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Why waterfall development may still suit your organization

Why waterfall development may still suit your organization

How does Waterfall software development might still work for your business?              

The best thing about the Waterfall model – Its Linearity                                                         

The advantages of the Waterfall software development process                                         

What if the waterfall goes wrong?                                                                                          

How to handle an ever-changing software development project?                                        

Agile software development                                                                                             

Lean for software project management                                                                           

Are the days of waterfall methodology over?                                                                        

There are many best software development practices implemented in the industry and are yielding desired results then why should you choose waterfall methodology for software development? I’m sure we all want to be successful and some even seek the easiest route to success. Well, then choose such a methodology for your software project that its success comes easy. Many projects have failed just because of the wrong choice of the development approach. If the business owners want reliable software solutions with desired outcomes then they must focus on the specifications of a  project while taking this decision and not the popularity and trend of any particular development method.

The scale, complexity, goals, period, initial requirements, and more can vary from company to company and industry to industry but if we talk about small and medium-size businesses then the waterfall model is the perfect option to pick. Without proper planning and execution, even the best methodologies and technologies can single-handedly achieve success. Here, in this blog, we will talk about how waterfall methodology might still work for you in this age of agility.

The best thing about the Waterfall model – Its Linearity

The waterfall model is a conventional method of development and it has been used since the software development process was executed for the first time in the year 1970. From start to finish, every bit of software creation in this process is traditional. And it’s a common approach too for building anything, i.e. finish task A first and then only move on to task B.

In this type of linear approach, you get to see thoroughly planned successive stages of software development. Here the project team will work on a certain task of the software development life cycle in every stage like understanding the clients’ business needs, designing, development, testing, deployment, and more. Every possible effort is made to avoid the overlaps so that the developers can focus on a specific task before moving on to others.

Although it is assumed that the linearity of the waterfall model is now outdated, in some cases, it is proved to be beneficial. Most companies, software developers, engineers, and testers indeed prefer agile over linear waterfall model because it offers flexible and fast development even if the projects are very big. On the other hand, there are some cases where the implementation phase of the agile project can be overwhelming. For example, if there is a small new project then the entire development team will be burdened with a lot of meetings and ceremonies. This will increase the billable hours, i.e. the budget of the project and the average work done in an hour will be lesser. So, for smaller projects, agile methodology is a lot to take and not affordable too. Instead, you can opt for the waterfall model where you will be focused on finishing the tasks and the meetings will be fewer too. There are many more advantages that can tempt you to opt for waterfall development for your upcoming project.

The advantages of the Waterfall software development process

This model is perfectly suitable to fulfill the needs of small businesses and mid-size enterprises. Picking this approach to develop a product or solution or offer services can avail many benefits

  • Short-term tasks which include predetermined phases
  • Clear development requirements that face little to no changes
  • A sustainable project environment
  • A static set of technology and tools
  • A team of trained software engineers 
  • Ready-to-use products delivered to customers

The projects where the scope of work might change during development need an agile approach but if your scope of work is fixed and your project demands very well-written documentation then choosing waterfall methodology is the best decision you can make. However, moving employees is way easy to start the development process as smoothly as possible.

What if the waterfall goes wrong?

Unlike agile development, the waterfall model doesn’t let the clients have a hands-on experience of the software product before its launch which is due until all the stages of development including the design phase, coding, integrated systems testing, quality analysis, and more are completed. Although clients get a constant update and progress report on the work done they have to wait until the release of the product to experience the actual results.

There are some experts out there who use the waterfall process for software development but they state that conveying the same to the clients is very difficult. Assuming you have to work on a project that involves various stages like backend development, database development, chatbot, and webpage. Now, your team can analyze and design the product and move on step by step but the backend development will be the initial point of your project.

The problem here is that most clients won’t be tech-savvy so they won’t understand much from the demonstration or presentation about backend development. And this part would be a bit hard to explain too. So you need to improvise and explain only those bits of the project that the client could easily understand like chatbots, webpage including its design, font choice, colors, and more. It is recommended that in meetings you must only discuss the things that are important to clients.

Such presentations for clients can’t be based on the waterfall model, so you can’t use it. It is better if you prepare certain aspects of each iteration to show the client and make your work more appealing.

How to handle an ever-changing software development project?

If you have a project on your hand whose scope of work keeps changing or the client wants the results of the early stages of the development process then you have a choice of using either a lean or an agile approach.

Agile software development

Agile means fast. It is a flexible approach that can quickly adapt to any changes made during the development process. It is an iterative approach to development that provides autonomy in the workflows. The success of agile practices highly depends upon the efficient collaboration of the development team. Scrum, Kanban, and other ad hoc are the types of agile methodologies from which a company adapts one as per their requirements or business philosophy.

The agile development asks each team member to be disciplined, organized and completely dedicated to the goal of the project. The hiring or formation of the team should be done on a similar basis along with looking for the technical expertise of the candidate. If a team is filled with such members then only it would be able to focus on the involvement of the customer in the project to make decisions right from the start of the first iteration. At the end of every iteration, the client gets the new functionality and tests it for user acceptance.

Lean for software project management

The lean manufacturing process is from where the lean methodology for software development arises, this concept is all about how wisely you use your resources. The challenges that come with this concept of resource-wise development, make you more open to learning, waste fewer resources, quick decision making, and timely deployment.

The lean waterfall model is meant to cut off all the things that don’t add value to the product like inefficient multitasking, overloaded documentation, and unnecessary meetings. HBR also states that adopting a linear approach can be game-changing for small and mid-size organizations if they are looking for growth opportunities. Business owners can leverage lean project management to build customer-centric products or solutions. This not only helps them launch products as quickly as possible but also with fewer risks and with lesser costs than traditional business development approaches.

If you are looking to upgrade your system or modernize the processes in your company then lean waterfall methodology is the perfect option to pick.

Are the days of waterfall methodology over?

In this age of agility, many projects that have next to no changes in their life can’t afford agile development, they need waterfall project management. If your company is one of those who has a well-developed strategy and documentation or you think your scope of work for the project is less likely to change or your project demands the employees to move across various tasks or in some cases, departments then only the waterfall project management can help you achieve the desired results.

But keep one thing in mind, once you go with the waterfall process, there is no turning back, i.e. you can’t change the scope of work once you have started working on a waterfall project. Therefore, you need to carefully verify all the business needs, project requirements, and scope of work before you start working on a waterfall process.

To measure progress is a very challenging task in waterfall projects. You don’t have any single working functionality of the software to show to the client until your entire project is completed. It may seem that most of your work is completed but until the client gets something solid, something practical aspect of the software to experience, for them, you haven’t worked at all.  

But if you are doing your work well then you don’t have to worry about it. What I would recommend instead is to include the QA experts in your project team from the very initial waterfall model phases. They would be very helpful in finding bugs and other issues in the software product and fixing them. Because in linear waterfall methodology, the testing is done at the end of the project in the very last waterfall model phases. This way, developers won’t be able to catch bugs early on during development and it will become harder for them to fix it all.

But all in all, the days of waterfall projects are not over. If the situation demands and the needs arise accordingly then a company can use waterfall methodology for software development. Waterfall projects won’t hurt their business a bit, instead, they might prove to be more beneficial.

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