Project management methodologies guide teams towards successful outcomes. Choosing the correct method for your organization helps get the job done right. But there’s a lot of options and approaches to choose between. Any methodology adopted will depend on the ambition of the project combined with the goal of a company.
In this article, we focus on what project management methodologies are and three you can implement within your organization.
What are project management methodologies?
A methodology is a system of rules and techniques in a particular subject area of study or activity. In the strategic world of project management, several methods are available to help organizations navigate tasks and effectively deliver on projects. The implementation of a particular methodology should consider factors like the size of a business, timeframes and external collaboration before adopting a chosen method.
The methodology you choose will come with advantages and disadvantages defined by whether or not the desired result or project end goal was met. Maximizing results and fully utilizing how teams use their time should be of strong influence when making a decision on which approach is best.
Here are three methodologies for today’s fast-paced working environments.
1. The Waterfall model
A well-aged classic on any project methodology list, the waterfall model is considered by many to be a straightforward option that focuses on a phased approach that’s easy to follow.
This method is prominent in the software industry where having a clear outline before launching a project is considered paramount to success. The waterfall model is a sequential methodology with self-contained stages. Before you kickstart a project, planning and consideration is given.
A project manager is largely in control of a linear path that keeps teams familiar and focused on defined tasks. A clear road map coupled with a manager who retains the majority of control makes it easy to follow a strategy. Like with water, progress flows downwards in a straight line much more than other methods.
Advantages of Waterfall:
- A new phase is entered once a current phase is completed
- Minimal client interference
- Easy to manage and oversee progress
Disadvantages of Waterfall:
- Lacks flexibility that encourages team collaboration
- Errors must be amended in a current phase
- Missing client feedback at critical stages of development
2. The Agile method
Agile is much more than a marketing buzzword, it’s a methodology that values collaboration over negotiation. Embrace project development through an iterative approach that’s proven to be flexible. Adopting the agile method is well-suited for companies building products or developing customer relationships. More traditional methods define a target or goal from the outset of a project. Agile project management starts from a place of vision.
Team collaboration and a more facilitating management role are big parts of agile project management. Often teams are broken down into smaller sizes, and although management is central to decision making, it should come with an adaptive approach. Changes in a project’s direction are common with the agile approach.
The agile method could be the most beneficial option if working with new customers. Agile is focused on building customer relationships and providing product value.
Team sprints develop projects throughout their duration and are followed by reevaluation as ideas and goals develop. Much like software development, it has an incremental approach towards a project that allocates space for adaptability.
The agile method accommodates pauses to regularly reflect on evolving team ideas. For this reason, feedback and analysis sessions play a large role in teams being able to realize an end goal.
Advantages of Agile:
- No fixed plan rooted in a pre-defined goal
- More customer-focused than traditional methods
- Less risk due to immediate management feedback
Disadvantages of Agile:
- A side-tracking of documentation
- Constant developer and customer interaction
- Fragmentation and a lack of structure and cohesion
3. The Hybrid method
Hybrid project management combines outlining with flexibility. The short-term deliverables of an agile method work with the pre-determined phases of the waterfall method. How a project starts is not necessarily how it finishes. Once the initial kick-off phase is complete, a project becomes more agile as it progresses.
A benefit of the hybrid method is a more pick and choose approach it offers enterprises. It can be applied when necessary and used only for a portion of a project. This works well for projects that are initially goal-orientated but move more towards an agile approach.
The hybrid approach is a blend of agile and waterfall methods that work in sequences or parallel. It’s a method that offers certain process assurances to clients, but also makes room for change at a later date. Managers can assess previous results and when a new phase or sprint begins adjustments can be made before it begins.
Advantages of Hybrid:
- Deliverables agreed early between business and client
- Easy to monitor progress
- Able to handle sudden project changes
Disadvantages of Hybrid:
- A challenge to track and monitor deliverables
- Regular administrative intervention
- Difficult to implement initially
Pick a method reflective of your business needs. If an established organization with clearly defined teams you may prefer the waterfall method. If looking to work closely with clients and build a product then agile may be better. Regardless, knowing the methods available and how they benefit teams is invaluable information with project management.