Methods and Models
Project managers use models and methods to organize the management approach and execute the project management activities.
When to use
All projects will use models and methods throughout the lifecycle of the project. The models are often used when analyzing a project situation to determine appropriate action. The methods are the tools and techniques used to perform the project management activities on the project.
Models and methods are an aid to the project manager and project team to simplify their workload by providing a framework for organizing effort and guiding them through their project management activities.
Models are an organizing framework. Every project is unique. If the project manager and project team had to reinvent how to approach every project and the challenges in it, the project management task would be daunting. By using established frameworks, the project management activities are simplified and guidance for interpreting a situation and deciding the best course of action is provided. Typical models used in project management include:
- Situational Leadership – interpersonal interactions
- Communication – patterns and channels
- Motivation – attitude and impact
- Change – organizational and team
- Complexity – technical and organizational
- Team Development – team life-cycle
- Project Management Process Groups – categories of interactions
Methods are tools and techniques that guide the project manager and team members in the performance of their project management activities. Often these are in the form of a template or checklist. There are literally hundreds of methods and the project manager must decide which methods should be used on any given project – which is an aspect of project tailoring. Methods are the ways that many of the best practices identified through lessons learned sessions are passed on to other project teams. Some of the common categories for methods include:
- Data gathering and analysis
- Meetings and events
Many of the specific methods will be addressed in other lessons of this and other project management courses in the series.
Artifacts are a special case of project management methods. They are project documentation that is used to guide, direct and record the project management activities. They typically result in the creation of a living document that is kept current throughout the life of the project. The final version of the artifact is maintained in the project historical records to show what was actually done on the project. Typical project artifacts include:
- Business Case
- Project Charter
- Risk Register
- Project baseline plans – budget, schedule, WBS
Hints & tips
- In many project management situations, there will be multiple project models that can be used. While the project manager and team can use all of them, normally one model becomes the primary framework for the situation. For example, when the team is first formed, models for team-building and communication are both applicable.
- Artifact methods are usually accompanied by a checklist or template. Use the checklist or template as a guide, when appropriate, these should be tailored for the uniqueness within the project.
- If a method is not providing the expected benefit, or if it is confusing and frustrating, drop that method and switch to a different one. There are multiple methods for virtually every project management activity. Pick the one that works best for you and your team.
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