Waterfall project management is a traditional methodology originally based on civil engineering and construction projects but later on adapted for software engineering and IT projects. The sequential nature of the Waterfall model places project teams in a highly structured environment. The best tools for Waterfall project management enable teams to proceed from one phase to the next in a sequential, seamless way to meet the project’s schedule, budget, and scope.
In evaluating tools that facilitate the waterfall methodology, how do three top PM tools — monday, Wrike, and Smartsheet — compare?
Best Tools for Waterfall Project Management
Here are our recommended project management tools for managing waterfall projects. These top project management software solutions will allow teams to keep well-defined projects from exceeding their schedule and budget.
monday.com is an online platform for project management and other workflows. It enables project teams to centralize all information in a single place and plan projects using waterfall or any other method from start to finish. It includes modern features like custom dashboards, multiple work views, and team collaboration.
monday.com has an interactive Gantt chart that allows a team to plan, execute, and track projects using the Waterfall method with a visual and flexible platform. Users can set dependencies to make sure team members complete tasks on schedule and in the proper sequence. They can easily keep track of milestones and visualize important dates to deliver projects on time. Other features include automation, real-time updates, project dashboards, and project templates.
Read our complete review on monday.com.
How to Use Waterfall with monday.com
monday.com offers a template center where users can choose a Waterfall project template to get the project started quickly. Users can further customize the template by setting up groups for each project phase. They can add tasks, assign each task to a team member, and set a due date and a status.
When the project is ready to launch, teams can select the timeline or Gantt view to visualize the time frame for each task. The project leader can also set up milestones and task dependencies to inform all stakeholders of priorities and the sequence of tasks.
Wrike helps improve work visibility, enables cross-departmental collaboration, and offers task automation. This customizable tool allows teams to configure dashboards, workflows, request forms, and other features to match exact project requirements, including setups for Waterfall management.
Wrike includes an interactive Gantt chart to help teams visualize plans and progress. Its drag-and-drop interface allows users to create and share intuitive timeline views, task dependencies, shareable snapshots, baseline, and critical path analyses. Any adjustment of assignee, dates, or duration will reflect on the chart immediately and alert all impacted team members. Of course, users can also print the Gantt chart. They can import data from spreadsheets, MS Project, and other project management tools.
How to Use Waterfall with Wrike
To set up a Waterfall workflow in Wrike, users need to first break down the project into the smaller tasks needed to move the team towards the project objective. From the Task List view, users can add all the tasks, set dates for each task, and also fill in task descriptions for a better understanding of the tasks. Users can also set a milestone at the end of a project phase and at the end project, or set it later on.
Users then need to switch to the Timeline view and display the tasks in a Gantt chart. Setting dependencies is easily accomplished by dragging a line from the end of the previous task to the beginning of the next task. Wrike will automatically reschedule all dependency-connected tasks if a start or due date of a task changes. The Gantt chart will also color-code the tasks to show progress updates. It also has filters to display specific work statuses, task owners, dates, or other criteria.
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Smartsheet is a cloud-based project management platform for the whole enterprise. It is flexible for different use cases and departments with a variety of work views, reports, and dashboards. It tracks plans, tasks, resources, and schedules to allow teams using Waterfall or other project management methodologies to align work, people, and technology.
Smartsheet enables users to switch views between grid, Gantt, and calendar views of the same data for visualization of tasks. Users can set up a Gantt chart with dependencies to create a critical path. It has a drag-and-drop interface to easily adjust dates. Other features are automatic updates, real-time communication, and secure permission controls.
How to Use Waterfall with Smartsheet
Users can display tasks in sheets and reports as bars in a timeline with a Gantt chart. Smartsheet will display any sheet or report with at least two date columns in Gantt view. In this view, the chart appears to the right of the columns with a divider splitting the screen between grid columns and the Gantt chart. Users can drag this divider to the left or right to widen the display of either section.
In the Gantt chart view, users can set dependencies and track relationships between tasks to ensure the proper sequencing. Users can also display the percent completion of tasks and view the critical path of the project. Smartsheet can filter multiple sheets so teams can see only tasks in the critical path. Project managers can share the timeline in PDF to keep all stakeholders informed of the project status.
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Many teams continue to use Waterfall project management today, especially for clearly defined projects with many moving parts within a structured workflow.
Even with Waterfall’s relatively straight-line approach to completing a project, however, its is a best practice for teams to use a single project management tool that is flexible enough to handle both linear, sequential models like Waterfall and iterative, adaptive models like Agile. Regardless of methodology, modern project management software is powerful enough to manage rapidly changing requirements and accommodate greater customer participation and collaboration.