Choosing a project management methodology is one of the first challenges at the beginning of any project. Three of the most commonly used methodologies are Waterfall, Agile or Scrum. However to be a little more exhaustive in this article we will also talk about PRINCE2, Critical Chain, Kanban and Hybrid methods.
Methodology is the science of method, and in these cases it helps us to trace the roadmap and the way to proceed in each of the project’s life cycles. In order to choose the most appropriate methodology we must keep in mind the requirements and objectives.
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Project management methodologies
A good choice of project management methodology will save us time and resources, and most importantly, achieve our objectives in the best possible way. Here is a brief overview of seven very popular strategies.
The Waterfall methodology appeared in the second half of the 20th century. As the name suggests, the project is managed with a sequential strategy. It is a series of processes, so each process starts when the previous one has finished.
This project management methodology has been applied extensively in software development where the client is hardly involved between initial analysis and delivery. The first thing to do was to perform an analysis, then design, implement and test before installing.
Measuring progress is very simple, but planning ahead is difficult. Any change or unforeseen event may affect the sequence of processes. It is therefore essential to be clear about the requirements before planning and considering all possible risks and contingencies.
The Agile methodology is completely different, its strategy consists of repeated cycles and collaboration between teams. It allows to speed up the implementation of the project and the client can contribute to its development.
Agile methodology feeds on the changes to achieve a higher quality result. The project is divided into sprints of a fixed duration.
The first drawback is the difficulty in measuring progress. If not well controlled, this can lead to a greater waste of time and resources. If stakeholders do not engage and participate in the cycles, we may have problems.
Scrum is an Agile project management methodology that simplifies complex projects and enables rapid implementation. The strategy is to define a list of pending activities. The team then divides them into simpler tasks and sets the duration of the sprint.
The team should meet daily to update the rest of the team on the progress made. At the end of each sprint interested parties provide feedback and may request additional features. If a task could not be completed it is included in the next sprint.
Like Agile, in Scrum the problem is the lack of predictability or end date. If we are going to work with a large team it can be a problem as we hold meetings on a daily basis. A committed team, good teamwork and active client participation are required.
PRINCE2 is the acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is a strategy based on procedures with a focus on business justification and a defined organization structure for teams. Its origins are linked to the UK government, so its use is quite widespread in commonwealth countries.
The PRINCE2 method breaks a project into stages and treats each stage as its own entity. While it can be applied to all types of projects, it is essential that each and every one of its principles be observed.
Critical Chain Project Management
The critical chain method, developed by Eli Goldratt, represented a significant advance over the Critical Path that had appeared in the mid-twentieth century. It is more difficult to implement but more realistic and efficient in managing costs, time and resources.
Its strategy is based on three key factors: the configuration of the shock absorbers to control time, the definition of the simplest possible activities and the identification of the risks in order to manage them in the most efficient way.
Kanban is a strategy that emerged in Japan. This methodology is very visual when it comes to managing tasks. First we have a panel or table that we divide into four columns: To-do, in progress, review, done.
The team uses cards to identify the tasks to be performed. These cards move from one section to another so that we can easily observe the progression.
Using hybrid methods is perfectly logical if the project requires it. It is common to combine Waterfall and Agile to better manage risks. By keeping the best of each house we can alleviate the disadvantages and achieve the objectives with better results.
There is no one-size-fits-all methodology for all projects or organizations. In the real world, project managers often modify established methodologies to achieve a customized approach to the client and the team.