The Ultimate Guide to Project Management Approaches

Tue Jan 06 2015

A good project management strategy will ensure that the final result comes from concentrated effort as opposed to wasted efforts. However, not all product management methods work for all applications. For those who are new to project management, there is a learning curve and a period of adjustment. Project managers must find the approach that works best for their specific project. Even the same company or industry must employ different management approaches depending on the nature of the project. It's a good idea to know and understand some of the different types of project management approaches available.

The Traditional Approach
The traditional approach to project management is also the simplest. It is also the backbone that forms many other types of project management techniques. The traditional approach, as its name implies, is a tried-and-true method for project management. It's the best approach for simple or straightforward projects. Projects that require customizations or projects for specific applications may need a different approach. The traditional approach uses initiation, design, execution, and monitoring in various ways until the final step, completion.

PRINCE2 is short for Projects in Controlled Environments Version 2. Simply put, it is a method of project management ideal for applications that have a known and clear framework. If the framework is essentially unchangeable, like a specific business or government application, then projects must work within the confines of that framework. PRINCE2 works on seven principles. These include risk, change, progress, quality, organization, plans, and business case. It's an approach that can help divide projects up and assign members to each area of the project. While it may seem rigid in approach, those same principles offer a level of flexibility.
Critical Chain Project Management
Critical chain project management puts more focus on the resources available for a particular project. Because this method is more resource-based, it uses the management philosophy called Theory of Constraints. This approach zeroes in on project constraints, such as resources, and attempts to repurpose those constraints into strengths by restructuring the management chain around it.
Event Chain Methodology
Event chain methodology focuses on finding the chain of situations that lead to a problem or a delay. As such, many project managers will use it with other project management approaches. Any event can cause a change in the normal progression of things. Once identified, the project manager can deal with these event chains accordingly. Some consider this method a furtherance of the critical chain approach.
Process-Based Management
Business strategy is often based around the core goals and ideologies of the business itself. Process-based management works with a company's vision. It starts with defining the process. Project managers then create a method of measuring the effectiveness of that process. With the means to measure, the evaluation process starts. Once management analyzes the data, they must decide if the process is effective or needs changes. Next, they plan those improvements and then implement them. The process repeats. This management path is ideal for dealing with customers, both internal and external.
Agile Project Management
Agile project management has a strong foothold in software development. Its focus is on the team and human interaction. The approach relies on the team to communicate with one another to facilitate completion of the project. This method keeps all members of the team responsible for finishing the project. It's also a good method for finishing projects quickly, as constant communication and shared responsibility will keep everyone involved motivated.
Lean Project Management
Lean project management focuses on doing more with less. It's a part of a "lean" philosophy that exists in many industries, not just project management. Project managers can combine lean principles with other management techniques to take real advantage of getting a project from start to finish while using less time, less material, and less of anything else if applied correctly.
Extreme Project Management
Extreme project management is all about adapting to the situation. Much like agile project management, extreme methods are about teams doing what they need to do to finish their respective parts of the overall project. However, the extreme method allows for a lot of flexibility. Individuals have the burden of completing their parts of the project within a loose time frame and with a certain degree of quality. It is an unorthodox approach, not practical for every application. A team that uses this method must have goal-oriented, self-managed people. This method allows for a lot of change during the project: What was intended at the beginning may come out as something altogether different. However, that is also strength of this method.
Benefits Realization Management
A strong focus on the outcome or the benefit of the project is what benefits realization management is all about. Consider that most management techniques focus on the final product of the project: Benefits realization focuses on what benefits that product will bring to the table. The goal isn't to start and finish a project in a certain time frame. The goal is to start the project and make it to the point where the benefits of project become realized. This makes this method strongly goal-oriented but in a way unlike other methods.
More Management Techniques
Project management can be complex. That's why there are whole industries dedicated to serving those who need a management solution. There's also software and other services that cater to project management. Some research into the subject can help many, but it can also confuse some. This is especially true once it starts involving charts, graphs, formulas, and diagrams. But at its basic level, the core concepts are simple to grasp and integral to any project endeavor. The sheer amount of management practices out there all share something in common. That commonality is their ability to facilitate the start and finish of a project efficiently. These methods can vary, as some have different versions in different places and others are combinations of even more methods. Finding what works for a specific project is key.  Successful project managers make sure everyone can see the project status overview with details of each line-item's timeline milestone.  Visual communicators, such as whiteboards, charts and signs go a long way in ensuring proper team communication.

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