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Project Management Methodologies and How to Pick the Best

Every project needs to have a set of principals and specific processes, that will allow it to unfold smoothly. These processes and principals are essential for managing the project and they are a part of the project management methodology scheme.

A project cannot go on without a methodology supporting it. It will simply fail. You as the project manager, are responsible to decide on the best project management methodology for your project. And choosing the right methodology might not be as easy or as simple as you might think.

Sure there are a lot of options and all of them have been tested multiple times. Certainly, they do work so, theoretically, choosing any of them is going to have the same results at the end. And it most likely will. But the project management methodology is not something you choose only for the result.

The way you want to communicate and work on the project will play a very important role in choosing the best methodology. The methodology is also going to affect the way you are going to work on the project. More specifically it will be what will define your workflow.

There are three important key factors that will help you choose a methodology.

  • The Team
  • The project-type
  • The project scope

In the process of setting up your project, choosing the right project management methodology, PMM for short, is going to have to be on the very top of your bucket list. You cannot proceed with planning and executing the project without the right project management methodology. You need to think very carefully when choosing your methodology. The impact it is going to have on the project is going to be massive. It will affect the way your team will work.

Of course, finding the perfect methodology is not possible. All methodologies have their pros and cons. Those pros and cons can change and it all comes down to the type of project you are working on and to what you are aiming for.

Are you looking for a methodology based on speed? Do you want to enhance the competitiveness of your project? Are you aiming for a project that will have an increased impact that will last longer? These are questions that will need answering before you choose a specific project management methodology.

In this article, we are going to present you with some of the most used project management methodologies as well as help you choose the best one for you. Let’s see them analytically.

The Waterfall Methodology

Every project manager has heard of Waterfall. It s  a popular type of project management methodology and probably the most popular one. That is due to the fact that Waterfall is the oldest project management methodology. It dates all the way back to 1970 and it was first created as a way to manage the software developments of the time, which were proving to be too complicated to manage. As a result, the methodology is particularly popular in the software industry, but it is being adopted by other industries as well.

To proceed with the Waterfall methodology, a project manager needs to have a good idea of what the project is all about. The methodology itself is based on sequences and focuses a lot on requirements. The Waterfall is the type of methodology that does not involve a scope of correction once the project has started.

Here are the stages of the Waterfall project management methodology:

  1. Collect requirements
  2. Analyze requirements
  3. Design the solution
  4. Implement the solution
  5. Fix potential issues.

As you can see, the Waterfall is fairly easy to understand and focuses on very specific things. This is the reason why it is so popular with simpler projects that do not have a lot of requirements and complicated processes. Each stage is self-contained and needs to be completed for the next one to begin.

Advantages of the Waterfall PMM

  1. It is easy to use
  2. Has an easy to understand the structure
  3. Promotes documentation and data storing, making it easier for new resources to be added to the project.

Disadvantages of the Waterfall PMM

  1. High risk for error
  2. Too requirement-focused.

If you have a short project with a few requirements, the Waterfall PMM could be the best one for you. Equally, if you have a longer project but with very specific and clear requirements, Waterfall could be what you need.

The Agile Methodology

Second on the list of choices and certainly very popular as well is Agile. This project management methodology is also focused on software development and therefore popular in the software industry. Agile was created for one purpose. It acts as a response to the Waterfall’s inability to manage more complicated projects.

By comparing Waterfall to Agile we notice that the second one is basically the exact opposite of the first. Agile has a much faster and flexible approach for the project. This type of PMM is not focusing on gathering and analyzing requirements. What it does is giving the ability to change the requirements when necessary to solve problems and help the project move forward. Basically, it s the PMM to combat the disadvantages of Waterfall.

Naturally, Agile has its own perks and disadvantages. Let’s see them.

Advantages of the Agile PMM

  1. It provides freedom and flexibility
  2. It has a lower requirements risk

Disadvantages of the Agile PMM

  1. It does not have a fixed plan
  2. It requires collaboration from many different departments
  3. Cost

With Agile, you are able to approach many different styles of projects. It is a great methodology if you do not have fixed requirements or a fixed product in mind but rather a general idea of what you want the final product to be. It is also great for projects that could undergo changes. Last but not least, if you are the kind of manager that supports collaboration and communication between departments, Agile is a great product for you!

The Hybrid Methodology

According to statistics, in 2019, almost 90% of project managers worldwide chose the Hybrid project management methodology.

A Hybrid PMM as the name suggests, is the combination of two or more separate project management methodologies to guide a project. There are many different hybrids that could emerge, depending on which PMMs one wants to use.

In general hybrid methodologies are growing more and more popular nowadays. However, the most popular Hybrid methodology is one that combines the Waterfall and the Agile methodologies.

Hybrids are meant to combine the best aspects of different methodologies, aiming at creating a fully-functional and risk-free methodology for the implementation of projects.

Regarding Hybrid, the method focuses on the following two important aspects:

  1. The gathering and analyzing requirements that are initially part of the Waterfall PMM
  2. The free and Flexible approach of the Agile PMM

Basically, the Hybrid PMM, also known as Structured Agile PMM, combines the best attributes of two highly effective methodologies to provide you with specific goals, a free and flexible working environment, and the best possible results.

Combining the best aspects of the two methodologies does not mean that we have no risks at all. Hybrid does have its own list of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see them.

Advantages of the Hybrid PMM

  1. Increased Flexibility
  2. A More Structured Methodology

Disadvantages of the Hybrid PMM

  1. Inevitable compromising
  2. Budgeting and scheduling constraints

Any project that could use the Waterfall or the Agile methodology could also use the Hybrid. Medium-sized projects with a normal amount of complexity and fixed budget are certainly the ones that can benefit the most. Do you have a final product in mind but want to experiment on it more? Hybrid could be the best PMM for you!

The Critical Path Method (CPM)

Both Waterfall and Agile are software industry focused methodologies. As a result, Hybrid also falls in the same category. Let us now see a methodology that is not focusing on software products. The Critical Path Method which is certainly the most popular alternative to the software-based PMMs.

The concept of the CPM is that all the activities needed to complete the project are categorized within the work structure. The duration of each activity is then calculated. Finally, this methodology also calculates dependencies between the different activities.

CPM is a great way to map out activities that could be completed at the same time, activities that need to be completed before or after others and of course, the cost in both time and money.

Ler’s see the advantages and the disadvantages of this project management methodology

Advantages of the CPM PMM

  1. It allows for better scheduling of activities
  2. It allows for proper prioritization

Disadvantages of the CPM PMM

  1. Hard to set-up schedule without experience
  2. Non-flexible in terms of changes

If your project is heavy on schedule with activities that need to be completed in specific times compared with others the CPM is the best project management methodology for you. Simultaneously if your project has a lot of complicated activities that need to be repeated over and over again, CPM can create a great structure for the project to based on!

These four are just some of the many different project management methodologies that you can find. As a project manager, it is important for you to be well educated on as many of them as possible. New projects emerge every day and it is impossible to know what kinds of projects you are going to be required to manage. So the important question remains. How do you choose the best PMM?

Picking the right methodology

It is important to note that, project management methodologies emerge according to the market needs. If you want to develop software you will need to use something like Waterfall or Agile. If you have a big complex and repeated industrial project you will want to consider CPM.

Here are a few things that you will want to use as a guide when you are picking your Project Management Methodology:

  • Sufficiently evaluate your project

To evaluation the project you will need to know what the potential final outcome might be. By knowing that, evaluating will be a lot easier. Is it a fixed product? Is it software that can always be redeveloped or change completely? Do you need to have a specific budget from the very beginning and is your timeline set or not? What are the industry and the project type? The important question that you will need to answer to perfectly evaluate your project!

  • Know the team

Knowing what the team members can do and how they like to work is not just essential to help you set up your Project Plan. It is also an important factor that will help you choose the methodology. You need to choose a methodology that will be easy to read and understand. That way your team members will not have a problem with the blueprints.

Team composition also plays a very important role. There are some methods that are based on team composition so if you value that more than the activities themselves, try to find a PMM focused on composition first.

Evaluate your team based on their experience in teamwork, their training and self-organization skills and capabilities, their ability to prepare and of course their location. Are they working remotely or on-site?

  • Evaluate the organization and the stakeholders

The organization and the stakeholders are important because they are the ones that will be most affected by the outcome of the project. The methodology you are going to choose will need to be clear enough for them to understand and also meet all their standards. It is important to choose a method that will follow the same organizational scheme as the organization and will meet the stakeholder requirements and involvement.

  • Know your tools

It is impossible to implement a project without proper digital tools. Knowing what tools you are going to be using for the project will help you choose a methodology that will take full advantage of all the features and perks of those tools. Simultaneously, you will not want to use a method that will require results your tools will not be able to give you.

Conclusion

Choosing a project management methodology is not easy. There are many things that need to be taken into consideration and even more risks that you might not be able to identify from the very beginning. As a beginner project manager, you will want to gain experience. That means you will need to try out a lot of different methods until you are able to create a pool of those that will suit your professional style the most.

Focus on the project, the team, the requirements of the organization and the final version of the product that you might have in mind. Gain experience by comparing and experimenting with different methods to find the best one for you. Do not be afraid to use Hybrid methods. They could turn out to be the best option for the complicated project you might be required to implement!


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