Managing projects and teams successfully has become a form of art. Many scientists and engineers have devised different methods to achieve company goals, and practice has perfected their theories. Find out how which project management methodology works best for you!
What Are Project Management Methodologies?
Project management is a set of activities that includes initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing projects. It’s a discipline that gives you principles, techniques, and tools to help you finish things within the deadline, scope, and budget. Project management consists of a number of interlinking processes. A process is a series of actions performed by a team of people who work towards the same goal.
The incredible impact of modern technology and data flow has changed the face of communication and business. As a result, project management became an essential part of any project, no matter how big or challenging.
People realized they needed a well-defined, well-thought, and more disciplined process to help all the ambitious entrepreneurs and their teams manage a project with a breeze.
A project management methodology is nothing but a definition of how you work. If you already have some workflow in place (even if it's not optimal), you don't need to burden yourself with complicated methodologies.
The majority of all project management methodologies are used for managing enormous projects with many key stakeholders and a significant scope. Odds are, if you're running a small business or an agency, you'll only waste time and energy by learning what PRINCE2 or Extreme Programming is or how to create a PERT chart.
Although you don't need a methodology, you could still learn some project management concepts like the critical path, critical chain, design thinking, etc. Learning what buffer time is or why you should limit work-in-progress, can greatly boost your productivity.
58% of project managers report that they always apply a defined project methodology
95% of developers report having fully adopted the Agile approach
Talent decision-makers report they spend more than half (51%) of the annual budget on technical skills like agile practices or proficiency in collaboration tools
Types of Project Management Methodologies
As project management spread across a wide variety of industries, we had to tailor each approach to our specific industry and its type of projects. For example, agile methodologies are popular in software development but they don't work in construction or health care. After a while, we began bundling methods and techniques into methodologies. You can think of methodologies as surefire recipes we follow so we can run our projects consistently on time and within budget - consistently being the key word. Let's break down the basic types of project management methodologies that are mostly used today!
The Scrum approach is broken down into many sprints, which usually last around two weeks. During this time, the team focuses on achieving very specific goals. Scrum relies on a series of sprints to achieve an overall result. Four events occur during every cycle: sprint planning, daily scrum, sprint review, and sprint retrospective.
A Kanban board usually has three sections that classify tasks according to the stage they’re currently in To do, In progress, and Done. The method is based on the philosophy that you should gradually improve whatever you’re working on, and progress is expected over time. A famous Kanban quote says: “Stop starting and start finishing!”
Six Sigma brings immense value to both companies and customers by allowing you to determine what’s slowing your manufacturing process down. More importantly, it helps you eliminate delays and fix issues along the way.
A methodology focused on managing project risks and optimizing resources. It identifies the critical chain and adds buffers to activities, so any unexpected occurrences don't jeopardize the project's success.
How to Choose the Right Project Management Methodology?
If you run a marketing/design agency, all you need is Kanban and a few techniques from traditional project management. Scrum can also work (like when you're working on a long-term project), but that's very rare because most agency contracts are finished after three iterations, and the client won't like the idea of getting half-finished work and having to wait while you iterate.
If you run a development agency or a consultancy, you can use Kanban, Scrum, or XP, with this caveat: if you work on short-term, on-and-off projects, Scrum and XP will be a tough sell for the client (although you can still use some best practices from each methodology).
If you learn and understand the methodology/framework, adapt it to fit your needs, and roll it out properly, you'll end up with something valuable. The main problem with methodologies happens when companies jump on board because something is a hot topic at the moment. Many forget that implementing a methodology/framework takes years of hard work.
For example, the reason a lot of people think Scrum is not good is that a lot of companies jump into it head first, buy a ton of "Scrum products," and force everybody to change their terminology. Then things get broken, while the company keeps bragging about being a Scrum shop.
Implementing a methodology/framework in your project management deliverables does not mean throwing all your existing processes out the window. Instead, it's about slowly changing company culture and how you think and work.
Note: when you hear someone uses waterfall or agile methodology, it doesn't mean they use a methodology called waterfall - Instead, they use the word “waterfall” as a shorthand or an adjective, meaning they plan the whole project upfront and then execute one article at a time.
In a nutshell, you won't go wrong with Kanban + a few traditional project management techniques, no matter what type of project you have. Further, if you work on big, complex, and long-term software projects, you can expand your knowledge and adapt to Scrum or XP to boost productivity even more.
Tips for Effectively Implementing Chosen Methodology
Choose the right project manager
Changing ways is difficult in both personal and business lives. A team’s routine is hard to shift, so you’ll need a dedicated project manager with a PMI certification that will be an expert in communication and persist in implementing necessary changes. The team will most likely be reluctant to change and resent the person behind them, so it might be better to hire someone new that will have the responsibility to find the best methodology for the industry, organization, and team and be consistent in its implementation.
Select a methodology
You’ll find that most methodologies were born in the manufacturing business or the software industry, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be applied to other types of businesses. It takes a while to research all the options and decide which is best for your team. Sometimes, you’ll have to try out a few approaches before finding the right fit.
Just because some popular methodology worked on one project doesn't mean it will work on another. So we customize a methodology, slap a new name on it, and begin selling it as a new silver bullet to all our problems - only to end up with the same problem: the methodology works on some projects but not on others.
In addition to methodologies, we also create frameworks. They are more prescriptive than approaches (like waterfall or agile) yet more flexible than methodologies.
Each methodology and framework is suited for a different type of project. Because there are many types of projects, there are many types of good methodologies and frameworks. It’s in our human nature to want certainty and magic formulas (in a field where that isn't possible), so we continue creating new methodologies and frameworks each day.
Each methodology and framework comes with its unique set of strengths and weaknesses:
• some are great for enterprises, while others are for small autonomous teams
• some are optimized for projects with a lot of variables and uncertainty
• some are for projects where requirements frequently change
• some are for developing a product, while others are for providing a service
• some focus on controlling costs, and some focus on controlling time
• some are for software developers, while others are for other departments (e.g., marketing)
Test out management tools
Even if you’re very skilled with pen and paper, managing a team, collecting data, and implementing a project management methodology is challenging without the proper tools. Make the most of modern quality software, collect information, and test out various project management apps such as ActiveCollab. Ask colleagues for recommendations, read reviews, check out an article or two, and create a trial, so you can be sure of what’s best for your team. Start implementing new tools only when you’re sure, and allow your team members some time to adjust to new processes.
Don’t forget to write down data on the results of the new way of working. You can track the success of wrapping up tasks within the deadline or the time it takes to finish certain tasks and their quality and keep an eye on the team’s results over time. This way, you’ll know if the methodology you applied is doing wonders or hindering your team’s success. You should also gather information on the level of stakeholders' satisfaction as they're crucial for the organization's well-being.
Project Management Methodologies Examples
We cast the net wide and asked the community if they use any popular methodologies and how! We hope their experience might help you when choosing the best methodology for your teams.
For teams of all sizes, but especially for remote-first teams, kanban boards are fantastic. This is due to the fact that Kanban boards' visual features aid team members in staying on task regardless of their location.
I find that Scrum is one of the best project management methodologies when concerning projects with tight deadlines. I've tried other methodologies before, like waterfall, and while it is more simplistic, it is very rigid in its approach and can lead projects to fail. Scrum is much better for our needs.
We use the Scrum framework with various Agile principles. The main reason we decided to go with this approach was that it is highly flexible and allows us to adjust our plans quickly according to changing needs and customer feedback.
I choose to work with the Kanban Methodology when a new product is going into production. This method is excellent because it creates a picture of what is going to happen during production to weed out any problems that may come up in the initial creation and installment of the product. The Lean Methodology is great for when a product is already in production. It helps maximize resources while minimizing waste.
I don't believe that some project management methodologies are better than others. It all boils down to where they will be applied. Yes, Scrum and Agile are great, but they have their shortcomings too. And there are definitely projects where PRINCE2 would outperform Kanban.
For our content sites, we use the Kanban method. This is because every task needs to be completed in a specific order: Research ➝ Outline ➝ Draft ➝ Review ➝ Publish ➝ Optimize. And Kanban helps to visualize the project for each content piece. Besides, it also helps us identify any bottlenecks that might hinder the flow of work.
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