GET EMAIL UPDATES FROM POWERTOFLY

An Overview of the Top 4 Project Management Techniques

Why'd you have to go and make PMing so complicated? Know these 4 and nothing more.

Project management can get complicated. There's a whole host of PM certifications, tools, and terms—not to mention at least 15 different project management techniques. And while you can definitely invest lots of money and lots of time in becoming fluent in Gannt charts and getting comfortable with Microsoft Project, there's got to be something better you can do with your time. (Learn an actual language? Register to vote?)


You really only need to be comfortable with a few different project management techniques in order to accomplish your organization's goals.

Because at the end of the day, project management is pretty simple: understanding a goal and making sure you achieve it.

Whether that goal is getting a new product launched, approving next year's budget, redesigning a website, publishing a book, or throwing a work holiday party that is actually enjoyable—or quite literally anything in between—there's an approach that will best help you manage towards it.

Alan Zucker, founder of Project Management Essentials LLC, advises teams to choose a methodology that fits within the context of what the project and the team need. "New applications and significant customer interaction are well suited for Scrum. Kanban is good for enhancements to legacy applications. Teams starting their agile transformation do well with the structure of Scrum," he says.

Below you'll find an overview of the top 4 project management techniques—two overarching schools of thought and two popular techniques derived from them—as selected by PM pros, and what kind of teams they're best suited for.

Waterfall Project Management

Though this project management technique sounds extra flowery, it's probably one of the simplest techniques out there. It entails planning out project stages to flow together in sequential order, like a waterfall. Those stages include the following:

  • Clarify requirements
  • Analyze resources
  • Design approach
  • Code/implement
  • Test
  • Deploy
  • Maintain.

As you move between steps, you'll need to get sign-off from the team that all defined goals of that step have been met.

Pros of this technique: It's straightforward, easy-to-implement, and can be managed with as little as a to-do list.

Cons of this technique: There's no opportunity to change the plan based on client feedback, adjust scope, or parallel-process steps.

Who it's good for: Industries that make physical products and don't often need to change plans as they go (like in product development or construction).

Gus Cicala, CEO and founder of Project Assistants, likes using the Waterfall approach at the beginning of his projects, even if he later switches to an Agile approach to better manage changes. "We maintain a high degree of rigor on the frontend. We place a high premium on understanding the foundations of the project: the why (benefits), how (solution approach), and what (requirements). Without knowing the fundamental basics of a project…we find many executives (especially CIOs) are just throwing money and people at a problem with no goals and little accountability," says Cicala.

Agile Project Management

The Agile approach was developed as a direct response to more rigid PM techniques (we see you, Waterfall Method) in 2001, when a group of software developers decided they wanted to focus more on individuals and interactions vs. processes and tools.

This approach has actual spawned several other PM techniques, like Scrum and Kanban, which we'll talk about below.

The Agile method is defined by constantly iterating and collaborating to create the best possible result for a client or customer, versus following a plan. Projects managed this way are broken up into several stages, all of which include interaction with stakeholders.

Pros of this technique: It's fast, wastes few resources since you're always doing what's most needed, and allows plenty of room for experimentation.

Cons of this technique: There's not often time to document decisions or processes, so it's hard to bring new team members up to speed, and it's hard to measure progress since you're constantly iterating on what you're working on. It's also harder to budget for a project managed with an Agile technique since it can easily increase in scope or time.

Who it's good for: Teams with lots of access to their customer or clients (and not a lot of bureaucracy to get in the way of collaborating and decision-making) and small-to-medium-sized organizations. It's popular in tech startups.

Olga Mykhoparkina, CMO of Chanty, a SaaS team-chat app, prefers the Agile methodology. She says it works for her team because "it favors communication over complicated processes and tools, which is suitable for a marketing team, [and because] it favors software instead of documentation, which is ideal for my team."

Scrum Project Management

This technique, an Agile methodology, gets its name from rugby, where the players start each play by joining up and trying to get possession of the ball. The Scrum approach is based on a series of short-term projects called sprints, which are continued until the project's goals are achieved.

Sprints are usually two-to-four-week chunks. Each sprint starts with a planning meeting and includes daily "scrum" meetings where teams communicate progress and issues. Sprints are managed by a ScrumMaster, whose role is to solve problems for the team, not to dole out individual tasks.

Pros of this technique: The short sprints keeps projects moving along quickly and allows for lots of client feedback.

Cons of this technique: Scrum PMing can cause scope creep, since the final deliverable is never defined, and be hard to implement in teams bigger than ~10 people. Its fast pace also makes it hard to work on multiple projects simultaneously.

Who it's good for: Small teams who work on one project at a time, like software developers preparing for a new release.

Kanban Project Management

This technique is also falls under the Agile umbrella. It was originally developed by Toyoka—Kanaban means "sign board" in Japanese—and is a visual-heavy method that focuses on improving processes.

It organizes work into three basic categories: requested, in progress, and done. Whether done on a whiteboard or a digital equivalent, like Trello or Notion, tasks are spread out among those categories in a way that lets you easily spot bottlenecks and track progress.

Pros of this technique: It's easy to get everyone on the same page and spot problems before they throw your project off track. It also works well with remote team members, since a digital board is easily shared.

Cons of this technique: Kanban is more tactical than strategic, so it can be hard to track progress against more strategic goals. It's also harder to visualize into the future, since you're very focused on what's happening now.

Who it's good for: Small teams, whether remote or working together, working in almost any industry.

Nikola Baldikov, digital marketing manager at secure instant messaging software company Brosix, says that Kanban works for his team because "the members of my team are experienced, independent, and visual." He notes that it works best for teams that can self-manage: "This method relies on a higher level of autonomy and independence among team members, so it may not be the best approach for a newly formed team. Kanban also puts a high emphasis on focused work, with little space for multitasking. This isn't always comfortable for team members who are used to balancing several priorities at once."

You Don't Have to Choose

If you like the visual aspect of the Kanban approach but the clearly-defined-outcome part of Waterfall technique, go right on ahead and combine them. Project management is about figuring out what works for helping your team reach its goals, and that doesn't have to mean sticking to one approach.

"Mature teams often develop their own hybrid practices incorporating many techniques," notes Zucker.

Have you pulled from different project management techniques to create the one PM technique to rule them all? Tell me about it in the comments!

---

[View Project Manager roles on PowerToFly]

Career Advice

How to Pitch an Idea to Your Boss in 7 Easy Steps

While many bosses say they're open to ideas and suggestions, what they do when you actually share a great idea with them is another reality entirely. (Ever had a boss nod along excitedly and promise to look into your idea, only for you to realize, months later, that nothing's happened? Exactly.)

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Diversity & Inclusion

Why Aren’t Dads Taking Parental Leave?

Companies are offering leave—but they're missing a key element to make it appealing to men.

It's not that dads are taking no parental leave; the NYT reported this week that 90% of fathers take some time off of work after the birth of their children.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Intuit

How to Succeed as a Technical PM: Intuit Principal Product Manager Yi Ng Talks Product-Market Fit and Knowledge Engineering

How do you do your taxes? (Aside from begrudgingly, that is.) If you're one of the millions of Americans who files online, you may have used one of the projects that Yi Ng, Principal Product Manager at Intuit, has developed over her eight years at the global financial platform company known for products like TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Mint.

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
Diversity & Inclusion

Is 2020 finally the year of recognizing that women don't lose competence or sexiness the day they turn 50?

Ageism has long been the norm at work and in the media. Could that be changing?

Let's run through a quick highlight reel of women over 50 shaping their industries and just overall crushing life in the last few weeks:

READ MORE AND DISCUSS
DigitalOcean

She found a remote job at DigitalOcean

Are you also looking for a remote opportunity?

We know many of you are searching for job opportunities that are flexible and can allow you to grow professionally while still taking care of other priorities.

Hear Verónica Lopez's story, where she tells us how she found her dream job at DigitalOcean, and what it means for her quality of life to be able to bring herself to work every day.

Why are you looking for a remote opportunity? Leave us your comment below!

----
Interested in joining their team? Check out DigitalOcean on PowerToFly.

Loading...
© Rebelmouse 2020