Waterfall project management tools Blog Feature

10 Best Waterfall Project Management Tools in 2023

There are many ways you can manage a project—from Agile to Lean, Scrum to Kanban. Each has its strengths, but one of the most popular project management methodologies is the waterfall model. 

This approach favors careful planning and research to ensure a successful outcome. To make this happen, project teams need software designed for this model—with features that align with the steps involved throughout a project.

There are plenty of waterfall project management software out there, but which are the best?

Let’s dive in to find out! 🏊‍♀️

What is a Waterfall Project Management Tool?

the waterfall project management methodology focuses on one linear path from start to finish, with the next phase of the project only starting once the previous phase has been completed. It’s ideal for complex projects with many tasks. ✅

waterfall methodology
The various elements of the waterfall methodology

Waterfall project management software and sprint planning tools give project and software development teams an easy way to plan projects according to this methodology.

This type of project management is typically broken down into five distinct stages: 

  • Project Requirements Phase: gathering knowledge and data required for the project scope at the beginning of the project
  • Design Phase: the technical design phase of a product or solution
  • Implementation Phase: the stage where a product is coded or built
  • Verification or Testing Phase: the robust testing process before a product is released to end users
  • Deployment and Maintenance Phase: the ongoing maintenance and deployment of updates as part of the development process

A central feature of waterfall project management is front-heavy planning to avoid potential challenges further down the line. As planning is such a crucial element, the best waterfall project management software include features that support and streamline this process—like task management, document libraries, Gantt charts, and project schedules. 📚

What Should You Look for in a Waterfall Project Management Tool?

With so many distinct stages, project teams need a software platform that’s designed with the waterfall model in mind. 

When considering which tool will work best with your waterfall project management methodology, reflect on: 

  • Features: Does the software have the specific project management features you need?
  • Usability: Is it easy to use? Can all your team members learn how to use it effectively?
  • Customization: Can you customize the experience to match your needs?
  • Pricing: Is there a free plan? Is the monthly pricing affordable?
  • Integrations: Does the tool integrate with others? Does it fit with your existing tools?
  • Growth: Will the software scale as you grow? Could it replace some of your other tools?

To find the best waterfall project management tool for your team or company, think about your goals and which factors are the most important to you. Decide whether cost is a key factor, or whether you’re happy to invest more for a more fully featured tool that includes workflow optimization recommendations. Consider whether you need just project management features, or whether the software could replace other aspects of your toolkit too. 

The 10 Best Waterfall Project Management Tools to Use in 2023

There’s a huge variety when it comes to project management solutions for the waterfall method. Some focus on one area, like project planning, while others could replace many of your other tools too. Here’s our shortlist of the best waterfall project management tools to try in 2023.

1. ClickUp

Waterfall project management tools: monitoring a project using ClickUp’s Gantt Chart view
Monitor your waterfall project on a Gantt chart with ClickUp

When it comes to project management, there’s no better tool than ClickUp. This visual project management software platform is highly customizable, which means you can use it for any project management method you like—including Agile project management and the waterfall process improvement methodology.

Visualize your entire workflow at a glance in a number of different ways with ClickUp Views. Use a Gantt chart to see your project timeline, work through your tasks in List view, or use our Board view to quickly see which tasks belong in which stage of the process. Use our powerful Form view to turn bug submissions into actionable tasks.

ClickApps let you build relationships between tasks, set milestones, and manage and break down project sprints. Or get started right away with the expertly designed Waterfall Management Template by ClickUp.

Collaborate with team members in real-time with ClickUp Chat. Share resources, pool ideas, and handle challenges in a more efficient way than sending emails or messages back and forth. 

Connect ClickUp to over 1,000+ work tools through ClickUp Integrations with a mix of native and Zapier-supported integrations—including tools like GitHub, Bitbucket, Figma, and Sentry. 🧰

ClickUp best features

  • Visualize your project, organize backlogs, and monitor project tasks across multiple views, including Gantt charts and Boards
  • Create task relationships and dependencies to add structure to your workflow
  • Use ClickUp as a continuous deployment tool to release updates as part of the final stage in the waterfall model
  • Build project reports with ClickUp Docs and easily with team members and stakeholders
  • Set ClickUp Goals to track project progress and motivate your team toward success
  • Get inspiration and practical solutions from our Template Library, including daily planner templates for daily task management

ClickUp limitations 

  • ClickUp has plenty of customization options, but this may be overwhelming for new users at first
  • ClickUp AI is a new feature, so more project management-focused functionality will follow in the future

ClickUp pricing 

  • Free Forever
  • Unlimited: $7/month per user
  • Business: $12/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing
  • ClickUp AI is available on all paid plans for $5 per Workspace

ClickUp ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (9,000+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.6/5 (3,800+ reviews)

2. Jira

Waterfall project management tools: managing projects using Jira's Gantt chart
via Jira

Jira is a project management tool favored by teams that follow Agile methodology, but it can be customized for the waterfall model too. Jira makes it easy for development teams to plan projects, track tasks, log issues, and deploy updates throughout the project lifecycle. 📊

Jira best features

  • View your entire progress on a project timeline
  • Track project flows from start to finish, in line with waterfall methodology
  • Disallow open transitions so stages must be completed before moving on

Jira limitations 

  • Some users report that Jira isn’t easy for newcomers to use 
  • It’s difficult to customize built-in reports without using third-party apps

Jira pricing 

  • Free
  • Standard: $8.15/month per user
  • Premium: $16/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

Jira ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.3/5 (5,500+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.4/5 (13,500+ reviews)

3. Asana

Waterfall project management tools: screenshot of Asana's project timeline
via Asana

Asana is a popular project management tool that lets teams reduce the silo effect, coordinate and launch projects, and manage campaigns of any size. It’s also useful for project management teams to track milestones, monitor goals, and manage new deployments. 🎯

Asana best features

  • View cascading tasks in a timeline view
  • See the critical path of your project to monitor key milestones
  • See incomplete tasks by stage, so you can check for roadblocks

Asana limitations 

  • You can only assign one team member per subtask, which may make it difficult to manage if multiple people are responsible for it
  • Some users find the amount of notifications for tasks overwhelming

Asana pricing 

  • Free
  • Premium: $10.99/month per user
  • Business: $24.99/month per user

Asana ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.3/5 (9,500+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (12,200+ reviews)

4. Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project is an online project management tool that has built-in features designed with the waterfall methodology in mind—like burndown charts and the opportunity to see your schedule’s critical path. Project teams will stay on track from start to finish with this software. 🙌

Microsoft Project best features

  • See key data at a glance with customizable templates
  • Update tasks and milestones and communicate changes to your team instantly
  • Identify contingencies and monitor your critical path

Microsoft Project limitations 

  • The software is designed for large-scale projects, so another software may be more approachable for smaller waterfall projects or new project managers
  • Some users report that there are limited opportunities to customize the experience

Microsoft Project pricing 

  • Project Plan 1: $10/month per user
  • Project Plan 3: $30/month per user
  • Project Plan 5: $55/month per user
  • Project Standard 2021: $679.99 one-time purchase
  • Project Professional 2021: $1,129.99 one-time purchase

Microsoft Project ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4/5 (1,600+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.4/5 (1,700+ reviews)

5. Nifty

Waterfall project management tools: example of a project roadmap in Nifty
via Nifty

Nifty is a cloud-based project management tool that works for teams that want to use the waterfall model. Nifty’s features allow project managers to monitor project progress, track resource use, stay in touch with the team, and download weekly progress reports. 📝

Nifty best features

  • Gather ideas, feedback, and data to help you plan your project or developments
  • Visualize your project across a cascading timeline view or Gantt chart
  • Manage files and project assets in one place

Nifty limitations 

  • Some users report that some key project management functions, like resource allocation and cost tracking, aren’t included
  • There are a limited number of integrations, making it difficult to connect with other tools you already use

Nifty pricing 

  • Free
  • Starter: $9/month per user
  • Pro: $16/month per user
  • Business: $25/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

Nifty ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.7/5 (400+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.7/5 (400+ reviews)

6. Trello

Trello's timeline view
via Trello

Trello is a project tool that’s typically used for Kanban boards, but it’s versatile enough to be used for the waterfall project management approach too. The software’s choice of view options and workflow automations make it useful for project teams that want to streamline their project workflows. 🙌

Trello best features

  • Use the Timeline view to visualize how stages of your project fit together
  • Enable automation features to move tasks or stages based on triggers
  • Get useful insights on bottlenecks and issues from your dashboard

Trello limitations 

  • Some users find the amount of notifications frustrating
  • There are limited customization opportunities compared to other waterfall project management tools, like ClickUp

Trello pricing 

  • Free
  • Standard: $5/month per user
  • Premium: $10/month per user
  • Enterprise: From $17.50/month per user

Trello ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.4/5 (13,400+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (22,900+ reviews)

7. Smartsheet

Smartsheet is a contemporary alternative to the popular Microsoft Excel, but project teams might also find the software useful to manage projects in alignment with the waterfall approach. Collaborate with team members in real time for project planning, management, delivery, and reporting. 📈

Smartsheet best features

  • Build project plans with Gantt charts to visualize different stages
  • Break projects down into tasks, subtasks, milestones, and critical paths
  • Create standard processes and templates and repeat them for future projects

Smartsheet limitations 

  • Some users express frustration over either having to create all projects within one sheet or having them all completely separate
  • Some users find the learning curve steep

Smartsheet pricing 

  • Free
  • Pro: $7/month per user
  • Business: $25/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

Smartsheet ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.4/5 (14,800+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (3,000+ reviews)

8. MindManager

MindManager differs from other tools on this list as it’s a mind mapping software, instead of a more traditional project management software tool. MindManager allows project teams to visually plan their project timelines, create flowcharts, and brainstorm ideas at the planning stage. 🧠

MindManager best features

  • Brainstorm product development and product launches
  • Create process management flowcharts to instruct your team on what to do next
  • See your project milestones and track progress with Gantt charts and timelines

MindManager limitations 

  • There are limited integrations with third-party software for additional features
  • Some users suggest it’s difficult to align boxes to keep mind maps looking organized

MindManager pricing 

  • Essentials: $99/year for 1 user
  • Professional: From $179/year for 1+ users
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

MindManager ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.5/5 (100+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.6/5 (60+ reviews)

9. Wrike

Waterfall model example in Wrike
via Wrike

Wrike is an online project management tool that lends itself well to alignment with the waterfall model. The tool makes it easy for team members to plan and manage projects, and it includes detailed task dependencies that support waterfall project methodology. 🌻

Wrike best features

  • Use a Gantt chart to visualize your waterfall project workflow
  • Create dependencies that prevent you from moving on until a task is completed
  • Get email notifications when a task is due to begin

Wrike limitations 

  • Some expected project management features are missing, such as being able to account for the cost of materials
  • Some users mention that the automation features are less advanced compared to other project management tools

Wrike pricing 

  • Free
  • Team: $9.80/month per user
  • Business: $24.80/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing
  • Pinnacle: Contact for pricing

Wrike ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.2/5 (3,400+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.3/5 (2,500+ reviews)

10. Hive

Managing a project in Hive's Gantt Chart view
via Hive

Hive is a project management software tool that’s designed to make the experience feel seamless. The software includes objective and milestone tracking, status updates and alerts, time and resource tracking, and customizable dashboards for monitoring. ⚒️

Hive best features

  • Create, assign, and monitor the progress of tasks
  • Track the amount of time spent on specific tasks 
  • See at a glance which tasks are waiting on previous tasks to be completed

Hive limitations 

  • The features on the mobile app are more limited than on the web version, users report
  • Some users wish the way project hierarchies were organized and viewed was more user friendly

Hive pricing 

  • Free
  • Teams: $12/month per user
  • Enterprise: Contact for pricing

Hive ratings and reviews

  • G2: 4.6/5 (400+ reviews) 
  • Capterra: 4.5/5 (100+ reviews)

Empower Your Team With a Better Solution

While methodologies like Scrum and Agile are more commonly talked about, waterfall project management is still the go-to model for many project teams. The ideal waterfall project management tool should include multiple view options, task management, and the ability to set rules on when tasks can or can’t progress—like many of the tools on this list.

If you decide you want a tool that delivers waterfall-style project management and more, try ClickUp for free. ClickUp is the all-in-one tool that you can use for project, task, and resource management—and so much more. ✨

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