I know there are millions of articles on this topic and they all talk about:

Iterative (Iterative Waterfall) Dev - delivers an improving product at the end of each iteration

Incremental Dev - delivers a section of the final product at the end of each increment (a core feature of value)

I (think I) can understand Incremental. What I don't get is, what is actually delivered at the end of an Iteration of an Iterative development? Is it a basic version of the full product?

Let's talk about development of a car as an example:

Incremental Dev would split the car into core sections, like so:

  1. First increment: A car that moves by pushing (bad example I know)
  2. Second increment: adds engine to the car
  3. Third: adds brakes....
  4. And so on...

Iterative Dev

Would iterative development try to make a version of the full car in one iteration (albeit with very basic features?) So the car would have brakes, engine etc after the first iteration. But they might be buggy etc?

  • 3
    A visual pair of examples.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 16:25
  • Iterative development without incremental delivery simply marks time. The iteration is about what the team does, not what is delivered on the product. Therefor it is possible to develop iteratively without ever delivering.
    – Daniel
    Commented Mar 6, 2018 at 17:13
  • @ToddA.Jacobs That really helped, sometimes a picture is what we need.
    – SANM2009
    Commented Mar 8, 2018 at 22:51

1 Answer 1


A great article, with charts, describing the differences.


The purely incremental approach builds each feature, across all components, to full fidelity, one by one.


The purely iterative approach builds all the features, across all components, to the lowest fidelity, and then increases the fidelity to the highest level.

Incremental and Iterative

A modern approach combines the incremental and iterative approaches by building each feature, one by one, at a low fidelity, and then both gradually adding features and increasing their fidelity until the right combination is achieved. Full fidelity is not always necessary.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.