Frequent visitors to this blog section, must have heard the terms Prince2, Scrum, Agile…being thrown around quite casually; These are just a few of the project management methods or laid down procedures for the successful execution of a project.
Some of you might be quite conversant with these project management methodologies while others may still be trying to navigate the complex but exciting world of project management and these terminologies may sound a bit foreign to you. That’s okay, the purpose of this post therefore, is to totally immerse you in the project management methodologies that project managers, for decades, have come to rely so much on. For the seasoned project manager, here’s another great opportunity to remind yourself of some of the best techniques and methodologies that have birthed some of the world’s greatest products.
Why Project Management Methods?
The answer- why not? Think about it for a second, at one point in your life, you must have placed an order for an equipment or tool with a lot of disconnected parts that cannot be correctly put together with the aid of an instruction manual. Same goes for project management. There are a lot of interconnected and interdependent tasks; ergo the need for a set of generally accepted instructions to serve as a guide for managing project activities.
8 Common Project Management Methodologies
The Agile Project Management Process is a value-centered methods of project management that allows projects to get processed in small phases or cycles. The methodology is one that is extremely flexible and projects that exhibit dynamic traits would benefit from this process as you would find that project managers working in this environment treat milestones as “sprints”; the goal being to continuously adapt to abrupt changes from client feedback. It is best suited for small software projects made up of a highly collaborative team or a project that requires frequent iteration.
The Waterfall Methodology, on the other hand, is a traditional approach to project management and more commonly used in the manufacturing or construction sectors. A lot of experts believe that it was the first model to have been adopted in software engineering. The model takes a linear approach towards project management with the project being broken down into sequences with the kickoff of a phase dependent on the completion of the preceding one.
This method primarily consists of 5 stages:
Idea Engineering – System Design – Implementation – Testing & Validation – Maintenance
The Traditional Waterfall method reveals a more lengthy process where planning alone could take a couple of months before moving to the next stage – design. The design phase could also take a couple of months; this could lead to the launch of a product that could be termed obsolete in the current marketplace.
With Scrum, however, the planning is just enough to kick off the project as it is based on the Agile framework that was discussed earlier. It’s a great way to prevent delays in product launch because the entire process focuses on team collaboration. The Scrum master facilitates the scrum sessions (sprints) which occur within a time frame of 1-3 weeks. The result is an iterative process that significantly saves the company a lot of time and money.
PRINCE2 is an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments; it originated from the UK and has come to be accepted in the UK as best practice for project management thanks to its very flexible nature. With Prince2 the outputs are clearly defined and there is a business justification for every project.
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This project management method is also characterized by products that are delivered on time and well within cost estimates. The roles are predetermined before the kickoff of the project and every member of the project is well aware of their responsibilities towards to successful execution of the project.
PERT stands for Project Evaluation Review Technique; in an earlier post, we stated, that it most often combined with the Critical Path Method. This project management method is a favorite of most manufacturing companies as it takes into cognizance the time it takes to complete a task. Time is an important factor in project management as it also determines the budget for the project.
6. Adaptive Project Framework
Robert K. Wysocki is an authority on the Adaptive Project Management Framework and in his book, Adaptive Project Framework: Managing Complexity in the Face of Uncertainty, he talks about the discovery of new applications for which the traditional linear approach may not be suitable for. He goes further to identify “…the difficulty in specifying complete requirements at the beginning of the project” as the major reason why present-day projects fail to meet the requirements of the Traditional Project Management Approach.
The solution to this dilemma lies in the adaptive project framework; a process that was created out of the need to adapt to the continuously changing phases of a project.
7. Extreme Programming (XP)
This methodology which also has its roots in the agile framework was developed by in the 1990s by Kent Black. This short life-cycle method has as its main objective, the improvement of product quality, client satisfaction. Its characteristics and principles make for a project management team that strives for excellence in the development process. In his book – Extreme Programming Explained, Kent explains that the methodology is becoming more prominent because “…XP is particularly well-suited to help the small software development team succeed.”
The Kanban project management process does away with the sprints and milestones that are attributed to the scrum and traditional methods of managing projects respectively. What you would find, is a more visual approach to managing time, project scope and budget; these 3 factors determine the success of any project.
Kanban, a lean scheduling project management method was developed by the Japanese Toyota Corporation based in the 1940s. The idea behind Kanban is continuous delivery, especially when combined with the scrum methodology. It uses a system of visual cues that let the project team know what is expected of tasks within the project in relation to quantity and quality as well as when the tasks are expected to be accomplished.
Choosing the Right Project Management Method
The project management methods outlined above are by no means exhaustive; there are quite a lot of offshoots and hybrids out there that have churned out fantastic results. The issue, however, lies in the identification of a suitable approach for managing your projects because these approaches serve as blueprints and the approach utilized could mean the difference between the failure or success of the project so here are a few points to guide you.
- Find out from team members what has worked in the past – This will help narrow down the choices
you have to make.
- Clearly, define the needs or expectations of your clients – Keep in mind the fact that requirements could be fixed or dynamic.
- Outline organizational goals, keeping in mind project costs as well.
- Consider the structure of the team – Are they virtual or physical? Is some of the work being outsourced?
- Lastly, you need not decide on a one size fits all kind of approach; keep in mind that it is perfectly acceptable to pick the various positive elements from all the individual methodologies to create a process that could work marvelously well for your team.