Waterfall or Agile approach to Project Management

by | Sep 19, 2020 | Methodologies

When starting with a new project it is important for the business to decide on the management methodology that will be followed to achieve project success. For the purpose of this article we will look at two approaches or models commonly used today in managing projects, namely Waterfall and Agile.

Waterfall Model

The Waterfall Model is a breakdown of project activities into linear sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one and corresponds to a specialisation of tasks. Changes in deliverables are discouraged and can be costly.

Waterfall is a traditional approach that is based on strict planning and performing the plan step by step. The requirements are well documented, with the customer mainly involved in beginning and end.

Agile Approach

Agile on the other hand is a time boxed, iterative approach to project delivery that builds on incremental stages by breaking projects down into small increments of user functionality, prioritizing them, and then continuously delivering them in short cycles until delivery of the final product. Changes in deliverables are expected and is less impactful.

Agile is a concurrent approach that seeks to reduce dependencies and provides continuous iteration of development and testing. Documented requirements are limited as the customer is involved throughout the project and see progress.

Where the requirements are clear and well documented the Waterfall Model should be the better option as you know exactly what the customer want and can plan and execute accordingly. This is often the case for tangible deliverables such as a building, production item or an installation.

Where the requirements are not so clear or documented in detail and substantial development will be required the Agile Model should be the better option to ensure you deliver what the customer want. This is mostly the case for intangible deliverables such as product, system and software development.

Both methodologies are mature and can be used in combination at various stages of your project. Once you have decided which basic methodology to utilize, you can further refine the process to best fit your project goals. Ultimately, although the way in which you manage your project is important, delivering a solid and maintainable product that satisfies your customer, is what really counts.

Johan Beumer

Johan Beumer


An established and successful Programme and Project Leader with a strong track record of client delivery. I excel at inheriting existing projects and introducing rigorous systems and processes that improve results and cut waste. A respected and deadline driven leader of teams who is able to galvanise groups and individuals to achieve excellence.