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Jignesh Solanki
Jignesh Solanki

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The Importance of Waterfall Methodology In The Software Development Life Cycle

Let’s imagine a development team has received a new application project they need to make from scratch. But the problem is, there is no documentation, planning, or laid out responsibilities of the team members. So they have started with what they seem to do the best, and the project appears to be going nowhere.

This is what happens when there is no defined methodology or model for the software development life cycle.

Every SDLC demands a model/methodology to give a sense of direction to the development process. These models define the structure, phases the development process would go through, its testing requirements, and lay down the responsibilities of the team members.

Amongst the popular development models and software testing methodologies, the waterfall model is one of the oldest methods for developing and testing an application. Let us know more about its design, the phases of development, model application, advantages, and disadvantages.

Waterfall Methodology: Definition

The first concept of the linear top-down methodology in software development was introduced in the late 1900s. The same concept was later labeled the “waterfall methodology,” and the term was coined by an American computer scientist, Winston Royce.

Also known as the linear sequential life cycle model, the waterfall methodology is considered one of the first, yet rigid form development and testing methodology. It follows a vertical sequential path, where the next phase of the development only begins once the previous phase is complete. Owing to its sequential nature, there can be no going back and forth once a phase is complete, making it an expensive model for applications that would often require modifications.

Phases of Waterfall Methodology

There are five predefined phases within the waterfall methodology: Requirements, Design, Implementation, Verification, and Maintenance.

Let us look at each phase in detail:

  • Requirements The first step of the waterfall methodology is to list out the requirements of the application. This phase emphasizes on defining the business objectives, planning out the course of action, documentation, and deciding on a testing strategy.
  • Design The second phase of the waterfall methodology studies the application’s requirements and makes a suitable design for its implementation. The system design specifies the hardware and software specifications, application architecture, features to add to the application, and interface design.
  • Implementation Once the documentation and design specifications are laid out, it is time to take action with implementation. The developers code every design-specific requirements and ensure that it meets the client’s business expectations.
  • Verification or Testing The verification, also considered the testing phase, is one of the most crucial phases in the development model. It ensures the application’s security, performance, responsiveness, availability, and if it can engage its users.
  • Maintainance Once the application is verified, tested, and deployed, it is up to the developers to ensure that they maintain the application’s performance to enhance its user experience.

When To Use Waterfall Methodology?

Every application has specific and definitive requirements that have to be fulfilled during the software development life cycle. Thus, while the waterfall methodology is one of the first and easy transitioning models, only a few particular conditions can make it an appropriate model for use.

Here are some instances when the waterfall methodology can be used:

  • Application requirements are defined, documented, and fixed.
  • Technological requirements are set and not dynamic.
  • There are fewer chances of iterations or modifications in the future.
  • Resources and expertise are available for developing the application.
  • The project is short and straightforward, compared to a complex application.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Irrespective of its effectiveness, every SDLC model has its advantages and disadvantages for an application.

Here are some of the advantages of the waterfall methodology:

  • It is a step-by-step laid-out strategy for developing and testing an application.
  • The methodology is best suited to plan and manage short project requirements.
  • The planning and documentation at an early stage of the development process make it inexpensive.
  • With no scope for iterations within the development phases, the model provides faster delivery, improving an application’s time-to-market.

Here are some of the disadvantages of the waterfall methodology:

  • The sequential phases within the model make iterations difficult and expensive.
  • The model is unsuited to accommodate unplanned changes in the application.
  • The testing and verification process is pushed down later in the development model.

Is the Waterfall Model Worth Using?

The waterfall model has always been the backbone of simple to modern application development processes. Despite its rigidity and other limitations, the model has always been a preferred choice of methodology for creating applications. Furthermore, some modern methodologies have evolved from it, including the agile model, iterative development model, and the V-model.

In case you are thinking about the waterfall model being worth a shot, then it definitely is, given that all the necessary requirements are met.

Want to know more about other software development and software testing methodologies?

Visit our site and learn more about the intricacies of a software development life cycle.

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