Master the waterfall model and maximize the power of your software projects

do you know how the waterfall model can bring your software development project to success without suffering in the attempt? have you been told wonders about waterfall development but have no idea what it is all about?

Surely you have heard on more than one occasion about the classic waterfall methodology, and you are really interested in incorporating it into your routine, but before throwing your project into the water without a life preserver, it is necessary to know what it consists of.

Therefore, in this article we will tell you everything you need to know about this waterfall methodology so that you can start implementing it in your projects and, in this way, give order and professionalism to your work.

are you ready to master the waterfall model? Let’s start!

what is the waterfall model?

The waterfall model is the proposal of a methodological approach that consists of ordering in a linear way the different stages that you must follow when developing your software .

Advantages and disadvantages of the waterfall model

So far we have told you what are the phases and what is the waterfall model, so surely by now you are wondering:how to know if it is convenient touse the waterfall model for my project?

To be honest, you can use the waterfall life cycle as a basis for any project you do, since it is a good model for software development from which to start.

However, it is advisable that you use it when you are doing a project whose requirements and processes you can concretely define from the analysis or planning stage, since the waterfall model works in a linear way and it is necessary to know all the details of your project from the first steps.

So that there are no doubts about it, it is important to clarify that the waterfall model is appropriate when we carry out small and well-defined projects from the beginning .

Also, if it is the first time you are developing software or you have little experience,waterfall planning is ideal to begin to understand how to structure your projects.

Finally, here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of the waterfall model so that you can compare the information and decide if it is the model for you:

Advantages of the waterfall model

It helps you keep order and organize your work.
It is very useful if you are not very experienced.
It works optimally on most devices.
It is simple and easy to follow.
Itgives you the necessary tools to have clarity in your objectives from the beginning of the project.
When you find a problem, it gives you the opportunity to detect the phase of the waterfall model where it arose and fix it as quickly as possible.

Disadvantages of the waterfall model

If you are doing a large or very complex project, it may be more difficult to divide it into orderly phases, so this system may not be the most suitable.
Because of the linear way of working, you have less time to complete each phase of the waterfall model.
You cannot move to the next stage until you complete the previous one.
Sometimes bugs are not detected until the last phase of development, so to resolve them you will have to go back to the previous phases and repeat or modify them.

Hombre analiza las desventajas del modelo en cascadaSource: Unsplash

where has the waterfall model been used?

With so many plus points and top-quality performance, you’d expect hundreds of companies, startups, and tech fanatics to have used the waterfall model at least once in their lives.

So if you’re in the midst of waterfall planning and feel the need to know all the details, know that this methodology has been used by “independent test labs, large enterprises, and marketing and service experts,” according to Ryte.

But, if you are even more interested, then don’t miss the following list where we list some of the most important types of projects that have used the waterfall model phases:

Development of software for the automotive industry.
Creation of human resources management systems.
Design of supply chainmanagement systems.
Advances in nuclear facilitycontrol systems.
Space shuttlestudies and projects.

Mujeres analizan en dónde se han utilizado las fases del modelo cascadaSource: Pexels

are there other models for software development?

As we mentioned above, in addition to the waterfall methodology, there are also others for software development that may be more or less useful depending on the project you are developing.

Therefore, if you have already mastered the use of the waterfall model and are ready to experiment with other alternatives, here is a list of some of these methodologies:

Prototype model.
Spiral model.
Staged development.
Iterative and incremental development or Iterative and incremental.
Concurrent development.
Unified Process.

Finally, it is essential to emphasize that it is not only important to consider the needs of each project when choosing one of these methodologies, but also to take into account which one you feel more comfortable with when working on your software development.

how does the Waterfall model differ from Agile?

Perhaps one of the first decisions you face before getting to work on any software development project implementation is the answer to the following question, “Which methodology should I use?”

This is a topic that generates a lot of discussion (and often heated debate). In fact, the two main methodologies commonly applied to software development are the Agile model and the waterfall model.

Before starting the comparison, you should always keep in mind that both the waterfall and Agile methods have their own set of advantages and disadvantages .

And, on the other hand, understand that, in general, both can be beneficial to a software development team. Therefore, which one to choose depends largely on the type of project and the circumstances.

According to a TrustRadius survey, less than one in five professionals said that their “organization uses the waterfall methodology, while 81% mentioned that their company uses the Agile methodology.”

Despite this, this model is increasingly climbing the rungs in organizations. That is why, below, we will tell you the main differences between the application of the waterfall model and the use of the Agile method:

Agile is an incremental and iterative approach, while the waterfall model is a linear and sequentialapproach.
Agile separates a project into sprints, while the waterfall method divides a project into phases.
Agile helps to complete many small projects, while the waterfall model helps to complete a single project.
Agile works under a product mentality with a focus on customer satisfaction, while the Waterfall methodology is developed with a focus on successful project delivery.
Phases are prepared every day in Agile, whereas phases are prepared once at the beginning in the Waterfall model.
Agile allows for requirements changes at any time; whereas the waterfall model avoids scope changes once the project starts.
Testing occurs at the same time as development in Agile; the testing phase comes only after the build phase in the waterfall method.
Test teams in Agile can be involved in phase change, while test teams in the waterfall model are not involved in phase change.
The Agile methodology allows the entire team to manage the project without a dedicated project manager, while the Waterfall methodology requires a project manager to play a key role in each phase.

Modelo en cascada y su comparativa con AgileSource: Trust Radius

what are the final tips to apply in the waterfall model?

When using the waterfall model for your software development, it is important that you do not lose sight of some considerations to make all your effort worthwhile and achieve all your goals.

So, if you have high expectations about the results to be obtained with your project, we recommend that, when working in waterfall, you always keep in mind the following:

1. Perform a verification upon completion of the waterfall model phases

It is necessary to dedicate some time to verification in order to compare and control the results obtained in each phase of the waterfall model, with which you will be able to verify that the stage you have just developed meets the requirements you have already determined in previous moments.

In this way, as you go through the waterfall life cycle, you will be able to feel confident about advancing in stages, without fear of having to repeat the process later to correct any errors.

2. Perform usability testing

Usability testing supports the waterfall model, especially during the final stages, as it will help you verify efficiency and detect problems in the software development, if it has any deficiencies in the interface and end-user experience.

3. Organize your time

Dividing your software development into phases using the waterfall model gives you the opportunity to give the necessary time to each one so that, when you reach the final stage, errors are minimal.

In addition, if you work in the waterfall in an orderly manner, you can also set a limit of daily tasks to complete your project in time for delivery and, at the same time, avoid having episodes of stress.

Trabajadores organizan su tiempo dentro del ciclo de vida en cascadaSource: Unsplash

4. Plan ahead and resort to organizational methods

As you can see, proper planning is a must in the waterfall model because the phases of this methodology must be clear from the beginning, and everyone involved in a project must be aware of them.

Therefore, each team member must also understand what his or her role will be and what his or her functions will be when applying the waterfall model to drive a given planning.

All this information must be thoroughly documented and then distributed to everyone in the project, and we recommend summarizing it in a flowchart because this way your team can quickly understand which phases of the waterfall model to follow.

When the waterfall model is correctly followed using structured methods, you can make it clear precisely what is expected, thus guiding the successful development of the software. In addition, this will serve to establish project milestones that will make it easier to determine future progress.

Ultimately,planning and documentation are a priority in the waterfall model. Keep in mind that both must be carried out throughout each phase of the process, ensuring that everyone involved is on the same page despite the sequential progression of the project.

5. Use work management tools

In addition to the classic flowchart, you can also make use of other popular work management tools on the market, which give you the ability to structure each phase of the waterfall model.

This gives you the best of both worlds: a task tracking tool and a waterfall model visualization tool.

So, in order for you to complete your waterfall analysis in optimal conditions, here are the most used apps that can facilitate this whole process:

Trello – It was launched in 2011, has more than 35 million active users, is available in 21 languages and, in addition to the online alternative, can be downloaded on devices with iOS and Android operating systems.
Jira – Online tool designed to detect errors or imperfections in the projects you carry out with the waterfall methodology or any other model for software development.
Wrike – Product of a company of the same name, founded in 2006 with the aim of providing support to all members of a group working on a software project through the waterfall model or any other system.
Asana – Web application, which can also be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, developed by a company founded in 2008. Currently, the app has more than 119 thousand paying customers .
ClickUp – Key tool for bringing a workgroup together online, or through a mobile app, which offers great customization power to users to meet all their demands.

Although there are many methodologies that will help you define this process for software development, one of the most common and well-known is the waterfall model.

This waterfall approach, originally proposed in 1970 by Winston W. Royce, is also known as the linear model or program life cycle model, and millions of people have incorporated it into their plans over the past five decades.

And, to close the definition of the waterfall model, it is important that you know the reason for its name. In simple words, it is due to the way in which each of the phases of its process are divided and carried out, in a staggered manner, following an orderly sequence from the first to the last stage.

Pantalla que refleja un proyecto realizado siguiendo el modelo en cascadaSource: Unsplash

how does the waterfall model work?

Although it may surprise you, the waterfall model has a very simple operation. What it proposes is to divide each stage of software development into phases and complete each of them in a specific order, i.e., you cannot start “phase 2” until you have completed “phase 1”.

Another characteristic of the waterfall model is that you must analyze and check the operation of each phase at the end of it, before moving on to the next one, thus detecting possible errors and correcting them before moving on.

Finally, in this way, the follow-up of your project will advance in a controlled manner. Moreover, as we will see in the following paragraphs, with the help of the waterfall model phases, you will ensure constant maintenance, which is ideal for keeping an eye on the status of your software at all times!

what is the waterfall model for?

If your goal is to make use of the waterfall methodology without any problems, it is essential that you know how it works. But, at the same time, you must also understand very well what the waterfall model is for .

In simple words, this process allows you to relate each of the stages of the waterfall model to the previous one, in order to consider the elements to be removed or added in the next phase.

still not able to understand it in its entirety? No problem! Next, we will see some examples of the waterfall model so that you know how the stages of the waterfall model work and so that it is easy for you to understand so that you can start applying it as soon as you finish reading this article.

Imagen que representa para que sirve el modelo de cascadaSource: Pexels

what are the phases of the waterfall model?

There are different versions of the waterfall model phases and, depending on where you look, the number may vary. However, originally there were seven:

Requirements analysis.
System design.
Program design.
Program implementation or verification.

However, nowadays it is more common to find a variation in which the phases of the waterfall model are divided into five. This is mainly due to the fact that some of the stages are merged into one, as follows:


In short, you can adapt these phases as required by the software project you are developing through the cascading life cycle, as long as you take into account all the important points within the 5 main stages, which we will explain below:

Cuadro en donde figura la metodología de la cascada

1. Analysis

The first step, called analysis, is the preparation stage of your project, that is, the starting point where you are going to capture every detail of the idea and take the necessary momentum to develop it.

So, in this phase of the waterfall model, your job will be to determine what the needs and objectives are, and then gather all the requirements that must be met in the development of the software to carry out the whole process.

Generally, this is also the phase of the waterfall model in which you should present your project proposal if you are working for a client. And, in case you have a freelance job, it is still a good practice to make this proposal and add it to your portfolio.

2. Design

There is no doubt that design represents one of the favorite stages of the waterfall model, since it is the moment when you will get creative and become an architect for a while, while you design and make the first sketches of the final result of your software development.

In conclusion, during this phase of the waterfall model, you should:

Define the organization of the structure and that of all the elements you need for the development of your software.
Describe how each of the elements relate to each other so that they work correctly, always taking into account the interface design.

3. Implementation

Once you get to implementation, waterfall development will require you to translate all the design elements you prepared in the previous stage into the programming language.

Subsequently, you have to integrate each one into the code and programming of the software, testing to verify that there are no errors and gradually shaping your finished product. and that’s it! You have mastered this phase of the waterfall model.

4. Verification

During the fourth phase of the waterfall model you must test and execute the final code and verify its performance. Here you also need to compare your closing results with the initial objectives and check if you met each of them.

And, on the other hand, we recommend that you test each of the elements you have used and take into account the feedback you receive if you conduct a survey or present the result to your client, after completing the waterfall work.

5. Maintenance

Finally, once you enter the fifth and last phase of the waterfall model, it is time to analyze the results of the previous step and make the appropriate changes (if necessary) to conclude the project.

At this point, you will probably have to return to this phase of the waterfall model more than once, from time to time, to check that it is adapting to the changes in its environment.

And this process does not mean that you have failed to apply the waterfall methodology, but rather that with the rapid pace of change in technology today, it is essential that you keep your software constantly updated to remain relevant.

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