Project Management methodologies like Agile, Scrum and Kanban have become an everyday part of our business vocabulary. Today, we are sitting down with Maja Lidberg, kaospilot and teacher at Talent Garden’s Project Management course, to learn more about project management methodologies: Why we should use them, which ones are the best plus how to combine them with the best software and tools out there.
What exactly is a Project Management Methodology?
Project management methodology is essentially a framework for how to manage a project with specific terminology, workflow definition, techniques, rules, organisational structure and philosophy. A project management methodology can help you define how to structure your project – if you will work in circular sprints, in a Waterfall structure or in one long, linear delivery. A methodology may also determine how you set up your team and how much ownership each member should have. Will your team be self-managed or should there be a clear lead? A methodology can also help you define which terminology you intend to use, as to avoid miscommunication, as well as how you will visualise your ongoing results with your team and all stakeholders. Some project management methodologies define the premises or the principles, whereas others include a full set of rules, visuals, tools and terminology.
What are the Most Popular Project Management Methods?
The most widespread method, which has made it into mainstream lingo, is Agile. Agile is peculiar in the sense that it is not a methodology per se, but a set of principles for successful software development. It’s user-centric, it relies on co-design with the customer, it downplays the importance of processes and documentation, it emphasizes the importance of feedback and iterations and it operates in small cycles. Rather than pre-planning your project, an agile project manager will adapt quickly to new situations, respond and iterate. Predictability, which is an important factor in many project management methodologies, is not important in agile, but rather the way you respond to a curveball. The quicker and more effective you respond, the less money and energy you lose.
Another popular project management method is Scrum, which focuses on improving teamwork, communication and efficiency. Scrum operates with self-managed teams, consisting of up to 9 members and the process is led by a so-called Scrum Master. Scrum divides the work into “sprints” (approximately 2-4 weeks of duration) and each sprint ends with a meeting where the Product Owner and the team defines whether the product fits the DoD (Definition of Done).
Kanban is a third popular methodology. It focuses on efficiency and uses Lean to get rid of all unnecessary processes that slow down a project. It’s not as prescriptive and rule-oriented as Scrum, but works with self-managed teams, just like it. The main idea is to visualize workflows, limit work in progress and potential bottlenecks and continuously evaluate and improve processes. It’s particularly helpful for work that requires a constant output, like production, support and maintenance.
How do you choose the right Project Management approach?
First of all, it’s important to understand that there is no “one size fits all” solution in project management. In order to choose a methodology for your project, you need to look at things like budget, the flexibility of timeline, team resources, involvement level of stakeholders, allocated budget etc. A Waterfall structure, for example, might not be fitting for a project whose requirements will change along the way, as it’s quite rigid. Agile, on the other hand, wouldn’t fit a project with a clear end, as there is no definite endpoint in the endlessly iterative process of Agile. It could also be the wrong fit for someone who doesn’t want the product owner or client too involved in the process. Likewise, Scrum is a fantastic method if your team is tight-knit and self-motivating. Otherwise, you might need a method with clearer leadership.
What are the main benefits of using a Project Management methodology?
Using a methodology brings a great deal of consistency into a project. You will know what is going to happen in advance, and you don’t run the risk of losing track mid-way, as the steps are already outlined with a clear outcome. Likewise, a methodology gives you and the team a lot of clarity, as each member communicates with the same terminology, knows the rules, processes and the tools, and is aware of what the next steps of the process are. If you can get buy-in on the methodology on top of this, you are in a great position to have a team that collaborates well and smoothly. Another benefit kicks in when you decide on a common methodology for the entire organization. This will make it easier to work in cross-functional teams and get a project rolling quickly, as everyone is acquainted with the method beforehand.
Are there different Project Management Software with different methods?
Yes. Some project management software is definitely a better fit for certain methodologies. GANTT charts, for example, are often used in combination with Waterfall methodologies because of their strict timetables and focus on a predetermined order of tasks. As you can hear from the name, Kanban boards, which is a workflow visualisation tool, is meant to be used together with the Kanban methodology. There is also a vast array of calendars out there, which are very useful in combination with Scrum and XPM. Projects that involve a lot of rapid change and stakeholder involvement, and use Agile as a methodology, are going to benefit from having their software on mobile devices so that they can change the timeline in real-time.
Project Management Help Teams Adjust to Remote Work
Using methodologies and project management, in general, is a key aspect of the new remote working trend happening in 2020 due to the health crisis. Already reports and statistic are confirming the need and value that strong project management brings to remote teams. For example, The Institute of Leadership & Management found that 88% of distributed workers struggle with inconsistent working practices and miscommunication and while 84% report improvements to their work-life balance, the lack of team identity causes isolation and loneliness. It is also important to understand that when teams have clear objectives the workload can be distributed better reducing burnout that has become a big problem shown here by Blind an Anonymous Professional Network who found that 61% of professionals were burnt out in February and that number had risen to 73% in May. 20.5% of those professionals feel they have an unmanageable workload and over 10% feel as if they have no control over their work.
Project management is a skill that serves everyone from all industries and all roles. And right now that skillset has changed becoming much more digital and has introduced the need for new software and tools to be used on a daily basis. In Talent Garden Rainmaking you can join us in a 6-week unemployment course that will futureproof your skills, provide you with opportunities to grow and advance your career. The Project Management Course starts on the 19th of October and will take place in Talent Garden Rainmaking, Danneskiold-Samsøes Allé 41, 1434, København. You can read more about the course here.