project management methods

If you are interested in project management, you might have already come across different debates on the best methodologies to do this. Some of them fly high for a period of time then other old ones make a comeback. It’s pretty easy to lose track of them.

Better Scrum or Kanban? PMBOK or Prince2? Agile or Waterfall?

What is a project managing methodology? How does it help your team work better? What makes a methodology better than another one?

The truth is that there is no single approach. All project management methods aim at finding the best way to plan, organise and carry out a specific project.

Even though you’re not an experienced (or certified) project manager, your own manager will expect you to perform as such. This practical guide will provide a long-winded overview of existing methodologies for project managing which will you help you choose which one will put your team in the best conditions to carry out any project.

List of Methodologies for Project Management

Adaptative Project Framework

The APF method is based on the analysis of past experiences. It is built around a Requirements Breakdown Structure which defines the strategical objectives of a project according to the requirements, the functions, the sub functions and the functionality of the product.

As they progress, teams rely systematically on previous results to improve the processes and practices throughout the whole life of the project. Clients and stakeholders can change the framework of the project from the start and at every step so that the team can create the greatest commercial value on the final product.

Advantages

  • It’s a consistent approach if you know your objectives but you are not sure how to achieve them.

Disadvantages

  • As for its flexibility, the APF can cause delays on the project and/or budget overruns.

Agile

Chefs worth this title regularly taste their food and check their seasonings. They adjust them straight away to deliver the best possible dish.

The Agile method requires to go back to “taste” the product every step and adjust it. The project plan is based upon the description of the final product required by the clients. They will have to specify what the use and benefits of the product are so that the team can familiarise with all the expectations.

Once the project has started, the team needs to start the process of planning, executing and evaluating, which can modify the final product.

Advantages

  • This approach suits creative projects with flexible goals that can be modified half-way through.

Disadvantages

  • Any delays and budgets are difficult to predict, all the stakeholders need to be actively committed to the work every day.

Benefits Realization

This method redefines the success of the project, not only by delivering it on time and according the budget, but also by achieving the objectives desired.

Here is an example: your client wants to increase their number of qualified leads by 20%. He requires that you create a new tool to help the marketing team generate the right traffic and to better fuel the new incoming leads in order to make them grow in the sales funnel. You deliver a solution by the deadline, with the functions required and respecting the budget. You have succeeded, haven’t you? The number of qualified has increased by 18%.

With the BR method, your projects are not completed until the expected benefits are achieved. In this case, the project will be accomplished once the number of qualified leads has grown by 20%.

Advantages

  • This approach guarantees that your projects add a real value to the company and provide the final results that your stakeholders are concerned with.

Disadvantages

  • The goals are not always precise and quantifiable. It might be hard to know if they have been achieved or if your project has effectively contributed to this success. You need to think in advance about what will allow you to measure the results of your objectives (ROI, delays in delivering the project, client satisfaction, etc).

Critical Chain Project Management

Delays in many projects are often caused by the resources not being available when you need them.

The CCPM method avoids this by establishing a project calendar that straight away identifies a critical chain of tasks, then reserves the resources needed for these tasks. The project calendar might take longer but you have a greater chance to anticipate realistic delays.

Advantages

The key tasks are associated with your best resources which are available as long as you need them.

Disadvantages

This approach might not work effectively for short-term projects. In fact, CCPM plans accumulate over extra periods of time along the critical chain.

Critical Path Method

The CPM allows you to find the shortest way to carry out your project.

You will start by looking at all the tasks necessary to complete your project, then estimate the delay in the realisation of each step, understanding the task dependency, the milestones and the final deliverable of the project.

Advantages

  • Specific delays depend on every task, so that the project manager can compare what should be finished to what has so far been done. The CPM is ideal for short-term projects.

Disadvantages

  • The CPM doesn’t take into account the availability of the resources, which might lead to having too optimistic expectations.

Event Chain Management

The majority of projects don’t follow the initial plan. Risks are hard to identify and, due to being under pression from stakeholders, project managers often cause delays, budgets, or optimistic expectations in the final deliverable.

The ECM allows to recognise and plan potential external risks that might impact the project. By using tools such as the Monte Carlo method and the diagram of chain of events, project managers can see how external events affect the tasks of the project and determine the probability of some risks to materialise.

Advantages

By being aware of the relation between external events and tasks, the project manager can plan projects on a more realistic basis.

Disadvantages

It’s easy to forget that external events are not just threats for your project, but also new opportunities. Be careful not to stigmatise all the potential risks!

Extreme Programming

This method allows to develop tools such as short development cycles, frequent versions and a constant collaboration with the clients.

Productivity is high and the approach is ideal for complex or undefined projects. The teams can make changes during their sprint. If the work hasn’t started on a specific function, a similar task could be affected to replace it.

The teams focus on writing the codes as easy as possible to create the functions desired.

Advantages

  • EP is efficient and focuses upon simplicity. The teams work at a sustainable pace, which allows them to achieve optimal levels of quality.

Disadvantages

  • EP relies on the resourcefulness and the capabilities of the team and not really on the programme itself.

Extreme Project Management

As its name implies, Extreme Project Management allows to manage extreme projects, carried out in complex environments which make it difficult to esteem its duration and its hurdles.

In this kind of projects, things are unpredictable, planning is chaotic and happens just on time, overall the nature of these projects is quite disorganised.

They are therefore often bound to fail. Thanks to this method, you would be able to know the unpredictable by correcting the project as it’s carried out.

Advantages

This method allows to manage the unpredictable and take into account the variables that change or raise throughout the project.

Disadvantages

The requirements and the tasks of the project are chaotic and unpredictable. The team needs to rely on uncertainty and it’s nearly impossible to be fully in control this type of projects.

Kanban

If your major priorities are having a continuous flow of work and delivering your project slowly but at a regular pace, Kanban seems the best fit for you!

The project manager creates visual representations of the flow of work of the team (often using a white board and post-it notes) in order to explore the progress of the project and avoid that tasks stay in a stage of “work in progress” without an end.

Post-it notes go around the table and represent the progress of the project in a tangible way.

Advantages

Kanban helps teams understand where their time actually goes so that they can improve their productivity.

Disadvantages

Variations of the client demand might make Kanban ineffective, since it’s conceived to deliver a slow but regular production.

Lean

The Lean method allows to achieve the desired goals by optimising the efforts.

Start by defining the current status of the project in order to find and eliminate bottlenecks, delays and other hurdles (such as the so-called “mura”, “muri” et “muda”). The teams can focus on giving real value to clients and on constantly improving the process.

The objective is to do more with less, such as offering high-quality work with less personnel, less money and less time.

Advantages

This approach is quite useful if you need to reduce your budget, respect shortcoming deadlines and achieve great results with a small team.

Disasvantages

Considering that the final objective is to carry out the project in a faster and less expensive way, the stakeholders need to take quick decisions and be committed to respect them.

Any delay in taking decisions may interrupt the Lean process.

PERT

Envisioned by the US navy in the 50s, the PERT method (Programme Evaluation and Review Technique) uses graphs to determine each individual phase of the project in a logical order, by showing relations between the activities.

These graphs analyse the critical path and help you make plans that will ease the progression of the project.

Advantages

This method enables to visualise the activities and the time frame of the project.

Disadvantages

Due to the importance of the duration of the activities, this method is unsuccessful when it’s impossible to esteem realistically the duration of every stage.

PMBOK

PMBOK shows the fundamentals and the good practices of project management.

PMBK describes in detail the different stages of the life of a project, from its launch to the closing, via the planning, the realisation and the control of the tasks. It guides teams by giving them the methodology to follow in order to judge the workload.

Advantages

  • The main advantage of PMBOK is that it’s a guide created by management professionals which provides many insights and useful practices, which are regularly updated.

Disadvantages

  • There is no major inconvenient, if not the fact that you need to adjust it to the size and field of your project that you are in charge of. Finally, bear in mind that it’s important to respect the entire process of PMBOK in order to ensure its success.

Prince2

This methodology is also known as “PROjects IN Controlled Environments”.

The first step consists in identifying a clear need, a target client, some realistic advantages and a full esteem of the costs. The project committee is responsible for its success, while the project manager supervises its daily activities.

Advantages

  • The wide documentation implied in a PRINCE2 project may be used to plan and check the performances.

Disadvantages

  • It can be difficult to adapt to the changes of the project, since the creation and the update of the documentation at each step of the process demands a lot of effort.

PRiSM

PRiSM (PRojects integrating Sustainable Methods) connects the planning of the project to measures of environmental sustainability.

The objective is to complete projects successfully by reducing the environmental impact of your company.

Advantages

  • Being aware of your social responsibilities while defining your business strategy can reinforce the reputation of your company.
  • This approach can also reduce your energy expenses and improve waste management as well as decrease the costs of distribution.

Disadvantages

  • Environmental responsibility needs to be a priority at all levels of the company for it to have an impact.

Process-Based Project Management

Every project needs to respect the purpose and the perspective of your company.

According to the PBPM method, every project needs to be analysed before the launch to make sure it sticks to the perspectives of your company. If that’s not the case, then all the strategies need to be adjusted to achieve your objective.

Advantages

  • This methodology ensures that every project corresponds to the strategy of your company and therefore it gives it more value.

Disadvantages

  • Adjusting the project and the process of every team to a common purpose might take a really long time. Moreover, it’s hard to carry out two projects simultaneously, therefore if your company wants to participate in tasks that don’t correspond to your ethic, then you need to reconsider your mission statement.

Scrum

A Scrum Master supervises your teams and removes the obstacles. The work is usually carried out in a sequence of sprints lasting two weeks while the team members maintain an ongoing communication through daily meetings.

Within the team, members are given separate roles. Some of them are responsible for achieving a specific goal. The others may be involved in the task but are not personally responsible for it.

Advantages

  • Any new adjustment can be tested quickly, and mistakes corrected immediately.

Disadvantages

  • Scrum projects sometimes cause the team to drift away from its objectives. For instance, a team member leaving may destabilise the whole project.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma works for improving the quality of the project, specifically by reducing the number of flaws (in the industrial sector) and bugs (in the development of softwares).

A study of Six Signa shows that 99,99966% of what’s made is free of flaws.

Advantages

  • Six Sigma is a very proactive method which examines the whole process of the project to identify improvements even before flaws appear.

Disadvantages

  • Such holistic approach can reduce the flexibility of the planning process, thus limiting the creativity of the team.

Lean Six Sigma

This method combines the efficiency of Lean with the improvement process based on statistics of Six Sigma.

Lean Six Sigma corrects workflow problems and removes waste by helping you understand how the work is carried out and by identifying the aspects of your project which are the most vital for your clients.

Advantages

  • As well as making your projects more profitable, Lean Six Sigma keeps the team engaged with the improvement of the process, which raises personal responsibility and a sentiment of appropriation of the task.

Disadvantages

  • Lean Six Sigma requires a regular change in the way the work is carried out. Make sure the stakeholders are prepared, in order to succeed with this method.

Waterfall

Imagine the journey of a waterfall. The water starts its flow at the top and goes down towards the bottom by following its course, no matter what it encounters. This method is built on the same logic.

The teams work towards a chain of tasks with clear objectives and a clear schedule, by completing a task before moving onto the next one.

Advantages

  • This approach is based on a thorough planning process, and such rigour often allows to predict the precise deadline and budget.

Disadvantages

  • It might be hard to adapt to all the changes of the project (the water doesn’t flow upstream). Therefore, you need to be proactive to predict the problems before they affect your flow. Communication is vital.

Managing a project without a clear methodology is equal to building a house without a design. You might have the best ideas of the world, but it is going to be difficult to respect any deadlines and budgets.

Choosing a good project management methodology is a key step for the success of your project. Choose one that values your objectives and the strengths of your team.

You can even create a hybrid methodology that combines different elements of different methodologies. There are many combinations of software. It’s up to you to judge which one will facilitate your managing process.

 

Traditional, agile or other, the key is that your team find the working method that best suits them and their needs. You now only need to choose among the different management tools available on the market!