Waterfall Methodology

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Waterfall Methodology

What is the Waterfall methodology? 

The waterfall methodology, also known as the Waterfall model is a project management technique that focuses on a linear progression from inception to the end of a project. It is majorly used in engineering and projects management putting emphasis on careful planning, detailed documentation, and consecutive execution of the project. And when applied in software development, the model is an iterative and flexible approach where the progress/development process of a project flows through the stages like a waterfall. The phases of the waterfall methodology are conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, implementation, and maintenance.

The amount and quality of the work done on the front end, documenting everything in advance, including the user interface, user stories, and all the features’ variations and outcomes affect the success of the Waterfall method on the front end. This method helps project managers or software development engineers to get estimate the time needed for each phase/requirement more accurately and provide a more predictable release date. The waterfall method started in the construction industry and was later picked by project management companies to streamline the progress of the processes.

The Waterfall methodology is been regularly used in the construction, IT, and software development industry for a long time. But majorly, the waterfall software development life cycle, or waterfall SDLC, is widely used to manage software engineering projects as it gives proper structure to the entire operation.

waterfall Methodology
Source: K&C 

What are the steps in the Waterfall methodology?

The Waterfall methodology is been divided into seven stages, and each stage is completely dependent on the preceding ones. This process can be planned using a Gantt chart, which is a linear bar chart that shows the start and end of each task with dates and other details. Before starting up with a new task/step, the previous step must be completed, reviewed, and approved to move down the funnel. 

Waterfall methodology gives tight structure to projects to ensure the most efficiency and the following are seven stages of Waterfall methodology. 


The six stages of Waterfall include:

1. Conception: 

Under this stage, we evaluate and finalise the baseline idea and assess the project, its cost analysis, and its benefits. Here, the specifications and details of the final product are studied and marked and put together for initiation. 

2. Requirement gathering and analysis: 

This step is about chalking out and conducting a feasibility analysis for the project and documented in the requirement specification document.

3. Design/System Design: 

Design specifications are created, studied, and evaluated in an effort to understand what the final product should look like, along with the actions needed to get there.

4. Initiation/Implementation/ Coding: 

After finalizing the idea, the organization hires a project team and firms up the objectives, scope, purpose, and deliverables around the project with practical deadlines. With the help of system design, the units are developed and implemented for testing.

5. Testing, Integration and Deployment: 

After the coding is completed and testing the small units, testing is performed to ensure that there are no errors before the software is delivered to the customer. And before it goes for distribution, developers can find out and fix the issues. Once the testing is done the product becomes ready to deploy in the customer environment or released into the market.

6. Maintenance: 

Under this step, developers make changes to the system or an individual component to alter attributes or improve performance on the basis of customer feedback. 

What is the difference between Waterfall and Agile Methodology?

Waterfall Methodology

Agile Methodology

  • The waterfall method consists of sequential phases and the strucstructuretured is being followed as per the documentation. 
  • Agile is a continuous cycle and very adaptive methodology. 
  • The Waterfall method requires much longer periods to build and test new software components than Agile as all the phases are followed one after another in a meticulous way.
  • While in agile methodology the projects get completed at a faster pace due to constant feedback, collaboration, communication, and iteration. 
  • Software is tested and moderated in the testing phase which increases the time of compilation. As each stage is dependent on the completion of tasks from the previous phase.
  • One of the strengths of Agile is that the software can be constantly tested and developed during the project to avoid crash downs in the integration and deployment phase.
  • The Waterfall method is good for projects that have a variety of dependencies between tasks and actions. 
  • Agile is better to use for projects in which the client is not sure about the desired result or is dependent on future factors and is open to possibilities and changes.
  • The responsibilities in WM are fixed and are not interchangeable, especially at the managerial level. 
  • The hierarchy and responsibilities are interchangeable and agile among the operation team. 
  • Members are more focused on their individual responsibilities during the project and WM is more suitable for projects that are straightforward. 
  • The team is focused on the final outcome of the project rather than focusing on individuals' responsibilities. This method is useful for high-risk short projects as they need close attention. 


Agile VS Waterfall methodology for Software Development. 

Source: K&C

What are the Advantages of Waterfall Methodology? 

  1. Waterfall methodology is one of the simplest methods to understand and implement for project management of software development. 
  2. Using this method project team can departmentalise and control the project, set a working schedule with details, and set deadlines for each stage. 
  3. It's easier to control and manage the project due to the rigidity of the model, as the team is well aware of each phase and the expectations. 
  4. The outlines for both the entry and the exit of the project are well defined, so it is easier to guarantee good quality and accuracy.
  5. The phases are processed and completed one at a time, and they do not overlap with other. 

What are the Disadvantages of the waterfall Methodology?

  1. It is very difficult to go back and change something that was not well designed in the concept stage once the application reaches to the testing stage.  
  2. The design of the Waterfall method is not adaptive, which at times turns out to be time-consuming and costly.
  3. Waterfall method does not emphasize client feedback, constant communication, and input midway through the development process.
  4. It is not suitable for projects where requirements are at a moderate to high risk of changing and needs agility.
  5. A working product is only available at the end of the development process, unlike the agile method.
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