If you’re part of the professional services sector, then you know the importance of ensuring a project stays on deadline and results are delivered to clients on the agreed-upon date. This is no easy feat, which is why teams rely heavily on their favored project management method to help keep the team on track. In this blog, we're going to discuss the two most popular common project management methods - Waterfall and Modern project management - and the benefits of each.
First, it's crucial to understand the difference between the two before deciding which method is best for your business. The last thing your team needs is to adopt a new method just to find that it isn't a proper fit for their work style. Given that it takes 1 - 3 months to see if a method works, it's imperative to be confident in the method you choose. Let's get into the specifics of each methodology.
Frequently referred to as the "Waterfall" method, this project management style requires one task to be completed before the next one can begin. Plans are constructed prior to the start of the project date and the sequential phases are mapped out early to provide clarity on the work that needs to be completed to reach the end goal. It's still used by many businesses today and works well for projects with a fixed budget or deadline.
This strategy allows little room for flexibility or changes once the project begins. The plan is laid out and agreed upon early on, meaning there is little need to readjust and the chance of scope creep is decreased. Both parties agree on the project timeline and tasks, which provides clarity on the process and assigns responsibilities early on everyone knows how they are contributing.
Extensive documentation is key with the waterfall methodology. With information readily available at any given time, it's easier for new team members to catch up quickly. Additionally, information won't be lost when an employee chooses to move on to another company.
A lot of time is spent putting together a detailed project timeline for the client to review. A major benefit is that the client knows early on what to expect and can plan accordingly. There is also very little involvement needed from then after this initial phase, and they have ample time to gather the assets you need for a particular phase. Internally, team members can plan their time better - which comes in handy when working on multiple projects at once.
Modern project management leverages automated tools to help plan, execute, and organize work. It's also viewed as the more flexible method of the two. More professional service businesses are taking on short-term or even one-time projects, so businesses are looking for alternative to the traditional project management method. This is where the modern project management method flourishes - in a fast-paced environment that can handle mid-project changes swiftly and efficiently.
Instead of having all of your tasks fully outlined at the start of each project (as they are in true, waterfall fashion), use smart technology to create a more flexible method that allows you to start a project without having a complete idea of the end result. This way, you can easily make adjustments to your project as the vision or needs of a client change (without having to go back to the start every time).
With a smart platform that offers increased visibility over your team and projects, you’ll be able to see when a certain task in your project is going over budget and address it before any real damage is done to your bottom line or client relationships.
The right smart platform will also automatically save client data, calculate billable hours and budgets, and update timelines for you automatically - so that you don’t have to do any manual busywork at the end of the day when you’re exhausted, short on time, and more likely to make mistakes. Just imagine how much more time you’ll have to work on projects when you no longer need to add up your timesheets at the end of every month - the beauty of smart automation!
With a traditional approach to project management, you’d usually be allocated a fixed amount of days or hours to complete a task. But - what happens when you suddenly get assigned a high priority project, or when you have to work from home for personal reasons?
If you’re working with smart automated software that logs time and tracks utilization, this won’t be an issue. Why? Because you’ll be able to see (in real-time) who is available on your team to take on more work and reassign tasks to them. Or better yet, work remotely on your projects with a true cloud-based platform that lets you share files with your team and communicate with your clients from one interactive dashboard and integrated system- so that you never have to extend a deadline just because you can't make it into the office.
To learn more about the benefits of using a modern, project management style that combines the agile method with the traditional waterfall Gantt chart - check our why agile project management might not fit your business. Or find a business management software that works for you and your business.