When trying to get projects rolling, sometimes organizing your team can be a bit like herding cats, especially when a good, project management system isn’t in place.
If you feel like this may be you and your squad, you could probably benefit from a little organizational help. While there are many ways to organize projects, like creating a successful ad campaign, one of the easiest to implement is the Waterfall Methodology.
That sounds sort of fun, but just what is the waterfall method and how can it help you?
What Is Waterfall Project Management Methodology?
This is a no-frills, easy-to-follow system of project management, where steps happen in a sequential, linear process. It’s rooted in logic.
The process first came into play in 1970 as a loose means of managing software development. The concept was published by Dr. Winston W. Royce, though it was quickly adapted to project management because everything flows logically from the beginning of a project through the end. It was based on systems used in manufacturing and construction, where it was a necessity, since things must happen sequentially. For instance, when manufacturing an automobile, the wheels can’t be put on before the chassy is together. The brakes can’t be applied before the wheels exist.
While there are variances in the specific steps involved in the process, the basic underlying logic and steps are present, no matter the interpretation.
How Does the Waterfall Method Work?
The waterfall method consists of several discrete and separate phases. No phase begins until the prior phase is complete. There is no ability to return to a prior phase, so each phases’ completion is terminal. The only way to revisit a phase is to start over at phase one.
There are six basic stages, as adapted from the original coders’ usage: requirements, design, implementation, testing, delivery/deployment, and maintenance. Each is documented on the flowchart, guiding creation of the project and providing project milestones that make it easy to determine your progress. Thorough documentation is essential through every phase of the project so that everyone involved can stay on the same page.
Getting Started With the Waterfall System
Proper planning is an absolute necessity, and the project’s requirements must be clear up front. That means they need to be conveyed to everyone involved, and all personnel must understand their role in the project and what that role entails. This information must be clearly documented before being distributed to everyone involved with the project. The easiest way to do this is to utilize a flow chart, so that each step is clearly visible and can be referenced quickly. Adding swimlanes can show which tasks go to which team member.
Gather all of the requirements together at the beginning of the project, and then a sequential project plan is created to accommodate those requirements.
Phase 1: Requirements
You’ll be gathering comprehensive information about what the project requires from a variety of ways, including brainstorming or interviews. Upon completion of the phase, the project requirements will be clear and a requirements document will have been created and distributed to your team.
Let’s say you’re looking to put together a marketing campaign. You’ll need a clear idea of exactly what you want to sell, and to whom. Assuming you’ll be creating a call to action, be clear about what that will be, as well as the desired outcome.
Phase 2: Design
Now that your requirements are clear, you can start to design the campaign. In the software world, this is where the specs for programming language or hardware requirements are established.
You’ll be brainstorming ideas on color, sound, texture, etc. Sketching out what the concept will look like. This may have several different sections, detailing on what each will look like on specific channels.
Phase 3: Implementation
This is where you actually put your ideas into tangible pieces.
Actual ads are created, commercials shot, and radio spots written. Perhaps a jingle is created.
Phase 4: Testing
This is where you share what you’ve created with others, perhaps the rest of the company, or a few small focus groups that can look critically at what you’ve created and offer you input of what is working, and maybe what isn’t.
If there are serious issues with what you’ve created, maybe confusion as to what the call to action is, or conflicting information, you may need to go back to Phase One for reevaluation.
Phase 5: Delivery/Deployment
Your product is complete, and your team submits the deliverables to be deployed or released.
You’ve done all you can do, and your campaign is ready for release. Spots are sent to your local television programming and radio stations, fliers are submitted to the printer, etc.
Phase 6: Maintenance
The product is now out there and/or delivered to your client, and in use. As issues arise, you may need to update things sometimes to address them. If there are huge issues, you may need to return to Phase One.
The advantages to being able to keep things simple and clear are huge, and since you’re able to show progress, that makes the project that much easier to manage, which could save you time and money in the long run. If you feel like you’ve been stuck spinning your wheels, let Clock Tower Insight get you started on a straight track!