Waterfall vs Agile Development Processes


Waterfall is a straightforward methodology that comprises a straight forward seven-step structure: gather document requirements, create a design, develop, test the system, user review, fix bugs and then release. Each unit is it’s own distinct stage where each is watertight and will need to be completed before the next stage begins.


With agile, the work is iterative, and releases are churned out constantly. Each phase is characterized as a ‘sprint’, where a small part of the project is completed.  The requirements are broken down into smaller sections, only a random set of them each sprint, depending on what the development team has committed to. This means we don’t know exactly what the final product will look like, as the design is very user-inclusive and flexible to change where and when it needs to, learning from each iterative release.

Waterfall Pros:

  1. The project management model is simple, understandable and suitable for most companies.
  2. Works well for complex projects with high requirements. It has strict distinction and rules on the technical tasks needed. Quality is a priority above time and cost.
  3. Stable, product requirements are defined at the start and stay virtually unchanged.
  4. Low level of entry due to the good adaptability and structuring
  5. It is not necessary to involve the end user in the development processes.

Waterfall Cons:

  1. The development process using waterfall is usually longer and more expensive.
  2. You must determine the requirements and draw up the technical design specification meticulously at the start.
  3. Due to its high level of declaring all of the necessary requirements, there is often a large amount of documentation.
  4. This methodology is not flexible and trying to expand the project in a different direction is extremely tricky.

Agile Pros:

  1. Variability, interactive and creative development. Using short sprints, you can regularly change the development course of the project.
  2. This is probably one of the fastest ways to get the first prototype (or the first working version) of the product for further evaluation and testing.
  3. Can include the end user in the development process.
  4. Usage of distinct time frames make inspecting and following the development process much simpler.

Agile Cons:

  1. Frequent changes in the project can cause a loss of quality of the final product, due to different technologies and their implementations.
  2. Less organization in coding may limit the scalability of the project in the future when the need arises.
  3. In conditions of constant adjustments or changes of technologies, there is a risk of not completing the project, or a project not reaching the desired result.


In the end, the product is dependent upon the developers and users, regardless of when it is released and the method used. Here at AtomEngine, we like to consider a specific project, it’s requirements and the client’s preferences before deciding which is the most suitable process to use. For example the Out Tonight App and Teach Me Anatomy are examples of more agile development, while Pernod is closer to the waterfall technique.

Related Projects

Out Tonight App

Out Tonight is a mobile application allowing for instant communication between nightlife venues with people in their immediate vicinity. This app is perfect for people travelling around the country and wanting to find somewhere to eat, drink or even do a bit of karaoke.

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Pernod Ricard App

The client wanted to quickly log and analyse their competitors' retail outlets anywhere in the world.

This application allows members of staff in the field quickly collect and store data and photographs used in competitor analysis.

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Teach Me Anatomy

Teach Me Anatomy is an award winning website and mobile application, delivering a collection of educational healthcare resources. Used by students and healthcare professionals alike, each resource is presented in an easy-to-read and visually appealing style.

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