Everything You Need To Know About Waterfall Project Method

Project Management

Everything You Need To Know About Waterfall Project Method

Project management procedures require a set of rules, skills, and tools to manage a project better. There are different methodologies for project management, and one such process is the Waterfall Model.

The use of the waterfall model for software development dates back to the 1970s.

The waterfall model includes the logical advancement of steps with the waterfall project method that other methodologies still use as a base.

The Waterfall model is replaced by other project management methodologies in the present day. The best approach is to determine which type of project requires which method for better project management trends.

Need for Project Management Methodologies (Waterfall Model)

Project Management methodologies are important as without a proper way or process, it isn’t easy to manage a project and get projects planned.

When a client wants a product in a certain way, they check up on methodologies like the Waterfall model or iterative model used to create the product by a company.

The waterfall and other project management methodologies are the criteria for any project fulfillment. They are the standards for making a clear work structure for the organization of projects.

Project management methodologies are important due to the following reasons:

  • Project Management Methodology helps in knowing how long a certain project will take. You can organize your time accordingly with Gantt charts. The waterfall model’s time is long, but the results are promising.
  • Methodologies for project management help determine the tools and budget necessary for completing a project. The waterfall model is costly, and before adopting any process for project management, one must research properly.
  • Risk management and minimization are possible by using the right methodology. In the waterfall model, returning to the previous stage of work is not possible. For corrections, the project needs amendment right from the beginning.
  • Methodologies help in the development of the skills of the whole team members. The waterfall model adopts linear planning to categorize tasks and remove problems.

What is a Waterfall Model?

As per the model’s name, the waterfall model is a model for project management in which the stages flow down linearly like that in a waterfall.

The waterfall model has a chain of processes in which the second process begins only after the completion of the first one.

The stages are not overlapping in the waterfall project method, and the output of one stage is the input of another stage.

Waterfall project management was initially famous and widely used in the software development cycle.

Stages of Waterfall Project Method

Stages of Waterfall Project Method

The waterfall project model’s resources are gathered at the initial phase, and communication is not much between the team members.

All the members work independently in the waterfall model unless there are serious problems to discuss. For a software development process, the stages of the Waterfall Project method are:

1. Requirement Phase

The initial phase begins by collecting data, information, and resources to fulfill the project’s requirements.

Before that, it is important to know the exact requirements for development processes. The client or sponsor can hand over the list of expectations that work as guidelines to detect and find resources.

The overall planning of the project is possible in this phase. In the requirement phase of the Waterfall project method, the people working on the project should also remain fixed.

For a proper requirement document, some reminders for the requirement phase include:

  • The proper mentioning of each stage of the process is necessary as a requirement.
  • The people are working on each stage with roles and responsibilities.
  • While adopting the waterfall project method, one should take care of dependencies like cost, time, and scope with logic, resources, and preferential and external dependencies.
  • Accumulation of resources is necessary to determine the most important and least important resources.
  • Time report with an approximation of how long each phase takes. 

2. Designing Phase

The designing phase and the project’s overall design are necessary to move forward. This phase includes deciding what hardware to use with coding language and which side to use.

The designing phase is further divided into:

  • The high-level designing phase includes deciding how the software works with the design framework and possible information accession. It is the logical skeleton of the project.
  • The low-level designing phase includes working on project specifications, and the logical design becomes a physical design. 

For a waterfall model, documentation of the designing phase is equally necessary to look back at the design after reaching other phases.

3. Implementation

The implementation phase urges members to implement what was planned in the previous stages. For the implementation of methods, there is a need for implementation planning. The team starts building products in this phase.

The system design is used to build smaller units. Each small unit building requires its own time and effort.

The smaller units are arranged for integration in the next phase of the waterfall model. Every unit is tested and made ready for bigger amalgamation.

If there is a need to change the design, it is impossible to do so in this phase. Implementers have to return to the designing phase to make necessary corrections and return to the implementation phase.

4. Testing and Verification

Testing is a very important phase as it includes error detection and checking the requirement fulfillment. The units developed in the previous stage are integrated into this phase.

The development gives the product for testing to the Quality Assurance team, where bugs are detected and fixed.

The Quality Assurance team has to look into the use cases design documentations for better output generation.

5. Deployment and Maintenance

After conducting different types of testing, like functional and nonfunctional, the deployment phase begins.

Deployment is when the product or software is handed over to the client or set free in the market for use by customers and end-users.

Patches are released to fix the problems while clients use the product. Once the deployment phase is over, maintenance and updating with new version releases with better features is necessary to fulfill customer needs.

Situations to Use Waterfall Model

The aim of adopting different methodologies in project management is to get better results. The need for different processes is not the same for all kinds of projects.

So the choice of the correct methodology is mandatory for better project management. Some of the situations that match up for using the waterfall project method for your project are:

Product is Properly Defined

If the project scenario from start to end is vivid and you are sure of the result, it is better to use the Waterfall project method for your project.

If you are unsure what the outcome is like and may want changes in between, you can opt for other methods.

Clear Requirements 

The resources necessary for a project for the Waterfall method need totality, i.e., if the requirements for a project are unclear, it is not favorable to use the waterfall project method for your project.

No Change of Scope

If you wish to change the scope when working on a project, then the Waterfall methodology is not the right choice.

For any changes in a waterfall development process, you have to go back to the beginning stage and repeat the entire process.  

Enough Time and Finances

When you have enough budget to create a project and no limitation on time, then the waterfall project method applies to such projects. In lack of time and finances, the requirement and design phases remain incomplete.

Examples of Waterfall Project Model

The waterfall project model is widely replaced by other methods like agile and iterative models, but some areas still use the waterfall model.

Some of the areas where waterfall processes are used are:

  • The waterfall model is used in systems where human life is affected; keeping aside the development of applications, some systems whose failure may lead to death make use of the waterfall model.
  • Certain projects aim to save human life rather than generate profit. Such projects use a waterfall model.
  • The Development of the Department Of Defense (DOD) includes projects related to defense and military that are crucial and sensitive for which the waterfall project method is used.
  • The departments show affinity to waterfall methodologies as the prerequisite of their project is properly defined, and the maintenance of strict standards from the government is necessary.
  • Agile and iterative models replace the waterfall model, but some projects concerning banking, healthcare, space shuttles, and nuclear projects adopted the waterfall model. 

Strengths of Using the Waterfall Method

Each step of the waterfall project model needs equal effort and attention. The waterfall model has its advantages for better control and management of the project.

Some advantages of using the waterfall project model are:

  • The waterfall method is not complex and easily understandable.
  • Each phase is equally important and completed one at a time.
  • The starting of the project and ending are pre-defined, and the stages are clear.
  • The initial stages include well-defined reports that make the whole process systematic.
  • It is easy for developers to read the requirements and other reports and implement the codes for the product.
  • As the scopes are pre-defined, end-users do not ask for more updates.
  • When errors are detected in the requirement and planning phase, the project does not move forward to the implementation phase without finding a solution to the previous problem.
  • Management is easy as the model is rigid; flexibility is impossible as each process has its own derivable.

Weaknesses of Using the Waterfall Model

The waterfall method is rigid, and revision with improvement is not possible when you use this model.

If the requirements are not well documented and some mistakes occur, the team members must go back to where they started. Some weaknesses of using the waterfall project model are:

  • The waterfall process is risky as results, or final output is present only at the last stages of the methodology.
  • It is uncertain as the requirements considered complete might not be fulfilling, and it’s not sure when proper results will appear.
  • It is not usable for long projects that require revisions and planning at each stage.
  • Progress measurement at each phase is impossible as the output is generated at the last stage.
  • There is no option to correct the requirements, and no room for changes is open.
  • When you adjust scopes in the middle of the process, there are chances for the project to never complete.
  • There is no inclusion of clients in the initial stages.
  • Time management is a problem as when one stage is incomplete or completed late, and then other stages are affected.
  • The integrations of units are conducted at last, which may create confusion and mishaps.

Waterfall Project Method Vs. Agile Model

The agile model and the waterfall model are different in their approaches. The agile model has continuous iteration, while the waterfall project model follows a linear sequence.

The agile model is known for its flexibility, while the waterfall project model is considered rigid.

The agile methodology follows the incremental approach, but the sequential waterfall follows a sequential method.

In the waterfall model, it is not possible to change the project’s scope in between, but the agile method allows the freedom to change the scope.


The main concern for using a method is meeting the project objectives. The project scheduling and project lifecycle are essential to the managing team. A waterfall model includes many phases and is necessary for different project portfolios.

The waterfall project management methodology requires projects planned vividly. You can seek help from different project management tools for managing your project.