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Project Management Methodologies
James is a project manager at a construction company. The goal of the project is to build an additional parking deck for employees of a large corporation. James knows his customer would like the parking deck completed within five months with a one million dollar budget. James also received a detailed outline of the customer's requirements. James and his project team need to begin work immediately. However, he's not sure which project management methodology he should use to manage each step in the process. James knows the customer's expectations, and that customer contact should be kept at a minimum. Let's examine the concept of projects and project managers and the review the common project management methodologies.
Leaders of organizations need to create products and services for their customers. They also need to solve complex business problems within the organization. To accomplish their goals, leaders put together projects to achieve the desired results. A project has a temporary timeline with a specialized purpose, and once the objective of the project is complete, the project ends. Project management is the method of using a set of skills, tools, and steps to keep a project on track, within the assigned budget, and completed within the designated schedule.
There are several methods a project team can choose from in order to manage a project. These methods are called project management methodologies. A project management methodology is like an instructional manual or guide to effectively oversee completion of the project. A project team must have a set of defined processes to follow to initiate, plan, and, execute the project. Common project management methodologies include waterfall, agile, and scrum. Let's review each method in detail.
Waterfall Methodology and Examples
The waterfall methodology is popular in the project management industry. Waterfall is followed by utilizing a series of steps in sequential order. This means the first step must be completed before the project team can begin work on the next step. Project managers select the waterfall method when the final picture of the product is known before the project begins. Because the end product is already described as part of the project manager's goal, the scope or type of work cannot change during the project. Examples of projects that use the waterfall method are construction projects like building apartment units, adding a new lane to a highway or building a tollbooth.
Each step in the process contributes to the next stage. Think of the waterfall stages as steps you take to build a house. The concrete is used to create the foundation of the house. Once the foundation is formed the outer frame is constructed. The project team cannot complete the outer frame of a house until the foundation is complete. This is the same approach project managers take when using the waterfall methodology. Because each step is predetermined before the project begins, it is not necessary to check in with the customer at every stage of the project. The customer knows the steps the project team will take before the project, so the project manager only provides updates periodically throughout the entire project.
Some of the steps included in the waterfall method are to define the requirements of the project, and design the product using the requirements. After the product is designed and developed, the team tests the model or new prototype, makes changes as necessary, and delivers the product or service to the customer.
Agile Methodology and Examples
Agile methodology involves the completion of a project in phases called sprints. Sprints usually last for a few weeks. Sprints include various tasks that must be completed to deliver the final product to the customer. The project team can work on several sprints at the same time resulting in an accelerated project schedule with a quick turnaround of the finished product or service.
Scrum is part of the agile methodology and includes sprints with 30-day time limits. This means the project team has a timeframe of 30 days to complete the tasks within the sprint. The team also has project scrum sessions to discuss the progress and delivery of the project goals. The scrum methodology does not have a project manager; however, there is a scrum master whose responsibility is to remove any obstacles or distractions the project team may encounter while working on each sprint or task.
Examples of projects best suited for the agile methodology are software development projects or projects focused on a new product launch. The creation of a new smartphone application or the creation of a new search engine or website are a few examples of projects that use the agile method.
The agile methodology is a more flexible method and provides for more changes throughout the length of the project. Because the agile method allows for more changes, it is customary for the project managers to contact the customer more frequently to provide updates. Agile also has shorter phases or sprints, and it is necessary to make contact with the customer after or during each sprint. Project managers also use agile when there is not a clear picture of the result.
Choosing a Project Management Methodology
Now that we know some of the project management methodologies, let's get back to James and his new project. James still needs to decide which project management methodology to select. Based on the project goals and the type of work involved, it appears that James should use the waterfall methodology because it is a construction project with a final blueprint of the result. The project also requires minimal customer updates. It appears James is on the right track and has chosen the waterfall methodology to guide him through a successful project.
Leaders of organizations use projects to develop new products or services and solve business problems. A project is temporary in nature and has a beginning and end phase. Some common types of project management methodologies are waterfall, agile, and scrum. Waterfall is a frequently used method characterized by sequential steps and a longer project timeline than agile or scrum. The agile method is characterized by flexibility and commonly used for software development projects, such as when an organization needs to launch new application in a short period of time.
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