The Waterfall method is a time-honoured project management approach established in the 1970s. It is a method that involves completing project tasks and phases in a sequential and linear manner; here, every project stage is completed before moving on to the next.
In other words, you can only move forward once you've completed the previous step. This approach is still widely used today, particularly in industries where the project's scope is well-defined and a clear understanding of the work required to succeed.
Projects go through the following stages in the Waterfall Methodology:
1 - Requirement
2 - Analysis
3 - Design
4 - Construction
5 - Testing
6 - Deployment & maintenance
Continuous progress is what defines this Methodology. Like a waterfall, projects move in a clearly defined direction that is carefully outlined and planned for.
With this methodology, room for error is minimal should expectations not match reality. Also, there's no going back to a previous stage once completed.
Utilise the Waterfall methodology if:
- Your project end goal is clearly defined (and is unlikely to change).
- Stakeholders know what they want.
- Your project flow is consistent and predictable (i.e., it will stay the same).
- You work in a regulated industry that requires extensive project tracking or documentation.
- You need to bring new people into the project midway through and quickly get them up to speed.