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Waterfall Model
Dictionary Entry

Waterfall Model

The Waterfall model is a classic project management approach by which a project is divided into a sequential set of phases that are not intended to be changed e.g. Requirements Definition → Design → Implementation → Testing → Operations. While software development is more and more agile oriented, there are still projects that make sense for the classic waterfall model – for example if you rollout a known standard software to multiple locations with similar needs. The technological risks and complexities are lower than by developing software from scratch.

Especially within recent software development the waterfall model isn't recommended due to its lack of flexibility in coping with changes in requirements (that will come up for sure)! It should be applied only if there is very little uncertainty in whatever is getting built. If at a certain stage in a project there is very little uncertainty left - the waterfall model might work (building the 100th website using the same framework for example), but most likely it won't. There are cases where a waterfall model makes sense, like in construction or hardware development: You can't build a skyscrapers before having designed it properly – there is no second try.

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