BSPOKE Software - picture of waterfall to represent the waterfall software development life cycle

The software development waterfall life cycle is an excellent tool for many types of software development projects. When working with our team, this is one type of development life cycle we like to use. Today we’ll share how the software development waterfall life cycle works and when is best to use it for upcoming projects.

What is the software development waterfall life cycle?

The waterfall life cycle was introduced in 1970 and has been a popular option since this day. Winston Royce created this life cycle, which splits a project into phases. You will finish each phase before you can move on to the next. The big difference between the software development waterfall life cycle and other options is there’s no overlap between phases. We complete each phase before our team moves on, or otherwise, the project remains at the current stage. As you can imagine, this comes with its advantages and disadvantages. There are certain types of projects this life cycle is great for, but others where it would not be suitable. To help you understand this life cycle further, let’s take a look at the phases it’s broken down into.

Software development waterfall life cycle phases

The software development waterfall life cycle is broken down into distinct phases. These are how any project using this life cycle will run. Each phase finishes before the next starts:

  • Requirement gathering – The first phase gathers the information our team needs from your business. We’ll create detailed requirements so that the project can begin.
  • Design stage – Planning the programming language and other technical aspects of the project is the next step. This will help us to establish how the development of your project will flow.
  • Construction – As the name suggests, it’s time to build your software. This involves nothing but coding at this time.
  • Test stage – Once the software is built, testing occurs to ensure it is fully functioning. This will verify that all of your requirements are met so that there are no issues before development.
  • Deployment – The application or software is deployed by your business.
  • Maintenance – Although the build is complete, maintenance is usually needed. As time goes on, we will support you to ensure that your software works for many years to come. If requirements change in the future, we’ll work with these to satisfy your customers and employees.

When do we use the software development waterfall life cycle?

As you can imagine, the software development waterfall life cycle is only good for certain projects. This methodology requires the final requirements from day one. When requirements change frequently, this isn’t a suitable life cycle, as the work will start again from scratch. Generally, we use waterfall on applications and software projects that are simple and smaller. Shorter projects are ideal for the waterfall life cycle, as there won’t be too many delays during the process.

Requirements must be extremely clear in order to use the waterfall life cycle. A stable environment is also needed, both from our team and yours. The technology used will also need to be stable and reliable so that there are no delays during the work. Almost any project we work on could use this life cycle, but there are reasons that we opt not to at times. When we start working together, we’ll discuss your requirements. From there, we can think about the suitability of the software development waterfall life cycle. We’ll ensure it’s the right fit for your project, otherwise we’ll consider other suitable options.

What are the advantages of the software development waterfall life cycle?

There are many advantages of the software development waterfall life cycle. This is why we regularly use this methodology on projects, and it’s very effective for most applications. Before the next phase begins, we’ll ensure that we finish the last one. This means that their requirements are clear and that you’ll know exactly where we are in the work. When you have a small project and well-defined requirements, it’s an excellent option. We’ll ensure that we complete testing during each stage, as well as at the main testing stage. A good team of developers will document the work as they go. Waterfall usually helps with improved communication, as you’ll receive updates at the end of each stage.

For many clients, they find that waterfall means they have less involvement in the project. After setting the requirements, you’ll know exactly what stage we are at in the project. We can make any changes you need during the process. It’s only when large changes to requirements take place that it’s an issue. We will update you at all times, and when issues arise, we’ll prioritise fixing these as soon as possible. These advantages apply to any type of project, which is one of the top reasons we enjoy using this life cycle.

Are there any disadvantages?

Of course, every methodology also has its disadvantages. Firstly, the main problem with the software development waterfall life cycle is its rigidity. When issues occur, this often involves going back to the start. Most companies don’t have the time for this, which makes for a frustrating experience. We don’t review client feedback in the middle of a phase. Instead, we wait until the end and then have to make changes most of the time. Our team often finds that the documentation process is very time-consuming. Other methodologies offer us more time to communicate with your team and work on adding new features to your software.

As you can see, the software development waterfall life cycle offers both advantages and disadvantages. Both our team and your team will notice these during the process, so we’ll decide if this is a good choice for your project. When we discuss your requirements, we’ll be able to choose the right methodology for your upcoming software development project. Contact our team today for more information about working together or to discuss any questions you may have about which methodology we’ll use.

Other software development life cycle models include the spiral and agile.