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Know the Key Difference Between Waterfall vs Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban!


When you look at Project management, you will notice how it has evolved significantly in recent years. The frameworks or methodologies range from Agile to Scrum to Waterfall to Kanban. While frameworks like Scrum, pursue a more rigid, structured method, others like Kanban are easier to introduce and follow on top of other existing processes. They all come with their own pros and cons but what common thing binds them is they all ensure effective team management and collaboration in a workplace.

So how do you know which one to choose? There are multiple factors to consider before you decide the right approach for your team and the project. However, few new approaches have also created confusions among the masses regarding the in-depth detail of a particular approach. By understanding the pros and cons of a particular technology either it is Waterfall Agile Scrum or Kanban, you can decide the chances of its adoption.

In this blog, we will not only discuss the difference between Agile vs Waterfall vs Scrum vs Kanban, but we will do more. Here, we will also learn basic concepts of Scrum, Kanban, Agile and Waterfall. Professionals who are new to the project management field may find it difficult to understand and differentiate among Agile vs Scrum vs Waterfall vs Kanban. So, we bring a meaningful discussion here that includes Agile vs Kanban vs Scrum vs Waterfall. 

Agile vs Waterfall vs Scrum vs Kanban: A Quick Comparison Guide

To make the difference simple, let us have a quick look at the table, Agile Waterfall Scrum Kanban:

Waterfall Approach

Agile Scrum

Agile Kanban

It is based on the linear sequential model.

It is based on the iterative      approach.

It is based on the continuous flow model

The SDLC model is divided into more phases.

Each iteration has a separate SDLC phase.

It is generally needed for ticket-based or inventory systems

It is hard to implement.

It is known for its flexibility. 

It is also known for its flexibility.

The change management process is complex.

The change management process is easy.

The change management process is easy.

Long-term planning is done.

Short-term planning is done.

Planning is done only when the job is at hand.

Limited collaboration with customers.

More collaboration with customers.

It is a customer-driven approach.

It is not easy to find problems.

Problems can be identified quickly in early sprints.

Problems can be identified early in the process.

Project scheduling is generally risky.

There are no risks associated with project scheduling.

There are no risks associated with project scheduling.

A big team is involved in project work.

The team size is small.

The team size is small.

Waterfall vs Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban: Which One to Choose?

  • With the waterfall model, it is easy to check the entire scope and progress of the project that results in effective synchronization among developers and clients. The drawback is that it does not allow much room for revisions or alterations. This is one of the major differences between agile and waterfall.
  • Due to its flexibility and change management capabilities, the Agile approach is the most reliable software development methodology. Also, Agile projects are always more successful, and chances of failures are large in case of other software development methodologies.
  • When it comes to Scrum vs Kanban, Scrum happens to be the winner out of two. This is because Scrum aims at effective planning right from the beginning of a project and Kanban focuses more on continuous improvement through incremental modifications within a defined work environment. 

Now we are done having a quick look at the differences between Agile vs Waterfall vs Scrum, let’s understand each framework in depth to know Scrum vs Agile vs Waterfall vs Kanban and what to choose from these methodologies.

What is Agile: A Brief Introduction

According to research by PMI (Project Management Institute), more than 70 percent of total organizations use Agile methodology. Agile is a popular software development methodology that helps the team to collaborate to find solutions through continuous evolution. It also incorporates policies to carry out better planning, development, and timely deliveries by team members. Also, you will be prepared for sudden changes and able to respond quickly.

Agile methodology

Top Agile frameworks

  • Scrum,
  • Kanban,
  • Scrumban (A mix of Scrum and Kanban),
  • Extreme Programming (XP),
  • Adaptive software development (ASD),
  • Agile Modelling,
  • Agile Unified Process (AUP),
  • Disciplined Agile Delivery,
  • Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM),
  • Feature-driven development (FDD),
  • Lean software development, and
  • Rapid application development (RAD)

When it comes to Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban vs Waterfall, Agile has gained immense popularity over other platforms. The core methodology behind the Agile framework is that projects are broken down into sections as user stories, then they are organized and prioritized before successive delivery in cycles called iterations. Here are the core principles of the Agile Manifesto framework that are designed to make software development more efficient and result-oriented.

  • Customer satisfaction and continuous delivery of valuable software programs.
  • The changes requirements are welcomed even in the early stages of development.
  • Working modules are released frequently either weekly or monthly.
  • Daily cooperation among clients and developers is accomplished.
  • The project is built around motivated individuals that can be trusted.
  • Sustainable development can be achieved at a constant pace.
  • More focus is given to technical excellence and good design.
  • Simplicity is essential so that work can be completed with ease and speed.
  • Teams become more aligned and self-organized when they work together to achieve a single objective.
  • The team may reflect regularly on how to become more effective and adjust accordingly.

This is clear from the discussion that the Agile framework focuses more on individuals and interactions over processes or tools, working modules over comprehensive documents, quick response to change over following a plan, customer collaboration over contract negotiation.

With the Agile framework, a quality product is delivered incrementally instead of pulling all necessary activities in one go. It helps to maintain or track the project progress and leaves enough space for focusing on different software development elements from starting to the end. The Agile framework works for non-IT projects too in the same way.

What is Scrum: An Overview of Its Pros and Cons

When you are comparing agile and scrum together, it is like comparing apples to fruit. One is the subcategory of the other. Scrum is a part of agile frameworks that has taken many industries by storm during the last few years. According to Forbes, “Scrum is successful due to its focus on customers. It is a proven approach or methodology for optimized collaboration, helps to deliver projects on time, reduces errors, and has gained immense popularity these days in the world of Agile.” 

Initially, it was designed to be used by software development teams only. Today, Scrum is developed in such a way that it can handle multiple tasks together like software development, education, healthcare, and a lot more. Here are quick points about Scrum:

  • The main objective of Scrum is to break down the work in such a way that it can maximize efficiency and reduce bottlenecks while moving towards project completion and customer satisfaction. 
  • The different Scrum roles within an organization include Scrum Master, Product Owner, Scrum Team etc.
  • The Scrum team is defined as the set of individuals working on a project, the product owner is the person who is responsible for designing different sections of the workflows.
  • The Scrum Master facilitates both the scrum team and the product owner in implementing the established work process.

 Scrum - flow chart

Some Advantages of using Scrum framework

1. Scrum makes sure that everyone is working in sync with the project deliverables and completely understands the milestones to be achieved. 

  • It encourages customer involvement at every stage, sets the project timelines in the form of Sprints or we can say Daily Scrums. 
  • Each Sprint is given a time period when particular tasks assigned by Product Owners should be completed. The average time span for a Sprint is 7 days to one month or may also depend on the client's requirements.

2. A few development teams focus more on daily scrums, stand-up meetings among the team members, product owner, scrum master, customers, and management etc. It helps to evaluate tasks completed on a daily basis with hindrances and potential risks

3. The concept of setting milestones with assigned roles and the defined time period is aimed at having a better rate of project completion through a transparent workflow and different monitoring techniques. 

4. Scrum also focuses on customer satisfaction and is also given the utmost priority by encouraging their involvement throughout the project development life cycle. Also, the potential pitfalls are addressed early which leads to excellent cost management and issue management.

One of the major disadvantages of using Scrum methodology is that  not only it requires a team of experienced and trained personnels but it works best with a team consisting minimum 3 members but not more than 10. 

However, this also leads to collaboration, teamwork and high-quality outcomes. As every member is responsible and ownership of their work, leading to a productive environment.

If you are wondering what is the difference between agile and scrum, we have an interesting read for you!

What is Kanban: An Overview of Its Pros and Cons

Kanban has revolutionized the automotive industry and it has a significant impact on various other sectors too including software, IT operations, and event marketing etc. It is yet another one of the popular agile frameworks designed to make the project life cycle more streamlined and increase effective team collaboration through continuous improvements and ease in change management. Just like Scrum, if you want to know the difference between Agile and Kanban, there is not much since Kanban is a subcategory of the agile framework.


Some advantages of using Kanban

  1. The complete Kanban system revolves around a central Kanban board that is used by organizations to prioritize the work tasks. 

  • With the help of the Kanban dashboard, you may exhibit each element within a workflow for progress, testing, release etc. 
  • The team may check work in progress, blocked content, completed content, to-do list, and a lot more.
  1. It makes everyone stay open to changes and easily implement them when the transition is required. If work is in progress then new work is allowed to be categorized in that state. It compels the team to complete the pending work first before addressing new entities.

  2. The Kanban board can be modified by anyone in the team as long as it specifies the work entities. It means there is no single person to make sure that team is aligned and working well together to achieve the goal.

  3. When we compare two frameworks in terms of roles then Scrum has a defined set of roles for each purpose while Kanban does not specify any role. It is more focused on improving the project workflow and the overall quality of a product at the team-level.

One of the major disadvantages of using Kanban is its lack of timing. Meaning, there are no time frames associated with each phase. 

Read: Let’s Know How To Build An Amazing Automation Tester Resume ( With Samples)

What is Waterfall: A Brief Introduction

The Waterfall is the most traditional software development approach used by software developers for years. It is also referred to as the linear-sequential life cycle model too. It was the first process model to be introduced. The model was structured significantly and it was not adaptable to changes easily.

It has a total of 7 phases of the design and development software cycle which are as follows :

  1. Requirements
  2. Analysis
  3. Design
  4. Coding / implementation
  5. Testing
  6. Operation / deployment
  7. Maintenance

How it Works 

  • In the case of the waterfall model, tasks should be completed in sequence before the next stage is started. It simply avoids the overlapping of different project stages and is designed to work in a single direction only. 
  • The different stages of the waterfall model include initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment, and maintenance.


Some advantage of using Waterfall methodology:

  • It allows for departmentalization and control as a schedule can be set with deadlines for each stage of development, and a product can proceed through the development process model phases one by one.
  • It is quite easy to use as it undergoes easily understandable and explainable phases, overcoming many issues. Since the workflow model is quite rigid, it is very manageable as each phase in the waterfall model has specific review and deliverables processes.
  • The schedule can be set with deadlines for each stage of development, and a product can proceed through the development process model phases one by one.
  • The model works well for smaller projects and projects where requirements are well understood.

One of the major disadvantages of using Waterfall is that it becomes difficult to go back to the previous phase if there is a new requirement or change since the model supports development process model phases one by one.

Read: Software Testing illusions & Reality

Final Thoughts On Agile vs Waterfall vs Scrum vs Kanban

Which Project Management Methodology is Best for You?

There is no one answer to this question as you have already read in the blog that each methodology has its own positives and negatives. Moreover, when you want to select a project management methodology for your business process, you need to ask yourself: which is the best methodology that you and your team can adopt efficiently? And the kind of project you are going to deal with. For instance, Scrum is great for streamlining simultaneous workflows. But if your project is seeking a linear workflow, Waterfall is your go to methodology.While, you can enhance your production process with Kanban. It’s all about your project requirement and your team’s ability to successfully adopt and implement the methodology, whatever that might be.

Hopefully, this blog gives you a sound idea about the difference between Waterfall vs Agile vs Scrum vs Kanban methodologies in detail and you can choose the best methodology for your team effortlessly.

Which approach is liked by your team or organization the most and why? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below!

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    Vikas Arora

    Vikas Arora loves pursuing excellence through writing and have a passion for technology. He currently writes for

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