Is the Waterfall model still applicable today? - Ajackus

Is the Waterfall model still applicable today?

In this fast-paced digital era, there might be no space for the waterfall model as it is rigid and not so good for large projects, but the agile methodology is all about adapting changes and strategies as required. We feel, without being stuck to one development model, going hybrid is the most relevant strategy in today’s time.

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by Ajackus Team

4 mins read

In recent years, you might have come across discussions like agile is a better development methodology than the waterfall model, and developers are adopting it rapidly.
In this era of digitization, there is a new technology rising with every new dawn. With changing technologies, market trends are also changing swiftly, and businesses are concerned about providing the best to their customers at the earliest. A rigid software development cycle such as ‘the waterfall model’ might become a blocker here, as it doesn’t allow for easy amendments. Then the question arises here: “Is the waterfall model still relevant in today’s time?’

Let’s not injustice the model by just talking about its relevance rather than digging more deeply into it.

The Waterfall Model

Once the water starts flowing over the edge of the rock and starts falling towards the bottom of the mountain, it cannot go back upstairs. That’s how the waterfall model works. We move to the next phase as one phase of development is completed. However, we rarely go back to the previous one.

The waterfall model has its foundations in the construction and manufacturing businesses, where its severe rigidity might be credited. The model gives negligible opportunities for change because of the coordinated specific environments, as any modifications would bring about enormous costs (consider making changes to a fully constructed building).

The father of the waterfall model, Winston W. Royce, documented the model as a development strategy in 1970. The fact is that Royce didn’t call it the waterfall when he initially recognized and examined it as a strategy for programming development. T.E. Chime and T.A. Thayer’s 1976 review would have first named it the ‘waterfall model’. It was the first process model to be established. The software engineering sector extensively uses this model to assure project success.

The waterfall model divides the process into the following phases:

Requirement Analysis

The first phase of the waterfall model is the requirement analysis. During this phase, the waterfall model gathers and documents the end-users requirements for the system. This phase is critical since it serves as the foundation for the subsequent stages.

Software/System Design Phase

Here, the construction of the program will decide the design phase. The major goal of this is to build the blueprint of the software system to eliminate problems in subsequent phases. With this, it discovers solutions for any requirements that are present in the requirement analysis phase.

Phase of Implementation

The phase of implementation includes coding. Developers use the output from the previous phase to create a functional product. Usually, the code can be implemented in small parts, which are integrated at the end of this phase or the start of the next.

Integration/Testing Phase

After testing of each unit, you can integrate output units from the implementation phase in this phase. Then the developers test and verse the software to ensure the correctness of the product. During this phase, they perform several forms of testing and examine every aspect of the program.

If developers have not adequately checked the program and any defects remain in it, the product delivery fails. Hence, the testing/verification is vital.

The Phase of Maintenance

This is the waterfall’s last stage. When the system is developed and users begin using it, the problems that arise must be addressed regularly. Maintenance is the process of caring for and maintaining completed software throughout time. In the software development life cycle, there are three forms of maintenance.

  • Corrective maintenance
  • Adaptive maintenance
  • Perfect maintenance

All of these phases are linked together so that the second phase begins when a predefined set of goals for the previous phase are met and recognized as completed.

Advantages of the Waterfall Model

The benefits of developing the waterfall model are that it allows for departmentalization and control. For each stage of program development, the developer can set a program within a time frame. Then one by one, the product develop Here are some of its advantages:

  • It is easily understandable and easily managed.
  • It focuses on one step at a time, hence it works well for small projects with clearly understood requirements.
  • With the clearly defined steps, it is easy to organize tasks.
  • The developer documents the complete software development cycle, hence we can examine whenever we need further clarification.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Model

  • It does not allow much reflection or modification. It is difficult to go back and place what is left as the product reaches the testing phase.
  • The fixed requirements provide less room for creativity.
  • The cost, risk, and uncertainty are high.
  • Misinterpreted requirements, and miscommunication between product owners and developers might cause a project failure.
  • It is not suitable for large projects with complex requirements.
  • You cannot accommodate the change in requirements at any stage.
  • It is difficult to identify the challenges and risks in the earlier stages.
  • You can use the time for actual processes instead of investing it in the documentation.


The waterfall method is still useful for certain projects that have a limited time duration or budget. Furthermore, the technique narrows the emphasis to provide a fuller grasp of all software outputs from the start, establishing expectations. The stage gates between each step also guarantee that each phase is finished before going on to the next, and there is limited client involvement, which might create delays during development.

Regardless of how your team decides to deliver software, addressing your projects with attention and preparation is a critical skill for every business to possess. The market is changing drastically, and in the coming times, this transformation might gain more momentum. There may be no space for the waterfall model as it is rigid and not so good for large projects, but the agile methodology is all about adapting changes and strategies as required. We feel that one of the most relevant things in today’s time is going hybrid. This does not limit you to any one development model.

Willing to compare the waterfall model with the agile methodology? Click here to read an interesting blog on agile methodology.
Confused about when to use agile and waterfall? Click here for the solution.


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