Without a tried and tested formula to take a project through, managing a project becomes a huge challenge with several risks. Project Management methodology links similar practices, methods and processes to help plan, develop, control and deliver a project. It allows control over the management process through effective decision making and problem- solving. It also provides a framework for the project manager to implement the work according to a schedule, budget and client specification.
Any scientifically-devised methodology with a systematic and disciplined approach may be adopted to design, execute and complete a project. As a result, experts have come up with several methods that suit requirements of different kinds of projects in many sectors: all of them prescribe a list of activities or “things to do” to bring about a change. These methodologies fall under a broad project management framework which defines “how to” bring about change.
The co-existence of traditional project management methods and modern project management methodologies has led to the proliferation of certificate courses—the most popular among them being the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification; so much so, the PMP methodology is also gaining ground among several others, listed below:
Modern Project Management Methodologies
These methodologies believe in just getting started on the project. All changes are incorporated along the way, in a “doing-learning-correcting-progressing” cycle, which is repetitive, but collaborative at every stage with the end-customer. However it is wise to choose the right project management methodology –rather, the best suited for you.
Agile Project Management Method
Agile project management methods are iterative and adopt an incremental approach to delivering requirements throughout the project life cycle. Agile projects rely on:
- Pooling intellectual resources and trusting team members, rather than over-dependence on tools and processes
- Interactive working relationship with customer through the project cycle, instead of merely obliging contractual obligations
- Sophisticated software solutions to track project, substituting laborious documenting and reporting procedures with simpler ones
- Incorporating changes as and when required, in place of following a concrete plan
Agile project management methodologies neither employ a broad set of tools and processes, nor fall back on substantial documentation, and so they are often referred to as a work culture. While the advantages are clearly visible in the approach, the very same could turn into disadvantages as well. So be advised, agile project management methods may be best suited for software development where:
- The product/service owner is actively involved in the creation, even if unclear about the requirement
- Team members are professional, committed, and come with some experience, to cope with changing needs
- The end-deliverable is secured, after a series of short-term deliverables, all created intuitively, on-the-go and with constant feedback.
Agile project management methodologies include:
- Scrum Project Management Method
- Kanban Project Management Method
- Scrumban Project Management Method
- Extreme Programming Project Management Method
- Adaptive Project Framework (AFP)
1. Scrum Project Management Method
If you pick Scrum from project management methodologies, it means you start with what you have but evaluate and adapt continuously.
Scrum events (activities) include daily scrum (morning updates) monthly sprints (30-day cycles at the end of which there is a tangible result), sprint reviews (discussion on sprint result) and sprint retrospective (reflection on improvements needed).
Scrum is highly collaborative, with experienced and dedicated teams and has little budgetary or time limitations. The flexibility in project gestation period and financial resources may lead to project bloat, or scope creep. It is hence best suited for complex projects but not very large ones where the absence of even one resource can impact the results.
2. Kanban Project Management Method
Kanban believes in non-disruptive and evolutionary change that promotes “Kaizen” or continuous improvement. In a visual form, it comprises the Kanban board which displays the workflow thus:
If all energies concentrate on this flow, change takes place through minor steps that do not interrupt the flow and cause resistance among team members or stakeholders. Kanban is one of the project management methodologies that helps to optimize output, decrease obsolescence, make production flexible, and cut down inventory. However, a breakdown anywhere along the line can hinder the entire project. It is best for projects that employ task management software and require a steady output, despite changing priorities.
3. Scrumban Project Management Method
What if a project needs a dynamic project structure, but the discipline of process improvements and speed of delivery? The advantages of Scrum and Kanban merge in the Scrumban project management methodology, which provides:
- Highly visualized continuous workflow management
- Value-based metrics for operational management
- Just-in-time analysis for inventory management
There are limits placed on work-in-progress and only work items which the team can implement are pulled into the “Doing” category. It saves both time and resources, and the focus can shift to quality control. Use of Scrumban is best suited for maintenance and helpdesk project management. It also comes in handy when Scrum projects go awry due to blockages in the workflow, paucity in resources or lack of processes.
4. Extreme Programming Project Management Method
Based on teamwork and customer satisfaction, Extreme Programming (XP) is not very popular among project management methodologies as it provides precise engineering parameters, a very rigid task structure and short cycle times for software development. Adaptability rather than predictability is at its extreme, with coding, designing and programming satisfying current needs rather than future requirements.
Keeping it simple not only reduces costs but also allows communication to take place between the system, developers, and users. As it is heavily code-oriented, it is best suited for prototype development, and extensive research projects which emphasize subject matter expertise rather than the end product. For the same reason, there may be coding errors or bugs despite the Test Driven Development approach.
5. Adaptive Project Framework (APF) Project Management Method
The Adaptive Project Framework is unique among project management methodologies as it caters to the increasingly complex nature of projects handled by organizations. APF project management methods respond to this by adapting to changing requirements and reacting effectively to unknown factors that may crop up. A customized form of agile is required to tackle ambiguity in project features, presence of multiple stakeholders and change in priorities which impinge on the nature of work, the kind of strategy and the people involved in the execution of the project. To explain further:
- Work is all-encompassing and always urgent
- The plan is forever changing and unpredictable
- People are self-driven collaborators and not “managed.”
Hence, APF project management methods borrow from traditional methodologies to include project statement, cycle plan, work priorities, and client satisfaction. However, it goes beyond the efficient organization of work to analyze, test and measure project variables.
It is a mix of the traditional and XP methodology of project management and so, should work well both for product development and business process design; especially for unique projects that will not respond to one-size-fits-all project management methodologies. As being flexible also means embracing change, the main disadvantages of APF could be delays and rise in costs.
Traditional Project Management Methodologies
The traditional project management methods involve a series of steps taken in sequence to design, develop and deliver a product or service. The success of a project is embedded in the phases of implementation or project lifecycle as also the processes involved. There is a lot of detailing, planning, scheduling and team building activities required.
Traditional methods also overlap with a slew of process-based project management methods, explained after the sequential project management methodologies.
a) Sequence-based methodologies spell out steps to be followed in projects where activities have to follow a particular sequence.
1. Waterfall Project Management Method
Linear and sequential, this project management methodology is a list of a logical progression of steps which once completed cannot be retracted or revisited. It forces a disciplined approach with managerial control that sets clear deadlines for each stage: requirement analysis, system design, implementation, testing, deployment and maintenance.
It is one of the documentation-heavy project management methodologies and does not involve the client; while quality assurance is possible at each stage, testing is taken up only at later stages. So the risk of errors persists. Hence it is best suited for small, short, simple, and well-defined projects with required resources at hand. Manufacturing and construction sectors that follow assembly-line precision are known users.
2. Professional Management Institute’s PMBoK Guide
It is a standard say some, it is just a guide say others. A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK) from PMI provides a methodological framework and best practices for the five steps of project management: initiation, planning, execution, controlling and closing. The beauty is that this process-based method suits management, technical, marketing and other functions across industries, provided it is customized to meet the needs of that sector.
Adapting the PMP methodology to suit industry, application area, size, time, scope, quality and budget can be a complicated task, especially if the project is small. Hence it is better suited for larger deployments across departments in government and international agencies.
3. Critical Path Project Management Method
The most important or critical tasks in a project are aligned together in sequence. The time required to complete these activities that lie in the “critical path” is then determined. These activities also help to finalize the scope of the project. The same tasks dictate the priorities of the project as well.
As this is one of the sequential project management methodologies, the critical path method helps in scheduling projects based on interdependencies and is mapped as, critical and non-critical project components. It is bound to fail if handled by an inexperienced project manager and if the project is subject to changes as the entire schedule will fall apart. It is best suited for industrial applications, where production is repetitive and precision-driven.
4. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) Method
When a project involves a chain of activities that tie together on a critical path, project managers prefer to keep track of completion of one task before procuring material for the next job in sequence. Perhaps it is just this one among all the project management methodologies which focuses on buffering tasks in a critical chain to avoid wastage of time and resources.
Though resource-efficient, it works best for single project environments with no role for multi-tasking. CCPM is best suited for workflow-oriented, resources-starved projects that depend on a chain of sequential activities. Though designed to save time, the buffer created is often filled out by further delays in preceding activities.
b. Process-based project management methods prescribe a set of processes with attendant tools and techniques that are used to manage a project from start to finish.
5. PRINCE2 Project Management Method
Short for Projects in Controlled Environments 2, the Prince2 suite of process-oriented methods –also from PMI -is used across the UK government departments to manage all projects in a documented manner. It revolves around seven themes, principles and processes, all of which help to limit risks, plan business and track performance.
It is perhaps the one and only project management methodologies suited for large government projects where documentation is mandated. As there are 45 sub-processes subsumed in the three stages of directing, managing and delivering the chances of going wrong are few.
6. Lean Project Management Method
Is it possible to create higher value for clients employing fewer resources? Yes, says Lean –one of the project management methods – with a targeted focus on minimizing resource wastage. Elimination of wastage in products, services, resources, transportation, inventories and several processes in a project lead to “value streams” of enhanced quality, improvements in production and reduction of costs, according to Lean project management methodologies.
Decision making is also accelerated, which means this is one of those project management methodologies best suited for environments with scarce resources, tight deadlines, and a short turnaround. However, with inventories reduced, the dependence on suppliers has proved risky in many cases. It has been employed in IT, education and construction industries.
7. Six Sigma Project Management Method
This method is based on statistics and driven by data. It aims at removing all defects in a product, process or service. If the measure of errors per million is low (3.4), a Six Sigma rating is awarded. It is best suited to optimize production processes but may prove a costly proposition for smaller companies. It is also seen as a deterrent to innovation, which involves changes to procedures.
8. Hybrid Project Management Method
There are many hybrid project management methodologies, including the Water Scrum Fall and the Agifall methods which capitalize on the plus points of traditional and modern project management methodologies.
In the Water-Scrum-Fall method, traditional waterfall planning, requirements gathering, budgeting and documenting are followed initially; when product development begins, the iterative Scrum methodology is adopted.
Agifall, on the other hand, increases the speed, decreases costs and improves quality by breaking up planning activities of the Waterfall method into user stories of Agile, further prioritizing them during Sprints.
As hybrid project management methods are customized, they are best suited for detail-oriented, innovative projects with a lean approach and may help sectors as diverse as finance and healthcare.
9. Integrated Project Management Method
As projects increase and different departments in the same organization embrace one of many project management methodologies, there are opportunities to share the knowledge gained and build a collection of processes that may benefit all.
Integrated Project Management methodology establishes a set of standard processes used across the organization and outlines how it is to be understood, shared and implemented to ensure the best practices are deployed. It is best suited for big organizations across various sectors.
10. PRiSM Project Management Method
PRiSM or Projects integrating Sustainable Methods, developed by GPM Global, is used to infuse project management methodologies with values that promote Green Practices and eliminate adverse impacts on the environment. It is best suited for large-scale construction projects which disturb the ecosystem.
In conclusion, while the project management knowledge area is exploding with fresh ideas and concepts, every enterprise should choose the right project management method to optimize business, keep stakeholders happy, and reduce wastage. While agile may be of use for individuals, agencies may prefer the predictability of traditional PM methodologies. It is also essential to keep the project management team enthused about innovating and developing cutting-edge products and solutions while adhering to global standards in project management methods.