Challenges with Waterfall Methods

Challenges with WATERFALL Methods

In last article, I explored the need of new ways of “developing knowledge products” or “delivering knowledge projects” as the Project Management Process and Product Development Methodologies – defined during the Industrial Revolution – are not able to help to develop/deliver new age knowledge products/projects.

Therefore, before I go further into New Ways/Methods to develop/deliver new age product, it would be worth to understand the challenges with existing methods.

The most basic, fundamental and popular Product Development or Project Delivery methodology is – Waterfall Methodology. The same waterfall method has been extended to SDLC – Software Development Life Cycle, V-Model, PDCA or DMAEC etc.

Waterfall Model

If one sees Waterfall Model carefully, one would realise that the most important aspect of success is phase wise delivery. Means – There are distinct boundary, entry and exit criteria for each phase. If project is in requirement phase, resources are only gathering the requirements or developing the requirements. Design phase would not start until of unless requirements are not ready and approved and so on. And because of this very fundamental phase wise nature of waterfall methodology, there are various challenges which we are facing while developing new age products. Some are as follows:


  • Late realisation of value to customer or user
  • Surprises at the end
  • Misinterpretation of requirements
  • Less acceptability, more post production defects
  • No chance to inspect and adapt
  • Quality compromised – Testing done only at the end, and if time permits
  • No visibility to team: “How much work is remaining?”
  • No visibility to customers : “When are we getting our software? What features are going to be part of it?”
  • Human resource management becomes a overhead
  • Lots of uncertainly / risk till very late in projects
  • Lots of waste: “The whole project is a work-in-progress”

This is why, Winston Royce – widely credited with having given birth to the waterfall model of software development – concludes, “This (Waterfall) simpler model is risky and invites failure. … In my experience it has never worked on large software development projects.”

However, I would humbly caution to people, engineers and knowledge workers for wrongly concluding  that, “Waterfall Model is not right or sub-standard model for developing Knowledge (Software) Product”. I am a student of NEW AGE Methods (Agile), but I have tremendous respect for Waterfall Methodology. This methodology has been instrumental since decades to develop/deliver number of product/project. However with new age scenario, this model is not the best suited for latest time.

Paras Mishra

I am cool, calm, collected, and reasonable Virgo. I currently reside in Garden City Bangalore. I am an Engineering Graduate and work as Management Consultant.


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