Agile-Waterfall Hybrid Model: How It Works, Benefits and Advantages


Agile-Waterfall Hybrid Model: How It Works, Benefits and Advantages agile waterfall hybrid

Modern software development has evolved over the years, and developers have adapted many efficient methods for development over the years. While most modern methodologies result from the evolution of the modern method that started it all, have you ever wondered how a mix of the classic and modern methods would turn out to be?

Today, let’s do just that. We will look at the agile-waterfall hybrid methodology and see how two distinctively different methodologies come together to deliver great results. But if we want them to go together, we must start by understanding their pros and cons.

Pros of Agile

  • It’s easy to adjust and reiterate all requirements while development progresses.
  • Due to high flexibility, adding or removing features is easy
  • Every iteration gets tested by developers, resulting in early bug detection and fewer errors in the final product
  • Clients and users are allowed to be involved in the project through providing feedback
  • Agile development focuses on fulfilling customer demands through functional software delivery and always reiterates according to user feedback

Cons of Agile

  • Requires a high amount of collaboration, and all team members may be unable to contribute equally.
  • The project manager must know the ins and outs of the Agile manifesto for effective Agile project management.
  • The constant change of scope can often hinder development progress by having to adapt to different systems and tech stacks.

Pros of Waterfall

  • Due to the extensive early planning phase, everyone has a clear idea of the entire project before it even begins.
  • Every process has detailed documentation available for maximum transparency and helps teammates sync their work more effectively.
  • Documentation also allows future improvements based on past experiences
  • Best for sticking to a strict timeline and budget
  • Great for small projects

Cons of Waterfall

  • Not great for projects that require more flexibility
  • The testing phase doesn’t begin till the software is developed, resulting in expensive backtracking to fix software issues
  • Doesn’t allow any kind of client or user involvement, and the final product may not be what the users like

What Is Agile-Waterfall Hybrid?

In the agile-waterfall hybrid, you will find the best of both worlds. Those who are purists in software development methodology might find this method unsettling. Still, the method can be effectively deployed for either software development or a product that contains both software and hardware.

In this model, the software development team works with agile methodologies, while the hardware and product managers work with the waterfall approach.

“The hybrid is a combination of predictive and uncertain work.”

-Jim Boston, Toptal Project Manager, Scrum Master, Agile Coach

You should consider this approach when:

  • You want to encourage more collaboration between teams
  • Your business is trying to transition to agile practices, but the complexity is slowing the process down
  • The project has a fixed budget and deadline but requires the precision and flexibility of Agile to succeed fully

Both of them can work together because agile is more of a mindset than a methodology. Combining the mindset of agile philosophy with the waterfall practices is easier.

Why Use A Hybrid System?

You might think that going full agile is the best route since it offers more flexibility and adaptability. Also, why not go waterfall if that’s what the organization is more comfortable with?

The answer to the first question is it’s much tougher to go full agile throughout the organization. Digital transformation is a highly complicated process, and transforming to agile is even tougher in industries where documentation and adherence to a strict timeline are necessary.

With a combination of both approaches, it’s possible to maintain the strictness that comes with a waterfall while maintaining a fast-paced and flexible development cycle that agile practices can ensure.

While sticking to the waterfall can offer a disciplined approach, bringing agile into the mix improves the process and optimizes it further by breaking down large development segments into smaller chunks and then releasing the completed epics over a longer timeframe.

Possible Combinations For Agile-Waterfall Hybrid Development

We have some useful tips for adapting the agie-hybrid model to your business as quickly as possible.

  • Complete all planning, designing, and requirement specification with waterfall, but perform all development objectives and testing in short sprints using Agile Scrum.
  • Implement new communication channels and collaborative software to support information exchange, data consistency, and traceability across the lifecycle.
  • Involve all internal and external stakeholders in early communication as often as possible.
  • Define standard compliance expectations before the project begins and focus on them in the design-planning phase.
  • Use agile at a project level while using waterfall at an organizational level.
  • Use the waterfall method for project and team levels, but integrate agile methodology into each team.
  • Use waterfall throughout team and enterprise level, but choose specific development phases using agile technologies.
  • Use only waterfall for low-risk projects to minimize the costs
  • Leverage agile for high-risk projects till all the problems are resolved
  • Projects that have tight turnaround benefit better from agile
  • Agile is a better solution for more complex projects that can bring in a favorable outcome in exchange for high costs.

Challenges With Going Hybrid

A hybrid method is an unorthodox solution to real problems and comes with its own set of challenges during implementation.

The biggest challenge is that a hybrid approach isn’t for everyone. When you’re mish-mashing both methodologies and none of the teams understand how the entire process is supposed to go, you’re essentially setting yourself up for failure.

Bridging two methodologies can often bring in more problems than it can solve. With waterfall, you’re restricting the flexibility of agile, defeating its core purpose, and the same goes for waterfall. Each step of a hybrid requires additional planning, so both methodologies can perfectly complement each other.

What’s The Choice To Make Here?

It can be very tempting to become the ultimate master of a single methodology. It’s a great solution if all the team members understand the methodology throughout and are perfectly compatible with it.

But sometimes, success takes top priority; to achieve it, you have to apply solutions by thinking out of the box. That is where agile-waterfall hybrid methodology comes in.

It all depends on the project situation you’re trying to handle. And we believe our discussion has shed enough light on all the possible situations for you to choose the right method.

To Wrap It Up

Regardless of whether you choose a hybrid approach or one of the two major software development approaches, a highly specialized software development partner can help you succeed with both.

Impala Intech houses a professional team of software developers who specialize in working with different methodologies and hybrid solutions.

With us by your side, your next project can bring in all the right success metrics while elevating your brand reputation.


Is Agile-Waterfall Hybrid More Cost-Effective Than Traditional Waterfall?

It can be managed effectively since it allows course corrections based on project needs.

How Do You Measure Success in an Agile-Waterfall Hybrid Project?

Success metrics should align with the goals of both Agile (e.g., customer satisfaction) and Waterfall (e.g., on-time delivery).

What’s the Role of Stakeholders in an Agile-Waterfall Hybrid Project?

They are crucial in defining requirements and providing feedback throughout the project.

Can You Combine Agile and Waterfall Teams in a Hybrid Project?

Yes, cross-functional teams that understand both methodologies can work well in this setup.

How Does Risk Management Differ in This Hybrid Model Compared to Pure Waterfall?

Risk management is ongoing in the Agile phases and more structured in the Waterfall phases.


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