized & Groomed backlog which acts as a change control tool.

Risk Mitigation by maintaining a Risk register and risk mitigation strategy

Time boxed Discovery tasks to handle unknowns. Frequent releases to manage risk.

Direct, Manage, Monitor, Control

Facilitate, Serve, Lead, Collaborate, Daily Standups

Scope Definition

Planning Meetings

Quality Planning

Definition of “Done”

Quality Control

Test early and often. TTD

The above table shows that every aspect of traditional Project Planning and Management is actively covered in an Agile Environment. Every organizational need is different and agile or traditional methods should be viewed more as tools rather than an imperative constraint that impedes the team from delivering its goal.

As a Program Manager it  is our job to understand the needs of the organization, the culture and capabilities of the team and suggest the appropriate tools and techniques to make them successful. You still see many successful companies that deliver physical products using traditional tools and are very successful.