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What Is the Waterfall Method of Software Development?

by Josh Biggs in Software on 4th December 2019

The Waterfall method is a sequential design methodology for software development and is the earliest Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) approach employed for software development. It illustrates the development process in a sequential, linear flow and each phase begins only after the previous phase has been completed. In this software development approach, the phases do not overlap. Similar to the direction that water flows in a waterfall, each phase of development has its own distinct goals and cannot be revisited after it has been completed. The outcome of one phase typically acts as the input for the next phase in the sequence.

When Is the Waterfall Model Used?

The Waterfall Model is best used in cases where the project’s requirements are stable and do not change frequently. It can be used for small software development projects because of the degree of control required to carry it out. Larger projects require greater resources, more flexibility, and far more planning. Documentation in this methodology is fairly in-depth and comprehensive, leaving little room for ambiguity or errors.

What Are the Different Stages Involved in this Model?

The Waterfall method consists of 8 individual phases: Requirements, Analysis, System Design, Implementation, Integration & Testing, Deployment, and Maintenance. Let’s dig a little deeper to gain a better understanding of the entire SDLC.


During the initial phase, the potential deadlines, guidelines, and requirements of the software development project are analyzed and defined. The purpose and function of the software is detailed in a requirements document, where what the application is supposed to do is outlined, not how it will be done.


The system specifications are then analyzed in order to generate the business logic that will guide the production and determine the best models to be used in the software application’s development. This is also the phase where the technical and financial resources of the custom software development company are scrutinized for feasibility.

System Design

This stage specifies the programming languages, hardware, data sources, architecture and other technical design requirements needed for the successful implementation of the project. A design specification document will be generated to outline how exactly the business logic isolated in the previous analysis stage will be implemented from a technical standpoint.


At this stage, the source code is developed using the business logic, service integrations, requirements, and models designated in the previous stages. The UI and UX designs are also implemented using the previously outlined tools and programming languages. The system is broken down into smaller components, or units, before being implemented.

Integration & Testing

Once coding is completed, the system is integrated with other modules that possess different functionalities and the entire system is then tested. System, unit, quality assurance, and beta tests are carried out by the custom software development company at this stage to identify and report issues within the application that need to be resolved. This may result in the need to repeat further coding for debugging purposes.


The software application is now ready for deployment into a live environment as it is now deemed fully functional by the custom software development company.


Subsequent support and maintenance are required to keep the software up-to-date and properly functioning. Adaptive, perfective, and corrective maintenance needs to be carried out to enhance and improve the final product. This could include releasing newer versions, releasing patch updates, or providing bug fixes.

The Waterfall model is useful for custom software development projects. This is because it is not flexible when it comes to accommodating changes in requirements or specifications. The Waterfall method consists of well-defined and concrete stages that all members of the development team can easily understand. It is also easy to maintain as each phase is precise and rigid and only one phase is worked on at a time. The fact that is easy to manage stems from the fact that each phase has clear deliverables and an intensive review process. From its requirements assessment to final deployment and maintenance, it is a complete SDLC approach and has merit if a client is looking to build software that has a fixed cost, size, timeline and design.

Categories: Software