Managing projects is an overwhelming job involving a large number of pieces to juggle. Originally, many project management methodologies arose within the software development business. Today that is not the case anymore, and using specific project management methods has become the norm across many sectors. They aim to help you manage the project in a way that would ensure the best possible outcome.
The different methodologies use different approaches, frameworks, processes, and standards. Let’s dive deeper into the most popular methodologies and understand why they work as well as they do.
Agile has been the buzzword for a few years. Many companies are shifting their strategies and trying to become agile in an attempt to respond to the dynamic changes in the business environment.
So what exactly does an Agile Methodology entail? First and foremost, it focuses on individuals and human interactions rather than on processes and tools. It advocates flexibility. Instead of blindly
following a plan, it encourages fast changes along the way.
If in a regular project management system you have a well-defined timeline for the cycle of planning — execution — evaluation, the Agile Methodology prompts you to forget about that timeline, and go through the cycle as many times as is necessary. That way you will be able to adapt to any situation.
Agile is an umbrella methodology, and there are several others which are similar to it.
• Kanban — it’s a method focused on the visual representation of the team’s capacity to work. For example, everyone writes on a sticky note their tasks (one task per sticky note), and then puts them on a whiteboard, Once people start completing their jobs, they take down the notes. That way, the team can quickly identify bottlenecks.
• Extreme Programming (XP) — it focuses on constant feedback and improvement. The method is defined by having short sprints of work, then communication with the stakeholders, followed by feedback implementation and improvement.
• Adaptive Project Framework (APF) — it explains what the strategic project goals are and creates repetitive stages. Then once a stage is completed, the team analyzes the results and/or the stakeholders provide feedback. And the whole process starts over.
The Lean Methodology focuses on efficiency, and its motto is “Less is more.” The idea is that you can achieve more by optimizing strategies, processes, and techniques. When you implement this methodology, you start by defining the work process. Then you break it down and identify potential bottlenecks, which might slow down the value delivery at the end. Those bottlenecks are referred to as “waste”, and all you have to do is to eliminate them.
The methodology defines three dysfunctions, which cause waste and have to be cut out:
• Muda — removing any process that does not add value to the customer;
• Mura — eliminating any variations that the standard procedure creates which might be considered unnecessary;
• Muri – removing any process (or additional project) that “overheat” the current workload.
The primary goal of the Lean Methodology is to focus on delivering value. Anything short of that has to be eliminated.
The Waterfall Methodology uses a more traditional approach to project management. It is the exact opposite of the Agile Methodology. Here the focus is on planning once and doing it right.
The understanding is that few factors influence our project so that everything can be predicted in advance.
The methodology is called “Waterfall” because it consists of consecutive phases which have to be completed one after the other, unit the result is achieved. In other words, the work cascades down the line, like a waterfall.
The premise of this methodology is that once everything has been planned, there will be little room for changes. It does not promote flexibility, which leads to many risks – for example, the clients might not like the end product. So you have spent a lot of time and money working on something that no one wants to buy. That is why the method is largely used when the result has to do with building something physical, such as a building.
PRINCE stands for “Projects In Controlled Environments”. It was first designed by the UK government in 1996 as a method to mitigate potential risks. It is a highly process-oriented methodology.
The main idea is that one project is divided into several phases. In turn, each phase has its plan and follows its processes. There are well-defined inputs and outputs at each phase so that nothing is left to chance.
The project is owned by a so-called “project board,” and those people are responsible for its success or its failure. The board clarifies what is the end goal of the project (why should it exist), what has to be delivered, and what are the roles and responsibilities of the people in the team.
The job of the Project Manager here is to control the day-to-day activities, such as scheduling. The PRINCE2 Methodology is incredibly thorough and is hard to implement for small-scale projects. It is often used for larger IT projects, which hide more potential risks.
PRiSM stands for “Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods.” In other words, it aims at environmental sustainability, a.k.a. Green projects.
The methodology looks at a project from three different angles: environmental, social and economic. It operates based on six principles:
• Commitment and Accountability — recognizes that everyone has the right to have access to a clean environment;
• Ethics and Decision-Making —supports organizational ethics;
• Integrated and Transparent —understands the interdependence of nature, societal norms, and economic development;
• Principle and Value-Based — developing better technologies to preserve our natural resources;
• Social and Ecological Equity — assessing how vulnerable humans are in the face of nature;
• Economic Prosperity — creating strategies which address our current needs, as well those of the future generations.
Choosing the best project management methodology can be hard. However, it all boils down to one thing — delivering the best value to our stakeholders. So assess your project, and use the method that best suits your needs. Which one would that be?