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Waterfall Versus Cyclical Project Management (#18 in the Hut Project Management Handbook)
By Wouter Baars

The six-phase model is a waterfall model. In other words, the phases take place in succession. Just as it is impossible to swim upstream against a waterfall, the pure waterfall method does not allow returning to a phase after it has been completed.

During the implementation phase, it is not desirable to decide to adapt the design, thereby bringing implementation to a standstill. For a number of reasons (see e.g. McConnell, 1996; Kroll, 2004; Chromatic, 2003; Stapleton, 2002), the waterfall method is usually less suited to software-development projects:

  • Software development is a creative process.
  • It is nearly impossible to identify all of the requirements (functionalities) beforehand.
  • Estimating the amount of time that will be necessary to implement a functionality is quite difficult.
  • It should be possible for all intermediate results to be tested by users throughout the entire trajectory of the project.

Note: The above points will be discussed in details in separate articles.

Next in the Hut Project Management Handbook:

Waterfall vs. Cyclical PM: Software development is a Creative Process

Previously in the Hut Project Management Handbook:

The Project, the Sales Representative, and the Politician

Wouter Baars has a Master of Science degree in Industrial Engineering and Management Science. He has been a project manager for several years for The European commission, Waag Society, KPN (Dutch telecom provider) and many smaller organizations. He is specialized in creative projects such as serious game development, e-learning and software development. Currently he is teaching project management and coaching organizations that are working on their project management. More info on his work:

Originally published by DANS – Data Archiving and Networked Services – The Hague

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