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Waterfall Methodology: Working, Advantages & Disadvantages

  • Bhumika Dutta
  • Dec 22, 2021
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Waterfall Methodology and Its Working


The Waterfall technique, also known as the Waterfall model, is a sequential development process that falls like a waterfall through all phases of a project (for example, analysis, design, programming, and testing), with each phase fully completed before the next begins.


The Waterfall process is supposed to follow the proverb "measure twice, cut once." The Waterfall method's success is determined by the amount and quality of work done on the front end, which includes documenting everything in advance, including the user interface, user stories, and all feature variations and outcomes. 


Because the majority of the research is done ahead of time, estimations of the time required for each requirement are more accurate, and the release date can be more predictable. If parameters change along the way, it's more difficult to shift direction with a Waterfall project than it is with the Agile technique.


The Waterfall Model's consecutive phases are as follows:


  • Requirement gathering and analysis


The Waterfall approach is based on the assumption that all project requirements can be acquired and understood in advance. The project manager makes every effort to fully comprehend the project sponsor's expectations. 


Written requirements are used to explain each stage of the project, including expenses, assumptions, risks, dependencies, success metrics, and completion timeframes, and are usually contained in a single document.


  • System Design 


Software developers use scenarios, layouts, and data models to create a technical solution to the difficulties outlined in the product requirements. 


First, a higher-level or logical design is established, which specifies the project's goal and scope, as well as the overall traffic flow of each component and the integration points. After that, it's turned into a physical design with the help of certain hardware and software technologies.


  • Implementation 


Following the completion of the design, technical execution begins. Because arduous research and design have already been completed, this may be the fastest phase of the Waterfall process. 


This phase involves programmers writing applications based on project needs and specifications, as well as some testing and implementation. If major changes are required during this stage, it may be necessary to return to the design phase.


  • Integration and Testing and Deployment of system


Testing is required before a product can be distributed to clients to guarantee that it is free of mistakes and that all of the requirements have been met, ensuring a positive user experience with the program. 


To develop their test cases, the testing team will leverage the product manager's design documents, personas, and use case scenarios.


The product is deployed in the customer environment or released into the market when the functional and non-functional testing is completed.


  • Maintenance


The maintenance phase begins after the software has been distributed to the market or consumers. As bugs are discovered and user requests for changes are received, a team will be formed to handle updates and the delivery of new versions of the software. Several difficulties arise in the client environment that require maintenance. 


Patches are published to address these vulnerabilities. To improve the product, newer versions have been produced. Maintenance is carried out to bring about these modifications in the customer's environment.


(Must check: Types Of Agile Methodologies)



Advantages of the Waterfall methodology:


The Waterfall technique is a well-defined, uncomplicated project management methodology with a track record. Because the requirements are written out from the start, each contributor knows exactly what needs to be done when and can plan their time effectively for the course of the project. 


Waterfall Methodology also has the following advantages:


  • This model is straightforward to comprehend and apply.

  • Because of the model's rigidity, it's simple to manage — each step has clear deliverables and a review mechanism.

  • Phases are processed and completed one at a time in this methodology. Phases do not cross across.

  • For smaller projects with well-defined and well-understood needs, the waterfall model works well.



Disadvantages of the Waterfall methodology:


Waterfall's greatest flaw is its inability to adapt to change. Waterfall's ability to recover from problems is limited because it is based on a linear, dependent paradigm.


Waterfall also has the following drawbacks:


  • It's quite tough to go back and modify something that wasn't well-thought-out in the concept stage once an application is in the testing stage.

  • Until the end of the life cycle, no working software is developed.

  • There are a lot of risks and uncertainty.

  • For sophisticated and object-oriented projects, this is not a good model.

  • For long-term projects, this paradigm is inadequate.

  • Not appropriate for projects with a moderate to high risk of change in requirements.



Waterfall vs. Agile: What's the Difference?


The focus of Waterfall is on the project's design phase, whereas Agile is less concerned with design. Waterfall necessitates a longer period of development and testing before providing new software, whereas Agile tests software as it is developed, with the developer performing the majority of the testing.


Most importantly, Waterfall is a methodology that requires tasks to be accomplished before moving forward with a project. Agile is viewed as a "movement" with a plethora of derivative approaches that exploit agile's values.


Although Waterfall is best for projects with a lot of dependencies between tasks, Agile is better for projects when the client isn't sure what they want, needs a quick turnaround, and wants to be involved in the design process. When determining which project management strategy to use, quality and speed are crucial factors to consider.


 (Read More about Agile Software Development: What is Agile Software Development?)



Product manager’s role in the Waterfall methodology:


The product manager's duty in the Waterfall process is to define requirements and ask all essential questions upfront. Because the team conducts all of the research and design work in the early stages, the needs must be as detailed as possible. The requirements also drive the specific estimates that will be used to create the project plan.


Because it is based on the "measure twice, cut once" philosophy, the Waterfall methodology requires a lot of documentation. The job of the product manager is significantly heavier at the start of the project than it is during the actual release. The goal is to ask all essential questions ahead of time to reduce modification throughout the development process, which is costly.



Bottom Line: When Should You Use a Waterfall?


The waterfall is best employed in businesses where strict tasks and deadlines must be defined and met, due to its highly structured nature. Manufacturing and construction, for example, are two extremely inflexible industries that rely on dependent stages being completed on schedule.


Making changes to these plans can be costly and, in some cases, impossible. As a result, Waterfall is used to sustain a sequential process and ensure project stability at all stages.

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