Project Management Methodology: How To Use One
To learn how and why to use a project management methodology, simply watch the following video…
Hi. I’m Devin Deen, Content Director here at ProjectManager.com
In today’s whiteboard topic, we’re going to talk about why and how to use different project management methodologies. Now I want to describe four popular ones to you before we get into the session.
First off is the one from Project Management Institute. They were formed in 1969. In the early ’80s, they published what was called the “Project Management Body of Knowledge,” which was a collection of different processes that were interrelated between each of the different phases as they defined them in a generic project. So they covered phases such as the planning phase, initiation phase, execution, controlling, and closing phases of a project. Each of those phases had different processes that were interrelated. Sometimes they cycled through so it wasn’t such a step by step process flow from one to the next, but more of a round robin process flow. If you follow the Project Management Institute’s approach, using the PMBOK principles, then that allowed project managers to deliver projects from construction type projects to IT projects, even doing event management. It was a generic methodology that was applicable to all those different varieties of projects.
PRINCE2 is another methodology that was born that came out in the mid ’90s. It was sponsored by theUKgovernment as a means to get consistency in theUKgovernment’s vendors when they were delivering IT projects to them. They wanted the certainty of delivery from those vendors. They wanted a consistent approach to be used by all those IT vendors, and for that reason theUKgovernment sponsored an initiative that developed the PRINCE2 approach. Many cases, for government institutions, they require the project manager to be certified in PRINCE2, and certainly require the vendors to use a PRINCE2 approach in delivering those projects.
Another methodology that came out in the late ’90s, early 2000, was Method 123. That was developed by Jason Westland, who also has brought us ProjectManager.com. That methodology was a simplified blend between the PRINCE2 and PMI principles. It’s very much a step by step approach for delivering the projects and used as a guide by project managers, maybe who have never done project management before, to help them understand those principles and view the principles and processes and start to execute on those like they are certainly second nature.
Another approach that came out, it’s been around for awhile, since the ’60s, was called SCRUM back then, but is getting reborn in what’s called the Agile Approach. That methodology really started to become a lot more popular in the ’90s, but as we have grown through the 2000s and now we’re in 2010-2012, we’re starting so see that approach being used more and more because clients, especially those getting IT projects, are more receptive to the Agile Approach for delivery.
These methodologies range from being very tightly wound down to a little bit looser at the end in terms of how they deliver their artifacts. The PRINCE2 and PMI approach tend to have projects that deliver in a very step by step fashion, with fully functioning deliverables at the end of each of the project phases or work streams. Whereas in the Agile Approach, over here on this side of the board, you might have a project that will deliver a portion of the functionality. It’s fully featured and fully working in its own, but it might be, let’s say, 30% or 40% of the end product. Then, at a later time, it will develop the other 60%, or maybe they’ll do another 20%, another 20%, and another 20% on the back of that, in subsequent releases, to end up giving you that full functionality toward the end.
But, once again, the approaches differ, where these PMI and PRINCE2 projects that use these methodologies tend to have all the deliverables finished at once.
So, when you’re deciding to use a project methodology, what’s really important are the type of project, your client and their culture, and the project team that you’re going to use. So it behooves you as a project manager to get across these different methodologies so that you know and you’ve got all of the different processes within your toolkit to use and pull out as you see fit.
The most important thing is the type of project that you’re doing. If you’re building a building, you certainly don’t want to us the Agile Approach to project management. If you use Agile while you’re building a building, as an example, you might build the kitchen and then require your client’s family to come in, live in the kitchen, use the kitchen, as you build the other rooms of the house, and then have them move into those different rooms as they’re finished. You wouldn’t do that in practical terms. So using Agile Approach on a construction project is probably not the best thing to do. But if you’re delivering a piece of software, let’s say a website, you might deliver the first release of that website to your client. Let’s say it’s an e-commerce website. You do the basic functions of e-commerce, get the end user to be able to buy something off the website perhaps as a first release. Second release, you might give them some more filters, and so on and so on, and make that website more and more feature rich. That’s the type of project where you would definitely be open to using an Agile Approach toward delivery.
The client culture is also very important. If you’ve got a client culture, let’s say an insurance agency, they’re probably a little bit more stuffy if you will or even a little bit more traditional in how they’re used to getting their deliverables. Client culture at an insurance company would certainly be less receptive to using an Agile Approach to project management as compared to let’s say an entertainment games company, a company developing a first person shooter game, where they’re used to having this ongoing development approach toward delivering the different releases of their software.
Lastly, the project team. That’s also a very important factor to consider. If you’ve got a project team that doesn’t know how to develop in an Agile Approach doing iterative releases, certainly if you want to use that approach, you’re definitely going to have to invest in some training and education of that project team to get them up to speed and understand how people communicate differently in an Agile project as compared to one using PRINCE2 or the PMBOK. You’ve got to certainly consider the project team and their experiences before you jump in and start using one of these methodologies. As another example, an inexperienced project team, who needs quite a lot of instruction, might be a great candidate for using Method 123, because within the Method 123 project management methodology, it’s got little explanations imbedded within each of the different phases so that people get educated as they go and use that methodology.
It’s important to remember the old saying that, “a fool with a tool is still a fool.” Just because you’re using one of these methodologies, doesn’t mean that the person using it has got the wisdom or the experience to know which of the bits and pieces they can pick and choose. So, as you’re going through and using any of these methodologies, as a project manager, how you use that really depends upon the experience that you have and the wisdom that you’ve gained on your different projects to understand which of the bits and pieces you can pick and choose from in each of these methods and apply on your project.
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