Project management methods explainedProject Management
There are several different project management methods to choose from, and the best choice is not a fact. No method is de facto the best. It all depends on your business, the type of project you’re running, and your team’s preferences.
We want you to be informed and learn how to use the best method for whatever project you’re undertaking. To do that, we're giving you the skills to choose, by teaching you some of the most well-known, and recognized methodologies.
Agile Project Management
Agile is the incremental approach. This method is more flexible in the way that parts of a project can go through the process several times, and the project doesn’t necessarily complete at the implementation stage. Agile allows for changing requirements, and adaptations during the whole project. The key component of the agile method is the backlog, which consists of all the tasks (user stories) that are currently planned, and in the project roadmap.
The backlog list is prioritized by importance, and sometimes gradually converted into sprints. Only one sprint is active at a time, and usually runs for a set number of days. The tasks from the backlog are added to the specific sprint, and shown on a board - where the actual work is carried out in a workflow that suits; to do, in progress, under review, done.
The task on the board can be further broken into smaller tasks (subtasks) to give more detail to what needs to be done.
Agile projects do not necessarily have an end, and can thus continue for as long as there are new tasks and sprints to be implemented or maintained. The project might have many milestones on the way though, e.g. different release versions.
The agile method is thus most suited for projects, which are often expected to meet new project requirements during the running project. An example is IT-companies, which often get new feature requests, systems that need to be upgraded, monitored, etc.
Scrum is the most popular variant of the agile method. The scrum methodology adds a few more processes to the project. Scrum adds a daily quick “standup” meeting, where you get a fast overview of the team’s progress, and how everybody is doing. Furthermore, a meeting is held at the beginning, and at the end of each sprint - in order to discuss what went well, what are we going to do now, and how can we improve.
In scrum, the project manager is replaced by a scrum master. The scrum master doesn’t manage the project as a project manager might do, but rather gains the overview, organizes meetings, and let the team carry out the work to their preference.
Similarly to the original agile project management method, tasks (user stories) are found in the backlog, but in the scrum approach these user stories are bundled into sprints by the team in cooperation with the Scrum Master. Scrum can be good for teams that want fixed periods of time to work towards a goal without being disturbed.
Kanban is the generally well-known “taskboard”-method, where a task goes through a number of phases - usually, to do, in progress, done. Using this method you’d normally not use sprints as you’d prioritize and work on tasks directly based on the most important ones in the backlog. Also in Kanban, there’s typically a “work-in-progress” limit so you limit the amount of work that’s in progress in parallel. This increases the teams focus on getting things done instead of starting new things.
The main concept of the lean project management method is to get the most possible value with the least possible waste. Furthermore, it tries to avoid bottlenecks, and thus increase growth and productivity. This method is often used in “on-request”-productions, e.g. car manufacturing. In lean the whole point is to constantly change the workflow so everything is performed as efficiently as possible.
- Extreme Programming
Extreme Programming (XP) is a software development methodology, which is intended to improve quality, and responsiveness. XP is constantly running in a planning / feedback loop.
- Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)
DSDM is used in software development. This method puts a special focus on limited budgets, missing deadlines, and lack of user involvement and top-management commitment.
DSDM goes through three main phases; pre-project phase, project life-cycle phase, and post-project phase. Furthermore, a life-cycle phase is subdivided into five phases; feasibility study, business study, functional model iteration, design and build iteration, and implementation.
Waterfall Project Management
Waterfall is the sequential approach, also called the traditional approach. The main feature of the waterfall approach is that it never goes backwards in the process. Thus, when you reach the final phase of the project - the project is done. Waterfall projects are often seen in combination with the kanban board; to do, doing, done.
Waterfall usually goes through these five phases; requirements, design, implementation, verification, and maintenance.
The waterfall method is thus more suited for projects, which are not expected to have any further project requirements during the running project. An example could be manufacturing, or construction projects. When the building is up, and done - the project is done.
Requirements stay the same during the whole project, and the project is delivered at the end of the last phase. If any misunderstandings, or changing requirements might appear, it will be significantly more costly in time and economically, since the project would need to go through the whole process again. There is no immediate dialogue about the project, while it is being built. In the other way, if the requirements are very strict, and precise - the waterfall method will be less costly, and faster at implementing the final product, since there is no need to discuss.
The PRINCE2 method is a process-based approach. Direction of the project goes on through the whole project, while the project goes through seven different processes. Starting up the project, initiating the project, managing stage boundaries, controlling a stage, managing product delivery, closing the project, and planning.
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