In recent years, Agile has become a buzz word and everyone seems to be talking about this project management methodology around the world. Agile methodology has taken project management world by storm. Today, the business world is changing rapidly and that is predominantly why they are looking for some advanced approaches,methodologies and processes that could enable them to run the business seamlessly.

Even though there are numerous project management mythologies to choose from, the final choice will always depend on the nature of the business and requirements in mind. Among all these methods, traditional (Waterfall) and agile methodologies are often opposed against each other.

If you are interested to know how both approaches differ from each other and which one would have a bigger impact for your next project, you have come to the right place. Following is a differentiation of both project management approaches.


Traditional project management project management is a proven methodology where projects are run in a sequential cycle. It follows a fixed cycle: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and closure. The traditional project management approach puts special emphasis on linear processes, documentation, upfront planning, and prioritization. Traditional method generally faces budget and timeline issues due to the fact that it considers time and budget as variable and requirements, fixed. For every step, there are tools and techniques defined by the standard methodology PMBOK® which are followed by project managers.

Following are a few benefits of traditional methodology:

  • Specific and clearly defined objectives
  • Controllable processes
  • Clear documentation
  • More accountability


Agile methodology follows an iterative process where projects are divided into sprints of the shorter span. Unlike the traditional approach, less time is spent on upfront planning and prioritization as agile is more flexible in terms of changes and developments in the specification.

While Agile is a typical approach used for software development, it heavily relies on collaboration, coordination, teamwork, time boxing tasks, and the flexibility to respond to change as quickly as possible.

The agile strategy is based on four important values:

  1. Customer engagement is more vital than negotiation
  2. More focus on individuals and communication than processes and tools
  3. The process should respond to change quickly rather than blindly following a plan
  4. Working project is more important than comprehensive documentation

Benefits of agile project management

  • Early problem identification and predictable delivery
  • Predictable costs and schedules
  • Flexible prioritization
  • Improved quality
  • Increased transparency


Parameters Traditional Approach Agile Approach
Scale of Projects  Large Scale Small and Medium 
Client Involvement Low High
Organizational Structure Linear Iterative
User requirements Clearly defined before execution Interactive Input
Escalation Management Escalation to managers when issues arise Entire team works together when issues arise
Model preference Favors anticipation Favors adaptation
Test documentation Tests are planned one sprint at a time Comprehensive test planning 
Estimation effort Project manager provides estimates and gets approval from PO for the entire project Scrum master facilitates and the team does the estimation
Reviews and approvals Excessive reviews and approvals by leaders Reviews are done after each iteration
Product or process More serious about processes than the product Less focus on formal and directive processes



Everything in the agile methodology is out there and transparent. All the stakeholders starting from the clients to the decision makers are actively involved from the initiation, planning, review, and in the testing part of a project. On the other hand, in the traditional approach, the project manager holds reins of the project, thus resulting in single path approach to decision making.

Furthermore, the agile methodology enables the team members to view the progress right from the beginning to the end. This level of transparency plays a significant role to constitute a healthy work environment.


Every single process in the traditional methodology is clearly defined and planned from the beginning of the project. The project has to be completed within the estimated time and budget. Hence, any major change or feedback that might push the deadline is skipped. Whereas agile management allows constant feedback that is helpful in providing better output.

Due to high acceptance for feedback in agile methodology, it has become the first choice for many project managers. They can respond to customer requests as customers get to validate each iteration that enables them to deliver a high-quality product or service within the delivery time.


As discussed earlier, the traditional methodology isn’t a fan of sudden changes and avoids them strictly as it would take the team back to square one.

Agile could be the best bet in terms of managing big and complex projects. Even if the project has multiple interconnected phases or one stage is dependent on many others, agile can prove to be a better fit.


One of the striking differences in both project management approaches is the level of ownership and accountability that each provides to team members. 

In traditional project management, a Project Manager is the sailor of the entire ship which means that the entire ownership belongs to him/her. Customers are also involved during the planning phase but their involvement ends then and there, as soon as the execution starts.

In the agile methodology, every team member shares ownership of the project. Each one of them plays an active role to complete the sprint within the estimated time. Unlike traditional project management, everyone involved in the project can easily view the project progress from the beginning to the end.


In reality, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ methodology suitable for every project or organization. The choice to implement a methodology largely depends on factors such as the nature of the project, size, resources involved among others.

Most of the times, smart project managers decide which methodology to adopt during the initiation of the project. He/She takes the final call, in agreement with other project stakeholders involved in the project planning process. 

Below down are some factors a Project Manager can take into consideration while choosing the right methodology for the project.

  • Understand the project requirements: If project requirements are unclear or tend to change, choose the agile methodology. And, the traditional methodology fits best to a situation where the requirements are clearly defined and well understood from the first go.
  • Consider the technology involved in the project: The traditional project management methodology is more appropriate if no new technology or tools are involved. Agile methodology, being more flexible than the former allows more space for experimentation with the new technology.
  • Availability of resources: The traditional approach works best with big and complex teams and projects. Whereas an agile team usually consists of a limited number of experienced team members.

  • The criticality of the final productIt depends a lot on the nature of the chosen project management methodology. As the traditional method involves documentation, it is very much suitable for critical products as compared to the agile project management methodology.


In this scuffle between the traditional project and agile project management, the latter turns out to be a clear winner. When you involve developers and customers in important processes, the end result for the clients and working experience for everyone involved is much more rewarding than implementing the traditional style approach to project management.

Other benefits include high quality, more productivity, better business value, fewer costs, and quicker time-to-market speeds. Moreover, considering the dynamic nature of businesses these days where changes are happening very rapidly, sticking to agile methodology will be a better option for companies.