How to Guide for on Waterfall Project Management

  • 28 July, 2014

"All things are created twice; first mentally; then physically. The key to creativity is to begin with the end in mind, with a vision and a blue print of the desired result." - Stephen Covey (Author of "7 Habits of Highly Effective People")
"Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end; then stop." - Lewis Carroll (Author of "Alice in Wonderland")
There are different types of Project Management and they vary according to the industry in which it is being used. Waterfall Project Management is otherwise known as the Traditional Project Management or Sequential Project Management. The title "Waterfall Project Management" was first used and described by Winston W. Royce in his 1970 article "Managing the Development of Large Software System".

The waterfall project management follows as seven predefined steps. These steps or phases occur sequentially and the progress of the project depends on completion of each individual phase. After completion of one stage, the workflow goes into the next stage mimicking a stack of water troughs set to overflow into the next trough once when the first one is completely filled with water. The stacked image of the phases was how waterfall management received its name.

The lists of steps or phases involved in project management are: Requirement Phase, Design Phase, Construction or Implementation Phase, Integration Phase, Testing Phase, Installation Phase and Maintenance Phase.

1. Requirement Phase

In the first stage the project specification is collected and the customer provides any additional requirements based on their needs. The specification gathered at this stage is vital since it is the deciding factor for how the project will progress. In the construction industry, the first stage is gathering a customer's requirement for their building. It plays an important role in future decision making. Often times an assigned team would gather all the inputs needed for creating that dream house and create a document stating the details of end product features. Naturally, once this stage is completed within the pre-defined timeline the project moves to the next phase, design.

2. Design Phase

In the second phase of project progression, the document specification defines what kind of material and resources are going to be used for creating the customer desired product. In the construction industry the design phase involves creating a blueprint of the building which is going to be constructed. Also, during this stage the blueprint goes through an approval process and it is finalized. This stage takes into consideration all the pertinent requirements and any modification to the blueprint should be done face-to-face with the customer. The input gathered from the customer view-point provides feedback on proper satisfaction of project specification drawn in the first stage of the project.

3. Construction or Implementation Phase

The blueprint of the building becomes the outline of the project and at this stage the construction of the building goes into full fledge mode. The building is constructed in sequential stages of completing each level before constructing the next level. The Waterfall project management also follows the same concept. Each successive stage requires the completion of the previous stage before it can be started. The project is managed by a team of workforce people. The team in-charge of drawing up the specification document forwards the project to the next level or next team. The second team or the Architects draw up the design of the building and pass it on to the Construction team thus progress the project to the next stage.

4. Integration Phase

In this stage the entire building comes together with all the required components. This stage is more commonly found in an earlier method of software development. At this stage, the software has been used to create a customer wish list for their software application needs and matched up with the requirement of resources and programming language selections. The design section brings in software architecture blueprint that would be followed for the creation of the end product. Similarly, in the construction industry the blueprint is turned into the actual building. So the various lines on a blueprint become concrete walls.

5. Testing Phase

At this stage the software is rigorously tested against pre-defined testing requirements. Once the blueprinted architecture of the software and its programming and implementation have been complete it becomes vital that all components are verified and tested. At this stage there can be no major changes to the software application and it usually requires small to large fixes to the application. Since the Waterfall project management doesn't support revising and version control, so it becomes rather tedious to make corrections. Whereas, in the construction industry, the building has to meet safety requirements and be tested to ensure all state laws have been applied.

6. Installation Phase

At this stage, in software project development, the software application is ready for being installed and run by the client. This could be the closest to project completion if it were a standalone project. So, during installation if there are requirements that need to be cross verified or improved, they are offered as a regular update. In the construction industry, the project is completed and is ready for customer usage. At this stage the actual building based on the specification provided by the customer is verified. A satisfied customer is a project well managed.

7. Maintenance Phase

At this stage, the project is handed over to the customer and whatever new features are needed, is then handled by providing patches or updates for the software application. Sometimes each consecutive upgrade to the software application might be an innovation to meet the needs of future projects. In the construction industry, the project maintenance is a project life cycle by itself. Once a building is finished and handed over there is not much of maintenance to be undertaken unless there is an issue of pre-existing environmental condition to the structure. For example, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco requires a protective coat of paint at fixed interval to maintain it against the corrosion from the mingling of cold and warm waters fogs.

Finally, it could be said that there are some industries where project management could follow the waterfall approach but in software industry it might fail. Comparatively, in the building of a hardware component, sometimes the waterfall method works perfect for the project. Where the project requires sequential completion of each phase to go to the next level then those projects would be well aided by Waterfall Management.

Blogs you might also like