A Beginner’s Guide to Waterfall Methodology | Launchberg

A waterfall methodology (WFM) is a systematic way to create a product following a logical path. The waterfall is a graphical representation of the process of creating a product. In the beginning, each step in the waterfall is a deliverable. Each step has a definable start and end point, and test results are available at the start and end points. This allows the team to make an informed decision on if the current deliverable is ready to move to the next step. This is the basic understanding of WFM.

Waterfall methodology is not the same thing as Agile methodology, and the Agile Community should not be confused with Waterfall community. This blog post is not intended to be an Agile primer, but a detailed introduction of the Waterfall Methodology to understand how to apply it to Agile projects, including some general tips and tricks.

Waterfall methodology is an agile software development process that was developed to work for large teams. It’s a process that is used to estimate large projects that have uncertain outcomes, such as a new product launch or a new line of business.

Your team’s ability to create and execute projects on time and on budget hinges on choosing the appropriate project management technique. There are many methods to choose from, each with its own set of benefits and disadvantages.

Waterfall project management is the conventional method. Everything is planned out before the start of the project, so it’s an organized and linear plan. Only once you’ve completed the current phase of development can you go on to the next. You won’t be able to go back to earlier levels after you’ve progressed.

But, exactly, what is the waterfall methodology? What’s more, how does it compare to other approaches?

You may learn more about the most common methods accessible by reading the sections below. You’ll also learn how to choose the best strategy for your project. You may need to utilize one of the finest project management software solutions to handle your tasks even more efficiently.

What Is Waterfall Project Management and How Does It Work?

A waterfall model is a project management technique that emphasizes thorough planning and documentation in a linear and sequential manner. At the start of a waterfall project, you must identify all of the client’s needs. Then you create a step-by-step strategy to meet those criteria.

A project is split into different waterfall methodology stages using this technique. Before moving on to the next step, you must finish the previous one. The technique is less flexible than other project management methods such as the agile approach since it originated in the construction and manufacturing sectors.

The waterfall approach is unable to accept change after the project has begun due to its inflexible structure. You can’t take another step back. As a result, before going ahead, you must ensure that each step is almost flawless. This allows you to avoid expensive mistakes in the future.

This technique also requires documentation. All needs must be recorded and communicated with the whole team, helping the development process go much more smoothly. It also guarantees that everyone on the team is on the same page.

Waterfall Project Management’s Different Phases

There are about five to seven stages in the waterfall technique. Each step is reliant on the one before it. As previously stated, you may only go on to the following step once the previous one has been finished. You can’t go back and repeat the previous steps. If you wish to redo them, you’ll have to start from scratch.

The stages of waterfall project management are as follows:


Everything begins with a concept. You conduct a baseline evaluation of your project during the first phase. This covers both the project’s expenses and benefits.


You may recruit your project team once you’ve looked through your client’s proposals. The scope, objective, and deliverables may all be defined by the project manager.

Gathering requirements

This is, without a doubt, the most important step of the waterfall approach. Gathering all requirements at the start of the project allows you to plan each step without having to communicate with customers until the project is completed.

Designing a system

You may go on to the design step after collecting the requirements. During this time, no coding is done. The group discusses specific needs such as programming language and hardware.


After the logical and physical design stages, coding takes place. You may start building your product at this stage. You have the option of integrating them at the conclusion of this phase or at the start of the next. A free project management application may help you keep track of all of your responsibilities.


You may begin product testing once the coding step is completed. During this phase, your testers will look for any issues they can. If they run into severe problems, you may have to start from the beginning to resolve them.


You may send the deliverables to the customer after you’ve successfully completed the product. The customer may then inspect the product to ensure that it satisfies all of their needs.


After the product has been launched, problems may emerge. To improve its performance, you’ll need to apply patches and upgrades. You may need to redo everything if there are significant problems.

The Benefits of a Waterfall Project Management Methodology

Many advantages come with the thorough and organized approach. Some of the benefits of adopting the conventional project management method are listed below.

Simple to use

This technique is simple to comprehend and use. To get things done, you don’t need any previous understanding of the phases. Furthermore, you may use the same sequential phases for each project.

Allows you to effectively manage resources

Because this approach allows you to know everything from start to end, you can estimate development expenses ahead of time and manage your resources.

Stress is lessened.

The workflow isn’t disrupted by developer churn because to extensive documentation. If you have new team members, you may quickly bring them up to speed by providing them with copies of the papers.

Establishes a framework

Although the rigidity of the waterfall approach may be a disadvantage, it can also be a strength when applied to the appropriate projects. Your teams will be able to plan and divide the work due to the obvious difference between each step.

Accountability is emphasized.

Your team can observe and discuss your progress thanks to detailed documentation during all stages. You can also figure out when deadlines were missed.

Assists you in meeting deadlines

A waterfall approach will be extremely comforting for projects that need precise start and finish dates. Its structure enables you to provide the required results on time.

Waterfall Project Management’s Disadvantages

Despite its numerous benefits, the waterfall approach has certain drawbacks. Some of the disadvantages of adopting a linear and sequential technique, such as the waterfall approach, are listed below.


A waterfall method has a number of drawbacks, one of which is that it does not allow for flexibility. There is very little opportunity for modification since the procedures are written out in great detail before being carried out in a linear order.

If, for example, stakeholders change their views throughout the development process, the initial plan will be disrupted. As a result, it will need a full overhaul. If the prices are too high, your client may decide to abandon the project entirely.

It’s both costly and time-consuming.

Changing your original strategy may be expensive and time-consuming. Long delivery durations are a requirement of the waterfall approach. Product development typically takes far longer than it would if alternative methods were used.

You’ll have a tougher difficulty sticking to tight deadlines if you rework your ideas. It’s possible that the deployment date will have to be pushed out.

After development, testing takes place.

After the development phase, testing takes place. You’re more likely to find problems later in the development process. Not only that, but resolving these problems will be more expensive and time-consuming.

Testing may be shortened to meet deadlines. This may prevent you from seeing problems in the program, leaving it to the client to find after the product has been deployed.


Always double-check if the current phase is perfect or near enough before moving on to the next. This is due to the fact that major mistakes may be expensive and time-consuming to rectify. If there are significant issues, as previously said, you may have to start again.

When Should Waterfall Project Management Be Used?

The waterfall approach is excellent for small, basic projects that need lengthy, detailed planning, and where one step must be completed before the next can begin.

When deciding if the waterfall technique is appropriate for your next project, keep the following phrases in mind.

  • The goals of your client are well-defined and unlikely to alter.
  • Stakeholders are well-informed about what they desire.
  • You don’t have to run tests indefinitely.
  • At different stages of development, you don’t have to continuously react to input.
  • Your customer doesn’t want or need to be a part of the product development process.

The waterfall technique isn’t the best project management style for you if your project is likely to alter. The same is true if you don’t have a good grasp of your customer’s needs before starting your project.

Which Project Management Methodology Is Right for You? Agile vs. Waterfall vs. Scrum

An agile approach is preferable to a waterfall technique if your project needs a high level of client engagement. Its adaptable project management method allows you to make adjustments during the development process without having to restart the whole project.

agile-waterfall-scrum image

If you’re working on a project with customers who aren’t sure what they want, the agile approach is ideal. You may accommodate modifications whenever the customer wants them using this method.

Let’s suppose you’ve determined that an agile methodology is the best fit for your project. You’ll need to figure out which agile approach to employ. Is scrum the appropriate methodology for your project? Or do you need a different approach?

Scrum is an excellent option for projects with ambiguous requirements, particularly those that are likely to change throughout the development process.

Ideally, if you have a project with clear and fixed requirements and objectives, the waterfall method is a fitting choice. However, you can also use it when your resources such as time and money are variable, as long as the requirements are well-defined and not likely to change.

Just keep in mind that this linear method isn’t appropriate for projects when customers just have a hazy notion of what they want. It isn’t built for exploration and experimentation. It will be difficult to complete a project utilizing the waterfall approach without clear criteria.

Frequently Asked Questions on Waterfall Project Management

What is agile project management, and how does it differ from traditional project management?

The agile approach is centered on the client. It embraces change, allowing teams to concentrate on quality by continuously improving procedures and outputs. Unlike the waterfall approach, your customers will be able to make modifications to the project as it progresses.

However, there is a drawback to this. Some customers may find it inconvenient because they lack the time or desire to engage in the development process.

You can test your program as you develop it, which helps you avoid expensive mistakes and problems. You can even make changes without having to start again.

The following are some of the advantages of using an agile methodology:

  • Lifecycles for product development that are short
  • Encourages team members to communicate effectively.
  • Allows for a high level of consumer engagement
  • Accountability is emphasized.
  • Small yet dedicated teams are required.

Scrum is one of the project management methodology’s frameworks. Kanban, Adaptive Project Framework, and Extreme Programming are among the others.

What is scrum project management, and how does it work?

Scrum is an agile approach for developing complicated products that encourages good team communication. Keep in mind, however, that not all agile approaches use the scrum project management methodology.

It derives its name from the rugby word scrum, which refers to a group of players huddled together in order to catch the ball. The word scrum refers to the short meetings that teams have to review their progress, predict potential problems, and decide their next game plan in project management.

The scrum approach involves breaking down work into small chunks known as sprints, which may last anywhere from two to four weeks. These sprints are led by a scrum master. They evaluate their performance after each sprint and make any required adjustments before moving on to the next. For these reasons, we suggest that you utilize specialized software. Choose from iOS, Android, Windows, or even a Mac project management solution for every operating system.

Scrum masters aren’t like project managers in that they don’t have to provide daily tasks or instructions to the team. Addressing problems that may obstruct the team’s development is one of their responsibilities.

What’s the difference between agile and waterfall project management?

Software development teams may use both agile and waterfall project management techniques to create high-quality software. Their methods, on the other hand, differ significantly. Understanding the differences between the two techniques can aid you in selecting the best procedures and strategies for completing your tasks.

To begin with, waterfall project management is sequential and linear, while agile project management is incremental and iterative. As a result, adopting an agile methodology, development and testing may be done at the same time. In a waterfall approach, however, development teams may only go on to the next step of development or testing once the current one is finished.

To be clear, agile project management does include some kind of sequencing. However, compared to the waterfall technique, it utilizes considerably shorter sequences. For example, before you begin the project, you must perform a requirements analysis, which must be completed before you can begin coding. You can’t provide code unless you can write and test it.

The waterfall methodology entails a slow development process. You can probably release working software once or twice a year using this method. An agile approach, on the other hand, lets you deliver working software about once every week.

The major distinctions between agile and waterfall methods are listed below.

  • The agile approach is adaptive to change, while the waterfall methodology is not.
  • Planning and execution happen at the same time in an agile methodology. In a waterfall approach, testing occurs after the construction step.
  • In an agile approach, requirement modifications are allowed. They are, however, forbidden once the project begins in a waterfall method.
  • With the agile approach, projects may be handled by the whole team, eliminating the need for a project manager. A project manager, on the other hand, is required at every stage of the waterfall approach.

When should you utilize agile, scrum, or waterfall project management?

If your project requires a quick turnaround time and frequent revisions, agile project management is the way to go. When your project doesn’t have clear and defined criteria, you may utilize scrum, which is a specialized agile approach. Scrum is preferred for projects when customers want more participation since it encourages cooperation and communication.

Waterfall project management, on the other side, is best for projects with little customer engagement. More significantly, it’s built for projects with well defined goals and criteria. It does, however, take longer than the agile approach.

Simply stated, an agile approach will suffice if speed is more essential than quality.

Which projects need the waterfall approach?

A waterfall method is appropriate for projects that are less complicated and need comprehensive planning. Have a look at the following list. You may use a waterfall method if your project fulfills the following criteria.

  • Your customer’s needs, budget, and scope are all well-defined and unlikely to alter.
  • There are tight deadlines on your project.
  • The development teams don’t have a lot of experience.
  • The project isn’t very dangerous.
  • The client does not need to be involved in the development process in a significant way.
  • You’ll have more time to develop and test applications.

The purpose of this post is to give you an overview of the Waterfall Methodology and help you form your own opinions on what is good and bad about it. Having said that, there are certain things that can’t be changed in this method and you should bear these things in mind when putting together your own project.. Read more about implementation in waterfall model and let us know what you think.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the steps in waterfall methodology?

The steps in waterfall methodology are as follows: 1) Define the scope of the project. 2) Develop a project plan. 3) Plan for risks and contingencies. 4) Estimate costs and resources required to complete the project. 5) Determine whether or not you have enough time, money, people, etc., to complete your project. 6) Execute your plan by starting with the first step and following through until completion.

What are the 5 steps of the waterfall design method?

The 5 steps of the waterfall design method are as follows: 1. Brainstorming – brainstorming ideas for a project 2. Conceptualization – creating a rough sketch or storyboard of the project 3. Designing – designing the layout and style of the project 4. Development – developing the idea into a working prototype, including software, hardware, and manufacturing 5. Production – producing finished products

What are the 6 stages of a waterfall?

There are six stages of a waterfall. They are the beginning, middle, end, top, bottom and center.

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  • waterfall project management methodology
  • waterfall methodology
  • waterfall methodology definition
  • waterfall software development
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