A Beginners Guide to Project Management Methodologies
Ask any successful business leader and they will tell you that in a business concept, there is no such thing as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Each business setting is unique, and so are the challenges. That’s why, as a manager, learning project management methods is crucial in getting the job done accurately and promptly.
You’ve probably heard this advice a million times:
“Work smarter—not harder.”
The adage never gets old. When you manage a team, you want the workflow to be smooth, and that’s where project management methodologies come in. There are several methods available, but not all of them will work for your project.
To save you the hassle, we have narrowed it down to eight widely used ones, and also share a few project management methodology examples to make your choice a tad easier.
So let’s get straight to business.
An Introduction to Project Management Methodology
If it is your first time coming across this term, you must be wondering what it means and what it is all about. Put simply, a project management methodology is a set of guiding principles, methods, practices, techniques, and processes to help organize and streamline your projects. The principles are divided into a series of steps and activities that guide each phase of the project cycle.
Think of it as a blueprint of how to plan, manage, and execute tasks and projects, from start to finish.
There are various types of project management methodology, and they vary depending on factors, such as the business type, industry, and size.
Additionally, your choice will depend on the project type and scope.
As a project manager, you will realize that during your lifetime, you will implement more than one of these methods and techniques to bring projects to a successful end. It’s worth noting that this is not just for project managers. You must also let your team in on various tools and techniques for the entire process to go smoothly.
And, keep in mind that since no one team or project is exactly alike, a method that works for one company might not work for another. That’s why learning more than one strategy may prove beneficial, not only to the success of your projects but also to your career.
We came up with this list to help you pick a project management method that will fit your project needs, goals, and objectives.
Agile Project Management: Best for Software Development
Just as the name suggests, the agile project management methodology is best suited for products and projects that face diverse changes during their progress, such as software development. Agile, in this context, is the ability to gracefully adapt to rapidly changing consumer needs. The concept was mentioned in the Agile Manifesto that was released by IT representatives in 2001.
The Agile methodology works best where your major strengths are collaboration and communication rather than planning. It is ideal when working with projects that need to accommodate quick changes. This Cisco case study about how Agile works illustrates it best.
That said, the four key aspects of Agile project management methodology are:
- Dynamic team culture – Co-workers and clients must create an environment of continuous collaboration.
- Short term delivery sprints “cycles” – Product cycle should involve regular feedback to let teams whether or not they are on the right track.
- Emphasis on real-time communication – Project managers must prioritize individual interactions and not systems and tools.
- Less restrictive project control – Clients should not adhere rigidly to clearly established roadmaps, but rather be responsive.
As you can see, Agile encourages the entire team to collaborate, and, therefore, become accountable for the product's evolution and success. While you may define all the goals before starting the process, the entire plan remains iterative and flexible.
Scrum: Best for Tracking Backlogs
Scrum is a type of agile methodology whose main goal is to improve a team’s productivity by identifying and removing any obstacle that might affect the project. It is highly effective for product or software development where teams need to quickly react and adapt to complex environments.
This type of agile project methodology works best for small self-organizing teams who work closely with the Product Owner. The Product Owner is responsible for ensuring that the team meets its goal of satisfying customer needs by developing a high-end product. Scrum projects are managed by a Scrum Master.
This person’s tasks include:
- Holding meetings
- Eliminating roadblocks that crop up during the product process
- Ensuring that everyone on the team communicates well on daily projects
- Overseeing the overall Scrum process, not the job itself
Of course, the team members play a vital role in the success of the product. However, they must collaborate with the Scrum Master and Product Owner on each milestone to achieve the goals.
Here’s how the Scrum methodology works:
Projects are divided into smaller cycles, called “Sprints”. These sprints have smaller timeframes with deliverables every 15 or 30 days. The teams hold daily stand-ups, where they review the progress so far and discuss what they plan to be working on for the rest of the day. Additionally, they expose any difficulties encountered or predict possible bottlenecks that might arise in the future.
Kanban: Best for Monitoring Projects in Continuous Flows Instead of Sprints
Although the Kanban approach works well for software development, it works just as well for any other industry, including construction, digital marketing, law, education, and design.
It acts as a visual tool that gives you a glimpse of everything that’s going on with the project. You can opt to use either a virtual or physical board, which is usually divided into three columns:
- To Do
- In Progress
Tasks then move from one column to another as the work progresses, until the project is completed. Project managers use Kanban to estimate the effect of new assignments on the team’s current workload. The visuals workflow helps you and your team members to estimate and prioritize new and upcoming tasks.
Vanguard adopted the Kanban-based approach and the results show how they were able to accelerate their workflow, feedback and learning. There are plenty of tools out there that adopt this methodology, including Trello and Jira.
Waterfall Project Management Methodology: Ideal for Software Development
Waterfall is one of the oldest methodologies that is still widely adopted in the software development industry.
This type of business methodology implements a model that is easy to use and follow. You simply need to create a linear and sequential list, where a team must accomplish one step before moving to the next. A team cannot move to the next task until the previous one is completed and approved.
Waterfall project management method is ideal for short uncomplicated projects with clear and fixed requirements.
While the chronological order of tasks may seem rigid, it encourages teams to be perfect in each stage, leading to better results. However, the lack of flexibility may also increase the chances of project failure. For instance, if you detect an error during the second or third phase of your project or you need to change something, you will be forced to start all over.
PRINCE2: Best for Construction and Architecture
PRINCE2, PRojects IN Controlled Environments, is applied by the U.K. government and many other industries and companies. It takes a process-based approach to project management. It focuses on consistent processes, organized plans, and regular reviews of cycles.
This methodology encourages better control over your resources and contains all the tools, procedures, and practices that leave nothing to chance when it comes to project management.
It is used to define the structure for the team and emphasizes the course taken by a business. To effectively use this project management philosophy, you first need to identify clear objectives for the project, the target customer, thorough cost assessment, and whether the benefits are realistic and achievable.
Projects are split between a project board and a project manager. The project board owns the project and is responsible for its success. A manager, on the other hand, oversees the day-to-day activities of the project.
It works best in large, predictable projects, and is based on eight high-level processes that give teams the ability to mitigate risks effectively.
Critical Path Method (CPM): Best for Manufacturing, Construction, Architecture, Science, and Engineering
CPM is ideal when you have tasks that depend on each other. It is used where prioritization and better scheduling are necessary. For example, in a construction site, certain tasks like painting and fixing lights can only come after other tasks, e.g. when the foundation has been laid and the structure is almost complete.
In Critical Path Method, you can easily identify milestones, task dependencies, and deadlines. When you categorize all the activities that need to be completed, you can map out those activities that can be run simultaneously and those that should be completed before others can start.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM): Best for Construction and Manufacturing
CCPM, an extension of CPM, is used by managers to prioritize critical resources. It emphasizes resource utilization in order to minimize lost productivity. In a construction site, for example, teams may have to wait for each other before proceeding with their tasks.
CCPM focuses on resource management by ensuring the timely delivery of supplies to avoid disruptions during the progress of a project. When we speak of resources here, we mean what you need to complete your projects, such as office space, equipment, and teams.
Project timing is everything and when creating schedules. CCPM allows project buffers to be placed in between critical tasks to ensure that nothing postpones the project and that deadlines are met as planned.
PRiSM (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods): Best for Landscaping, Architecture, and Construction
Are you an environmental champion looking for an effective team methodology that considers environmental factors, as well as human rights and corruption prevention? Try PRiSM.
Developed by Green Project Management (GPM) Global, this method helps teams to eliminate environmental pollution as well as save energy. Unlike other types of project management methodologies, the PRiSM approach extends beyond the end of the project. Instead, it focuses on the post-delivery of projects to minimize adverse effects on the environment.
Timing Is Everything
When it comes to project management, keeping track of deadlines is crucial to the success of your projects. Everything from task dependencies to project processes to the duration and deadline of each task and the entire project, in general, should be aligned with project objectives.
For this to be possible, you must employ the use of time tracking software like Traqq. Not only is the tool highly effective in monitoring your team, remote or not, but, also allows you to easily create and manage groups. It might prove useful, especially if you manage different teams, each working on different projects, but you want to manage them under one platform.
You can manage teams of any size and group them according to their roles. When it comes to monthly reports, Traqq makes the billing process even easier. It measures and analyzes the activity levels of each worker, and presents the analysis in neat and easy to understand timesheets. From the records, you can view each employee’s working hours and use the data to work out the business performance for that month or quarter and make adjustments accordingly.