Waterfall Methodology

The waterfall is the most commonly adopted version of the Software development life cycle (SDLC) for software engineering and information technology programs. It follows a single-direction, sequential mechanism that flows like a waterfall.

We’ve gone through the major features of Waterfall, such as its steps, benefits and drawbacks, strategic parallels to Agile, and descriptions of two main mechanisms used in Waterfall: job breakdown structures and the critical path method. The waterfall model is a Sequential model. In this model, the software development activity is divided into different phases and each phase consists of a series of tasks and has different objectives.

The waterfall model was the first SDLC method. It was, in particular, the first commonly used model in the software industry. It is split into stages, with one phase’s output being the input for the next. Before going on to the next phase, each phase must be completed. In the Waterfall model authorized, there is no overlapping.

The development of one process occurs only after the completion of the previous phase in a waterfall design. As a result of this, each step of the waterfall model is extremely detailed and well described. The waterfall model gets its name because the phases drop from a higher to a lower level, almost like a waterfall.

Waterfall Methodology in Project Development

Waterfall methodology is a sequential, linear process that requires completion of each step before moving on to the next. Once a phase is completed, it cannot be repeated unless there is a major collapse, which will only be discovered during the maintenance phase. The customer is unable to provide feedback or provide a review at any point during the waterfall methodology process. As a result, the waterfall model necessitates careful preparation ahead of time. The conditions for a project must be explicit, and everyone participating with the project must be aware of them. Each team member should be informed of their role in the project and its importance.

Seven Phases of Waterfall Methodology

The methodology of Waterfall is divided into seven phases and each stage depends entirely on the previous. A Gantt map, which is a linear bar chart that displays the start and end dates for each mission, can be used to schedule this process.

A team must complete, review, and authorize the previous stage before going on to the next. This approach was built in sectors where transformation is too difficult or time-consuming to execute, so the Waterfall technique provides these initiatives a tight framework to ensure optimum performance.

The waterfall is divided into seven stages:

  1. Conception: This stage begins with a concept and a baseline evaluation of the project, as well as a cost estimate and benefits analysis.
  2. Initiation: Once the concept has been formed, the project team is assembled, and the project’s goals, scope, function, and deliverables are established.
  3. Collecting and analyzing requirements: The project undergoes a feasibility study, which is recorded in the requirement specification report.
  4. Design: Design requirements are developed, analyzed, and tested to determine how the finished product can appear, as well as the steps required to get there.
  5. Coding/Implementation: The actual coding of the software begins. During this process, all prior planning is put into effect.
  6. Testing: Once the coding is over, the product is checked to ensure that it is free of bugs before being shipped to the user. A user acceptance test (UAT) may be conducted if required, in which users test the software before it is released to the general public.
  7. Maintenance: During this process, consumers are required to disclose any additional problems that could have occurred in the real world. Based on this feedback, the programming team works to solve and update the software.

Work Breakdown Structure

A work breakdown structure (WBS) is a visual method for creating, defining, and tracking project deliverables and their associated components. WBS is a decomposed visual of an overall range of work, determining the project goals, the actions required to achieve the targets, and the result or quality that is required.

Excessive labor, risk, and wasted time are eliminated from the equation by relying more on the actual deliverables rather than the process to accomplish these activities. The emphasis is moved from a large project to a divided task list that helps teams achieve their objectives more quickly and effectively.

Critical Path Method

The critical path approach, a project management methodology that first gained popularity in the 1950s, allows businesses to recognize the progress that is dependent on successfully performing project activities. This approach specifies the order of subsequent tasks that will impact the project’s duration and completion.

The CPM aids in determining how a project interruption or setback can affect the whole proposed schedule, deeming those projects as crucial due to the more serious effects of failing to complete on time. The majority of projects have only one critical path, but others can have several critical paths that must be taken and managed to stay on track.

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology

The waterfall is best for plain, planned projects because of its linear and easy-to-follow nature. Its visual representation makes it simple to comprehend the actions that must be completed to meet the project’s goals.

Waterfall has the following advantages:

  • Manageability and ease of use: Waterfall is an incredibly rigid model that specifies the steps required to advance a project’s sequential phases. It’s simple to understand because each project fits the same pattern, and there’s no need for prior experience or preparation to get started. Each of the seven steps has unique requirements that must be fulfilled and evaluated, making it simple to keep track of each move.
  • A high degree of discipline: Since the start and endpoints of each stage are decided at the start of a project, it’s straightforward to share results, update on missing deadlines, and minimize project risk.
  • Detailed documentation: Waterfall ensures that each process is checked and registered before going on to the next, ensuring that the activities performed in each phase are well understood. Due to Waterfall’s commitment to documentation, there is a physical way to track, report on, and refer back to the project.
  • Suitable for Time-Constrained Development: Some applications are often well-suited to companies or teams that thrive under the pressure of a tight deadline. For stages that are simple, concrete, and well-understood by all on the team, everyone will understand and plan for the goal. Setting a deadline for the whole project and assigning unique marks and benchmarks for each step and even completion is relatively easy. It demonstrates that the waterfall technique is appropriate for projects with strict deadlines.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall’s major disadvantage is its failure to respond to transition. Waterfall’s ability to recover from issues is limited since it is based on a linear, contingent model.

Waterfall has the following drawbacks:

  • Slower transition acceptance: After a phase is finished, there is no way to change the result without restarting the process from the start. Allowing for improvement in this process is both time-consuming and expensive, making it impossible for teams to adhere to rigid schedules if things don’t go as expected.
  • Longer implementation times: A project must go through several stages before it can begin the execution process. As a consequence, a product’s development does not start until late in its life cycle.
  • Difficulty deciding specifications: Early in the process, the proposal is analyzed, which ensures partners and consumers must determine a preferred goal. However, deciding the desired result without looking at the project in practice — particularly too early in the design process — may be challenging.

When to Utilize Waterfall

The waterfall is ideally used in businesses where strict assignments and deadlines must be set and met, due to its highly organized existence. Manufacturing and building, for example, are two extremely rigid sectors that focus on dependent phases being completed on schedule.

Making changes to these plans can be costly and, in some cases, impractical. As a consequence, Waterfall is used to sustain a linear structure and ensure project continuity at all times.

Comparing Waterfall vs. Agile

The emphasis of Waterfall is on the project’s design phase, while Agile is less concerned about the design. Waterfall necessitates a longer period of development and testing before delivering new applications, while Agile reviews software as it is designed, with the developer doing the majority of the testing.

Most specifically, Waterfall is a technique that allows activities to be accomplished before going ahead with a project. Agile is viewed as a “movement” with a variety of related approaches that utilize agile principles.

Changes can be made in advance in project management in time and budget. The agile approach works best even though the scope isn’t defined ahead of time, while the waterfall method only works well where the scope is defined ahead of time and contract clauses restrict adjustments. Agile requires small to mid sized teams with teamwork, while waterfall requires big teams because it reduces team member coordination. The key distinction between Agile and Waterfall is that there is no strict structure in the Agile approach to software development.

While Waterfall is best for projects with a lot of dependencies between tasks, Agile is better for projects where the customer isn’t sure what they want needs a quick turnaround and wants to be involved in the design phase closely. When choosing which project management approach to use, consistency, and speed are crucial considerations to remember.

The Waterfall and Agile Hybrid

For certain scenarios, integrating the two project management methods will yield the best results. This technique, called “Agifall” or “WAgile,” incorporates the best elements of each approach to achieve the best management style.

The development phase of an Agifall project adopts a more Agile strategy, with more input delivered upfront and no need to wait for prior stages to be completed before moving on to the next. There is also considerable planning, analysis, and policy behind the process, much as there is in Waterfall, but Agile allows for greater stability and transition acceptance.

Waterfall Model — Application

Each software program is different and calls for an appropriate SDLC strategy based on internal and external factors. The use of the Waterfall model is most suitable in the following situations if:

  • The Specifications are well documented, simple, and reliable.
  • The product description is consistent.
  • Technology is well-understood.
  • There are no undefined specifications.
  • The product is assisted by a vast range of resources with the requisite skills.
  • The project is brief.

Waterfall Methodology Example

Here’s an illustration of the waterfall technique in action. Assume we’re using a waterfall model to design a software engineering project. The tasks for implementing a new application feature have been scoped out, and the phases of the SDLC process are described on the left, with task timelines and dependencies shown on the right. As the project continues, you’ll see how the projects and achievements shape a waterfall pattern. The next mission or milestone occurs when the previous one is completed. Deployment, for example, cannot take place until the Testing and Revision process has finished.


The waterfall model stresses the importance of signing off on each phase’s deliverables. Although most projects currently use Agile and Prototype models, the Waterfall model is still useful for smaller projects. The Waterfall model would provide the best effects if the specifications are simple and testable.

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