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Why Agile Project Management Is Better Than Waterfall?

Why Agile Project Management Is Better Than Waterfall 2, Project Management Blog
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Agile or Waterfall Project Management?

This a million-dollar question for organizations to deal with. On one hand, there are huge teams, and multi-year projects involving multiple business units & the other is scalability, adaptability, faster go-to markets & quick value realization.

One Size fits all has always been a dream that never comes true. What is important is to take a more relative approach considering an organization’s or the project’s ecosystem.

With a well-oiled organization structure in place, one can run projects in small agile teams tied to the larger goal of the project initiative. But then a lot depends on the legacy processes and the culture of the company when it comes to being agile.

Let’s save that discussion for another day and take a quick look at what works best between the two, which to choose, and when.

Left S, Project Management Blog

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Why Agile project management is trending?

According to a recent online survey of 601 IT and development professionals, it is proved that Agile is the new typical formula for project success. The majority of projects and development teams are now adopting this methodology.”

Further research indicated Agile has first introduced about 15 years ago as a substitute for traditional software development approaches. Many people considered it challenging to implement traditional practices and agile adopters stated that this new style of software development improves team collaboration and is more customer-centric.

Though agile methodology was present more than a decade ago, the vast majority of organizations adopted the practice in the last 5 years. Moreover, a survey reported that agile adoption saw a sudden rise between the years 2009-2010.

Agile adoption has shown incremental growth till 2008 and then its growth was accelerated after gaining traction in the market.

If you are running a complex project, it is advisable to use agile project management as the methodology. Complex projects contain several interconnected stages, where a change in one stage can affect another. So, project managers use Agile methodology in such a scenario, as there is a chance of high adaptability.

Key Benefits of Agile project management:

  • Improves collaboration among teams- 54%
  • Enhances the quality level of software in organizations- 52%
  • Results in enhanced customer satisfaction- 49%
  • Speeds time to market- 43%
  • Reduces development cost- 42%

Why Agile is better than Waterfall?

Another interesting fact to note is, with the increase of Agile project management, the usage of the conventional Waterfall methodology saw a steady decline.

A side-by-side comparison



In agile the project development life-cycle is divided into sprints In waterfall methodology, the software development process is divided into distinct phases
Agile project development follows an iterative and incremental approach Waterfall methodology is a sequential design process
Agile is flexible Waterfall methodology is structured and rigid
Allows changes in functional requirements during the project development process even if the initial planning is completed There is no scope for changing the requirements once the project development starts
The test plan is reviewed after each sprint The Test plan is rarely discussed during the test phase
In Agile development,  requirements are expected to change and evolve Mid-project changes are not expected and are ideal for projects which have definite requirements
Product testing is done concurrently with product development In the waterfall model, the testing phase comes after the build phase
Agile facilitates a product mindset where the goal is to produce a high-quality product meeting the functional and business requirements This model promotes a project mindset where the goal is the successful completion of the project
Agile works well with projects that have a non-fixed budget. It increases stress in fixed-price scenarios It reduces risk in firm fixed price contracts by getting the risk agreement signed off at the beginning of the process
Encourages team coordination and synchronization Team coordination and synchronization are limited
The description of project details can be altered anytime during the SDLC process. Detail description needs to implement the waterfall software development approach

The Waterfall Model is more about a process, where one can see progress “flowing” through different phases. It’s a sequential model which goes from requirement analysis, design, implementation, testing, and production to maintenance. When Agile is the base of development, it tends to deliver visibility, adaptability, accountability, and value at the beginning of the process and minimizes the risks during the project.

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If you are a part of the software development industry, I am sure you know how project plans change every day according to the customer’s needs! The waterfall method, being sequential in its approach cannot adapt to the frequent change of project scope.  On the other hand, agile project management employs an iterative approach and is highly adaptable to frequent changes.

The advantages of Agile over Waterfall are:

  • Agile techniques virtually eliminate the chances of absolute project failure. Agile means always having a working product that is being built incrementally right from the very first sprint, so that projects do not fail completely.
  • The customer has frequent and early opportunities to assess the work being delivered and make decisions & changes throughout the development life cycle. Waterfall doesn’t involve customers in the projects.
  • Agile project management results in far less re-work on projects as issues and changes are identified in the early stages itself. Since Waterfall doesn’t have an iterative approach; there is a high possibility of re-work after the delivery or completion of a major feature or milestone.
  • Agile involves frequent check-ins and demonstrations with the stakeholders which allows for changes to be made at a much faster pace, which is good news for smaller teams–letting them get feedback faster and making it easier for them to adjust to the wants and needs of the customer. As mentioned earlier, Waterfall doesn’t encourage the involvement of Customers. So there is less possibility of getting feedback from customers and the team. Thus, Waterfall is less likely to be customer-centric.
  • If the time to market for a specific application is a greater concern than releasing a full feature set at initial launch, Agile can more quickly produce a basic version of working software that can be built upon in successive iterations.
  • In Agile development, testing is done at the sprint level to ensure that the project is delivered in an optimum state. It enables the project managers to perform changes if needed and the team is aware of potential issues beforehand. In Waterfall, there is no chance of iterative testing which makes projects prone to failure.
  • The advantage of Agile methodology is that when companies take time on the front end during planning a project using Agile techniques, they can predict the cost of a project to conclude whether or not they should continue with the project. There is also a possibility of high ROI in Agile than in Waterfall project management.
  • Because of Agile’s iterative and customer-first approach, surveys show, 49% of Agile projects are successful. However, this percentage is restricted to 14% in Waterfall.
  • In waterfall, value delivery comes at the end of the development process. If the project exceeds the agreed budget – which is very likely in the case of IT contracts, there may be no time and money left to deliver the value that was agreed upon with the client. This makes Waterfall project management highly vulnerable to budget changes. While Agile project management is more flexible and allows for timely course correction.
  • If a careful approach is not taken while evaluating budget, timelines, and resources, then projects with the Waterfall methodology may fail to deliver quality projects on time. Since Agile project management is flexible to changes, we can take quick decisions for plan changes to ensure on-time delivery. In fact, a survey shows 55% of agile projects are delivered on time.

Top Agile Methodology Statistics and Trends

Agile Workflow Performance.

  • 97% of marketers have achieved success after the implementation of agile
  • Projects developed on an agile framework are 3 times more successful than waterfall projects.
  • Waterfall projects are two times more likely to fail.
  • Among all projects surveyed 42% of agile projects were successful and 11% failed.
  • 92% of marketing teams using agile say they are confident in handling unexpected work in-person or remote work.


Agile project management is increasingly preferred over Waterfall today. However, agile project management is advisable for small teams and startups with less number of people involved in projects. Since Customer satisfaction is of the highest priority for any business, agile project management is highly recommended. Research also indicates 57% of agile projects have generated higher customer satisfaction.

But when a project is less prone to budget and frequent plan changes, involves large project teams, and customer intervention is not needed or minimal, the Waterfall methodology is the best option to adopt.

And what makes things interesting is that Orangescrum supports both Agile and Waterfall project management.

Orangescrum offers features specific to Scrum Project Management such as Epics, Stories, Sprints (tasks & subtasks), Scrum Boards, Sprint reports & Velocity charts along with Kanban Boards, Gantt charts, time logs, timesheets, and resource management for the traditional project management.

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