Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban vs Waterfall: A Detailed Comparison To Choose The Best Methodology For Your Project

by | Nov 19, 2020

Along with many other decisions, one of the most essential and reaping business decisions would be to choose a methodology that would help efficient workflows and outcomes. 

All the methodologies mentioned here only aim at completing the project on time. The only differing factor is the structure, and the way work is handled. Apart from completing your work efficiently on time, the secondary objectives may help a firm decide which methodology perfectly suits their workflows.

This comparison will help layout a picture for you to understand which structure is perfect for your organization.

Agile Methodology

The Agile technique uses an iterative approach and breaks the project down into much smaller chunks that are better for testing processes. This technique allows the leaders and developers of a team to work together and frequently allows changes in the project development requirements throughout the process.

Advantages of Agile

  • Improving and adjusting the requirements, constraints, and processes as needed is possible, making it a more flexible technique.
  • Regular reviews help the team to pivot their workflows for the results produced.
  • It is easier to plan, restructure, and execute changes as the tasks are broken down into shorter planning cycles. Problems such as identifying bugs can be solved quickly.
  • Better team interaction.
  • Customers can share their inputs and follow up on product development progress, which leads to continuous improvement. Hence the processes in Agile encourages feedback from the end-users.
  • Ensures that the clients are involved throughout the process.

Disadvantages of Agile

  • Developers and business owners must work together. This implies that both teams should commit to the entire project’s entire duration and be a time-consuming process.
  • With reprioritizing and extra sprints added, the exact date of delivery could differ entirely from what was planned in the initial stages.
  • As Agile teams are not that large, the team members should be experts and highly skilled in the respective field.  
  • While working with software, the documentation phase can be ignored.
  • Along with new iterations, customer feedback, and the flexibility factor, there could be a possibility that the final product might turn out to be completely different than what was planned in the initial stages.
  • Estimating the cost involved in an agile methodology could be ambiguous.
  • Agile techniques could not be useful for small development processes.
  • Agile requires an expert to head the meetings. Contrary wise, in the absence of a skilled leader, there are possibilities that the process might go off track.

Scrum Methodology

Work with scrum gets done relatively faster and it uses two-week sprints.

The workflow stages in Scrum are reviewed, planned, and executed at the end of the two weeks, during which the team creates the team backlog. The backlogs are then completed during the sprint among the team members.

During each day of the sprint, there is a 15 – minute meeting where reviews are done for the previous and coming days, and the team members discuss issues and impediments to workflows. The scrum master helps in removing such blockages to work after the sprint begins. At the end of which, the team members meet to plan another set of agenda.

The scrum master also acts as a link between the product owner and the rest of the team after the sprint begins. 

Scrum uses a burndown chart to see the progress at a glance that helps visualize the left tasks rather than the completed ones. Burndown charts prove beneficial while providing feedback or when considering a change of plan.

Advantages of Scrum

  • Viewing the incomplete tasks help in visualizing them and completing them right away.
  • Regular review meetings allow the members to nip the problem in the bud, eliminating any chaos and making amends in the process before the tasks have already moved forward.
  • Collaboration helps with more efficiency and increased accountability.
  • As the tasks are broken down into chunks, drastic changes need not be made.
  • Since the team is always connected and the changes are made as soon as the problems are identified, it reduces the costs and expenses incurred on a particular project.

Disadvantages of Scrum

  • Some Scrum projects might lack a definite delivery date, leading the stakeholders to add more processes or requirements to the project.
  • The team members need to put in the number of hours for regular meetings. 
  • Since there is no definitive knowledge of who does what in the team, accountability can be ignored. 
  • The scrum master, if unable to handle the project, can lead it to the path of disintegration.
  • If not defined very well in the initial stages itself for a proper estimation of the costs, deadlines, and the following structure could crumble down in the final stages.

Kanban Methodology

Kanbans visualize workflows and are split into columns like to do, work in progress (WIP), done, etc. The cards can be increased as per the task’s complexity or the teammates’ preference to visualize work better. The details of the task are noted on the card as it moves horizontally.

Unlike the other techniques, kanban aims at process improvements.

Traditional Kanban boards are physical boards, with sticky notes or magnets stuck on whiteboards. Many online software kanban boards are introduced in the online project management scenario apart from the conventional options.

Advantages of Kanban

  • Visualizing makes the bottlenecks more detectable.
  • Allows everyone in the team to know about the work obstructions.
  • Since the number of cards in a column can be limited, and no new card can then proceed to the next column ahead, the team will get their hands on the problem and identify why tasks have reached a standstill. A Team can thereby work on the fixes as soon as the problem is detected.
  • Data that is visible on the boards can help meetings and discussions at a glance.
  • There is no need to make any sudden changes as with traditional techniques. The process can be tweaked as the team proceeds.
  • It is a fluid model (durations and priorities can be reevaluated or reset as there is more input coming).
  • Streamlined work process so that teams don’t spend time doing nonessential work.
  • Teams don’t need to learn new technology. To begin with, Kanban boards, and it is easy to work with.
  • Relatively minimized cycle time and gets the work done faster, and paves the way for quicker rectification.
  • Limiting the number of cards in a column will help cut down on an endless list/piling up of unfinished tasks.
  • With work wholly laid out, it is easy to manage the metrics and flow. 

Disadvantages of Kanban

  • Once the limits are set to the columns, no new task can be entered in that particular column. This could lead to the piling up of unfinished tasks.
  • An outdated or over-cluttered board might lead to disorientation.
  • Adding minor details along with the important ones to the board might add a lot of noise to the board, leading to the more important information to get lost in the noise.
  • Since the columns are all about cards and process specifications, there is no mention of the deadlines and the time specifications for each card or board.

If you are looking for an integrated approach to work on projects, Flujo can be your go-to solution for working on projects with Kanbans & collaborating with your team with messenger, calling, topics & other productivity add-ons.

Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall methodology, also known as the Linear sequential life cycle model.

With linear and step-like sequential approaches, the following stage’s progress depends on the completion of the previous project.

You cannot proceed to build the wall of a house without completing the foundations in simpler terms. Revisions and approvals need to be made for the previous step before the team proceeds to the next step. 

The waterfall technique is more fit for work processes where change is not common and definitive requirements are prepared well in advance. Hence, once the project commences, there is no scope for changing the requirements.

Advantages of Waterfall

  • Tracing steps back in the waterfall method is not an option. Therefore it is important to gather all the documentation and deliverables before beginning the process.
  • Teams that frequently make changes with the team structure can opt for the waterfall method, too, since all the work processes are documented. therefore, when the structure is changed the team members find it easy to retrace the steps back to where it was left
  • It’s easy to follow the process because of its linear sequential pattern, and since it’s easy to implement, you don’t require experts in the team to handle workflows. Its basic structure makes reviewing and sharing the progress of the tasks with the stakeholders easier too.
  • A definitive start and endpoint make it easy to keep track of the deadline.
  • Due to necessary documentation, it gives a detailed overview of the task and further serves the purpose of records for references in the future.
  • The waterfall method is ideal for small projects where the requirements are easy to gauge

Disadvantages of Waterfall

  • In terms of a revision, the waterfall method is less fluid because of its linear nature. The entire process has to be restarted again from the first stage itself if there is a need to review the previous step.
  • A time-bound firm cannot waste more time going back to previous steps for revisions, and hence the waterfall method turns out to be inappropriate.
  • This method requires the project to complete a couple of phases before actually beginning, leading to a delayed deadline. For example, in software development, the round of testing needs to be finished before identifying bugs. The process of identifying bugs after everything is done will make it all the more lengthy. 
  • One of the important things to do while in the initial phases of the waterfall methodology is identifying the stakeholders and customers’ requirements. It could be possible that these requirements might change as the process proceeds and things have to be tweaked accordingly from time to time, further delaying the deadline.
  • These setbacks also make the waterfall method unsuitable for large size projects.

Summary

Any technique can only prove to be effective if used optimally and used consistently. Identifying your firm’s set goals and the work aspects that hold prime importance to you will help you pick the perfect methodology for your project. Teams should also feel free to pick a technique that suits their nature of work.

Waterfall if work should be progressed linearly. Kanbans can be preferred if process improvement holds an important position in the firm. Or, if work needs to be done promptly and at a quicker rate, Scrum can be opted for.

If you are looking for something to fast track your workflows with an organized approach to Kanban boards, make sure to try out Flujo, a single tool to empower your entire team!

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