Project Management Methodologies
Companies should be more effective and productive to maintain and improve their business activities considering today’s challenging business environment. Change is inevitable regardless of how successful a company has been in the past. Failing to use a project management methodology may lead to the downfall of an organization. According to the PMBOK Guide, a methodology is a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline. Whether you are managing a large IT project or a piece of software development project, you need to understand how project management methodologies differ. Typically, Agile, Lean, Kanban, Six Sigma, and Waterfall are examples of common project management methodologies. Keep on reading to understand the similarities and differences between them.
Why Use a Project Management Methodology?
Projects are different because targets and requirements are various. When you take a look at different types of industries, you see that production systems and methods are specific. That’s why there is no approach that fits all types of projects and organizations.
A methodology that works best for a project team might be a waste of time for another.
For instance, many software development teams think that traditional project management approaches do more harm than good. Therefore, today, software development teams adopt scrum principles rather than waterfall to address their particular requirements.
Using the right methodology helps project teams to organize their project work effectively.
How to Choose the Right Project Management Methodology?
Many factors can affect your decision while selecting the most effective methodology. Below are some of the factors that you should take into consideration;
- Type of the project: Different types of projects require different methodologies. If you are managing a software development project, you don’t use the same methodology for managing a healthcare project.
- Budget: What is your budget for implementing this methodology? Is your budget very limited or enough for implementation?
- Team: What will be the size of your team? How many people will work together?
- Risks: What are the project risks? Do you need to manage every detail carefully?
- Size of the project: Is this a small or a large project?
- Changes: Is it possible to adopt changes easily during the execution?
- Duration: Is it possible to complete the project on time? Is that project time-sensitive? What are the constraints that should be taken into consideration?
- Stakeholders: How do your stakeholders involve in the process?
What are the Project Management Methodologies?
Project managers use several methods, tools, and techniques to complete their projects successfully. Usually, they apply various processes, systems, frameworks, and principles all together to deliver their projects on time by meeting the requirements. For that purpose, they focus on choosing the most suitable methodology which fits best their organizational structure and the project conditions. However, selecting the most suitable project management methodology might be a bit difficult for a project manager. If you are a certified project manager, most probably you know the similarities and differences between methodologies. Each methodology has its own characteristics.
Methodologies may be changed from one project to another based on the size, deliverables, complexity, and goals of the project.
Now let’s discuss the most common project management methodologies in detail.
The agile methodology involves a set of values and principles for software development. The Agile Manifesto describes this methodology with four values and twelve principles.
Below are the four values of the Agile Manifesto
• Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
• Working software over comprehensive documentation
• Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
• Responding to change over following a plan
Agile project management methodology provides flexible, iterative design and build process. Agile is more than a methodology. It covers a set of processes for extensive projects in dynamic environments. Therefore it is much appreciated by the customers.
Kanban is a Japanese word that means signal card. So that this method relied on Kanban cards. Tasks are represented visually on a board, allowing team members to see the state of every piece of work at any time. Kanban methodology uses lean principles and aims to increase productivity by eliminating wasted time and resources. Kanban project management methodology can be used in conjunction with Agile.
Lean is a problem-solving tool for eliminating wastes and removing wasteful activities that don’t add value to the process. With the help of this problem-solving tool, only the activities which add value to the process can be considered. Activities can be categorized by their values in the process. Lean project management methodology relies on 3M’s.
– Muda – about removing the waste
– Mura – about eliminating variations
– Muri – about removing the overload
Six Sigma Methodology
Six Sigma is a useful problem-solving technique for process improvement which was introduced by engineer Bill Smith while working at Motorola in 1986 then became a popular management approach at General Electric (GE) in 1995 by the studies of Jack Welch.
Six sigma methodology relies on 5 process steps, called DMAIC.
1. Define: Identify customer requirements and project goals.
2. Measure: Realise the current project performance and measure the various aspects of it.
3. Analyze: Analyze the data and determine the root causes of any defects.
4. Improve: Optimize the current process and establish ways to improve the process.
5. Control: Implement control systems to control the future performance of the process.
Waterfall methodology is one of the most common project management methodologies. It provides a simple framework for planning projects. Therefore it is widely used in many organizations. Tasks are in sequential order. In this method the team completes one task or step then performs the next step. All the requirements and the activity sequences are defined at the beginning. Then all the tasks are performed as a waterfall from the beginning up to the end of the project. In this methodology, the production of the first step is the input of the next step. Waterfall methodology provides less iterative and flexible approaches because all the progress flows in one direction.
Winston W. Royce described this model in the 1970s. According to his article, the Waterfall model involves the below processes.
- Requirements (System or Software)
- Operations (Including installation, support, and maintenance)
Waterfall methodology is not adaptive enough to changes, especially in the software cycle. However, Agile is responsive and adaptive to changes during project phases. By using the Agile methodology, you can provide continuous and speedy delivery of software products to the customer. On the other hand in the Waterfall methodology, you deliver the product as it was planned at the first step (initiation) and it is difficult to make changes during the software life cycle.
Projects are more dependent on technology and require more collaborative resources today. Therefore organizations should be more focused on customer value as well as adapting to changes.
Using a project management methodology provides many advantages to an organization. Some of them are improving knowledge management and sustainability. A Project management methodology creates a common language, common processes, and templates for an organization. However, all methodologies are not applicable to all organizations and projects. Note that the most suitable methodology is based on your project’s requirements and industry. In the construction industry, the waterfall is more useful than the others. In the software industry, agile is more applicable.
This is where our article ends. Project management methodologies is an interesting topic. Understanding each methodology helps you to become more successful in the field of project management. If you have anything to add or share, you can use the comments box given below.
Bianca Scarlot is a technology and business leader with multi-industry experience. Throughout her career, she has provided the expertise and direction for leading-edge initiatives that included agile transformations, process reengineering solutions, and IoT service delivery innovations. She is director of AgileNova Training Academy.