The Waterfall Development Methodology

Waterfall Development Methodology

The Waterfall Development Methodology is a sequential-order life cycle model. The project moves from one phase to the next phase sequentially.  It can be considered as the “traditional” development model. It follows a logical pattern – Plan, Build, Test, and Release in sequence.

Waterfall Development Model


  • It is a very simple development model to follow.
  • It is easy to develop a plan for managing a Waterfall project since every phase has a start date and an end-date.
  • Since dates for each phase is known, resource planning is simpler.
  • The cost of development can be easily determined based on the plan put together.
  • The design-heavy approach of Waterfall forces a disciplined approach to development and makes expectations clear.


  • Change is unwelcome since plans are published in advance.
  • Since development is not iterative in nature, working software is not seen till very late in the cycle.
  • Requirements need to be published in detail, right at the beginning of the release cycle.
  • Bugs introduced early in the development cycle will not be caught till very late, hence can delay the release.
  • Delays introduced at the beginning of the release cycle may result in the latter phases getting crunched to save on lost time. This can comprise quality of the product.

Is Waterfall relevant today?

Absolutely! Waterfall is still a very popular software development methodology and there are many scenarios where it would be a better fit than Agile or other methodologies.

Some factors that can make a project a better fit for Waterfall would be:

  • Detailed and stable requirements
  • Strict budget and timelines constraints
  • Compliance and regulatory requirements


Project Management Tools

Microsoft Project is one of the most common tools used for running Waterfall projects. For simple projects, spreadsheets (Microsoft Excel, etc.) can be used too.

If you’re looking at web-based solutions, do explore TeamGantt.

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About the Author: Anuj Seth

Anuj is a certified PMP with over 20 years of Software Development and Management experience. He founded PM Tips in 2020. Contributors are welcome. Drop him a note via the Contact page.

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