Monday, May 4, 2015

Choosing the Best Project Management Methodology

Despite some claims to the contrary and the desires of senior leaders, there is no single “best” project management methodology for all situations.  At its core, project management is a process of creativity and change.  Whether it is developing a new product, building a new facility, upgrading an existing process/system, or planning your summer vacation; it is changing the existing state of things into a new and better state.  And this is why there is no one “best” methodology.  The existing state could be stable or in crisis, the new state could be clear or ambiguous, there are varying levels of constraints on time and resources, and there are varying levels of complexity of the project results and required activities. 

A project management methodology brings order into this environment.  It clarifies activities and decisions.  It sets expectations and identifies problems and issues.  A project management methodology enables proactive management rather than reactive fire-fighting as the future state is created.  But the wrong project management methodology can make things worse.  It can create confusion, frustration, delays, overruns and ultimately project failure.

There seems to be hundreds of gurus and experts touting their project management methodology as the best.  In reviewing these, there are three categories of project management methodology that emerge.  Each of these has strengths and weaknesses.  Each of these is appropriate for some types of projects and not others.  Each of these has many variations as they are uniquely applied to different projects, different industries and in different organizations.  The three are sequential/waterfall, adaptive/concurrent, and agile/scrum.


Sequential/Waterfall

This is the approach most often associated with traditional project management.  In this approach, the project starts with a clear and specific set of requirements.  A detailed project plan is created where each organization or individual is assigned a specific task that is to be done at a set time and for a set amount of resources.  As one project task completes, the results are handed to the next individual or organization in the planned sequence. 

This approach relies on the development of a detailed project plan.  The classic project management tools such as a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), Gantt Chart, Critical Path Analysis, Responsibility Matrix, and Earned Value Analysis are ideally suited for this type of project.  These tools are used to optimize the project during the planning phase in order to meet the requirements within the best overall time or cost.

This approach is well suited for those projects where the requirements are known and stable.  It provides order and predictability to project activities.  However, it is not very flexible.  In an unstable environment or when the requirements are only general in nature and not specific.  The project manager either cannot form a plan or they must make many assumptions, some of which are sure to be wrong, in forming the plan.  Changes to the plan with this approach are often time-consuming and expensive, so this approach should not be used with a highly dynamic environment.

Adaptive/Concurrent

This is the approach that is often used with complex projects.  In this approach, a cross-functional or multi-disciplinary team manages the project through a series of phases.  As the project starts, the team is considering requirements and options to decide a framework for the project result.  The team reaches a decision and they start on the next phase.  The project progresses from phase to phase with all disciplines participating in the work concurrently and then agreeing on the project decision before moving to the next phase.  The project adapts as the team is able to use the results and conclusions from one phase to influence the activities and decisions of the later phases. 

This approach relies on a highly collaborative project team.  Rather than a detailed prescriptive project plan, the team uses key milestone decisions to guide the project activities.  The work is often iterative in nature as each of the team members builds on the solution from the preceding phase.  These projects are often managed by a series of checklists for each milestone decision point.  Project management tools that help to managed complexity such as the Network Diagram, Responsibility Matrix, and Risk Register are particularly useful with this approach.

This approach is well suited for those projects where the requirements are general in nature and the details must be determined during the course of the project.  In addition, this approach works well when cross-functional decisions are required to reach an optimal project result.  However, this approach requires a high level of interactive participatory project management.  The detailed plan is continually changing which requires a high level of project integration activities.  This approach is not appropriate for organizations that do not work well in a collaborative dynamic environment.    
   
Agile/Scrum

The agile methodologies came onto the scene in 2001.  Several agile methodologies were created for software development.  The Scrum approach has become the most widely adopted and is now used in many settings beyond software development.  This approach has provided structure to an age-old practice of putting a dedicated team on an urgent business problem to resolve it – the crisis project.  In this approach a dedicated team is assigned for a short duration to work on focused and prioritized set of requirements, known as a sprint.  The team does as much as it can in the specified time and delivers whatever it completes.  Requirements not completed within the time period are either dropped or transferred to a new project.  On larger projects, a series of sprints may be used.

This approach relies on dedicated self-organizing team to work collaboratively to complete as much as they can in a short time.  The classic project management tools are not used.  Instead, the team relies on a prioritized list of requirements and two visual control charts, a Scrum Board and a Burndown Chart to track progress. 

This approach is ideal for relatively small projects where time is critical and the scope can be flexible.  The project duration can be shortened by an order of magnitude, but it is essential that the team be fully dedicated and fully empowered to do the project work. In a highly regulated environment with externally specified requirements and extensive documentation, the benefits of this approach or lost.  Also, when the project team needs to be very large, this approach is inappropriate.


So to choose the best approach, consider your situation – both the project and the organization.  You may find the need to modify one of these a little, or even use a hybrid where one approach is used for a portion of the project and another for the remainder.  

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    1. Tag: PM201A52. Let me share all of you about #5 Tips for Project Management Success,, I hope you enjoy it

      1. Plan your day using time management techniques

      As a project manager, time management skills are essential because you are dealing with a wide range of tasks that demand a quick turnaround time. Planning your day will go a long way in keeping you organized and increasing your productivity. Assist your task planning by using project management software which helps you track the work of you and your team.

      If you are not very tech savvy, a simple to-do list can also be a great organizational tool. Prioritize your most important tasks by putting them at the top of the list and less important ones at the bottom. Having a visual plan of your daily tasks helps to keep you on track and aware of time.

      Related post: Free ebook 104 secrets to become a great project manager

      2. Include stakeholders in important project conversations

      While you will have plenty of responsibilities regarding the project, don’t neglect your clients.

      Good communication is essential is keeping both parties informed of project progression, curtailing scope creep, and apprised of changing requirements. Some clients may have different expectations when it comes to communication, so make sure to establish the frequency and type of communication (like emails, phone calls, and face-to-face conversations) at the beginning of your project.

      Establishing communication expectations early helps alleviate stakeholder uncertainty about communication frequency and delivery.

      3. Regularly communicate with your team

      Daily team communication helps keep misunderstandings and unclear requirements under control. Keeping your team informed in every step of the project is essential to project management success.

      For example, a study published by Procedia Technology found that good communication skills were the cornerstone of project management. The study examined over 300 “construction project managers, architects, construction managers, engineers and quantity surveyors” and their successes and failures on various construction projects.

      4. Anticipate project setbacks

      Even the best-laid plans often go awry.

      Remember that even with a high amount of planning and attention to detail, your project may still encounter some challenges. Pay attention to complaints from stakeholders or colleagues, and other warning signs, like a missed deadline or cost overrun, that there may be a problem.

      Preventing a crisis will keep your project running smoothly, save you a lot of time, and keep you, your team, and your stakeholders confident in progressing with the project.

      Unfortunately not every complication can be avoided. Crisis management skills are essential for dealing with the unexpected. Project managers need to be flexible and pragmatic. Improvise and make sharp decisions when needed.

      Related post: 92 free project management templates

      5. Stay focused on the details

      A common problem project managers encounter is having the project aims not aligned with the organization’s objectives. A great project manager will strategize a plan for the project to lead back to the overall success of the business.

      Know your project’s scope by heart and avoid wandering outside of the project’s requirements. It’s too easy to get lost in minor details and forget what your focus is, so a well-planned project scope is essential for success.

      And final, you should use KPI to measure effectiveness of the project, here are full list: 76 project management KPIs



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  7. Actual Cost (AC) = No formula What you’ve actually spent on the project
    Schedule Performance Index (SPl) =Earned Value (EV) / Planned Value (PV)
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    Cost Performance Index (CPI) =Earned Value (EV) / Actual Cost (AC)
    To Complete Performance Index (TCPI) =(Budget at Completion (BAC) – Earned Value (EV) ) / (Budget at Completion (BAC) -Actual Cost (AC) )
    Cost Variance (CV) = Earned Value (EV) -Actual Cost (AC)
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