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6 essential waterfall project management tools

By: Emily Finlay

The waterfall project management methodology can help you keep any project organized. Using a sequential approach, this tool ensures that you follow a plan and accomplish everything your client requires from the finished product.

Successfully executing your project using waterfall requires you to follow a specific process, one based on pre-planning and linear progression. If you have the right tools, you can use this methodology for any project you manage. Without these resources, however, you may find your team stalled by a chaotic and ineffective process.

In this guide, we’ll help you find the tools you need to wow your customers with the work you do. These resources will keep your team on-task, in constant communication, and ready to tackle the work ahead.

Must-have waterfall project management tools

Managing a project involves many different components. Below, we’ve listed all of the types of tools you will need during your project. This guide will help you narrow down the capabilities you require so you can then find the products that work best for your specific team and budget. 

1. Communication tools

The key to every successful project is good communication. Many projects will involve both your immediate team and outside help, such as subcontractors and/or colleagues from other departments. To keep everyone on the same page, make sure you have access to tools that will keep everyone connected throughout the project. 

Chat tools, like Slack, are often a great option. You can organize your channels within the app so you only include the people involved with the current discussion. It’s also a good idea to have a video chat tool for meetings. Emails and phone calls are useful, but they can also make discussions more complicated than they need to be.

2. Collaboration tools

Customer requirements are at the core of the waterfall model. Once you’ve gathered your client’s expectations for the product, you’ll use these requirements to guide the rest of the project. 

No matter how involved they are with the project, every team member will need access to this documentation. You could share individual files to everyone that joins the team, but that is more work and hassle than necessary.

Instead, use any of the large number of collaboration tools that are available. Google Drive, for example, makes storing and accessing shared files incredibly easy. You could also use something like Dropbox or Microsoft Teams. Along with guaranteeing shared access, these tools also allow everyone to share their thoughts and questions about the materials in a collaborative space. Your team will be able to get more done as they work together to create excellence.

3. Note-taking tools

Speaking of customer requirements, you need to have great documentation tools when following the waterfall methodology. These notes will direct everything you do, so you need to store this information in a way that works for your team. 

Some may prefer to use word processing tools like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Depending on the project and group, spreadsheets might be a better option. You can also use Evernote, OneNote, or any of the many note-taking software options available. As long as you can capture and share the information you hear, find the tool that suits your needs.

Once you’ve gathered your requirements, you can also use whiteboards, presentations, and other tools to focus on specific sets of information at a time.

4. Work-specific tools

Of course, to create and maintain the product, you need access to the tools you’ll need to develop it. You know what you need, so this is just a reminder to gather your resources before the project begins. When you’re in the midst of creation, missing tools can delay the entire project and disrupt your waterfall process.

5. Testing tools

Testing is one of the main phases of the waterfall methodology. Before you present the product to the customer, you first need to confirm that it does what it’s supposed to do at the standards you set.

The tools you need for testing will vary by industry and product. When choosing your resources, ensure you have tools that will test the product’s functionality. You will also need access to early users who can test its purpose. If you’re creating an app, for example, you can use beta testers to find bugs you may have missed and evaluate how well it meets your client’s requirements. 

You also need to measure your product’s compliance with any relevant regulations. These tools are the only way to complete the waterfall project management method, so make them a priority.

6. Planning tools

This category of tools might be at the bottom of the list, but it’s the most important type of resource you need. Your project plan is the only way to successfully complete a product using the waterfall method. This plan includes everyone’s roles, what needs to be done, and what your timeline is. Without a solid plan, your project will quickly fall apart.

Creating a good project plan starts with finding the right planning tools. You’ll need an option that visualizes your tasks and timelines, organizes the team, and prepares you for any potential issues down the road. When it comes to the best waterfall project management tools, it’s hard to find a better resource than MindManager.

Creating a waterfall model diagram with MindManager

MindManager is ideal for creating a waterfall model diagram and plan because it covers every step of the process, from gathering requirements to delivering and maintaining the product. In this section, we’ll walk you through the ways you can use our tool to nail every project.

How to create a waterfall project plan template

Before we talk about MindManager’s benefits, let’s discuss the best ways to create your waterfall project plan template. First, you have to know what will be involved with the project, so start with a team brainstorming session. Create a mind map to visualize and explore the client requirements, project needs, and anticipated timeline.

Use this information to develop a full breakdown of the work you will need to accomplish. This should include all of the major components, as well as the specific tasks you will complete to bring these elements together.

Using what you know about the work involved, outline your timeline and budget in more detail. Your schedule should include milestone dates for tasks, notes about who will be involved when, and what your end date will be. In your budget, you can list the tools you need, any outside vendors you will need to hire, and additional expenses. Your team should all be contributing to the timeline and resource lists as well.

Next, assign the tasks in your breakdown to each of your team members. Make sure everyone understands the expectations and has access to the requirements documentation before work begins. 

By the end of this session, you should have a clear picture of the project. Though this may seem like a lot of work at the beginning of the project, it sets the foundation for the work you will do throughout. A solid plan ensures smooth sailing as the product develops. It also limits the amount of time you’ll need to spend on managing and overseeing the individual components.

Once all of this information has been hashed out, you can create a Gantt chart within MindManager. This visual tool is perfect for projects following the waterfall methodology. You can design your sequential, linear process and add all of the milestones and steps your team just developed. Using your Gantt chart as a guide, your project will progress exactly as planned.

Why should I use MindManager over other tools?

As you have seen in this article, project management using the waterfall method requires numerous tools. The last thing you need is a project planning tool that requires support from numerous additional resources. 

MindManager minimizes the number of tools you need by offering the capabilities you need within one resource. From brainstorming to creating the plan itself, you can do it all within the solution. 

The mind mapping tool is also made for collaborative work. You can easily share your Gantt chart and project plan with the entire team. Easily store, share, and retrieve files within the chart, adding the relevant customer requirements to the tasks and steps that need them. 

Best of all, the tool offers a vast library of templates that are ready for customization and use. Once you find the chart you need, you can adjust it to meet your needs. You can also save your visualizations to use for future projects.

When using the waterfall project management methodology, preparation is key. The tools included in this guide will give your team the resources they need to do amazing work. And, by pairing them with a MindManager project plan, you can give your team and customer the best possible experience.

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