Waterfall Method of Software Development
This method involves gathering all the requirements up front, determining a project plan, then executing on that plan until the project is complete and delivered to the client. Emphasis is placed on the early stages of the project using this method. The key players involved in a Waterfall approach are the project manager, the systems analyst, the systems designer, lead programmer, and the programming team.
The process starts with the systems analyst gathering all the requirements from the client. They hold meetings and interviews, write use cases, and get a complete understanding of the entire project and what has to be done to meet the client’s needs. They then pass this information alone to the systems designer who, with the help of the lead programmer, makes all the technical specifications that the programming team will follow. This gives a complete perspective of the project from a technical aspect, not just a high level look at what the program should do. Once the plan is in place, the programming team builds their modules and after unit testing, the lead programmer integrates the modules into the overall product. The project manager’s task during all of this is to make sure deadlines are being met and the project is on schedule and budget.
To make the Waterfall method work, you need good leadership. A good project manager is essential because the project is on a clear deadline. Goals have to be met and milestones reached so that the entire project can move forward. You also need a good systems analyst. To make a good product, you need to understand what the client wants, and that is the sole job of the systems analyst.
Advantages of the Waterfall Method
Clients and stakeholders love the Waterfall method. There is a clear cut project plan in place from the start of the project. There are design specs and everything is known at the beginning of the project. They can forecast the time it will take, the budget, and how much staffing is required.
Disadvantages of the Waterfall Method
Companies are trying to move away from the Waterfall method because it offers too many problems. Almost all projects come in late and over budget using this method. The reason for this is because unforeseen issues are not taken into account when making the project plans. The high level specifications often do not consider the low level technical issues that could delay project or cause staffing issues. There is also a heavy load put on the project manager to make sure everything gets done on time and that any problems can be resolved without affecting other deadlines. One of the biggest problems with the Waterfall method is that it is a tiered structure. Any problem that occurs in a higher tier wastes time on all tiers below it. Therefore a problem in the design phase will waste time in the coding, unit testing, integration, quality assurance, and client review phases before the mistake was realized. Clients do not have the level of access to see what is happening with the development, so they cannot put forth their suggestions at a time that would avoid a lot of work from everyone.
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