Limitations of waterfall model

The waterfall model, sometimes called the classic life cycle, suggests a systematic, sequential approach to software development that begins with customer specification of requirements and progresses through planning, modeling, construction, and deployment, culminating in ongoing support of the completed software The classical waterfall model is an idealistic one since it assumes that no development error is ever committed by the engineers during any of the life cycle phases. However, in practical development environments, the engineers do commit a large number of errors in almost every phase of the life cycle.

The source of the defects can be many: oversight, wrong assumptions, use of inappropriate technology, communication gap among the project engineers, etc. These defects usually get detected much later in the life cycle. For example, a design defect might go unnoticed till we reach the coding or testing phase. Once a defect is detected, the engineers need to go back to the phase where the defect had occurred and redo some of the work done during that phase and the subsequent phases to correct the defect and its effect on the later phases. Therefore, in any practical software development work, it is not possible to strictly follow the classical waterfall model.


  • The nature of the requirements will not change very much during development; during evolution.
  • The model implies that you should attempt to complete a given stage before moving on to the next stage.
  • Does not account for the fact that requirements constantly change
  • It also means that customers cannot use anything until the entire system is complete
  • The model implies that once the product is finished, everything else is  maintenance 
  • Surprises at the end are very expensive
  • Some teams sit ideal for other teams to finish
  • Therefore, this model is only appropriate when the requirements are well-understood and changes will be fairly limited during the design process

Leave a Reply