Some of you might be closely conversant with the popular project management methodologies. However, there should be certainly young professionals here among the readers who are just starting their PM career. For some of them, certain concepts, terms and practices may seem new and unclear.
Here we’ve combined the most popular project management techniques that have been applied for decades by project managers all over the world. Be sure, this list can be continued and you may add some more interesting methods. Let this brief set be a great opportunity to remind you of some of the best project management methodologies and practices that have birthed some of the greatest products.
Waterfall is a traditional approach to project management that is commonly used in such industries as manufacturing and construction.
There is a point of view that the Waterfall methodology was the first model being adopted in software engineering.
The model requires a linear approach towards project management. According to it, any project is broken down into sequences with the kickoff of a phase dependent on the completion of the preceding one.
There are 5 stages in Waterfall:
- Idea Engineering
- Testing and validation
Agile is widely known as a big family of project management methods that allows projects to be processed in small phases or cycles.
One of the key advantages of the methodology is that it is extremely flexible. Project managers working in this environment treat milestones as Sprints.
The main goal here is to be continuously adapted to abrupt changes from client feedback.
Agile is the best option for small software projects made up of a highly collaborative team or a project that requires frequent iteration.
Scrum is one of the most popular Agile methods. This is the method with an iterative and incremental way of product delivery. It requires frequent feedback and collaborative decision-making.
The Scrum process consists of short Sprints that usually last 1-3- weeks. Thanks to the method, product teams can respond rapidly, efficiently, and effectively to changes within the product management.
Waterfall requires the extensive creation of requirements, analysis and design documentation before developing while Scrum approach does not require that.
Any Scrum process involves three main roles: a Scrum Master, a Product Owner, and team members.
They work with a product backlog – a set of the functionality that remains to be added to the product, a Sprint backlog – a prioritized list of tasks the team needs to complete during a Sprint and a Burndown charts. The charts are used to demonstrate the amount of work remaining in the Sprint.
Kanban is often not considered as an Agile development method but it used in conjunction as a means to increase efficiency. The methodology includes Kanban boards and cards that indicate the need to reorder certain tasks. The method was developed by Toyota in the 1940s.
The Kanban project management process means a more visual approach to managing time, project scope, and budget. The main idea here is continuous delivery, especially when combined with the Scrum approach.
The method enables product managers and project managers to track the workflow and the productivity of the team.
Kanban makes the goals easier to understand for everyone in the team, and significantly improve communication between the members.
Kanban includes an evolutionary approach that is all about gradually implementing small but meaningful improvements into the processes.
To be successful in Kanban, you need to follow the principles:
- Visualize the workflow with the help of Kanban boards and cards.
- Use work in progress limits option to avoid multitasking.
- Track and manage the flow of work using helpful product roadmap tools and famous prioritization techniques.
- Be ready to implement improvements if necessary and fix possible problems.
- Improve continuously.
The Kanban project management methodology (together with other Agile methods) works best for small teams. Even individuals who work independently find this method useful.
Extreme Programming method
Extreme Programming that is also known as XP is a short life-cycle method with the main objectives – the improvement of product quality and client satisfaction.
Extreme Programming is focused on teamwork and customer satisfaction. The methodology includes 5 basic principles:
The teams using Extreme Programming work in shorter sprints typical for Agile or Scrum projects. The shorter cycles allow them to maintain rigid task structures.
Extreme Programming is about specific engineering practices such as test-driven product development, simple and clear design, automated testing, etc. It’s recommended to begin with Scrum and then adopt Extreme Programming slowly.
This methodology allows companies to save time and costs required for project realization. XP is simple and the developers, who use it, create a quite simple code that can be improved at any moment. XP approach is also visible and accountable.
Constant feedback is also the advantage of the method. In general, Extreme Programming contributes increasing employee satisfaction and retention.
The key roles in Extreme Programming are the following:
Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
Adaptive Project Framework is about optimal flexibility and the clear idea of agility.
Roughly-defined goals and outcomes sometimes make teams improvise their systems and protocols.
This method is suited for unique challenges. It empowers teams, as they are not expected to follow pre-ordained scripts blindly.
According to the APF, customers work directly with Agile teams, they choose the exact features they need in realized products.
What makes the method different to other methodologies is that a customer is a central figure who defines the next step of the project.
This project management method can be used to get the maximum value for each project. It helps to avoid wasting your time on tasks that bring no extra value.
The APF brings the Agile ideas to a higher level. The total customer involvement is essential here that ensure the success of the approach.
Rapid Applications Development (RAD)
RAD is one more PM methodology preferred by development teams all over the world. The model facilitates interaction via structured techniques.
It was described in the 1980s and was the first development methodology to challenge traditional Waterfall practices.
The teams of RAD create prototypes to determine user needs and redefine their designs. They can repeat this cycle many times throughout the process to optimize the quality and user experience.
The focus of RAD managers is on customer data gathered from focus groups and different workshops. The Rapid Applications Development works best for teams that do not require the deep development of complex features long interactions.
Prince2 is an acronym for Projects in controlled environments. It is famous as one of the best PM practices because of its very flexible nature.
Applying the method means a business justification for every project. Do not confuse it with the PMBOK (the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge).
The method is used widely because it offers a set of advantages:
- Great resource control
- Risk management control
- Organized planning and execution
- Structures responsibility allocation
- Focusing on end-users
- Regular review justification cycles
The roles in PRINCE2 are the following:
- A customer who pays the project to be completed.
- A user who will either use the project deliverables or will be impacted by the project’s outcome.
- A supplier is a subject expert.
- A project manager who is responsible for planning, organizing, and overseeing work on the project.
- A team with a team leader.
- An administrator who sets up meetings, tracks documentation, keeps everyone updated, etc.
CPM is a critical path method. The project management methodology was created over a half-century ago to highlight tasks that project teams couldn’t begin until others had been finished.
According to CPM, project managers make strings of tasks, each depends on the other. Therefore, these sequential items build a team’s critical path.
The method helps managers to avoid frustrating bottlenecks by determining a critical path and focusing on these important tasks above all others. It allows them to allocate more resources to any items on a critical path that lag behind and threaten delays.
CPM assists to pull team members from non-essential tasks.
You may apply critical path method in software project management for complicated projects or even planning a project with short deadlines, for example, organizing a parking area near the office with CPM.
Summing it up
How to choose the right project management method? The question is not simple as the methods outlined above are not exhaustive and only the most popular methodologies have been described here. As you can guess, there are many more.
The identification of a suitable approach for managing your projects require paying attention to the following:
- Define together with your team members what has worked in the past. This experience will narrow down the choices.
- Clarify the needs and expectations of your clients.
- Highlight the company’s goals, keeping in mind costs and resources.
- Consider the structure of the team.
- Do not hesitate to try several methodologies.
What project management methodology do you prefer to use?