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Project management – the best methods

03
April
2020
Karolina Sobera
10 minutes read
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Project management methods are aimed at organizing and optimizing software development processes . In the past, many IT companies were unaware of the importance of project management and did not even have specialists such as Project Manager . Basically, the company relied on programmer or team of programmers and customer. They communicate directly-  discussed the requirements , workflow etc.

This organization of work had many disadvantages, because developers had to deal with many processes instead of performing direct coding of tasks. As a result, faced work overload, low productivity and twist as part of the present terms. 

The IT industry is known for its passion for optimizing business processes , which is why many software engineering companies have developed several project management methods to replace the "programmer-client" model.  

Although the situation is different today, the clients of software developers do not know what approach to managing the PM development process suits the case best . So if you are the owner of a company or startup, this article is for you, because it contains a lot of valuable information about the most popular techniques and methods of project management, and about when to use them.   

WHAT IS THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT METHODOLOGY?  

project management

Project management methodology is a way of organizing the software development process using a set of rules, guidelines, tools, communication channels, etc. Because each methodology is based on a specific set of rules, it is important to choose the right way to meet the client's requirements.

There are many different methods for organizing projects to choose from. The beginnings of commonly used modern project management methodologies date back to 1980-1990. The fact that they still exist shows their undeniable value and contribution to the quality of the software.     

LIST OF THE MOST COMMON METHODS OF PM 

The reason why these methodologies are still successful today is that they include both traditional plan-based methodologies and change-oriented strategies . This makes them flexible. Although they differ in work style and key functions, they all focus on providing a high quality result. 

1. Methodology of agile project management 

Agile is an IT project methodology that primarily provides flexibility. It focuses primarily on meeting constantly changing requirements and continuous improvement of work. This approach to project organization allows you to divide the complex project into small programming tasks and short cycles (sprints). Usually the project last from three to five sprints.. At the end of each sprint, the team reassess the work done and , if necessary, sets new development priorities based on results. What the Agile method offers to clients:          

  • the team is always in touch with the client and is ready to provide progress reports, receive feedback and meet new requirements ,
  • the client can actively participate in the development process , therefore project control increases due to frequent team and client meetings , 
  • the ability to change requirements at any stage of the development process ,
  • higher product quality due to continuous planning and testing ,
  • special PM tools ( Jira , Trello, etc.) that ensure the transparency of every work process ,
  • efficient risk management due to continuous planning, frequent reporting of results and better adaptation to the clients' needs in accordance with their opinions
  • faster return on investment due to the early start of the programming process, short delivery cycles and a full understanding of business and customer priorities

Note: Agile methodology is also a general term for a number of flexible, narrowly focused PM platforms, which will be presented later in this article. 

When to use agile models:

  • if the customer does not have a clear vision of the future product ,
  • when the project is expected to be unpredictable and vulnerable to ever-changing requirements ,
  • when the customer wants to get frequent results and receive the product faster ,
  • if the customer considers communication the most convenient way to control the project.

2. Scrum - Agile method  

Scrum is an Agile-based methodology that has similar goals to Agile , but differs from it with a strong focus on teamwork. This method of PM , in addition to a team of developers , includes also the owner of the product and the role of Scrum Master.

The product owner is responsible for the entire product development process and the end result. This person must think like a business analyst, marketer , customer and end user to meet customer requirements. The Scrum Master makes sure that the team follows the Scrum rules .  

Scrum is based on six basic principles:

  • Empirical process control. Scrum emphasizes the principles of transparency, control and adaptation. The principle of transparency means that every participant can freely observe every Scrum process . Design control is about getting feedback and validating results from a client, and using a common table to organize and track workflow. Adaptation processes generally include frequent Scrum meetings , risk management, and product changes.   
  • Time Boxing. One sprint usually lasts from 15 to 30 days. At the end of each sprint, the team must complete the planned amount of work and prepare it for review by the client. If the client approves the results, the team will receive further instructions for the next sprint.  
  • Scrum is focused on people because the quality of work depends primarily on the overall performance of the team . Daily stand- up meetings help scrum masters control team progress and keep each member motivated .  
  • Self-organized multi-functional teams. The specialists organize their own teamwork. In the event that someone leaves the team for some reason, another member of the team or a group of specialists can replace him without losing performance. 
  • Task prioritization . The team prioritizes tasks based on their business value. To meet the client's business requirements, the team must first provide the highest priority functions. 
  • Iterative approach. This rule is to divide large projects into smaller tasks. It helps set clear responsibilities for each team member and define the most effective ways to make changes. 

3. Kanban method in Agile Framework  

Kanban is another popular Agile platform that emphasizes the importance of continuous workflow, given the team's capacity and transparency of processes between its members. The basic tool here is the Kanban board - a space where teams and clients can see the progress of tasks. If you've ever used the software Jira , Trello or similar tools for project management approach that Kanban will not be foreign to you .      

Interesting fact: the word ' Kanban ' comes from the Japanese 'billboard', 'visual card', or more precisely 'the card you see'. 

Kanban's principles in the development process are as follows:

  • List of work processes, columns and lines. These elements include the whole range of work that y be performed. They also allow you to check the status of tasks and the progress of each specialist in the project . 
  • WIP limits. Work in progress (WIP) limits the amount of work a team can do based on its ability .
  • Continuous delivery. The organization of Kanban tasks allows your team to constantly develop, test and provide new functionalities.  

4. Scrum + Kanban = Scrumban 

Some companies combine Scrum and Kanban tools in different variations or switch from Scrum to Kanban and vice versa. Typically, teams follow Scrum's work strategy and maintain the Kanban organizational style . This approach therefore puts emphasis on well-coordinated teamwork, fast programming style and the use of tables that organize work processes, ensuring their transparency.  

5. Extreme programming (XP)

This Agile-based methodology focuses on improving software quality and increasing response to changes in requirements. Basically, XP stands for traditional software development practices, except that they are moved to extreme levels in terms of speed of task execution. Extreme programming aims to reduce costs and other programming resources by eliminating unproductive activities and shortening programming cycles to obtain frequent releases.  

The most important technique here is programming pairs, which means that two programmers work together on the same computer. One of them writes code and the other checks each code string as soon as it is ready. After some time with a change their roles, to increase productivity and code quality.  

6. Lean Software Development (LSD)

The Lean model absorbed all the basic Agile principles, such as short iterations, customer-oriented character, team motivation, etc. However, the most characteristic Lean features focus on waste elimination, team involvement and compliance with the principle: "Decide as late as possible, deliver as soon as it's possible . " It is based on the following principles:

  • Waste management. Anything that has no value to the customer and users is considered waste. These may be additional features that have not been discussed, delays, faults, misunderstandings between the team and the client, etc. 
  • Team involvement. Each team member must make every effort to ensure the success of the project and be interested in the development process as if they were developing their own product. One angle just rule should apply to any methodology you are using. 
  • Making decisions as late as possible. The team must make decisions based on current performance, not assumptions or forecasts.
  • We deliver as soon as possible. This rule applies to having the right people in the team, simplicity of requirements and technical solutions, quality of the building, etc.

7. Waterfall project management methodology 

Waterfall is a traditional approach to project management. As the name implies, the development process must proceed like a waterfall, and all stages must be carried out in a strictly defined order. The overall list of Waterfall processes includes requirements analysis, design, implementation, validation, and software maintenance.    

The main principles of Waterfall are:

  • requirements and dependencies must be established before starting the programming process ,
  • management must have records and documentation ,
  • quality should be given higher priority than speed ,
  • the next stage cannot begin until all the tasks at the specific stage of the project have been completed ,
  • after the end of a certain stage, it is no longer possible to return to it ,
  • the plan must remain unchanged and no overlapping tasks are allowed , but it is possible to ensure the parallel operation of two teams.

When to use:

  • in simple, fixed-price projects ,
  • when the customer has clear design and product requirements.

8. Hybrid approach (waterfall + agille )

The hybrid approach combines the best ways to manage Waterfall and Agile models . Part of the waterfall at is to collect and analyze the exact requirements. The agile approach gave this project management method an iterative workflow that allows teams to focus on the most important tasks.  

When to use:

  • if the design is medium in size and medium complexity ,
  • if the project has a well-defined idea that also provides space for experiments.

9. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)   

Critical chain project management is an alternative to the CPM model. If the CPM model is time-focused, CCPM puts an emphasis on resources (human resources, equipment, equipment, etc.). It may sound a bit strange, but using this methodology, you start from the end. The team analyses the available products and resources, and only then determines the relationships between the resources, creating tasks that need to be completed. CCPM rules are as follows:       

  • lack of multitasking .
  • focus up on critical tasks ,
  • the time to create the project is estimated based on 100% of the specialist's workload ,
  • no dead time at work thanks to special instruments called buffers.

When to use:

  • any complex projects (however, when developing software, it should be used in conjunction with Agile methodologies to ensure flexibility and multitasking).

10. Critical path method (CPM)  

The CPM method involves creating a detailed list of mini-tasks for complex operations and determining the relationship between them. This method helps to define the most difficult factors of the development process that can negatively affect the result. Based on these factors, the team can estimate the most critical date / time and determine the efforts required to implement the project. You can see how it works based on a simple real-life example. Suppose you need to make a phone call. Your tasks can be set as follows:       

  1. Take the phone
  2. Go to your contacts
  3. Choose the person you want to talk to
  4. Dial a phone number

In this case, choosing a specific phone number depends on who you want to call. Making a call depends on how you dial the phone number. The same applies to software development - some upcoming tasks will depend on the previous ones and this will determine the workflow of the team, especially the schedule.  

When to use:

  • complex projects with many interdependent elements ,
  • urgent projects when speed of development is important.

11. PRINCE2 project management methodology 

PRINCE2 ( Projects In Controlled Environments ) is a standard for IT system projects approved by the British Government, adopted in Great Britain, some European countries and Australia. It proclaims the principles of high control and clearly defined responsibilities between team members.  

In short, PRINCE2 is a structured approach that is managed step by step. Its characteristic feature is the role of the design board responsible for quality control. The project council is a commission that includes the client, the main user and the main specialist who checks the project at every stage and makes decisions based on the results. This approach can therefore be characterized as highly controlled and meticulous.   

When to use:

  • any complex project that requires careful planning and control ,
  • when the customer knows exactly what he wants to have in the project.

12. PMI / PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge)  

This is not a method, but a basic project management standard popular in the United States and Western Europe. Project Management Institute (PMI) is a professional project management organization that has developed the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) guidelines . These guidelines are based on the experience of various companies in project implementation and their best practices. The standard defines areas of knowledge about 22.00 and 47 processes that a manager must use to provide high quality software. Areas of knowledge include:         

  • Management of integration
  • Scope management
  • Schedule Management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human resource Management
  • Communication management
  • Risk management
  • Purchase Management
  • Stakeholder Management

Development processes are carried out in 5 stages:

  • Project initiation
  • Planning
  • Exercise
  • Monitoring and controlling
  • Close

When to use:

  • Because PMI / PMBOK is a comprehensive project management standard, specialists rely on it when working on any type of project.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT METHODOLOGY?

biurko

Although the methods cited differ from each other, they were developed to ensure high quality projects by reducing development costs, effective resource management, risk reduction, etc. The choice of management method depends on the client's project and priorities, therefore the client and project manager should remember two points:

  • Review the project. Questions such as "What is the size of the project?", "How complicated is it?", "Will there be any changes or experiments?" they must provide clear answers before starting the project.
  • Set priorities. While some PM models focus on processes, tasks and risks, others focus on people, teamwork, resources and performance. Decide what is the most important to you. 

WHICH PROJECT MANAGEMENT MODELS WE USE  

Specialists from any software engineering company would say that there are no two similar IT projects, and sometimes choosing the best methodology is not easy. Because our specialists are working on radically different types, sizes and complexity of projects, we decided not to stick to just one approach to project management and we created various hybrid method combinations that allow us to achieve the highest performance for all types of our software. By defining the PM methodology for the project, we try to achieve : 

  • We listen and change. The team focuses on creating comfortable conditions for cooperation and choosing the most convenient method depending on the client's needs. Whether it's a general concept of new network software or an ongoing mobile development project that needs updating or improvement, we'll provide a narrowly targeted methodology for each specific case.   
  • We think first and then we do. To understand what exact methodology best suits a particular business idea, we thoroughly analyse functional and non-functional requirements, assess the complexity of the system architecture, consider our experience in previous projects with possibly similar parameters etc.  
  • Giving more than expected. Our goal is our clients' appreciation for the commitment and high quality of our work. Depending on our specialist knowledge in the field of the project that we do , we almost always suggest technical or business software improvements. We do this not because we want to give more than our competitors, but simply because they really love what we do and we want to create wonderful things that bring companies and even entire industries to a new level of advanced present !  

SUMMARY

Some methodologies suggest that the development team must strictly follow the unchanging requirements as to the time the product is released. Others emphasize the flexibility and effective communication between the client and the programming team. So the principle of choosing a method depends entirely on your needs, priorities and resources . There is no universal approach to project management.  

► If you need to evaluate your project and define a methodology according to its specifics, don't hesitate to contact us for help. Our project managers will help you build the right strategy for a particular case based on your requirements and our specialist knowledge in your industry .   

 

 

 

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Co- Founder, Key Account Manager
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