- While there are many different projects, there are many different ways in which we can implement them, and these are largely determined by our choices in methodology.
- Formal project management methodologies provide a strict structure to execute a project, with the benefits that at each stage of the project, progress can be easily measured and assessed in accordance with a timeline, budget and outcome set out at the outset.
- The number of acronyms and abbreviations related to project management methodologies can seem like a very different language, so you spend more time deciphering the names than the methodologies themselves.
Project management has migrated from the construction and technology industry to virtually all other business sectors over the past fifteen years. Projects are useful for achieving goals and results through a measured and strategic process, allowing stakeholders to set both deadline and budget in line with larger business goals. This transition reflects a growing concern about project success rates and a realization that there are better, more beneficial, and more effective project management practices than those many organizations currently use.
Overall, using the project structure is a great way for companies to track and manage resources while meeting business goals, but project failure can be high in certain industries, particularly IT. One way project managers try to mitigate project failure is to structure their approach through formal project management methodology.
What is a project management methodology and why is it important?
Before breaking down the individual methodologies, it is helpful to understand exactly what a project management methodology is and why it is so fundamental to the effective management of any project.
The Project Management Institute’s definition of project management methodology is ‘a system of practices, techniques, procedures and rules used by those working in any discipline’, but a methodology must also have something that defines why we use it, a specialty of approach.
While there are many different projects, there are many different ways in which we can implement them, and these are largely determined by our choices in methodology – how different principles, frameworks and processes are applied, and how these applications structure the way we deliver project success.
There is a lot of theoretical debate within the project management industry about what exactly a project management methodology is. Some project management methodologies simply define a core set of principles, such as Agile, while others describe a “full stack” methodology of standardized principles and processes, such as Prince2. Some are extensive in their list of standards, and some are extremely lightweight, such as Scrum. Realistically, most active project managers would in practice define a methodology as a best practice framework used to complete the project successfully, on budget and on time.
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Reasons why a formal project management methodology should be used
Formal project management methodologies provide a strict structure to execute a project, with the benefits that at each stage of the project, progress can be easily measured and assessed in accordance with a timeline, budget and outcome set out at the outset. Particularly useful in larger organizations, where large teams will be attributed to the completion of a project, project management methodologies require a system of universal procedures, processes, and justifications to be established against malicious decisions and potential overspending.
Without a project management methodology, money, time, roles and responsibilities are used and defined as any team member or project manager sees fit; which can lead to vastly different ideas about the outcome of a target project.
Factors to consider when selecting a project management method
While project management experts are universally agreed that most projects benefit when a recognized methodology is used, each project management methodology has its own advantages and disadvantages, and different projects inevitably benefit from different methodologies. In order for your project management methodology to directly benefit your project, it is imperative that the benefits and applications of the individual methodology are aligned with not only the objectives of your project management plan, but your project team, company and industry in in general. Just as companies vary in size, and many other factors, so do project management methodologies, and finding the perfect match for your business can vastly improve communication, productivity and overall project team performance.
- Organizational goals
- Core values
- Project restrictions
- Project stakeholders
- Project size
- Cost of the project
- Ability to take risks
- Need for flexibility
The 5 most popular project management methodologies
The number of acronyms and abbreviations related to project management methodologies can seem like a very different language, so you spend more time deciphering the names than the methodologies themselves. To add to the confusion, not every style of project management will work for every job. To recognize which method works best for your project, you need to be familiar with these common project methodologies and their differences. We have broken down the five most popular and most diverse project management methodologies to give you a quick summary. overview of your potential training options or project approaches.
Waterfall versus Agile project management
The Waterfall versus Agile debate pervades most discussions of project management methodologies, and in some ways is strongly a case of the traditional versus the modern approach to project management. The waterfall methodology is one of the oldest approaches to project management, although it is still widely used and takes the more classic form of a sequential project structure. Split into separate steps from planning to final delivery, each phase of the project under Waterfall does not start until after the completion of the previous step, and it is usually not possible to revert or step back once a step is completed . Project requirements are usually defined at the outset, with little to no changes to the plan unless absolutely necessary. By its nature,
Agile project management has grown in popularity over the past few decades, especially within software development. Unlike Waterfall, the Agile methodology consists of multiple project cycles, or “sprints,” and focuses on an adaptability enforced by constant project feedback. Because small components of the overall objective are planned and executed in an iterative process, the Agile methodology can be easily adapted, even mid-project, if new information comes to light. It is ideal for projects with a high degree of uncertainty, or constantly changing end product requirements.
Overview of PRINCE2 Project Management Methodology
Controlled Environment Projects (better known as PRINCE2) is one of the most widely used and highly regarded project management methodologies. PRINCE2 is used in more than 150 countries, endorsed and established by the UK government in 1996 and widely recognized as the industry standard.
The general structure of PRINCE2 is split into 3 different sub-sections, with an emphasis on; the 7 principles of the project plan, the 7 roles to be delegated in each project and a 7-stage process to guide the project from inception to completion. Despite being one of the most equally complex and thorough project management methodologies, PRINCE2 is highly scalable and adaptable to a wide variety of applications and environments, as well as adaptable to more simple or complex project requirements.
Likewise, PRINCE2 is one of the few project management methodologies that requires training, accreditation and constant certification. Reflecting the structure it implements, separating the management layer from the work layer, to create specialist work, PRINCE2 qualifications are available in a range of hierarchical courses, depending on current project management experience and future management ambitions.
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Overview of Critical Path Project Management Methodology
Critical Path is a step-by-step method that works well for projects with interdependent tasks.
According to the methodology, the work is broken down using a structure that follows the timeline related to the completion of the dependencies, milestones and deliverables. With a heavy emphasis on task duration, the urgency of activities is calculated by how quickly, or otherwise, a task can be accomplished, and is therefore most often used by scientists or manufacturers.
By measuring and prioritizing the most lengthy tasks first, project managers can complete tasks faster and use a clearly defined measure of total project length to communicate with stakeholders and project sponsors.
Overview of Six Sigma project management methodology
Motorola was the original developer of the Six Sigma project management style and created it in response to achieving a 10x reduction in product error levels in 5 years. With the overall goal of reducing waste, improving their project processes and increasing profits, Six Sigma is at its core a highly consumer-centric model of project management methodology.
The key concept behind Six Sigma is to identify and measure the number of defects in a process, to find out how to eliminate them and z o get close to zero defects in a project, or as close to perfection as possible. As such, it is a highly data-driven and analytical management method, with three essential components to take a project from planning to completion.
- The first component is DMAIC: define, measure, analyze, improve, control
- The second is DMADV: define, measure, analyze, design and verify
- The third is DFSS (six sigma design), which can include the other processes mentioned.
There is no one who fits best, your choice of project management methodology should be based on the number of variables shared between the style of the methodology and the ideal structure and objectives of your project plan. By choosing the right fit for your project, you can significantly reduce the percentage of project failures and significantly increase your chances of getting your project on budget and on time.