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  • Writer's pictureSujoy Dutta, PMP

What is the difference in agile and waterfall model of planning?

Agile and Waterfall are two contrasting project management and software development methodologies, each with its own approach to planning and project execution. Here are the key differences in planning between the Agile and Waterfall models: 1. Approach to Planning:

  • Waterfall: Waterfall is a linear and sequential approach. Planning is done at the beginning of the project, and the project is divided into distinct phases (requirements, design, development, testing, deployment). Each phase has its planning stage, and work is executed in a strict order.

  • Agile: Agile is an iterative and incremental approach. Planning is done initially, but it is more high-level. Agile projects are divided into short development cycles or iterations (e.g., sprints in Scrum). Detailed planning is done incrementally for each iteration, and the project adapts as it progresses.

2. Flexibility:

  • Waterfall: Waterfall has limited flexibility once the project begins. Changes to requirements or scope are often challenging to accommodate and can result in significant delays and additional costs.

  • Agile: Agile is highly adaptable. It embraces change and allows for adjustments to requirements, priorities, and scope at the end of each iteration. Agile teams can respond to feedback and evolving customer needs.

3. Client Involvement:

  • Waterfall: In Waterfall, client or stakeholder involvement is typically higher at the beginning and end of the project. Clients provide requirements at the start and see the final product after extensive development.

  • Agile: Agile encourages continuous client or stakeholder involvement throughout the project. Clients are engaged in defining and refining requirements, providing feedback after each iteration, and prioritizing features.

4. Risk Management:

  • Waterfall: Waterfall aims to manage risks through comprehensive upfront planning. It assumes that risks can be identified and mitigated before execution.

  • Agile: Agile manages risks through incremental progress. Risks are addressed iteratively, and mitigation strategies can be implemented as the project evolves.

5. Testing:

  • Waterfall: Testing is usually conducted as a separate phase after development. This can lead to issues being discovered late in the project, making them more costly to fix.

  • Agile: Testing is integrated throughout the development process. Each iteration includes testing, which helps identify and address issues early, reducing the cost of defects.

6. Deliverables:

  • Waterfall: Waterfall aims to deliver the entire project scope at the end of the project. Clients receive the final product upon completion.

  • Agile: Agile delivers functionality incrementally. Clients receive partial but potentially shippable increments after each iteration, allowing for earlier use and feedback.

7. Planning Documentation:

  • Waterfall: Waterfall requires extensive planning documentation, including detailed project plans, requirements documents, and design specifications.

  • Agile: Agile emphasizes working software over comprehensive documentation. While some documentation is necessary, Agile values functioning software as the primary measure of progress.

8. Project Control:

  • Waterfall: Waterfall uses detailed plans to control the project. Deviation from the plan is often seen as a problem.

  • Agile: Agile controls the project through regular inspections, adaptation, and feedback. Deviation from the original plan is expected and addressed as part of the process.

In summary, Waterfall is characterized by a more structured and upfront planning approach, whereas Agile is iterative, adaptable, and focuses on continuous client involvement and incremental delivery. The choice between these models depends on the project's nature, client requirements, and the level of flexibility and adaptability needed.

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