Project management has a lot of moving parts. You've got to set objectives and deadlines, manage people and track their progress, not to mention dealing with unexpected hurdles and challenges. Unless you have a solid plan on how to run your project, you'll soon find that nobody in the team knows what they're doing, you've missed deadlines, and suddenly the whole project flounders.
If you want to be a great project manager, you have to use proven project management methodologies. These methodologies are composed of a comprehensive system of procedures, techniques, and rules to equip you with the tools you need to complete the necessary project tasks as well as manage any issues that arise along the way.
There are many PM methodologies out there, and each is aimed at a certain type of project and organization. There is no 'one size fits all' methodology that will work for every project. Choosing the right one will undoubtedly make your life much easier, so take the time to familiarize yourself with the most popular so that you can easily decide on one that suits your particular project.
Project Management Methodologies
One of the first project management methodologies, Waterfall was developed in the 1970s to help construction and manufacturing industries manage their projects.
The Waterfall approach to product management is very simple: have a list of tasks and complete those tasks in order. Only move onto the next task or phase when the previous one is completed. Waterfall is a sequential approach that emphasizes documentation and linear progress. It requires a lot of upfront planning and then monitoring the execution of the phases. It's great for large projects with strict deadlines or established projects where there is no chance of unexpected developmental hiccups.
Agile was developed partially in response to Waterfall's limitations in the rapidly changing world of software development. Agile focuses on iterative, incremental progress stemming from the collaboration between various teams.
It's ideal for complex projects where flexibility and high-quality results are important. Agile focuses on short development cycles followed by feedback, allowing for continuous product improvement and quick response times to changes. Progress is tracked through six deliverables which focus on various aspects of the project.
Like Agile, Kanban focuses on continuous project delivery and self-managing teams. Kanban places great emphasis on visualizing the workflow process, making it easier for teams to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies. The methodology uses a Kanban board to visualize the project, providing information on project progress, deadlines and the status of various tasks. Tasks can be grouped into 'To-Do', 'Doing' and 'Done' categories on the board, making it easy for you to check on your team's progress throughout the project.
Kanban is ideal for small teams and fast-moving, small projects that need flexibility and continuous evaluation.
Scrum takes the principle of Agile and provides it with a structured framework that you can implement in your team. There are a number of designated roles, such as the product owner and Scrum master. These people guide the team through a series of events, known as a sprint. This is a specific set of time that the team has to complete a set of tasks identified by the product owner. These sprints are short, usually lasting about two weeks. After a sprint, there's a review phase and then another sprint begins.
As with other Agile-based PM methodologies, Scrum works best with smaller teams and projects that require iterative development and the flexibility to adapt rapidly to change.
Lean is a project management methodology that focuses on identifying and minimizing waste during product development and production. It was popularized by Toyota, but the core principles can be applied to a variety of projects.
Since it's more of a philosophy than an implementable methodology, it's ideal for organization-wide changes. If you're working on a project that eventually results in a physical product, Lean might be worth your while, but there are other methodologies better suited to the digital environment.
PRINCE was developed by the UK government and received an update in 1996 (PRINCE2) to bring it in-line with modern PM methodologies. It's a more structured methodology than Agile and plans for the entire lifespan of the project in advance. PRINCE2 divides each project into manageable stages, and flexibility can be built into these stages. Teams are expected to learn during each stage and apply that learning at the beginning of the new one.
PRINCE2 offers a middle-ground between the complete flexibility of Agile and the rigidity of Waterfall. It can be applied to almost any project of any scale, but it does require training and certification.
PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is a broad set of standards regarding project management developed by the Project Management Institute. It's not a strict PM methodology, but rather a set of guidelines and industry standards that can be applied to a whole variety of projects.
PMBOK identifies five phases that are common to all projects and then suggests best practices during each of these five steps.
BOTTOM LINE: Having a project management methodology in place can make your life as a project manager much easier, as it provides you with the tools you need to manage a project successfully.
Each project is different, and so the methodology you choose will have to adapt to the project. Being familiar with the top methodologies gives you a better chance of choosing a project methodology that will work for your particular project, giving you fewer grey hairs and more successful projects.