Project Methodology

There are many different Project Methodologies, it up to the Project Manager and Customer to work together to decide which methodology works best for them.

The Traditional, Sequential Methodologies

There are many ways to plan out a project. One the most common is to sequence the tasks that will conclude with a final deliverable. This is a traditional method for managing projects and is very easy to understand. One task must be completed prior to another task beginning. Each of these tasks are connected and are completed in sequential order. All of tasks combined make up the project deliverable. This method, known as Waterfall, provides robust historical information for future projects. However, due to the detailed pre-planning, a change in the project goals or customer’s need can make the project difficult to manage.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

The critical path is all those activities that must be completed in the project on complete the project on time.  In this method, there will be certain tasks that will not be able to start until the previous task is completed. When these tasks are joined together, you can figure what is the critical path for the project.

By identifying and focusing on this critical path, project managers can prioritize and allocate resources to get the most important work done and reschedule any lower priority tasks. The project managers goal is to optimize the project team’s work without delaying the project.

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

The Critical chain project management is a methodology that’s primary focus on the resources. The first step is to build a project schedule and identify all the critical tasks or what will be the “Critical Chain”. The resources will be reserved for those high-priority tasks. Buffers will be built around these tasks to meet the project deadlines.

The PMI/PMBOK “Method”

It is still a debate as to whether this method is a method.  Some project managers treat it as a method while others see it more as a guide. Regardless, this “method”, breaks down the project into five process groups, initiating, planning, executing, controlling and monitoring and closing. Within these 5 process groups, there are 49 Knowledge Areas that lay the foundation to manage a project.

Another popular method is Agile. The methodology was developed in 2001 and was christened The Agile Manifesto. In Agile, the project objectives are well defined, but the final deliverable can change. The project team works in iterative cycles and evaluate the end result. Depending on the evaluation, the final deliverable may be modified to meet the customer’s needs.

There are four main values that focus on delivering value and customer collaboration:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Agile has also given birth to different frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming and Adaptive Project Framework.

Scrum

Scrum is a popular framework among software developers. Scrum’s set up includes a Scrum Master who leads a small team, whose job is to remove the obstacles and pave the way for the team members to work efficiently. The team works in short cycle referred to as “sprints”, but there is daily interaction between the team members to resolve any issues and provide updates. This methodology provides flexibility and quick turn around times.

Kanban

Kanban is a visual approach where project teams create visual representations using whiteboard as well as online versions. The visualization will assist in identifying potential issues and come up with a solution.  Kanban is considered a pre-planned methodology.

Extreme Programming (XP)

Extreme programming focuses on quality and simplify software development. This methodology is highly adaptable, during a sprint, changes can be implemented if the work has not started. XP is also characterized by frequent iterations and collaborating with the stakeholders

Adaptive Project Framework (APF)

As its name implies, Adaptive Project Framework (APF) is meant to handle adapting to uncertainty and constant change. The requirements are gathered and organized in manner that defines the project goals based on features and product requirements. The project is broken down into iterative stages and results are reviewed to improve performance. Stakeholder’s have the ability at the beginning of each stage to change the project’s scope in order to produce the most business value.

The Change Management Methodologies

There are the methodologies that deal with managing projects but with an extra focus on change management especially planning for risks and taking control of change when it happens. Notable methods include:

Event Chain Methodology (ECM)

There is always risk in any project. Event Chain procedure focuses on external risk that will affect the project scope.

Extreme Project Management (XPM)

Extreme Project Manager (XPM) is the inverse of Waterfall in that it offers you an approach to oversee large change and still push ahead to completion of the project. In XPM, you can adjust the project plan, spending plan, and even the last deliverable to fit evolving needs, regardless of where you are in the project timeline. It's the ideal method to oversee projects that are on a short time frame.

The Process-based Methodologies

Then there are the project management methods which practically veer into the areas of business process management (BPM) wherein each method focuses on work as a collection of processes. While project management purists may argue that these methods belong on some other list, we argue that these are still quite valid ways to plan for and execute a project plan.

Lean

Lean is a methodology that is centered on streamlining and removing waste. The first step is to create a work system breakdown to discover and remove bottlenecks, delays, and all varieties of waste (“muda”). The goal is to do greater with less; providing customer value with less manpower, less money and in less time.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a statistics-based methodology focusing on quality improvement by measuring defects and with improvements, getting defect rates down to zero or as close to zero as possible.  If the process can attain a rating of 99.99966%, your deliverable will be considered defect free.  Lean Six Sigma combines both the methodology of Lean, where focus is on removing waste and Six Sigma, where the focus is on defect free deliverables. In both methodologies, the focus is on efficiency.

Process-Based Project Management
Process-based Project Management is a methodology that aligns with the strategic goals of the company.  The project process and standards are defined, and objectives are adjusted when necessary.

The Other Methodologies

PRINCE2 is used by the UK government to manage projects. High level activities, such as resource allocation are managed by a project board while the day-to-day activities are managed by a project manager. This methodology gives teams greater control of resources and the ability to mitigate risk effectively.

PRiSM

PRiSM is focused on how to complete project without negatively impacting the environment or having a negative social impact. Environmental sustainability is of the main focal points First off, this is not the surveillance program of the same name initiated by the US National Security Agency.

To determine which methodology works best for your project, you need to determine the final project goals.

Stakeholder Commitment and Team Resources

A stakeholder is anyone who can affect or be affected by the project. Stakeholder commitment is key to maintenance of stakeholder relationship management in a project. A project manager balances the needs of the stakeholder and ensures all parties support the project deliverables. As management guru Stephen Covey succinctly puts it, “Your organization is a complex ecosystem of multiple, interdependent parts both inside and outside its formal boundaries, and your stakeholders are its most important elements.”

Before a project manager attempts to obtain stakeholder commitment, it is important to figure out who your stakeholders are.  A project can be delayed or less valuable when the project manager fails to identify and engage all the stakeholders. It is easy to think of stakeholders as anyone who has a stake in success or failure of the project. Stakeholders can be grouped according to their roles:

  • Partners
  • Sponsors
  • Advocates
  • Change Agents
  • Targets

It is also helpful when talking to stakeholders to ask them directly if they believe you may have missed someone. It is not uncommon, that during the life of your project stakeholders are replaced or fall off from the project. A quintessential quality of project managers is time management. Not all stakeholders will hold the same influence on a project, although you will meet with all, you will focus your efforts on those influential stakeholders. Stakeholder engagement is a great way to interact with your stakeholders and learn more about them. It is wise to come prepared, as a stakeholder may not be able to provide a vast amount of time. Understanding your stakeholder’s role in the project will help you deliver the outcome the expect.

To build trust amongst your stakeholders, the project manager must communicate openly and honestly. There should be no confusion on the status of the project. Frequent updates in the form of status reports is a great tool to help achieve communication with your stakeholders.

No one want an incompetent project manager. To develop the trust between the stakeholder, it’s imperative that you demonstrate you are reliable and capable project manager. Continuous monitoring the project, updating the baselines, managing risk and handling any issues will prove to the stakeholders you are the right person to manage the project.

Team Resources

Resource Management involves assigning team members to meet the project needs. Management will determine how to effectively use the resource to gain the maximum benefit. Resources should be assessed and allocated before a project begins. Lack of resource planning can result in running out of resources throughput the project as well as impact the deliverables.

Resource allocation (also called resource management) is the process of assigning team members and assets (like hardware) to balance the competing needs and priorities of a team. Management then determines the most effective course of action to maximize the effective use of limited resources and gain the best return on investment.