Project managers have all kinds of tricky hurdles to overcome when it comes to working effectively — ever-changing deadlines, debatable budgets and senior teams who change their minds more often than the weather…sound familiar?
Along with all of that, with the sheer number of different project management methodologies floating around these days, just deciding on an approach that’s best suited to you and your team can be a daunting task in itself.
Below we’ve picked out a few of the most common, frequently used methodologies, the situations in which they’re most applicable and a few best practices for each.
Agile is built around offering your team the autonomy and flexibility necessary to optimise performance and productivity, with minimum constraints. Essentially, it’s working within the guidelines of a task, but without the boundaries that can often hinder progress.
Tasks are broken down into smaller, more manageable cycles, allowing teams to deliver quality results as resources aren’t stretched across unrealistic workloads.
So when should you use Agile? This style of working is ideal for fast-moving projects that are likely to frequently change, or ones that don’t have an end goal that’s set in stone.
Agile working is also great for transparency, allowing key stakeholders to quickly see where things are up to.
Kanban isn’t too far away from Agile working, in fact, the pair work in tandem incredibly well.
Originally developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer for Toyota back in the 1940s, Kanban is highly effective in boosting productivity and reducing wasted resources by quickly highlighting inefficiencies in workflows.
Kanban visually represents tasks, moving them through columns as they are completed.
This project management style is great for offering a simple at-a-glance status of work and when adhered to, prevents your team from being overloaded.
Like Kanban, Lean is also a product of manufacturing. While originally designed to reduce physical waste, it’s grown to refer to wasteful practices in the project management process.
These wasteful tendencies are split into the ‘3Ms’:
- Muda (wastefulness): Consume resources without adding value for the customer.
- Mura (unevenness): When overproduction in one area negatively impacts other areas of the business.
- Muri (overburden): This refers to breakdowns in the process triggered by overloading teams.
Lean is useful for project managers working on a strict budget, as it is built around constantly optimising a process. This also means it’s great for adding value for the customer.
The Waterfall methodology is a traditional approach to project management. Tasks are completed in a linear manner, with each stage being completed before the next begins. Everything flows in one direction, hence the name.
This works fine if a project is predictable and isn’t liable to change. However, it does mean things can quickly pile up and get overwhelming. It’s also difficult to make adjustments once the project has started.
Scrum falls somewhere into the realm of Agile working rather than strictly being a standalone project management methodology. Scrum sees work split into short cycles known as ‘sprints’ — work is taken from a backlog and completed by small teams led by a Scrum Master.
Once completed, the team’s performance is evaluated and any necessary changes are made before the next sprint begins. This makes Scrum project management handy for those who constantly strive for improvements, though does rely on every member of these small teams being fully committed and aligned.
How to effectively manage projects
Whichever project management methodology you opt for, there are a handful of overarching best practices that apply to all.
Transparency is vital to any of the above working effectively. All teams should have clear visibility on what is required and exactly what their role is in achieving that. The last thing you want is fragmented teams breaking off into silos and not working towards an aligned, common goal.
Secondly, in cases where lots of meetings are involved, key tasks, follow-ups and responsibilities should be tracked and assigned immediately, while meeting minutes should be shared as soon as possible, and no more than 24 hours later.
Finally, projects should never be run through email. Our inboxes are a mess, things get missed and accountability is lost. Fluid’s all-in-one productivity suite allows you to effortlessly adhere to all three of these best practices, and then some. Want to learn more about Fluid’s commitment to making the lives of project managers less…annoying? Get in touch and request a demo today.