How to select the best project management methodology for your IT business

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Project managers have a hard task of streamlining the work process and making sure that the job is done efficiently and without sacrificing the quality.

That’s why different project management methodologies have been devised to facilitate this whole complex procedure.

Each of them is suitable for different project types, which is why it’s essential to pick the right one depending on whether you want to speed things up or get around a comprehensive task.

Given that only 2.5 per cent of companies successfully complete 100 per cent of their projects, according to Gallup, it’s pretty self-explanatory why you need a suitable project management methodology for your IT business.

Waterfall

This sequential, one-cycle methodology is sometimes regarded as somewhat obsolete and not particularly efficient, but it’s actually very useful for projects with fixed requirements and clear documentation, especially in terms of predictability of the outcomes, budget, timeline, and scope.

The Waterfall approach consists of planning all the phases of a project in advance and then executing them one by one. In other words, there are no iterations and increments like in Agile, and once you plan your project and start it, you can’t make any changes.

Phases are very clearly defined and they don’t overlap – you have to complete one phase before moving on to the next. Moreover, the outcome of each phase serves as the input for the next one.

The whole process flows like a waterfall, in cascades, and it consists of one, usually very long cycle. The main components of this linear system include:

  • Requirements and documentation;
  • Analysis based on the requirements;
  • Concept, design, and planning based on the analysis;
  • Creation based on the concept, design, and planning;
  • Implementation and integration into a current system;
  • Testing;
  • Maintenance.

The Waterfall Method is straightforward and simple, but on the other hand, it can be a problem when a customer wants to make changes once the process has been set in motion.

It’s suitable for manufacturing, construction, and creating physical objects, as these plans can easily be copied and reused.

Agile

This methodology originates from the Agile Manifesto, a declaration created in 2001 by a group of software experts in order to establish some principles which would make software development clear, flexible, and measurable by leveraging iterations and collaboration between team members and customers.

There are 4 main values of this management system, and they are:

  • Individuals and interactions should be prioritised over tools and processes;
  • Functional software is more important than elaborate documentation;
  • Collaboration with customers instead of contract negotiation;
  • Responsiveness to change over rigid adherence to fixed plans.

The Agile Methodology is based on incremental and iterative work, which allows teams to make adjustments and changes on the go, and add missing ingredients in order to achieve the best results.

As the work process consists of so-called sprints, teams can work on a series of short tasks and easily track their own progress thus staying motivated and avoid being overwhelmed by lengthy and chunky phases of work. 

Such an approach also enables team leaders to delegate tasks properly and make changes as the situation requires.

All this results in the ability to maintain transparency both internally and with clients, which means that clients are always in the know regarding how the process is coming along, and they can participate and give their suggestions.

This methodology is suitable for software companies and projects requiring flexibility, as it can answer the demands of an ever-changing marketplace and enable teams to quickly complete small projects such as software updates or new product features.

Agile later evolved and became the basis for new methodologies such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming, and Adaptive Project Framework.

Kanban

Kanban is a method which relies on the Agile framework, and its main purpose is to boost productivity, deliver the best results, and use time and resources practically by visually depicting the workflow process through a Kanban board, cards, and swimlanes.

This efficient concept dates back to the 1940s when it was used in Toyota factories with the purpose of identifying and preventing bottlenecks by implementing the following principles:

  • Visualisation
  • Limiting the work in progress
  • Flow management
  • Explicit policies
  • Feedback loops
  • Collaborative evolution.

Kanban enables teams and project managers to monitor the progress simply and on the spot by taking a look at the Kanban board which represents project stages and divides tasks into To-Do, Doing, and Done sections, while cards with task names are moved to a different section depending on the stage.

Such an approach is tailor-made for software companies, but it’s also one of the most useful time management techniques that can be implemented in different industries and for all kinds of workflows. 

Scrum

If you like rugby, then you’re most certainly familiar with this concept.

Scrum falls under the Agile umbrella term, and it’s more a framework for developing, delivering, and sustaining complex products through teamwork than a project management methodology. 

According to the principles of this framework, teams should consist of no more than 9 people, and their job is to work on a collection of user stories, that is, requirements prioritised by a product owner.

This approach heavily relies on Scrum team roles, events, and artefacts.

Scrum roles are:

  • Product Owner, that is, a product leader who’s in charge of what will be developed and delivered, and in what order. It’s their job to ensure that customers’ needs are met.
  • Scrum Master is an expert in this field, and they oversee the whole process and make sure that everything is in accordance with Scrum values, principles, and practices. It’s their job to eliminate all the obstacles and help team members and the Product Owner to communicate properly.
  • Team Members meet every day to discuss their progress and identify potential obstacles, which are communicated to the Scrum Master. The Product Owner collaborates with team members for better product targeting.

As for Scrum events, there are:

  • Sprints, that is, cycles which can last up to a month, while in the IT industry, their usual length is two weeks. After each sprint is completed, some tangible results should be delivered to the customer.
  • Sprint planning takes place at the beginning of every sprint.
  • Daily scrum is a 15-minute meeting, scheduled at the same time, in which teams discuss everything they completed during the previous day, and talk about their plans for that day.
  • Sprint review is a meeting which takes place at the end of every sprint with the purpose of showing the increment to the stakeholders and obtaining their feedback.
  • Sprint retrospective is an internal meeting in which team members recap the previous sprint and discuss how they can improve the next one.

There are 2 Scrum artefacts:

  • The product backlog is the responsibility of the Product Owner, and it contains all the requirements, features, bugs, improvements, and necessary fixes. All these items are organised according to their priority.
  • Sprint backlog consists of different tasks and requirements that have to be achieved during the upcoming Sprint.

This approach is tremendously effective for the software industry as it eliminates common issues faced by development teams. Since customers provide their feedback on a regular basis, it’s possible to take it into consideration and make changes and improvements, which results in the increase of productivity and customer satisfaction.

Every project methodology on this list can be successful if it’s implemented properly and bearing in mind specific circumstances and situations, as well as the scope of a particular project.

Marko Maric, Clockify
Image Credit: Pexels/Clockify