There are many different project management methodologies out there, and no one choice is right for every team. Some teams need a pre-developed plan that they can follow to the letter, while others are used for basing their next steps on recent results.
Other teams combine different approaches to get the exact results they need. Even with recent trends in project management providing new options all the time, there isn’t always a pre-set methodology that works.
In that case, the best strategy is to review what’s available and cherry-pick the most useful elements. To get you started, here are four of the most widely used project management methodologies, all of which are useful in whole or in part to many different organizations.
As the name suggests, Agile focuses on approaching a project with as much flexibility as possible. It operates on the assumption that scenarios change and the results of one stage of a project will naturally inform what happens next.
Agile is thus less of a cut-and-dried process than a set of principles. It places collaboration and discovery over rigid adherence to a roadmap, and delivery of a working product or service over perfection.
Each stage of an Agile project has four basic phases:
Progression through these phases isn’t set in stone. At any point, a team may decide that they need to go back and re-work what happened in the prior phase — for example, in prototype development.
Agile teams also don’t hesitate to push things through to the testing phase. If something doesn’t go as expected, the team only has to start the discovery lifecycle over again.
Waterfall is one of the more traditional and linear forms of project management. Where Agile is responsive and centered on what’s happening at the moment, Waterfall focuses on executing a pre-developed plan.
Using the Waterfall method, the project manager defines the scope and requirements of the project. Work begins at the beginning and progresses in a specific sequence, one phase naturally following from another — much like the natural course of a waterfall.
If Agile is all about flexibility and Waterfall is about accountability, Lean focuses on efficiency.
Lean is all about optimizing value delivery and eliminating sources of waste. Within the methodology, there are three defined sources of waste:
The Lean methodology is less about doing things in a specific way, and more about optimizing the way projects and work already flow through the system.
Kanban is the most visual of the leading project management methodologies. It centers on the use of dynamic Task Boards, which give shape to the pieces of a project that are upcoming, in progress, and done.
Like Lean, Kanban focuses on efficiency and minimizing waste without sacrificing results. Its goals are to:
Unlike some other more prescriptive project management methodologies, Kanban respects existing roles and structures. It only requires that an organization be able to set up and share visual boards, usually through a platform like Accelo.
In the end, project management methodologies are pathways to efficient teamwork and top-notch results. The right one will help you achieve most to all of your project goals, including:
It’s important to choose a project management methodology that works for your team and matches your organizational culture. Often, that means combining two or more project management tools and techniques.
At Accelo, we call that adaptive project management. Maybe you’ll set up an overarching plan in the Waterfall style, then put the work into Kanban boards and approach each step with an Agile style.
The Accelo platform lets you draw from any of the major project management methodologies and create a plan that works for your organization. With a diverse suite of collaboration and planning tools, Accelo lets you organize everything in one place and always knows what’s going on.
See the power and flexibility of Accelo for yourself — sign up for a free trial today.