How to identify the best performing Project Management strategy

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Choosing the right Project Management strategy is essential and is the first step towards the success of the project.

The Project Managers know this and for this reason, they are always looking for the most effective and efficient way to manage a project, reducing its risks.

The task, however, is not simple: especially if we consider that the strategic approaches upstream determine the development of the project.

Therefore, a project manager must have a depth understanding of how each project management strategy can create – or not – a great positive impact.

With so many different and valid project management methodologies, how is it possible to identify the best project management strategy?

In this article, we want to list the most popular project management strategies and suggest some useful parameters that can guide the choice.

A series of indications that, we hope, can be useful in choosing the ideal solution for a specific project and a specific organization.

The most popular project management strategies

Waterfall Method

Since years, it is one of the most used strategies.
It has a sequential nature and it includes:

  • Static phases
  • requirements analysis
  • design
  • test
  • implementation
  • maintenance

All performed neatly.

This strategy focuses very much on the planning phase, thus increasing the possibility of collecting all the project requirements.

Its negative point is stiffness: it certainly allows greater control during each phase, but in case of changes or unforeseen circumstances, this methodology is not very effective.

Agile Method

this strategy has been developed for projects that require great flexibility and speed.
We are therefore completely in the opposite direction with respect to the Waterfall Method – and it is used above all in the software development sector.

The Agile method is structured in short delivery cycles, called “sprint”.
Furthermore, it is a very interactive methodology that allows rapid changes during the course of a project.

In summary, the Agile method includes repeatable processes, a reduction of risks immediate feedback, rapid response times and a smaller complexity.

Hybrid method

Waterfall method and Agile method are not the best? No fear! The advantages of the two strategies are merged in the so-called hybrid method.
Here, the planning, analysis and requirements gathering phase follow the Waterfall approach, while the design, development, implementation and evaluation follow the Agile methodology.

Critical Path Method

this method, also called CPM, is a strategy used for projects with interdependent activities and tasks.
In particular, it provides a list of activities and uses a job allocation structure or WBS with timing, dependencies, milestones and final results.
In addition, it highlights the critical activities by calculating the “longer” time on the critical path.

Critical Chain Project Method

This method, also called CCPM, differs from the previous strategy, because it focuses on the use of resources within a project rather than on activities.
The activities are performed by the resources actually available and if these are necessary for different tasks, priority is given to critical activities.

Six Sigma Method

This strategy was developed by the company Motorola in order to eliminate waste and improve processes and profits.
Six Sigma is based on three key components: DMAIC (define, measure, analyze, improve, control), DMADV (define, measure, analyze, design, verify) and DFSS (Design for Six Sigma). The last one, DFSS, can include the previous options, as well as others, like for example IDOV (identify, design, optimize, verify).

Scrum Method

The term is taken from the sports world, particularly from rugby.

This strategy is very similar to the Agile methodology; here the so-called “scrum sessions” or “30-day sprint” are organized in order to work on the priority activities. A supervisor replaces the project manager and coordinates the work of small teams that dedicate themselves to specific activities.

In addition to the methods listed there are also many others, more or less popular, more or less used.

It is important to underline that there is no single and univocal solution for all projects, even within the same organization.

Moreover, even the experience of a project manager who knows the pros and cons of each methodology is a factor that leads to choosing one or another strategy.

How to evaluate project management strategies

identify the strategy

The process that allows to evaluate and choose the right project management strategy is very complex and requires a considerable investment of time, but it is certainly worth it.

The Project Management Institute – PMI has developed an internationally recognized procedure called the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model or OPM3.

This tool helps organizations identify, measure and improve project management capabilities and process standardization.

It also helps consolidating the achievements of a successful project, identifying best practices and improving the link between strategic planning and operation.

In general, when evaluating the best project management strategy, the following elements must be evaluated:

  • Strategic organizational goals and fundamental values
  • Business key drivers
  • Constraints
  • Stakeholders
  • Risks
  • Complexity
  • Project size and cost

Once the previous evaluation criteria are considered, it is necessary to develop a process to identify the best strategy for the project.

Here are some basic steps:

  • Evaluate project goals and determine project drivers
  • Identify and compare the available / possible methodologies for the project
  • Consider which methodology best suits the project, ie the one that supposedly will generate the best results and with less risk
  • Implement the chosen methodology
  • Monitor and modify according to the necessity and the evolution of the project

To conclude, we can only underline that every project management strategy does not uniquely suit any type of project or sector.

Moreover, it is unlikely that the same methodology will work in the same organization for all projects.

A good method is therefore to develop a methodological evaluation process, that is a MAP – Methodology Assessment Process.

However, take into consideration that this same process may also need to be modified if the general goals of the organization change.

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