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Understanding the Waterfall Software Development Model

Waterfall software development recognizes the process as a combination of distinct steps that proceed downward, much like an actual waterfall.  The waterfall model also represents the fact that a process cannot go back once it proceeds to the next phase.  There are five phases to this popular model including requirements analysis, design, implementation, testing and maintenance.

Requirements Analysis

WWW developmentThe first phase in the waterfall software development model, requirements analysis is the process of determining exactly what the client wants from a developer.  Here, the two will discuss project expectations in a manner that makes it easy for both the client and developer to understand.  It is important that both parties enter the waterfall software development process with everything on the table.  The developer needs to understand the client’s business inside and out to develop a specification of the software requirement.  Remember that the waterfall model can only move forward.  Since the requirements analysis phase is the first one of the process, many developers consider it to be the most important part.


Software development involves an in-depth coding process.  Before coding, developers need to create a design that satisfies the requirements determined in the initial analysis phase.  The design specification serves as a blueprint to show the finished product as well as the steps the developer will take to get there.  Aspects formalized during the design phase include hardware and software architecture, performance and security, database storage, programming language and IDE.  Developers also explore accessibility and the user interface during the design phase.


Coding begins at the implementation phase of the waterfall software development model.  The specifications determined in the design phase will direct the developer during the implementation phase.  In many cases, a team of programmers will work closely with specialist teams including interface designers and media editors, dividing tasks into small parts of the final product.  Also known as units, these small tasks in the form of coding integrate together to build the final product in accordance with the architectural design specifications.


Errors are common among software development projects.  During the testing phase, developers will methodically test all individual units to ensure each one meets all specifications from the initial requirements analysis phase.  The testing phase also involves a quality assurance team which verifies that the project passes all of the design specifications.  Testing begins by the individual unit and then moves forward towards the testing of the final product.  Finally, the client will test the product during the acceptance testing phase.  User manuals are often developed during the testing phase of the waterfall model.  


The maintenance phase commences after the developer delivers the product to the client.  The purpose of the maintenance phase is for the developer to ensure that the final product functions as designed.  This phase lasts until the developer drops the support of the product.  Clients tend to find the most problems during the maintenance phase, so it is an important part of the waterfall model.

About Author

Akesh Gupta is President of Light Speed Solutions.  Akesh and his software development team deliver quality solutions on time and on budget.

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Tuesday, 29 November 2022
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