AT A GLANCE
- Project management continues to be one of the main driving forces behind the success of businesses and organizations worldwide
- Project management has evolved throughout the years, and many proven methodologies are being successfully used and implemented
- Choosing the right methodology for your business depends on several factors, and you need to ask a few questions to identify the most suitable one for your project
Some 2,400 years ago, Greek philosopher and polymath Aristotle, one of the fathers of philosophy, told his students: “First, have a definite, clear, practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” Those words, spoken then, still represent what project management is at its core today.
“Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”
The Project Management Institute (PMI) defines project management as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.” That application is bound by the constraints that form what is commonly known as the Iron Triangle of Project Management: Time, Cost and Scope, with quality being at the center of these.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Project Management is a daily facet of life that has been around since the dawn of time. The construction of the Pyramids of Giza (about 2500 B.C.), the Great Wall of China (in 208 BC) and the Colosseum of Rome (between 70 and 80 A.D.) serve as prime examples of historic “mega-projects” that required extensive planning and project management practices.
However, it is only until the mid — 20th century when Project Management started to be researched and developed as a science, due to the need to have a structured approach to planning, executing and controlling large-scale construction and engineering projects. During those 60–70 years and encouraged by Henry Gantt’s development of the Gantt chart in 1917, many project management entities were set up, and numerous methodologies were developed by these entities to cater to the ever-changing needs of businesses and corporations worldwide.
The above methodologies have themselves evolved during that time from a traditional rigid approach, embodied by the Waterfall method (which was first published in 1970 by Dr. Winston W. Royce), to more dynamic approaches such as the Agile method which was popularized in the Manifesto for Agile Software Development in 2001.
Nowadays, we see that project management tools and methodologies are more abundant than ever, with project managers having numerous options to choose from for their different types of businesses and projects.
THE FIVE MOST COMMON PROJECT MANAGEMENT METHODOLOGIES
One of the earliest project management methodologies, the waterfall method is a linear approach with which a project manager breaks down a project’s activities into sequential phases, with review “gates” included in between them.
The Waterfall method is best suited for projects where there are long-term vision and goals, and well-defined requirements at the early stages of the project. It should be noted that in this method, changes are costly and challenging to implement as the project progresses.
The Agile method, on the other hand, is a non-sequential approach where development works are done incrementally, and requirements are updated during each iteration.
The Agile method works best for projects where the final requirements are not fully defined and will be further developed throughout the project’s execution. Given its iterative and incremental nature, the Agile method allows for regular feedback to be provided by the relevant stakeholders and changes to be easily made and incorporated in the deliverable under development.
One drawback of this method is that, due to its adaptive nature, the final product might end up being less than what was envisioned, and tracking of its development’s progress could prove problematic.
Not a methodology in itself, Scrum is an Agile approach that is typically used for the product, and especially software development. Scrum focuses on team collaboration and communication, where Scrum teams are formed, and short-term iterations called sprints are utilized to develop the required solution incrementally.
The Scrum method is ideal for complex projects where regular internal communication and team member input is crucial to deliver the final product. That means, for the process to be effectively used, Scrum team member roles and responsibilities should be adequately defined and assigned. Team members should be expected to be highly committed to task execution and feedback/input provision.
The Hybrid approach is, as its name implies, a blend between the rigidity of the Waterfall methodology and the cexibility and adaptability of the Agile methodology. Using the Hybrid approach, the project manager would structure the delivery process and define the project’s requirements during its initial stages and then proceed with an adaptive and iterative approach to delivering the required product. That would reduce the risks of scope creep compared to the Agile methodology while providing added cexibility to incorporate some changes during the execution of the project.
This approach is best suited for projects requiring the best of both worlds: some structure and planning in the early stages of the project, as well as some cexibility during its execution. The downside is a direct inverse of its upside: the hybrid method is neither sueciently rigid and structured, nor fully cexible and adaptive.
5. Six Sigma
Introduced first by Motorola in 1986, Six Sigma is a quality-control methodology that has evolved through the years to become a quality-based project management approach. This methodology, which started as a way to reduce defects in large manufacturing companies like Motorola and G.E., is now used to enhance processes by reducing the number of errors in them and utilize data and statistical analysis to increase overall eeciency and productivity.
This approach is best fits to projects aiming to improve the quality and eeciency of business processes, reducing costs, and enhancing customer satisfaction through data-driven strategies.
CHOOSING THE MOST SUITABLE METHODOLOGY FOR YOUR BUSINESS
When choosing the most suitable project management methodology for your business, you need to ask yourself the following:
- How is your organization and project structured?
- Are your project’s requirements well-defined? Can they be well-defined during the project’s early stages?
- What are the objectives of your project? Are the project’s final outcomes clear?
- Are changes expected during your project’s lifecycle? Would these be easily implemented? Would they be expensive?
- Who is you client? What are your client’s expectations? Is your client readily available to provide feedback during the course of the project?
- Are your project team’s roles and responsibilities defined? Will they be needed to continuously provide feedback and input?
- How does each methodology serve your project’s purpose? What risks does each methodology pose?
- Does your business have the necessary technological and business infrastructure to support this specific project management methodology?
In conclusion, project management methodologies have evolved, with each method providing significant benefits yet presenting some drawbacks. Make sure you compare the different existing methods by asking the questions above, and if you feel that none suits your requirements, you can always create your hybrid approach to managing your project.