One of the most important issues a manager has to solve before starting a project is choosing the right project management method. However, the world of project management is so varied, with so many methods available, that it’s hard to define which one will be right for your project.
Let’s have a look at some of the most popular project management methods nowadays and define their differences and similarities, pros and cons.
Waterfall has developed from traditional project management. It is a method in which progress is seen as a waterfall flowing steadily downwards through several phases. Under this method project managers try to eliminate risk and uncertainty by outlining all the steps in a project and defining its scope, budget, and schedule upfront, and once the project scope is defined they assign teams with clearly set goals and deadlines. Each team deals with various aspects (modules) of the project, and once a module is complete, it is passed on to the next team.
Its biggest drawback is that it doesn’t allow a lot of changes if something is wrong during the project process. If one team passes the project to the second team, and then the third team finds a problem from the first team, you literally have to start all over again.
The main aim of the Agile method is to provide rapid, continuous delivery of a product to the customer. Unlike Waterfall, in Agile there is no clearly defined end product at the start, but there are non-static requirements, flexibility, constant change, and regular communication approach. Instead of building the project altogether, the development is divided into sprints with small deliverables.
Using Agile method in a project helps you define the project clearly with stakeholders and team input, sprints or iterations assigned to small groups, effective project monitoring, immediate change instead of constant review, along with constant communication throughout the project.
This approach is most commonly used in software development, but it is becoming more and more popular in other types of projects as well.
The main difference between Waterfall and Agile is that in Agile there is an evaluation of a module before it is passed on, and in Waterfall the project flow passes on and on with no intermediate outcome evaluation.
PRINCE2 is a project management methodology that was developed in the UK and combines a lot of practices including consistent approach, focus on business justification, control through review, stakeholder involvement from beginning to end, and continuous improvement.
PRINCE2 methodology includes such roles as project management, users, customers, and suppliers. With PRINCE2, teams report to the project manager who in turn before any risks or problems occur, is required to report to different users, customers, and suppliers for effective decision-making outcomes.
Lean development is a project management methodology that focuses on developing change-tolerance software. In this method, satisfying the customer is the highest priority. The team is motivated to provide the highest value for the money paid by the customer. Lean methodology emerged from within the Agile community, and is nowadays most popular with startups that want to penetrate the market, or test their idea and see if it would make a viable business.
Lean is based on 7 key principles. They are: eliminate waste, build quality in, create knowledge, defer commitment, deliver fast, respect people, optimise the whole.
This methodology focuses on developing products faster with higher quality. RAD approach to software development puts less emphasis on planning tasks and more emphasis on development. In contrast to the Waterfall model, which emphasizes rigorous specification and planning, RAD approach emphasizes the necessity of adjusting requirements in reaction to knowledge gained as the project progresses. This causes RAD to use prototypes in addition to or even sometimes in place of design specifications. RAD approaches also emphasize a flexible process that can adapt as the project evolves rather than rigorously defining specifications and plans correctly from the start.
So, in order to define which one of the above mentioned project management methods will suit your project you have to take into account some aspects of your project: how big and complicated it is, how much it can be prone to changes during the development process, how many parties are involved in the development, how easy the communication is going to be etc.
If you have rigorous technical requirements at the start and you are sure they are not going to change, Waterfall can be your choice. However, nowadays the market changes so fast that it is hard to start and end the project with no requirements changes. If that’s your case, you’d better consider using Agile or Agile related methods that will enable continuous communication and timely changes that will allow you to deliver a high quality product to the customers in time.
In case you need any advice on Agile methodology implementation feel free to contact Polontech experts, and we’ll always help.