As with many tasks in life, most companies, organizations, and individuals begin to nourish the seedlings of success for their project well before they start the work itself.
Selecting an effective framework for your project is essential in helping it to move smoothly—yet many struggle when it comes to choosing the most suitable management methodology.
Each manager has their own approach when it comes to organizing tasks and setting the wheels in motion to achieve a particular goal. Knowing exactly which format you are going to follow will help you to interact efficiently with other members of your team—thereby delivering better results overall.
So how do you know where your project management style falls between some of the more common options such as waterfall, scrum, agile, and lean? First of all, you start by getting to know each concept better.
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The Waterfall Project Management Method
First and foremost, the waterfall project management method is the most traditional option and requires extensive and detailed planning at the start of a project. All of your future steps need to be mapped and laid out so that you can move onto the next stage only after successfully completing the previous one.
The name "waterfall" refers to the fact that each phase of the project takes place in sequence—ensuring that progress flows downwards towards the final goal.
Winston W. Royce established the first formal description of the waterfall method, and since then there have been numerous well-known and highly-commended waterfall methodologies used throughout various industries. Similar to most business approaches, there are a number of negative and positive aspects to consider when regarding the waterfall approach.
For instance, on the positive side—the development process of the waterfall methodology is well-documented, as this method places a greater degree of emphasis on documentation through planning. What's more, customers and developers can come together to agree upon the desired product, early in the development lifecycle—thereby making design more straightforward.
However, the waterfall approach uses long-term planning, and requires a great deal of time for effective completion, which is one of the reasons why people began turning to agile project management, especially in regards to projects dealing with non-physical deliveries and services such as code, design projects, and copywriting.
The Agile Project Management Method
Unlike the waterfall system for project management, the agile method is a short-term value-driven approach that aims to help project managers deliver high-quality, high-priority work as quickly as possible.
The agile approach to project management is a fast and flexible option based on principles of adaptability, collaboration, and continuous improvement. Far removed from the organized stages of the waterfall approach - the agile project management system is set into quick, iterative project release cycles—which often means that it is less suitable for projects with strictly defined requirements.
With agile project management, your process for delivery should continue to get better and better—improving your value to consumers and clients. It allows for quick correction based on feedback from the stakeholder, and adaptation all the way through the process—even in the later stages of development.
It can be the perfect option for teams that need to work efficiently and creatively, as it includes collaboration and engagement from all members of the team at all times.
Perhaps the most significant benefit of this methodology is that it evaluates cost and time as primary constraints. Continuous adaptation and rapid feedback create significant portions of the team's schedules—ensuring proven progress and top-quality output. The net result is often a working product delivered in a matter of weeks, instead of months, and fewer costly surprises at the end of the project.
The Scrum Project Management Method
The scrum method for project management is another fast-paced option—part of the Agile movement. Scrum uses three primary roles: the scrum master, the team, and the product owner.
The process works as follows: the owner of the project writes up a backlog of project requirements ordered according to their priority level. From there, a sprint team for planning begins to work on the first items written in the backlog according to a particular deadline.
During this time, daily meetings permit the scrum master to direct the team towards completion and track progress at the same time, and a review of the completed sprint precedes the team beginning work on the next.
The advantage of the Scrum sprint process is that it allows for adequate development that provides a saleable product, even while the project is still underway. The delivery system works on an incremental basis to shorten the time between creation and market, thereby resulting in a higher revenue.
Considered an "inspect and adapt" framework for project development, the scrum methodology can apply to a number of different people and industries—particularly those managing large to-do lists and complex problems.
The Lean Project Management Method
Finally, the lean method for project management is particularly useful within the IT industry. Lean concepts are useful for preventing waste, and when used in the context of project management - they operate on the ambition to deliver more value, with less waste.
The term "waste" in lean project management can mean extra labor, time, and materials that don't provide any extra value to the project itself. For example, this could refer to unproductive status meetings or lengthy documentation for a project that is not used. The steps utilized in Lean project management are as follows:
- Identify value by breaking down the project and examining the elements within.
- Map plans essential to the success of the project.
- Break out small manageable tasks and measure productivity along the way to enhance the flow of the project. This will help you to assign tasks based on the strengths of different staff members.
- Ensure that all participants in the project agree to a list of desired goals.
- Empower your teams to seek the best possible results and promote improvement through communication.
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Finding The Right Project Management Style
Discovering the ideal management method for your specific circumstances will be an issue that depends on your team, your project, and your desired goals. Once you have selected a planning style, make sure that you have the project management software at hand to ensure that you and your team have the best organization available.
What are your thoughts on the different project management methods available? Have you tried multiple different solutions and found one that works best for you, or do you stick to a single option?