Project management is no longer the rigid division of tasks it used to be. Instead, it now relies on dynamic approaches, tools, and processes that help operations to run smoothly.

While the planning and execution of a project haven't drastically changed, most believe projects benefit from having a clearly defined process that follows a set methodology from the beginning.

Recalling on eight years of experience, Ph. Creative's Operations Manager Samantha Fawson adds that one set methodology may not necessarily be the most practical mindset to have.

"Having an arsenal of project management methods at our disposal means you can rely on your expert instinct to lay out a delivery plan for that specific project," she says. "It's exciting to be able to come up with solutions based on the intricacies of each project, rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all management style for every project you touch."

Samantha and her team rely on the following approaches to project management.

1. Waterfall

In this well-known, linear approach, team members rely on the completion of other tasks before theirs can be completed. The Waterfall approach is relatively easy to apply, and great for projects that involve large teams, though, it requires constant and effective communication.  

This approach is best suited when teams need to adhere to a project's structure in a strict manner. It lends itself well to alterations early in the life cycle and is excellent when determining the specific requirements of a project, though, a disadvantage is that it becomes increasingly more difficult to make changes as the project progresses. So, this may not be suitable for indecisive clients.

2. Agile

Rather than a sequence of tasks, the Agile approach breaks down milestones, delivering the project requirements incrementally throughout the project life cycle.

Unlike the Waterfall approach, it's easier to incorporate changes at any point in a project, enabling Project Managers to learn and adapt as they go along, taking on board the feedback from their clients.

Agile is best used when projects have an extensive requirement list with 'must-haves' and 'nice-to-haves', and the final requirements are not fully outlined until the work is released.

The challenge with this is that the features may be less than the original scope if some aspects of the project overrun, which requires Projects Managers to communicate the scope and the boundaries of a project effectively. Another challenge is that, with the adaptive nature of the approach where the work is continuously evolving, team members may side-track documentation and progress can be hard to track. This can prove difficult for clients who work on a budget and tight schedules, and also make for a problematic sales-cycle.

3. Strategic

Strategic project management means always looking at the 'big picture', not only at your immediate surroundings. This principle may work well with retained clients who want to have a feature and design evolution of their product, for example. An uncertainty analysis is usually one of the first steps to managing a project using this approach, and the tasks/activities can be planned once the project strategy is finalized.

The success of this approach depends on the Project Manager's ability to connect perspectives and understand the motivations of all involved, e.g. the client's needs, the stakeholders in the project, etc. They must also have an ability to think strategically; anticipating problems and solving issues resourcefully. This might require training or more focused hires, but if this style fits your processes and better with your business operations, then it could be worthwhile adapting.

4. Scrum

Scrums are regular meet-ups of all relevant team members and are used to discuss the status of a project as well as any updates and results. The main advantage of this tool is the high level of team communication that it enables. This method is best for innovative and complicated projects, where team members rely on each other's input. This also helps Project Managers to prioritize tasks and to track the team's progress within a specific timeframe.

Scrums are regular occurrences, which mean a lack of commitment or cooperation by anyone with responsibilities can deem this method ineffective, and it's likely to have a negative impact on the project. Scrum is best used for larger projects which have many different parts and dependencies and is best implemented in teams made up of confident individuals, who have well-defined roles and responsibilities and know how those roles and responsibilities relate to the project's success.

Project management is evolving to strategizing rather than straight-forward execution. Know your client and their needs before settling on one method for your project. Being adaptable is more appealing to the client, and this will show your value and your level of determination to achieve the goal of the project.

Published on: Aug 7, 2018