kHUB All Member Forum

 View Only

Waterfall vs. Agile Product Development

By Rajeshwari krishnamurthy posted 01-22-2021 17:08


PDMA Body of Knowledge: Product Innovation Process Insights #2
PDMA Body of Knowledge: Product Innovation Process Insights #2

Read time:
4 minutes

The kHUB Curator Team members have each been assigned a BoK section to own.  This includes seeking, editing and sharing content related to that section.  The curators are also sharing their perspective of various sub-sections of their chapter and contributing personal examples, experience, or related articles corresponding to the subject matter.


Waterfall vs. Agile Product Development

What is Waterfall methodology?

Waterfall Model methodology which is also known as Liner Sequential Life Cycle Model. Waterfall Model followed in the sequential order, and so project development team only moves to next phase of development or testing if the previous step completed successfully.

What is the Agile methodology?

Agile methodology is a practice that helps continuous iteration of development and testing in the product development process. In this model, development and testing activities are concurrent, unlike the Waterfall model. This process allows more communication between customers, developers, managers, and other CFTs.

Key difference:

  • Waterfall is a Liner Sequential Life Cycle Model whereas Agile is a continuous iteration of development and testing in the software development
  • Agile methodology is known for its flexibility whereas Waterfall is a structured software development methodology.
  • Agile follows an incremental approach whereas the Waterfall methodology is a sequential design
  • Agile performs testing concurrently with software development whereas in Waterfall methodology testing comes after the “Build”
  • Agile allows changes in project development requirement whereas Waterfall has no scope of changing the requirements once the project development

Why Agile?

Perhaps the most glaring difference between Agile and Waterfall methodology is the fact that Agile entails assessment of the project all throughout the product development lifecycle, while the latter has a more limited scope, broken down into phases. To better understand Agile, let us investigate its key features.

There is this perception that Agile applies only in software development. However, times are changing, and we are seeing more and more applications of Agile in broader product development and even in sales and marketing departments. The core principles of Agile that we see in software development now translate very well to product development.

  • Agile is “iterative” or involves regular rhythms of work: Means work is conducted by the members of the product development team on a regular These are called “sprints”, or by its other more popular terms, “iterations”. Every aspect or phase of the development process is continuously revisited and reassessed throughout the development life cycle. Iterations are scheduled.
  • Agile is “incremental”: At the end of each iteration, the teams or groups within the product development team are required to present a product increment. This could be a potential feature that they think would add value to the product they are building, or it could be a minor change that they think will improve the final
  • Agile is designed to reduce costs of development and the time to market: Agile is ideal for companies that want to develop products in a short time, since it allows development of the product at the very same time that they are gathering the requirements and information. The shortened development time also allows the product to be more attuned to the current time and state of the market, thus ensuring that the product is relevant and will be
  • Agile is identified with product development teams’ responsiveness: Product development teams are almost always faced with unpredictable scenarios, and it does not bode well if one or two of these scenarios hit them when they are already halfway through a sequential product development process. In Agile, the teams can respond immediately once these unpredictable scenarios come up, and they can adapt

Application of Agile Product Development

If we are to attach several keywords to Agile product development, they would include “collaborative environment”, “self-organizing product development teams”, and “responsive teams”. It has been proven to be advantageous when it comes to product development, resulting in high quality outcome produced in a cost- effective manner.

About the Author

Rajeshwari Krishnamurthy

Dr. K Rajeshwari brings to the table a unique higher combination of academic excellence, a long experience with top corporates, teaching stints at various IIMs/XLRI in the country, conducting Management development programs for India’s leading organisations as well as a strong publication record.

She has a total of 26 years of experience, a significant part of it in New product development. She is a solo author of a B School reference text book titled ‘New Product development- a FMCG Perspective’- based on her PhD thesis. She is currently a faculty member at Great Lakes Institute of Management. Prior to this, she completed her Ph.D from IIT Madras and served as a faculty member at XLRI, Jamshedpur. She has completed her post graduation from IIM Ahmedabad in 1994 and is a visiting faculty at various IIMs in the country.

Rajeshwari has authored three books (two-solo) - the first one was titled ‘My Life My Choice’-published by Macmillan in 2011 and was about mid-life career choices. The second one was a reference text book for B Schools and was titled ‘New Product development-a FMCG Perspective’, released in 2017. The third one is a recently launched one titled ‘The New Plan A’- and focuses on the various mid-life career challenges faced by working women. She recently won the Best Paper Award at an International Research Conference in Boston in 2017. She is also the recipient of numerous other Awards- Women Achiever and Distinguished Management Awards.

Rajeshwari has been a part of several professional organisations such as CII Task force for entrepreneurship, American Marketing Association, Institute of Research Bureau, Product development Management Association, IIM Ahmedabad Executive Committee, Empowering Women in IT industry etc.

Related Content