There are lots of different ways to tackle project management, so it can be difficult to know the best way to go about it. Accordingly, lots of project management experts have come up with methodologies for other project managers to follow. This can be helpful, but all the options are still confusing to navigate, especially considering all the buzzwords and jargon mixed in with them.
In this article, we’ll look at some of the most common project management methodologies to help you figure out which is best for you and your team.
The waterfall methodology was initially created for use in construction and manufacturing. It’s a fairly simple approach to project management that consists of a sequence of steps that must be followed in order. One step must be completed before you can move onto the next. These steps can be loosely categorized as the following, although they may vary and additional steps may be added:
- Definition and analysis of requirements
- System design
One benefit of this methodology is that it involves a lot of planning and analysis before beginning the actual work, helping your team be more prepared and informed throughout the project. However, this level of rigid planning might not suit all teams and it is not the best methodology for projects that undergo a lot of change.
Lean management also originated in the manufacturing industry. It is a methodology that promotes continuous improvement, value creation, and waste elimination. It is not a set process in the same way as waterfall, but more a set of values and principles to follow. It involves constantly reviewing the process and its results to identify areas of improvement. Lean is seen as an agile methodology, and the two share many of the same principles.
Agile is a methodology that came from the Agile Manifesto, which outlines its principles and values. Agile projects involve constantly working on new iterations rather than sitting down and deciding everything at the beginning of the project. Typically, work will be completed and delivered to the client. The client and other stakeholders will then give their feedback, which will inform future tasks in the project. Like the lean methodology, agile teams are constantly looking for ways to improve their process.
Agile is a flexible approach to project management, encouraging creativity rather than having to stick to a rigid structure. The focus is on communication within the team rather than having to sit down and document everything. An agile team is constantly developing and on the go. If these are things that your team values, then agile could be a good methodology for you to try.
Scrum is another methodology that’s closely related to agile management. Similar to the iterations set out in an agile process, scrum focuses on what it calls sprints. A sprint, or a specific objective, is defined and a team is assigned to its completion. The sprint will be planned based on stakeholder requirements, regular meetings and reviews will be held throughout the sprint, and then the process will be analyzed based on the result delivered at the end of the sprint, before proceeding to the next one.
Scrum is also a fairly flexible approach to project management, and it really values communication within a team since daily scrum meetings are held. While this has many advantages, it isn’t for everyone. Some project managers may prefer to dedicate more time to completing the project rather than holding meetings about it. Like the agile process, scrum is a good choice for projects that are constantly changing in scope.
If you like to have visual tools to guide you through a project and tasks, then Kanban could be the best methodology for you. Kanban uses boards and cards to represent work in progress and capacity for additional tasks. Cards representing individual tasks or objectives are placed in different columns, indicating when they should be done and what needs doing. Kanban boards are constantly updated throughout a project to reflect the current workflow and status.
Kanban is essentially a visual framework used to implement agile methodology, so they also share many of the same principles and values. This means they also have many of the same advantages. Additionally, the Kanban methodology is a great one to choose for visual thinkers. A Kanban board is an easy-to-understand representation of a project, helping your team members stay informed and on-target throughout the project.
There’s no one methodology that’s the right way to do project management. You just need to assess the project you’re working on and the strengths and weaknesses of your team to decide which is best suited. You may reassess this for the next project and make a different decision.
Which project management methodology do you prefer? Let us know in the comments below.