Waterfall project management divides a project into separate, sequential steps, with each new stage starting only when the preceding one is accomplished. The Waterfall approach is the most classic method of project management, with team members working linearly toward a predetermined end objective. Each individual has a distinct role, and no stages or goals are expected to alter. Agile, like scrum project management, on the other hand, is a project methodology and strategy derived from the Lean philosophy. The primary distinction is that Waterfall project management is a linear style of working that requires the team to fulfill each project before moving on to the next, whereas Agile encourages the team to work on several phases of the project concurrently.

What Is Waterfall Project Management?

The waterfall project management methodology adheres to a linear, chronological formula. It performs well for work with predictable, recurrent procedures, but it can catch development teams off guard and leave them unable to change faster than a rival. The waterfall project management technique is a sequential development process that falls like a waterfall through all stages of a project (for example, analysis, design, programming, and testing), with each phase entirely wrapping up before moving on to the next.

On waterfall projects, all tasks are classified by activity type, and each project follows the same phases:

Requirements: Requirements are where we examine business requirements and define what software must perform.

Design: Design is the process by which we select technologies, generate diagrams, and plan software architecture.

Coding: Coding is the process of figuring out how to resolve issues and writing code.

Testing: Testing ensures that the code does what it is designed to do without breaking anything.

Operations: Operations is where we put the code into production and give support.

How Does the Waterfall Approach Work?

In waterfall project management, the project is divided into tasks, with the uppermost grouping referred to as phases. A real waterfall strategy necessitates phases that are completed in order and have explicit exit standards, which are often signed off on by project stakeholders. A typical waterfall work list would include the following:

  • Project scope and planning
  • Compile and document requirements
  • Design software
  • Create an application and run unit tests
  • Perform system testing
  • Carry out UAT
  • Adjust the application as needed
  • Install the application

In waterfall project management, activities must take place in the exact order specified, and one set of activities cannot begin before the previous one has finished. This is why, with waterfall projects, planning is critical: if a step is late, it will drive every other succeeding phase behind, putting the entire project behind schedule. The success of the waterfall project management process lies in the fact that the phases are frequently depicted using a flow chart or a Gantt chart. Because each activity flows into the next Gantt chart shows the previous phase "falling" into the following phase.


Benefits of Using the Waterfall Approach

Waterfall project management is a prominent and trusted project management methodology that ranks with Wrike project management, Six Sigma, scrum project management, and Kanban. Waterfall project management is still relevant in the present corporate world over half a century after it was discovered. However, if the objectives are fixed, well defined, and obvious, the technology is recognized and mature, the project is short, and there is no additional value obtained from 'becoming agile,' How waterfall project management can be a helpful and predictable approach as follows:

  • Early in the project, requirements are accomplished, allowing the team to establish the overall project possibilities, construct a detailed timetable, and design the overall application.
  • It increases resource usage by allowing activities to be separated and completed in parallel or aggregated to harness resource skills.
  • It is a better application design because all needs and outputs are more well-understood.
  • A thorough timetable and resource plan allows for easier measurement of project status.

Thanks to its easy and streamlined approach to development, waterfall project management is still a viable option today. It may not be appropriate for every activity or business, but it does set the scene to ensure that completed work is transferred to each step rather than depending on unbiased results.

How to Implement the Waterfall Approach?

Most of us would agree that implementing waterfall project management is simple. The first step is to form a large team with a variety of responsibilities, such as developers, testers, analysts, and managers. All Waterfall projects are led by a project manager. He is in charge of the final output.

After forming a huge team with a rigorous hierarchical structure, you should put the three aforementioned concepts ( testing, analysis, and management) into action. Because all Waterfall tasks are built on documentation, you should begin by implementing it. Begin your first Waterfall project by recording the customer's requirements. Following that, you should begin working on your project stage by stage. Remember that Waterfall projects necessitate focus since you can return to the beginning.

The most straightforward option would be to adopt a waterfall project management tool to simplify the process. Current project management software offers methods to improve waterfall project management, particularly in software development. Interactive Gantt charts, drag-and-drop capabilities for simple adjustment and adaptation to unexpected events, documentation and resource management, and communication capabilities available on mobile devices are some of the tools for the waterfall approach.

Projectsly is one such feature-rich waterfall project management tool, just like notion project management and Trello project management, that can ease the task. Projectsly has some user-friendly features like:

  • Streamline all of your project and task assignments in one place and communicate as a team to complete more work in less time.
  • Maintain project progress alignment by collaborating on tasks, sharing information, and seeing status updates.
  • Create several projects for different teams and simplify project management by controlling everything in one spot.
  • Increase team productivity by tracking work progress in several views, including kanban, list, calendar, and Gantt.
  • Kanban View visualizes all team tasks with greater transparency, making it easier to work on high-priority activities, and includes drag-and-drop capabilities for moving tasks across categories.
  • Advanced Reports provide statistics and metrics at a glance. Get a unified view of all project data, as well as data analysis that provides useful insights to the project team.
  • Smartsheet project management gets everyone on track and promotes cooperation among project team members by downloading and sharing the charts in JPEG and PNG formats.

Challenges of Using the Waterfall Approach

The waterfall development process addresses your project's requirements, design, testing, and coding as independent components and different phases of your software project. Everything changes at a faster pace in the startup environment, as it does everywhere else, and this structure might end up being highly unsafe. It is one of the less adaptive and variable methodologies in software development because progress is primarily downward, like a waterfall, through the phases of conception, initiation, analysis, design, construction, testing, deployment, and maintenance. But these can be overcome if we address the following challenges well.

When it comes to the waterfall, each step presents several problems.

  • The prerequisites are first frozen. We lose the opportunity to address business needs that may arise in the middle of requirements being frozen upfront.
  • Creating the architectural design before beginning development. More will be revealed only after you begin developing. Developing the full architecture upfront and then updating it in the middle is a waste of effort.
  • Not involving testing early in development results in a lot of rework.
  • Customers aren't included too early in the process to obtain feedback.
  • Another problem is having all of the test cases signed off and up to date on the paperwork.


Waterfall project management, however, may be excellent since the many stages can be handled straightforwardly if the following are observed.

  • To genuinely accomplish any project, there must be clear, definite, and well-documented prerequisites.
  • A specific target audience.
  • A thorough understanding of technical requirements.
  • A skilled workforce.
  • Each phase must be completed within a short period.
  • A great deal of knowledge and experience with the work to be done.
  • Implementation of waterfall project management tools.

Summing It Up

There are many components and multiple team members to keep track of in waterfall projects. Using job management software to keep workflows, timetables, and outputs all in one spot is one of the greatest ways to remain on the same page. You can try Projectsly by 500apps if you're ready to experiment with waterfall project management with your crew. Visit the 500apps website to learn more!

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