What Is the Waterfall Software Development Methodology?

What is the Waterfall Methodology

In the battle of “software methodologies”, the modern “nice belle” (aka Agile development approach), is seen as the preferred method versus the old “evil witch” waterfall approach! That is the typical stereotype among Agile fans. And frankly, that was also what I thought at the beginning.

Humans usually do not develop methods intending for them to be bad, but, instead, to be better than the previous methods, or to suit the circumstances of a specific period of time. Based on that, the venerable waterfall methodology was not developed by the “devil”, but rather as a means to get rid of chaos and disorganization that occurred in software development that did not rely on a specific methodology.

The waterfall software approach was very much a great invention that suited construction projects and also many early development software projects. In fact, we are indebted to the waterfall method for most early software applications. Waterfall has its own advantages that Agile lacks. With that in mind, let‘s take a look at what the waterfall software development methodology is and how it differs from other software approaches, such as Agile and DevOps.

Read: What is the Agile Development Methodology?

What Is the Waterfall Methodology?

The Waterfall methodology is well-known as the most strict and straightforward approach for project management. In the past, that was not considered a fault. On the contrary, it was considered the best positive aspect of Waterfall. However, in most modern software projects, what is required is flexibility, not rigidity.

Waterfall is used to map out sequential, rigorous phases for a project. The development team can not start working on the next development phase without completely finishing the previous one. Despite it being the most traditional approach, it can be useful from time to time for some projects – particularly when the project is a long-term one and if it needs the team to work linearly towards a naturally determined goal, or when there is no need for changes.

The Waterfall model has these features in contrast with Agile:

  • Each stage depends on the previous stage’s deliverables.
  • Operates in a “downwards” direction.
  • It is hard and expensive to change the design after mapping it.
  • Gantt charts are the favorite tool to allow map subtasks.

What are the Stages of the Waterfall Methodology?

Like any other software project management approach, there are stages of work. Waterfall, by design, must follow a strict, linear order. Winston W. Royce’s original Waterfall has five to seven phases, as follows:

  • Requirements: Analysing and collecting all the project requirements and documents in order to plan the next stages without the need for more correspondence later.
  • System design: Designing and planning the project’s workflow. which is branched into logical designs for theorizing and physical designs for applying.
  • Implementation: Putting the workflow into actual practice. The team starts working and producing the code.
  • Testing or Verification: Testing the project’s different items to ensure that quality and workability are like the expectations and requirements in the first determination of the first phase.
  • Deployment: Launching the product or the service.
  • Operations and Maintenance: Performing necessary upkeep and support while the customer is using the product regularly and reporting bugs and errors.

Read: Best Project Management Tools for Software Developers

What Are the Pros and Cons of the Waterfall Methodology?

There are some benefits of using Waterfall software methodology that make development teams select it, including:

  • Having simple and clear planning and implementation stages; the customer agrees on the project requirements during the first stage.
  • The ability to accurately predict the project costs and estimate resources, deadlines, and work progress or timelines. as the project is laid out on a schedule.
  • Customers can not constantly disturb the team by editing or adding new requirements to the project. This also prevents delaying production.
  • Easy to replicate and copy similar projects for the future.

In relation to downsides, Waterfall has some obstacles if it is applied for modern microservices development, for instance. These disadvantages include:

  • It can be difficult to collect and predict every need of the customer in the first iteration of the product.
  • It is common for customers to change their minds and be dissatisfied at the testing stage.
  • It is very expensive to edit or add any new requirements, even if the market has changed. This can decrease the value of the final product.
  • Lack of flexibility for evolving the product with new unexpected events.
  • Hard to reverse progress or change gears for any reason at any stage; you may need to start from scratch again.
  • Low efficiency for knowledge-based projects, which include most modern software development projects.

Read: What is Extreme Programming?

What Types of Software Projects are Suitable for Waterfall?

Below, we will discuss what sort of software development projects are perfect for the Waterfall development methodology.

  • Most mission-critical projects, such as security software, payment gateways, banking applications, stock trading, examination portals, medical applications, manufacturing plants, and flight controls.
  • Any product that has little tolerance for bugs and failure, since Agile accepts a relatively high rate of bugs in order to be flexible; Waterfall strengthens the product code in the design stage.
  • Large systems, such as energy management systems, rail traffic control systems, and electrical utilities; these types of projects have a deployment of both big infrastructures of software and hardware and involve a lot of database design.

Conclusion of Waterfall Software Development Methodology

Many developers are not a fan of the Waterfall methodology, but, instead, prefer to combine new and old whenever methodologies whenever possible. The most important thing to remember is not to misunderstand the benefits of the Waterfall approach, despite its negative connotations to most modern developers.

Read more project management and software development methodology tutorials and reviews.

Zaher Talab
As a technology writer at TechnologyAdvice, Zaher B. Talab tries to help readers learn more about cloud computing and digital emerging technologies, and inform them in detail about how to put these technologies in use, as a technology, and as a business.

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