The Complete Waterfall Software Development Process

There are many different types of software development approaches in the IT industry today, one of which is the waterfall software development. This approach provides IT professionals and business clients with the tools needed to successfully complete a project within a specific established time frame.

In general, this approach is considered to be an older technique that has been used for a vast number of IT projects. The main concept surrounding this approach stems from using a systematic way to start and complete software development projects in a timely manner. With a step by step process that developers can follow all the way through to completion, it takes all of the guess work out of creating both new and unique software applications. Because of the effect that this process possesses, it has similar characteristics of waterfalls because it provides a way for whole IT projects to flow very easily in an up to down manner.

By following this process, developers and their business clients will have an opportunity to work using predetermined life cycles of the projects that they initiate. Also, each step of these predefined projects are well documented and shared at the beginning of each IT project. Once each step in this process is complete, every member of the team can provide the expertise that they are responsible for accordingly. Listed below are some of the main benefits and disadvantages of using this type of software development approach, along with the phases required for its completion.

The Complete Waterfall Software Development Process


The waterfall approach is also well known in the industry for being very beneficial in many different ways, specifically by business owners who already have clearly defined requirements with the projects that they are initiating. For instance, when utilizing this kind of approach for clearly defined projects, developers can work within the timelines provided comfortably. Software developers can also keep their projects more closely contained with a specified budget amount that has been allocated by the requestor.

Which means, this approach is ideal in situations where everything is clearly defined. On the other end of the spectrum, however, this approach may not work as well for projects that are not clearly defined. Especially, because one of the biggest drawbacks to using this approach is going far beyond the original budget allocations in order to meet the requested hard deadline.


While there are many advantages to using the waterfall approach to initiate and complete whole IT software development projects, there are some disadvantages as well. One of the most commonly known in the industry today is, this kind of approach normally consumes a great deal of time. Sine extensive research must be done in the initial stage of this process, the actual development cannot be done until it is complete. Therefore, the timeline and budget allocations are an essential part of getting the project off of the ground floor. Which means, the planning process can be quite substantial, specifically for those who are working within a limited or a small budget.

In addition to an extension in planning time, there is another disadvantage that should be considered before using this approach, which involves problems encountered in the testing phase of projects that will need to be deployed quickly. Specifically, in cases where the team of developers are working with a hard deadline that they must meet to fulfill the requirements of their requestors. For example, if a tester finds big problems with the software’s initial design, it may take a long time to complete a redesign in order to correct the problems that have been identied. Thereby, completely compromising the entire project.


Developers who use the waterfall software development approach are required to complete five phases, and they are the requirement analysis stage, design stage, implementation stage, testing stage, and the maintenance stage. All of which are listed below with a brief description.

Phase 1: Requirements Analysis

Because the requirement analysis stage consists of obtaining a clear picture of what each client needs, it is the first stage of this approach. Without this stage, the developer will not know where or how to begin. For instance, in this stage the client will outline different types of problems in order for the developer to find an automated solution that resolve it. From building an application that allows a human resources professional to enter in all of their pre-employment documents electronically vs. manually to designing a training system for all management, there are a wide variety of things that can be solved by building the proper software applications.

Phase 2: Design

Before the software development team starts the coding process, they will need to discuss the requirements of the actual design. The waterfall software development design process normally encompasses many different essential aspects of the project including the security, hardware and software architecture, performance guidelines, database storage, programming language requirements etc. Other features of the projects final is normally facts that relate to the user interface.

Phase 3: Implementation

The implementation phase in this process includes the actually coding that each software developer is responsible for. The team assigned can vary in size widely based on the project that the client has requested. Which means, the project that is required may take as little as one programmer to complete the entire project by a specific time. The number of programmers needed, however, will depend on the scope of the project.

Phase 4: Testing

In the testing phase, every part of the code is tested for performance and for its accuracy in specifications. This is the area that usually requires a quality assurance team to take the lead. With the combined efforts of the software developer and the quality assurance team, the waterfall software development project can be completed on time and with the highest quality.

Phase 5: Maintenance

The maintenance phase begins after the project has been delivered to the client that has made the request. It is normally the most significant part of the process because it allows the requestor’s side to provide the necessary input in making sure the product is at its best.

Waterfall software development is a good approach because it allows you to complete a project within an established timeframe.


Mark is the Lead Author & Editor of Spectechular Blog. Mark established the Spectechular blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Product Management.