Photo by Rio Hodges on Unsplash Photo by Rio Hodges on Unsplash

Have you ever asked yourself, "What's the most straightforward way to manage a project?”

The answer is, “Waterfall Project Management.”

The Waterfall methodology—also known as the traditional approach—is a sequential development process, which means that each phase must be complete before the next phase begins.

Waterfall gets its name because each phase of the project cascades into the next.

This video provides a simple overview.

How Does Waterfall Work?

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Overview of Waterfall

  • At the beginning of the project, you create a detailed project plan that includes all the requirements.

  • You then proceed through a series of clearly defined phasesuntil you’ve fully executed on the plan.

  • Tasks and phases are completed in a linear, sequential manner, which means the output of each phase acts as the input to the next phase.

  • Each participant has a clearly defined role and none of the phases or goals are expected to change.


The Five Phases Of Waterfall

Byte Author Uploaded Image There are 5 main phases:

  1. Requirements: This is where you gather and analyze all the information about the project and identify the different functions and features you need.

  2. Design: Once you understand the requirements, you design the project workflow, architecture and system.

  3. Implementation: In this phase you start the actual development, making sure you use your requirements and specifications.

  4. Verification: Once you complete coding, you start testing. This is to ensure that there are no errors and the product meets its requirements.

  5. Maintenance: Finally, when you deploy the project, you provide subsequent support and maintenance to make sure the product works.


Ali works in the hospitality industry. A client asked him to organize a conference in 4 months time using Waterfall. What should Ali do first?

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Waterfall?

Flaticon Icon Pros

  • Simple and easy to follow

  • Requirements are clear

  • Design is completed in advance

  • Phases do not overlap and are clearly planned

  • Detailed documentation

  • Cost can be planned in advance

Flaticon Icon Cons

  • Not adaptable to change

  • Requires a lot of planning

  • Does not allow you to work on multiple phases at the same time

  • Involves high levels of risk

  • Not a good approach for complex projects

  • Does not involve client feedback during development

When Should You Use Waterfall?

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Waterfall works best for projects with these characteristics:

  • Short and simple

  • Scope is known

  • Clear and fixed requirements

  • No changes are anticipated

  • Stakeholder involvement is only required at set milestones


Sam, a software developer, has a new client who wants to develop an app for her business. She's not sure what features or functionality she needs. Should Sam use Waterfall to manage this project?

Take Action

Photo by Octavian Dan on Unsplash Photo by Octavian Dan on Unsplash

Waterfall Methodology is best suited for projects that are clearly defined; require structure and strict deadlines; and where change is not anticipated.

The next time you manage a project, ask yourself:

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If you answered "yes" to these questions, Waterfall is most likely the best methodology for your project.


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