Business is stressful. No matter which industry or market you operate in, you’re bound to face some obstacles and make a lot of mistakes. However, you can minimize the mistakes by engaging the right people. In the growing phase of business trying to keep up with everything is impossible and you’ll find yourself hiring multiple contractors and teams. Or perhaps, you have an internal team that executes your own projects or deliver projects to clients. No matter, what it is, your business can greatly benefit from project management methodologies. These are specially designed systems that can turn an unmanageable pile of tasks into a perfect melody of order, personal responsibility, motivation, and amazing results.
Project management is a science of managing projects, but in reality, you’re managing people. So, every methodology should be applied carefully. Consider your final goal. Sure, delivering a project is a priority, but if you do that at the expense of people’s motivation and natural levels of productivity, you might end up with a perfect system and profitable project but no team to deliver. Always remember that the key to a faultless project is the balance between the right methodology and the level of happiness of the people.
Also, don’t get too caught up on one methodology. You can mix and match and find the option that works perfectly for your business.
Here are 10 best project management methodologies you should know about:
10 best project management methodologies
Agile is one of the most popular methodologies these days. Rooted in software development, Agile implies breaking the project into iterations and then working on one iteration at a time while constantly receiving a flow of feedback. When the team completes the iteration, the deliverable is kicked back to the client, the client provides feedback and the team improves the result by incorporating that feedback.
Agile is a methodology that is largely based on the concept of Minimal Viable Product (MVP). The first couple of successful iterations usually form the core of MVP.
Agile was born in the software development field, but it can be applied to any industry or business.
Kanban is another technique that can be used in any area of business. Originating from Japan, Kanban board is used to visually break the project into tasks and see the status of each task.
Kanban board usually includes three segments: To-do, In Progress, and Done, but the way you organize and name segments is totally up to you. You put tasks under relevant segments and move tasks from one segment to another.
Kanban makes managing projects easier and allows you to identify areas of low efficiency. If you see that too many tasks are stuck in the Progress mode, this is a clear sign that the tasks are taking more time than you initially planned.
Scrum is a widely popular software development methodology. It’s based on the idea of small iterations, like Agile, only there are some additional steps. For example, Scrum implies that you meet daily for 15 minutes and discuss how the project is going. You also assign a Scrum master, who keeps the project on track and helps the development team overcome the roadblocks.
Scrum forces you to set short-term goals and keeps you on your toes so that you can achieve great results faster. Creative projects would greatly benefit from implementing Scrum methodology.
Lean is more of a work philosophy than a methodology. The key message of the Lean philosophy is to work smarter not harder. Lean defines all the things you should eradicate from your life in order to become insanely productive. These are muda, mura, and muri.
Muda is anything that doesn’t have value in the work process. It can be inventory, excessive movement, web browsing and so forth. By eliminating Muda you make your work results so packed with value that no one can outperform you. Mura is the inconsistency of your work process. You might be done with a task in an hour and then spend the whole day waiting for client’s feedback. The waiting time is Mura. Finally, Muri is the pressure and stress that you place on people for no obvious reasons.
Ultimately, Lean methodology makes you look at your work process with a critical eye. When you reduce the amount of waste in your work process you’ll be able to significantly improve the outcome.
This is an old project management methodology that is easy and complicated at the same time. With Waterfall, you have to know your exact deliverables, budget and have a very strict deadline. The project is broken down into stages and each phase is dependent on the completion of the previous one.
Waterfall methodology implies thorough planning and rigid limits. The project scope rarely changes and when it does the whole project usually degrades into chaos.
6. Critical Path Method
This methodology is a mathematically-based algorithm. In Critical Path Method you follow the three steps: determine the list of activities, set the dependencies between activities and estimate how much time each activity will take. Once you have gone through these three preparational stages, you will be able to see which path is the shortest. Critical Path Method allows you to get rid of activities that might delay the project.
Critical Path Method is good for large-scale projects with a predetermined scope. Flexibility is the last thing that comes to mind in Critical Path Method projects.
7. Six Sigma
Relatively new project management methodology, Six Sigma aims to find the perfect balance between project efficiency, business goals, and employee morale. The key idea behind the method is preventing mistakes before they even occur. Another important idea in the Six Sigma method is statistical thinking. The key members of the team are expected to be trained in advanced statistics and project management.
Six Sigma method follows 5 steps: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. Since Six Sigma enforces a clear definition of scope, it’s not ideal for projects with fluid requirements. However, it can work for projects that have clear objectives and unwavering support of the decision-making team.
8. Rapid Applications Development
Software development field has given us a plethora of project management methodologies and Rapid Applications Development is one of them. This is a method based on constant iteration, just like Agile and Scrum. This method works best for highly adaptable projects that can be improved almost infinitely.
Rapid Application Development methodology outlines 4 stages of the project. Bear in mind that this is a cyclical process, so once the final stage is complete the process goes back to the first stage.
Stage 1. Planning Requirements - collecting all the necessary information in order to kick the project off.
Stage 2. User Design - gathering user feedback in order to create the system’s architecture.
Stage 3. Rapid Construction - building the system based on the information collected and user feedback.
Stage 4. Cutover - launching the project into the live environment and testing.
Similar to Waterfall, Prince2 is a project management methodology from the times when the change in the project scope was equal to death. Prince2 is about rigorous planning at the start of the project and keeping the project organized and controlled over the entire project lifecycle.
Prince2 defines 7 stages of the project lifecycle:
Stage 1. Starting a project - submitting a request for project and outlining the details
Stage 2. Directing a project - project evaluation and business justification
Stage 3. Initiating a project - determining the project’s scope, budget, and schedule
Stage 4. Controlling a stage - project manager oversees project execution and corrects course of action if needed
Stage 5. Managing product delivery - the project is evaluated against the deliverables
Stage 6. Managing stage boundaries - the project is assessed against the defined timeline
Stage 7. Closing the project - the stage where the project is delivered and the final reports are filed.
10. Project Management Institute (PMI)
Planning is the key to PMI method. Like Waterfall, PMI works great for cumbersome projects that have strict budgets and limited time allocation. PMI breaks the project down into five stages: conception and initiation, planning, execution, performance and monitoring, and closing. The steps are organized in a consecutive order so each step has to be finalized before you can move on to the next one.
PMI is a great methodology. It has proven to work for thousands of large-scale projects in the US. However, it’s not ideal for the small business where decisions are made on the fly and change is inevitable.
Ultimately, all project management technique can be seen as either traditional or modern. Most software development projects require modern approach - these are flexible projects with a rough idea of the final scope, time and budget. Agile, Lean, Scrum and Rapid Applications Development methodologies work best for such projects. On the other hand, traditional approach favors weighing in all the factors before making a final decision. This approach eliminates wasted effort but doesn't allow for creativity. Traditional approach methodologies such as Waterfall, Prince2, PMI, Six Sigma and Critical Path Method work best for projects where the final deliverable is clearly defined, for example, a construction project or new automobile model project. Lastly, Kanban is a great method for personal productivity and getting things done as a team.
No one is going to tell you which project management methodology is right for your business, but by understanding how flexible project requirements are you can determine between traditional and modern approach, pick the most suitable method and then fine-tune until your own perfect project management methodology emerges.