Every project can be divided into two key phases: planning and execution. However, during these two phases, the project management methodology employed plays a key role in the final outcome.
The waterfall model is one of the options that companies have to use. Compared to other methodologies (like the Scrum principles) this model could be seen as a bit dated. However, like all things in the world it has advantages and disadvantages.
In this article, Appvizer examines the principles and the advantages of the waterfall model for your company!
What is the waterfall model?
The waterfall model was the first process model to be introduced. It also refers to a sequential product life cycle model. It is very simple to understand and use. In a waterfall approach, each phase must be completed completely before the next phase can begin.
This type of project management is basically used for a small project or one with certain requirements. At the end of each phase, a review takes place to determine if the project is on the right track or needs to be corrected.
In this model, product testing begins only after development is complete. In the waterfall approach, the phases do not overlap.
The advantages of the waterfall model
The waterfall model shows several powerful and unique advantages that you might find interesting for your projects.
1 - Structuring the work
The waterfall model focuses on a precise and defined set of phases, resulting in a clear work structure. Teams must complete an entire phase before moving on to the next one. So, if there are obstacles to completion, they are immediately visible.
2 - Simplifying follow-up
This method allows you to visualise the progression of the project in a clear and intuitive way. This also means that no certification or specific training is required at the project management level.
3 - Clarifying objectives
The clear determination of goals to be achieved from the beginning is one of the characteristics of the waterfall model. This provides clarity to teams and allows them to work in a focused manner, with the end goal in mind at all times.
4 - Improving communication and traceability
The Waterfall approach is, by definition, methodical. This means that it is based on standardised processes that promote efficient and accurate communication of information. For the proper development of each project phase, the transfer of information must be done in a precise and documented manner.
Disadvantages of the waterfall model
Despite the benefits of this process, this method has been questioned due to aspects that could cause compliance issues such as:
- Difficulty in making changes. The methodology, in its traditional form, almost never leaves room for unexpected changes or revisions. A sudden change in project parameters could render much of the work you have done up to that point useless, resulting in a delayed deadline.
- Customer or End User Exclusion. Being an internal process, the Waterfall methodology has little focus on the end-user or customer involved in a project. Customers often want to be involved during a project, adding opinions and clarifying their needs and expectations.
- Testing phase at the end of the project. Leaving the testing phase for last is risky. The project has probably taken a long time to complete, so large revisions could cause significant delays.
The phases of the waterfall model
The waterfall model is structured in several stages.
We will try to understand the concept of the waterfall process with the example of a banking application to illustrate the topic.
Requirements gathering and analysis
In this phase, the requirements are collected by business analysts and are analysed by the team. The requirements are documented during this phase and clarifications can be requested.
Business analysts will document the requirements based on their discussion with the client.
In our case, after careful analysis, it was discovered that the project team needed answers to the following questions:
- Will the new banking application be used in more than one country?
- Do we need to support multiple languages?
- How many users are expected to use the application? etc.
It is decided that the banking application must have backup and failover capabilities so that the system is accessible at all times.
The architect creates the architecture diagrams and high/low-level design documents.
The development team works on coding the design, taking the design models (the design documents) as a reference and ensuring that their solution follows the design finalised by the architect.
Since this is a banking application and security is a high priority in its requirements, the development team implements several security controls and audit logging features in the application.
Some developers also perform static code analysis.
The testing team tries the application and identifies any defects.
These defects are corrected by the developers and the testing team checks the fixes again to make sure that the issues they reported have been corrected.
They also run regression tests of the application to see if any new defects have been introduced.
Testers with banking knowledge are also hired for the project so that they can test the application that will operate in the banking environment.
Security testing teams are called in to test the security of the banking application.
The team builds and installs the application on the servers that have been procured for the banking application.
Some of the high-level activities include installing the operating system on the servers, installing security patches, hardening the servers, installing the web and application servers, installing the database, etc.
They also coordinate with the network and IT administrative teams etc. to finally get the application up and running on the production servers.
During the maintenance phase, the team makes sure that the application runs on the servers smoothly and without any downtime.
Problems that are reported after commissioning are resolved by the development team and tested by the testing team.
Ready to improve your projects?
There are also different waterfall methods, however, it is up to you to discover what will work the best for your company and processes. The waterfall model can be applied in different fields like software development or digital marketing for a website.
Now that you know in detail how waterfall works, you can compare it to other methodologies and determine which one may be more useful for managing your business and projects. When choosing between Waterfall and agile or iterative, analyse each model’s advantages and select the one that will fit your needs.
Are you already using the waterfall model in your daily working life? If so, share with us your feedback!