As complex beings, we each have our own style. Our own unique ways of dressing, speaking, eating, even communicating. What’s more, in our professional lives we also have our own style of working––especially when it comes to managing tasks and projects. But here’s the thing – each project you work on may require different project management systems . And how are you to pick the right one when there are over 8,462 project management methodologies to choose from?! Don’t worry, keep reading to find out more about 5 of the most popular (and tried and true) project and task management methodologies out there. If you’re new to project management and project management methodologies and team task management start directly below. If not, feel free to skip right on down to the fun stuff
What is a Project?
Let’s get down to basics first, shall we? A project is defined as an individual or collaborative venture that is carefully planned to achieve a particular outcome. They have a defined beginning and end, and usually have time constraints.
What is Project Management?
Project management is the application of skills, knowledge, tools, and techniques in order to reach a project’s specified results.
Nowadays, teams are spread all over the world, with many individuals providing certain functions to complete a project. Each team member serves as a crucial piece of a puzzle that must expertly come together as one. When the proper project management methodologies are set in place, projects and tasks are more likely to come together smoothly and succinctly than if they had been put together haphazardly without a clear outline.
To help break down the many parts of project management into digestible pieces, the Project Management Institute (PMI) uses the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) to help standardize project management systems.
What is PMBOK?
PMBOK is a guidance used by project management professionals to make the process easier to understand, and well, manage. There are 10 knowledge areas:
The glue of a project that keeps the puzzle pieces together. This is where a project manager is assigned and a project timeline (called a Roadmap) is set up.
Detailed requirements for the final product or service that is to be achieved.
The project is divided into tasks to be completed by different team members. Each task has a scheduled start and end date, along with budgets. As the project gets underway, this is likely to change and be revised.
Estimating how much funds are needed to cover the extent of the project. This is monitored regularly and stakeholders are kept informed.
Ensuring that quality standards for the final product are being met.
Obtaining all of the materials and services that are required for the project.
Assembling an all-star team to ensure the project progresses as planned. Team members roles are identified, as well as how they fit into the overall project structure.
How team members communicate and transfer information in order for everything to remain on target.
Identifying risks and how they will be itemized, categorized, prioritized, and ultimately handled.
The stakeholders are providing funding, so they need to remain happy and in the loop. Communication with stakeholders must stay open and managed properly.
5 Project Management Phases
Now that you have a solid basis on what project management is, check out the 5 phases of a project’s timeline:
Where all projects begin. In this stage, the value of a project is determined, as well as its feasibility, and sent for approval.
If approved, assembling a project team and planning a project’s execution with time and budget constraints begins.
Once planning is complete, it’s time to start work.
Monitoring and Controlling
Throughout the lifetime of the project, all aspects will be monitored to ensure that the project plan is successful, with adjustments being made as needed.
The project is complete once all deliverables have been closed as planned and other bureaucratic tasks have been satisfied.
What is a Project Management Methodology?
Simply put, a project management methodology is a set of project management principles and practices that help project managers organize and optimize their projects in the best way possible.
Choosing the Best Project Management Methodology for Your Needs
No two projects are created equal, so it makes sense that there is no boiler-plate approach to team task management. Weigh out the following factors when choosing the right methodology for you and your team by considering the following:
What sort of budget do you have to play with? Will there be wiggle room if unexpected expenses arise? Or are you restricted to a specific amount?
How many people are involved overall––including subcontractors, and stakeholders? Is it a large group? Are they all located in the same area, or spread out across cities and/or continents?
How set in stone is the scope of your project? Will you have the ability to amend when and where is needed? Will changes affect the outcome of the final product?
How much time do you have to complete it?
Are you managing a behemoth of a project set to make a big impact? Or is your project on a smaller, more flexible scale? What repercussions can occur if the project does not turn out to plan?
How involved do the stakeholders wish to be in the projects process? How often do they want progress updates? How often do you want to communicate with them? How much do you want them to be involved?
5 Popular Project Management Methodologies
Relatively new to the family of project management methodologies compared to others on our list, Agile began in 2000, when a group of 17 software developers created a way to speed up development times in order to bring new software to market faster. The Agile methodology allows a team to manage a project by breaking it up into several stages. Highly collaborative in nature, Agile, as it’s namesake, is quick, and is open to data-driven change.
Agile product management principles are characterized by short bursts of work, called Sprints, followed by frequent testing, reassessment, and adaptation throughout the lifetime of the project. If a bottleneck occurs, Agile allows backlogs to be prioritized so teams know what to focus on first.
Use Agile If:
Do Not Use Agile If:
Your project requires flexibility
Your project is inflexible and cannot afford to change course
The final result at the beginning of the project is unclear
The final result must be clear from the beginning
You need to work quickly
You have strict deadlines
Your stakeholders need/want to be involved in every stage
Your team does not have self-motivated people
Kanban (billboard in Japanese) was developed by Taiichi Ohno in the late 1940’s to streamline Toyota’s production and falls under the Agile umbrella. One of its notable main benefits is its ability to establish an upper limit to work in process inventory to avoid overcapacity.
Originally used by the manufacturing industry, Kanban is a framework in which team task management is visually represented as they progress through columns on a board.
As the project progresses, tasks are moved from one column to another as they evolve, providing teams with a great visual and immediate overview of where work stands at any given time, and helps identify if and where bottlenecks are occurring.
Use Kanban If:
Do Not Use Kanban If:
You want to see progress in a tangible manner
Your project is complex and has many stages
You want to employ Work in Progress (WIP) limits
Your project outcomes are not based on demand predictions
eXtreme Programming (Xp) Methodology
Another great methodology under the Agile umbrella, Xp was designed for software development. Developed by software engineer Kent Beck, Xp’s set of project management principles is used for teams between 2 and 12, and emphasizes teamwork and collaboration across all departments, including managers, customers, and self-organizing teams.
Xp has 5 core values:
Use Xp If:
Do Not Use Xp If:
You have a small collaboration-oriented team
You have a large team spread across continents or time zones
Critical Path Methodology
Developed in the late 1950s by James Kelley of Remington Rand and Morgan Walker of DuPont, CPM enables its users to plan and perform task management rationally by identifying and scheduling critical tasks and dependencies in a project.
A project’s critical path is the longest distance between start and finish, including all tasks and their duration. Once a Project Manager has determined a project’s critical path using a CPM algorithm, they can compose an actual schedule.
In order to use CPM, you will need to:
Identify all of the tasks needed to reach a project’s goal.
Estimate how much time each task will take, while keeping in mind that certain tasks will need to be completed before others can start.
Take that compiled information to schedule the critical path you’ll need to take in order to complete the project swiftly without missing important steps.
Use CPM If:
Do Not Use CPM If:
Your project is large and complex with many dependencies
You are unsure about deadlines and timing and duration of the tasks that must be completed
You want to follow a strict plan with no room for flexibility
You require flexibility
The Waterfall Methodology was originally defined by Winston W. Royce in 1970, and was the first established modern approach to building a system. Possibly one of the most straightforward and linear of all the project management methodologies, like its name, Waterfall uses a process where phases of a project flow down, just like water. Waterfall requires that one phase must be completed before moving on to the next and is well suited for projects that must be highly structured and changes are too expensive to be made after the project has closed.
Waterfall projects follow the following project management principles:
Requirements (top of Waterfall)
Deployment & Maintenance
Use Waterfall If:
Do Not Use Waterfall If:
Your project outcome is clearly defined and will not change
Your project is flexible (ie: stakeholders may not know exactly what they want)
You work in a highly regulated industry such as manufacturing or construction
You don’t know the projects end goal
Now that you have the basics under your belt, check out how you can combine these methodologies with Spike to help you tackle those projects with ease. Check out the Spike blog for more information on everything from the best apps for 2021 to achieving work-life balance. Have a methodology that you love and want us to add it to the list? Tweet us @SpikeNowHQ.
Project Management Methodology FAQ's
If a project is a ship, then the Project Manager (PM) is the captain at the helm. A PM is tasked with leading a project and is fully accountable for reaching the projects goals and objectives. The PM is responsible for:
- Gaining approval for the project and its terms
- Planning the project in detail
- Putting together and managing a team in conjunction with other team leaders and supervisors
- Ensuring tasks are completed on time to keep the project on track
- Strategically fielding and solving issues
- Keeping stakeholders/customers informed of the projects status
- Reviewing and closing the project when all tasks are complete
Typically, PM’s require a broad set of skills in order to successfully complete a project. These skills include, but are not limited to:
- Proficient oral and written communication
- Decisive decision making
- Good credibility and personal responsibility
- Good organization
- Effective group communication and decision making
- Problem and conflict management
- Excellent time management
- Meticulous documentation and reporting
- Technical knowledge and education
- Experience using specific project management tools and techniques
- Proficient in planning complex tasks
- Financial planning
- Creative, out-of-the-box thought processes
A well-laid out scope helps both teams and stakeholders/customers stay informed throughout the lifecycle of a project. Scope’s establish control factors that can be used to address tasks and events that result in changes during the project. A well-defined scope can help to avoid common issues such as:
- Scheduling conflicts
- Budget overages
- Changes in requirements
Even with the best planning, sometimes unexpected things occur. In Project Management, these are known as Risks. A Risk may or may not occur during the project lifecycle, but they are calculated ahead of time as they negatively impact the project’s ultimate goal. As they say, the best offense is a good defense. There are a variety of risks that can be anticipated such as:
- Estimated costs go over budget
- Project result may not meet the original goal/s
- Key team members may leave prior to the close of the project
- Project management tools required for the project do not meet expectations