Are you venturing into your first project management assignment?
Well if so, it’s time to place the best foot forward. Now I have been working in the digital realm for a while as a project manager, so I’ve managed to pick up a few project management methodologies and tactics from here and there that I thought I should share.
After all, being a veteran, I exactly know that selecting the right methodology can take you places.
In this article, we will explore the most popular and widely used project management methodologies.
About Project Management Methodologies
For starters, allow me to define the term project management methodology so that we all are on the same page. It is basically a methodology, or we can say a system of techniques or procedures, practices, or even rules used to work in a disciplined manner.
I am talking about all the Lean practices, say of example Kanban, and Six Sigma. In a layman language, these processes aim to assist project managers with appropriate guidance throughout the project, and a step by step guide used to complete the tasks.
As there are a plethora of methodologies starting from Agile to Scrum, Kanban, leap, XP, waterfall PRINCE2 and PMBOK requiring different strategies to manage issues; it’s the choice that you make which defines how you work and communicate.
Time to kick things off when it comes to project management methodology, what the fuss is all about?
Like I said before, methodologies are basically a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules for professionals who love to work in the discipline. But it may quite interest you to know that the same methodologies are rooted in something more fundamental.
Moreover, these aspects are the ones which dictate why we choose to do those things in the first place, so I’d suggest it should also include themes.
As a project manager one requires applying the right methodology based on different principles, themes, frameworks, processes, and standards that assist well in the way we deliver projects. Some of this stuff define principles in the most straightforward manner, for example – agile while others such as PRINCE2 define a ‘full-stack’ methodology framework of themes, principles, and processes.
Broadly speaking, I have come across many of you who have this misconception that combining best-practice frameworks is the most appropriate way to get the job done in no time.
However, I personally don’t think that a methodology has to be a complete full-stack implementation system all the time, but that doesn’t mean you can do anything you want. Like it or not, but as project managers, we often end up using a hodgepodge featuring a rare mix of principles, themes, and processes especially created for our clients and projects.
Now before we proceed any further, let’s get one thing very straight. There is no cookie-cutter solution or no right methodology. The answer is, “it depends.” In the end, it’s using the correct methodology, which makes sense and is most suitable for the project, team, and client. Now why these methods?
I say, why not! I mean at some point in your life you must have placed an order for a piece of equipment or tool with a lot of disconnected parts that cannot be correctly put together with the aid of an instruction manual.
Similarly, when you conduct a project, you will find many interconnected and interdependent tasks that require a set of instructions that can be generally accepted or serve as guiding principles to manage things effectively.
When Choosing a Project Management Methodology
Like I said before there is no one-stop solution for choosing the right project management methodology for all business types, sizes, or industries.
All you have to do is choose a structure things wisely, such as:
- Simplicity and complexity- Here I am talking about the entire project itself right from available resources to project constraints (including the appetite for change and risk), timeline, tools, and people as well as your end clients. List all the factors out and label them based on simplicity and complexity.
- Rigidity and flexibility– Imagine a situation where you happen to work in a dynamic environment where all the professionals crave for evolution and change, in such scenario’s using an agile method can work wonders. But if you are working in a fixed environment with a restricted timeline and budget, you might be better off with a Waterfall method.
Along with this, you must also keep flexibility into account. For example, have you ever figured out ways in which you can enact processes? By doing this you can surely minimize your key risks and help your teams fit their projects neatly within your organizational constraints. And since in today’s era, we are used to donning multiple hats at a time, you must decide whether you should remain rigid or flexible.
Make sure you come up with a strategy that pushes your organization in the direction you want to go.
- Delivering the most value- A customer always questions how you can deliver the most value? So what you should do is make a list of their needs and use it to pick a way of working that can best meet those needs in particular. Let’s say, for example, if a client makes ongoing request even on a general basis and expect a reply. Choosing Iterative methodology with short cycles can work wonders for you as it gives the client a piece of satisfaction. Using this methodology, in particular, will surely help you deliver value and maintain positive relationships with clients.
- Leveraging your organizational goals- Goals, as in I am talking about the ones which you have already created in prior as a team or organization that might guide when it comes to choosing a project methodology. The point is crystal clear that whatever method you choose to be a means to achieve the end goal. The best method here is the one that guides you towards your strategic objectives, most directly with the most significant gains and least negative impact.
Popular Project Management Methodologies to Take into Account
When you wish to iteratively deliver whatever works
This one is my favorite buzzword. You might find this quite shocking that agile is not a methodology at all. Rather an appropriate set of principles used to develop software.
Principles such as:
- Using individuals and interactions over processes and tools.
- Instead of comprehensive documentation use a working software.
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation.
- Responding to change over following a plan.
Agile can be put to best use when used for projects featuring iterative and incremental aspects. It’s basically a process where demands and solutions evolve through a collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customers.
Agile was created as a response to the inadequacies of the Waterfall method while developing software.
Customer satisfaction, accommodate changing requirements, frequent delivery, supports a consistent development pace, and so forth are some of its core principles.
In addition to this, adaptiveness to deliver more complex projects is something that makes the methodology popular.
Technically speaking, if you wish to track progress or create the product, know regarding the product vision statement, product roadmap, product backlog, release plan, Sprint backlog, and Increment, the methodology uses such deliverables to enhance your project. With a bunch of such interesting features, the methodology is able to emphasize collaboration, flexibility, continuous improvement, and high-end results.
Best suited for:
Are you working on a project that requires flexibility and comprises of a great level of complexity or uncertainty?
For instance, a product or service that hasn’t been built by the team.
Last but certainly not the least Agile is one such methodology that comprises Scrum and Kanban within itself. So, you can carry your very own set of characteristics and terminology. I personally find this aspect to make the methodology worthy enough to be included on this list.
Allows teams to cross-function, self-manage and deliver solutions at pace
This project management methodology, in particular, proposes principles and procedures with the sole objective to improve delivery.
Within software development, Scrum is one such method that puts Agile into practice.
The goal is to:
- Improve communication.
- Enhance teamwork.
- Speed up development.
Now how one can identify Scrum?
Well, there is a trick I would like to share with the non-techies. In case, if you hear about prints, scrums, backlogs, and burndowns, then without a shadow of a doubt; it’s Scrum! Call it a project management methodology or a framework for the ongoing development and maintenance of complex products. The light approach defines a simple set of roles, meetings, and tools to efficiently, iteratively, and incrementally deliver valuable shippable functionality.
- Sprint– It means all the iterative time boxes in which a goal is accomplished. The time frame doesn’t exceed one calendar month and is consistent throughout the development procedure.
- Sprint planning– As soon as the entire Scrum team gets together- at the beginning of every Sprint; it’s mandatory to plan the upcoming Sprint.
- Daily Scrum– 15-minute time-boxed meeting held at the same time, every day of the Sprint. Things discussed include were the previous day’s achievements, as well as the expectations for the following one.
- Sprint Review– This is more of an informal meeting held at the end of every Sprint where the Scrum team present their Increment to the stakeholders and discuss feedback.
- Sprint retrospective– A meeting where the Scrum team reflect on the proceedings of the previous Sprint and establish improvements for the next Sprint.
3) Extreme Programming (xp)
Robust development to ensure top quality
This software development project methodology defines values and processes to improve software quality and ensures responsiveness to evolving customer requirements. The interesting part here is, the values, or principles are very similar to Scrum, around simplicity, communication, feedback, respect, and courage.
Most of the time EP teams tend to work in shorter sprints which eventually allow them to maintain rigid task structures.
You will be quite interested in knowing the fact that unlike agile teams, EP doesn’t embrace as much flexibility when it comes to undertaking tasks in strict priority order.
Right from test-driven product development to automated testing, simple and elegant design, refactoring, EP offers such engineering practices.
Experts recommend teams begin with Scrum and adopt EP slowly as they determine their own best practices and engineering protocols.
First plan thoroughly and then execute through phases
Popularly known as the software development life cycle, the Waterfall methodology is my favorite!
The methodology features quite a simple approach that values solid planning, doing once and for all but doing it right.
The only difference between agile and waterfall is that of offering an incremental and iterative delivery. All it knows is merely making the plan and act on it.
Requirements are completely defined right from the beginning in prior to any work. As the name implies, work here cascades through different phases of the project, much like a waterfall. The only thing that needs to be taken care of here is that each phase must be completed before the next step begins.
Also, make sure there is no overlapping in between.
The phases are followed in the following order:
- System and software requirements.
Best suited for:
Those who are conducting large projects that require maintaining stringent stages and deadlines or it is relevant enough for projects that have been done various times over. Somewhat like a tried and tested method where chances of surprises during the development process are relatively low.
The waterfall methodology emphasizes more on the importance of documentation. The main idea is that if a worker was to leave during the development process, their replacement could easily start where they left off by familiarizing themselves with the information provided on the documents.
5) Six Sigma
Coined by Motorola engineers, Six Sigma is one such project management methodology that strives hard to improve project quality by identifying what is working and what’s not by removing it from the current process.
Six Sigma mainly comprises of:
An acronym used to define the problem and project goals, measuring different aspects of the process currently being in use. In addition to this, analyzing data to detect core defects, improving the process, and controlling how it is carried out in the future.
This acronym is basically used to define the project goals, measuring some of the essential parts of the process and product, analyzing the data to develop various process designs and choose the best one, designing and testing the new process and verifying its quality via simulations and another testing.
If you own a bigger organization or a company that emphasizes on using data to improve their operating efficiency and output quality.
Best suited for
Larger companies and organizations who crave to improve quality and efficiency through a data-driven methodology?
Like I said before, making a perfect choice can be tricky at times- all thanks to a couple of variables which mind you keeps on changing with every project. So what you need to do is, look beyond the methodology “turf war” in the industry.
Consider these methodologies as mere tools that can aid you in delivering projects instead of arguing with your teammates over the final details of these methodologies.
Always focus on the bigger picture, the ultimate objective! Because it doesn’t really matter which methodology you’re using.
All that matters is a commitment to doing quality work that not only meets the user needs but also delivers the great value of the output to your end clients. So, go and get it right!