In the world of project management, the waterfall is as easy as it gets.
This is a linear project management approach where you collect stakeholder and customer requirements at the start of a project and then follow a sequential project plan to meet to these requirements. That's all!
Think of it as the OG of software development methodologies.
Of course, the waterfall isn't the most flexible, especially compared to its modern counterparts like Agile and Scrum, but that doesn't mean it's less efficient, provided that you were using it for the right projects.
In this guide we will tell you all about waterfall project management and how you can use this methodology to improve your project results.
Excited? Let's start!
Why cascade project management is so important
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think aboutz to "cascade"?
A lot of people think of words like “free fall”, “free” or “loosely based” which is ironic since the waterfall methodology is anything but flexible, with its very structured nature. Everything is defined from the start - the requirements of the project, the expectations of the stakeholders, the overall structure… Everything!
Despite the newly invented project management methodologies, you will find several projects where the waterfall is still the best solution, especially where the teams know all the project requirements from the start.
As Ben Aston says of The Digital Project Manager , "Waterfall can be a useful and predictable approach if the requirements are set, well documented, and clear, if the technology is understood and mature, the project is short, and if there is no gaintheir extra to "become agile". "
Basically, teams still need a stunt for projects where agility is a complete non-starter.
Many people prefer this methodology because of its simple and linear design. In addition, a visual representation makes it easier for teams to understand the steps to follow to achieve project goals.
A 2017 report from the Project Management Institute (PMI) found that 51% of organizations still used the cascade compared to other contemporary methodologies. So it's safe to say the waterfall isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
Here are some other reasons why the waterfall is still relevant today:
Simple progress metrics
Cascading project management makes measurement progVery simple and straightforward thanks to its clearly defined starting and ending points. Everyone involved is fully aware of the scope of the work well in advance.
Why complicate something when you can get away with it easily, right?
Waterfall is more intuitive than other project management methodologies. Each phase is in sequential order, with deliverables and a review process. As the overall approach is very methodical, it is also easier for newcomers to follow.
Better documentation and clear information transfer
Each project has clear documentation, which makes it easier for members to monitor progress. In fact, the waterfall is designedue so that if a team member suddenly quits during the development process, their replacement can easily pick up exactly where they left off before.
With these advantages in mind, you should also understand the type of projects where the waterfall is the best solution. These include situations where:
- Customer requirements do not change frequently.
- The projects are short and simple.
- The phases of the project do not change overlap.
- All requirements are clear and specified.
- Projects have a specific time frame.
- The development environment is stable, with the necessary tools and techniques.
- All available resources are properly trained.
Additionally, the waterfall was also more preferred where human life is at stake (where a system failure could lead to death.s), and human security is paramount. It's easy to see why banking services, healthcare, control systems for nuclear facilities, space shuttles, etc. use stunt rather than agility.
The programs of the Department of Defense (DoD), the military and the air force follow the cascade model. in many organizations due to the strict standards and requirements that must be met in these industries.
Here the requirements are well known in advance and the contracts are very specific on the deliverables of the project. The agencies also found Waterfall to be more compatible with their procurement process and their rigorous monitoring process, which is required by the government.
How To Improve Waterfall Project Management Today
You can get the most out of waterfall project management by making improvementskey statements. Waterfall tables are meant to be clear, concise, and easy to follow - something that uses project management tools like Monday.com makes it possible.
Other than that, here are some other tactics to ensure optimal results.
Match the nature of the project to the methodology
Before deciding on a project methodology, be sure to choose the best option to take into account the nature of the project.
The cascade only makes sense when you are following a linear process that does notno need for a lot of flexibility or many iterations. However, if you want something more fluid and unstructured or less structured, adopting agile project management would be a better bet.
A good tip is to study what other teams have used in the past for similar projects and then weigh your options depending on what needs to be done and how. You can also organize group discussions on different methodologies where team members and stakeholders can express their opinions and discuss nuances in more detail.
Documentation is a vital aspect of the waterfall approach.
It 's the best way to highlight the responsibilities of everyone in the team.eg, as well as the deadlines for each task. It also creates an overview of the entire structure from start to finish, allowing others to see what steps need to be taken to achieve the end result.
Create a strong project scope that defines project boundaries and a documented, air conditioning plan to serve as a point of reference. You can also create and display a visual progress indicator (checkboxes, milestones, etc.) to make it easier for team members to see and understand how their efforts are contributing to the end goal. .
Think of it as adding something concrete to what may seem like a distant goal.
Create realistic timelines with clear due dates
Waterfall teams should always define the times in the phases when customer involvement is required.
Clients and clients are only involved 'at specific points in the project rather than having them at each stage. Also, if you don 't address resources and availability on time, it can potentially delay the project.
Start by establishing clear deadlines for deliverables for both parties. Not only does this promote accountability for all, but it also gives them the initiative to deliver results on time by informing them of requirements and deadlines.
Action plans are always a great idea, especially for cascade projects. Having clear criteria and procedures for each phase of the project makes it easier for everyone to monitor, control and work together.
As such, there is no fluctuation around the criteria and procedures of the project, which in turn means less possibilities for confusion and slower processes.sandstone. Plus, it's easier to plan launch dates and make decisions for the future with simplified progress tracking.
Be on the same wavelength as the stakeholders
Large projects are known for their Tracks. This is due to the ever-changing and endless opinions, requests, ideas, tasks and deadlines of different stakeholders, which ends up lengthening the deadlines and taking the project beyond its original scope.
This is precisely why you need to align the expectations with the project stakeholders from the start. In addition, stakeholders should understand Do not go beyond what was agreed upon at the start of implementation.
Waterfall, as a methodology, is designed to be rigid. Therefore, making changes in the middle of the project can be very difficult, which is why stakeholder demands should be minimal and all requirements so.nt established from the start.
Don't rush the process and always test the deliverables
You should plan the project timeline so that you have enough time to test the results.
It is common for cascading projects to be rushed as the deadline approaches, and while not desirable, there is not much that can be done about it unless it is. is to improve project planning and create realistic deadlines. You can also try to account for this rush during the planning stages while still allowing plenty of time to test and resolve issues.
That said, don't limit testing to small samples. You need to collect meaningful data and get insight from valuable data sources, as this is the only way to get a clearer picture of the end product. The tests also allow you to take notes anddiscuss your results as a collective with team members.
3 Best Practices for Cascading Project Management
Below we have compiled a list of the three best practices for Cascading Project Management to understand what needs to be done to get the final deliverable.
Gather all the requirements and documents in advance
Before starting the project, you need all the documents and requirements clearly listed. Here's how to do it:
Scope of the project. This is one of the most important documents for your project. It should include your deliverables, features, timelines, costs, and soon. This is extremely important, so be sure to dedicate the time and effort necessary to get a clear and detailed scope of the project.
Expectations of stakeholders. We have already mentioned the importance of aligning the reachntes on stakeholders, that is to say the people who have a direct interest in the project. You can conduct interviews and organize meetings to get a clear idea of their vision and desires. This will contribute to the success of the project.
Research. Perform market research on competitors, current market trends, customer needs and anything else that you think can contribute to the success of your project.
Create teams. The next step on your list should be to assemble all the people and resources you need, such as website developers, designers, programmers, etc.
Structure your project planning
Having a well-defined framework is a crucial part of cascade projects. Planning the structure of your project means determining how to arrive at the final deliverable, which includes:
Collecting tasks. Use a work breakdown structure to list all the tasks needed to be completed to arrive at the final deliverable.
Creation of calendars. Now that you have your tasks, the next step is to create a schedule to estimate the total time each task will take. After that, map them in a Gantt chart and link the dependencies to get a clearer picture of the project. You can also add costs to create a project budget if you want.
Monitor and monitor the progress of the project regularly
At this point you should be in the implementation phase of your project , where you build and test deliverables. Here's how to easily monitor and track progress:
Assign team tasks. Project members should be responsible for their pective task resolution. Again, you can prepare these tasks from a Gantt chart and add priorities, deions, etc. to make the process even more defined.
Monitor and track tasks. Once the executed project begins, you need to monitor and track the daily progress to make sure the project is moving according to schedule.
Manage resources and workload. It is common to face obstacles during the implementation of a project. You will find yourself reallocating resources and balancing the workload a lot, but it is also a necessary step to avoid bottlenecks.
Report to stakeholders. Stakeholders should always be kept informed during the ddevelopment of a project. It is your responsibility to continue updating them to show progress. You can also meet them and discuss a regular schedule for presentations, which makes it convenient for both parties.
Test and deliver the deliverables. You need to test deliverables extensively to make sure everything works as designed. It is only after correcting the errors and resolving the issues that you should release the deliverable to the stakeholders.