Waterfall Methodology: Pros And Cons


Pros And Cons of Waterfall Methodology: All The Ups And Downs You Should Note pros and cons of waterfall methodology

Waterfall methodology is one of the classic methods for software development, where each step is clear, concise, and straightforward. All the steps are established before the project begins, and there’s no backtracking once you start.

While it sounds like a highly efficient method for app development, it has its share of pros and cons. And today, we’re going to discuss all the possible pros and cons of waterfall methodology.

Advantages of Waterfall Methodology

1. The Entire Workflow Uses A Clear Structure

Unlike other methodologies, the waterfall methodology is straightforward and follows a linear path. The structure of every project using the waterfall methodology goes through the following steps.

  • Requirement gathering and documentation
  • System design
  • Implementation
  • Testing
  • Delivery/deployment
  • Maintenance

To complete the development process, the team members must complete the previous step before moving to the next one. This way, the entire team knows exactly where the development is at any certain stage.

2. Helps The Developers Define The End Goal During The Early Stages

The waterfall method focuses on a specific end product goal or a complete delivery before the project begins. Team members do their best throughout the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) to stick to the commitment of offering a finished product at the end.

The waterfall method is perfect when the product development team needs to be aware of the end goal immediately without getting lost in the details.

3. Great For Transferring Information

Waterfall is a highly methodical development mindset, so the entire system needs a clear transfer of information. Detailed documentation is a great step towards clear collaboration between teammates.

Waterfall requires detailed documentation to help team members synchronize their workflow, and no one is left behind. Aside from that, inter-team communication should also be made more fluent with the help of communication software and face-to-face meetings.

4. Simplifies The Project Management

All the work you need to put in during a waterfall project is during the initial phases, where all the steps and the goal for each step are set. Once all the goals are set and the steps are established, project management for any waterfall project becomes simplified.

5. Easier To Set Up Objectives

Project managers can easily set up the objectives for each step and the end goal for any waterfall project by collecting necessary information early on. This is a comparatively easier way to set goals for each step and can help ease the pressure on any project manager.

6. Helps To Examine Output From Each Stage

Before going to the next step, a project manager can thoroughly check the currently completed phases of the project. This allows an evaluation and fixing of smaller issues before submitting the project to the next step.

7. Stabilizes The Project

Due to its linear structure and design, projects following the waterfall methodology are highly tight and stable. Once the team unanimously agrees to the initial plan, the project continues until all the steps are met without making any major changes.

When everyone’s working with the same ideology towards the same goal, the procedures are far more optimized, resulting in a stable project flow.

8. Prioritizes Project Timelines

You can use the waterfall method to prioritize project timelines. Since the model is linear, it’s easy for a project manager to create fixed timelines for different project stages. The timeline emphasis can result in discipline, focus, and constant collaboration for faster completion.

9. Generates Higher Visibility For Each Stage

Each stage of the waterfall method produces reviewable output. When the project manager and product owner have a clear insight into everything going on in the development cycle, it’s a great way to increase transparency and visibility of the entire project timeline.

10. Allows Quality Assurance Tests

Since project managers don’t pass the project on to the next step right after the previous step is complete, there are tons of opportunities for Quality Assurance (QA) tests that can ensure the overall integrity of the product after passing a certain phase.

Testing the product at every step helps developers create a more polished and highly functional final app product with minimal issues.

Disadvantages of Waterfall Methodology

1. Implementing Changes Can Get Very Difficult

As we mentioned earlier, there’s no backtracking in the waterfall method. The developers simply can’t go back and change something previously done. While this can be an advantage to moving the project forward, being unable to change past mistakes can also be an issue.

When you need to change something in a previous step during a waterfall project, it requires an intense amount of resources and changes in the documentation, which can be both time and resource-consuming, which is a detriment to the project.

2. Doesn’t Involve The End Users or Clients In The Process

Waterfall methodology doesn’t include external stakeholders or users in the development process. It’s good to let the developers focus on their project without any additional outside opinions, and it allows the developers to express their vision through the product. But there’s a catch here.

The ultimate goal of any app product is to satisfy the end users. Without end-user or customer feedback, there’s very little way to know what the target audience expects from the final product. This can result in a product that the users may not find appealing.

3. Tests Aren’t Performed Till The Development Is Complete

The waterfall method is a constant process that keeps going from one step to the next without stopping, going back, or any interruptions. However, according to general method practices, the testing phase only comes after the entire development process.

The underlying source code can become highly complicated when a product is completely developed. As a result, if the testing finds any issues within the program, implementing a fix becomes even more problematic, which can consume additional development time and resources.

4. More Suitable For Rather Simple Projects

Waterfall is more suitable for projects where the end goal is simple and predictable for professionals with previous expertise. While the method is highly efficient, it’s not very effective for large-scale projects.

Waterfall isn’t great for larger projects because when creating an enterprise-level application, the product must undergo many changes according to the requirements and feedback from various stakeholders and users. The waterfall method doesn’t support these changes, making it an inefficient development methodology for enterprise-level projects.

5. The Definition of The Project Architecture Can Take A Lot of Time

Even when working with smaller projects, it’s sometimes very difficult to predict a project’s specific requirements. Creating a detailed design from the start requires rigorous research, labor, and resources and isn’t a viable option for many smaller businesses.

Final Comparison

Each phase has to be fully completed before the next phaseErrors can only be fixed while the current phase is in progress
More suitable for smaller projectsNot suitable for complex projects with sophisticated requirements
Project managers get to perform QA tests after every phase is completeThe testing phase comes too late in the cycle
Detailed documentation is available for all developers to keep in syncCreating proper documentation consumes tons of resources
The project has minimal client interventionThe team misses out on client feedback, failing to make the app more efficient.
Small changes can be made in a certain phase while the phase is in progress.Finding even a small issue in the final product can make fixing it complex.

How Good Is Waterfall Methodology?

The waterfall methodologies have had many votes in support and against it since its inception. However, the methodology is still highly relevant in the current market even when other methods, like agile methodology, have evolved to a new level.

If you have a small team with limited resources and set goals, waterfall methodology is a great way to optimize and streamline the project development cycle and deliver a great finished product.


Is the Waterfall Methodology Suitable for Small Projects?

It can work well for small projects with stable and well-understood requirements.

Can the Waterfall Methodology Adapt to Changing Project Requirements?

No, it’s not adaptable to changing requirements once the project has started.

What Is the Primary Benefit of Waterfall’s Documentation-Heavy Approach?

It ensures comprehensive documentation for each project phase, aiding in maintenance and future reference.

Does Waterfall Facilitate Early User Feedback?

No, it doesn’t prioritize early user feedback, which can be a drawback.

Is Waterfall Suitable for Projects With Evolving Technologies?

It may not be the best choice for projects heavily dependent on rapidly changing technologies.