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Project Management Methodology
A project management methodology provides a set of tools and processes that can be used to organize and manage the project activities.
When to use
Companies use a project management methodology in order to improve the quality and predictability of projects. When there is only one project, the methodology may help on some tasks but its impact is minimal. When there are many projects at different stages with different teams and different goals, a methodology is needed to bring order to the chaos.
A methodology is a set of procedures and tools for planning and managing projects within an organization. It includes the procedures and a definition of roles and responsibilities. Many times it includes mandatory reviews or the mandatory use of systems or tools in order to bring a level of cohesion to project management within the organization.
There are many different methodologies. Each has strengths and weaknesses. A company should carefully select the methodology that meets its project execution needs. If the project management methodology does not improve the execution of project activities, it is a waste of time and a detriment to the organization.
This is the traditional approach to project management and is often referred to as the Waterfall approach. The project is fully planned at the beginning of the project. All activities are scheduled and resources assigned. Often all the activities performed by a function are schedule together and then the project is passed to the next function. The functions focus on completing their assigned tasks with functional excellence. They fully resolve issues before moving the project to the next phase.
This approach will often accelerate a project as compared to the Sequential approach because of the overlap between activities. However, to manage this well, it requires a Cross-functional Core Team that manages the planning and integration. The team is balancing the requirements and issue resolution to find optimal solutions.
Adaptive projects are broken into very short mini-phases or sprints that work on a few deliverables at one time. It is managed by a self-organizing inter-disciplinary team that is typically focused on the performance of the end system or product the project is developing. Issues and problems are immediately addressed by whoever uncovers the problem.
Hints & tips
- Many organizations maintain the flexibility to select the best methodology depending upon the characteristics of the project, rather than forcing all projects to use the same methodology.
- Be careful not to try and blend all three approaches into one methodology. Each methodology is optimized for a particular set of business conditions. There are features about the methodologies that are absolutely incompatible. They cannot be blended together effectively on the same project.
- I have occasionally managed a project where we intentionally started with one approach, but at a critical milestone within the project, we changed the approach that was used for the remainder of the work. As an example, we did a new product development project as Adaptive until we had a working prototype. Then we switched to sequential for the remainder of the project.
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