Comparing Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban

Sarah Savoy | August 4, 2021 | 3 Min Read

Let’s take a look at four different software development methodologies that can be used in the Health Tech space: Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban.

So many projects, so little time.

Luckily for those of us in the Health Tech space, we have various methodologies to help guide us along as we work on an array of products.

In this article, we look at Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, and Kanban. And while we briefly delve into each one of these methodologies, it’s important to note that they all have the same goal: to help you successfully complete your project. Let’s dive in.



Agile is a software development approach that uses iteration and leverages cross-functional teams who self-organize to build solutions. There are several Agile methodologies, with the most popular being Scrum and Kanban.

Back in 2001, 17 technologists came together to formally launch Agile based on four core values, which are stipulated in the Agile Manifesto.

The four core values are:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools;
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation;
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
  • Responding to change over following a plan.

But before there was Agile, we had Waterfall.



There was a time when the Waterfall methodology was the norm in software development. Unlike Agile, which is predicated on creating iterations of a project, Waterfall takes a more linear approach to project management and software development.

Stakeholder requirements are figured out at the beginning of a project and a chronological project plan is created to tackle those requirements. It’s called Waterfall for a reason: each project phase cascades into the next, similar to water flowing down.

For the longest time, Waterfall was considered the gold standard for project management and software development. Why? Because Waterfall’s structured methodology works—as long as the conditions are right.



Returning focus back on the Agile approach, Scrum is an Agile methodology that takes its name from the scrummage you see in rugby. Much like a rugby scrum, this methodology keeps teams working together.

Projects that use Scrum are executed in short sprints, often ranging from two to four weeks. Each sprint has a goal to provide the client with feedback and a result on the project. You can view each Scrum sprint as being able to stand on its own. The client is the one who prioritizes the objectives of the project for each sprint.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of communication going on during these sprints among Scrum teams and also the client. Scrum is popular because it’s a methodology that gets you results on your project relatively quickly.



If you’re a visual person, you’ll appreciate Kanban, which is an Agile methodology that lets team members visualize work items on a Kanban board. Kanban helps you define workflow management and enables a flow of tasks from start through to completion.

Kanban is a Japanese term that means “visual board” or “sign”, and it was first used by the Toyota Motor Corporation to help create workplace efficiency.

The great thing about Kanban is it can be applied to an array of industries, including healthcare. It’s especially helpful with projects that arrive in an unpredictable fashion.


Final Thoughts

There’s no one right way to tackle a project in the Health Tech space. As you can see, however, there are several methodologies that can help you achieve your goals and develop a winning product.

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