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As a project manager, one of your most important tasks is choosing the right project management methodology for your project. There are many different options to choose from, and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The methodology you choose will have a big impact on the overall success of your project, so it's important to choose wisely. 

In this article, I'll discuss which methodology to use in a project using examples. Besides that, I’ll also cover how to recognize when a change in methodology might be needed and how to implement it.

How to Choose the Right Project Management Methodology For Your Project 

Project management methodologies can be broadly classified into two categories: traditional (or waterfall) and agile. 

Traditional methods are characterized by their sequential, phase-based approach. Agile methods, on the other hand, are characterized by their iterative and incremental approach.

Both traditional and agile methods have their own strengths and weaknesses, so it's important to choose the right one for your particular project. 

Consider these factors during your decision-making process:

  1. The nature of the project: Is it well-defined and unlikely to change, or is it likely to change during the course of execution? If it's the latter, then an agile approach may be more suitable. 
  2. The team size: Are you working with a large team or a small team? Smaller teams are generally more suited to agile methods, while larger teams are more suited to traditional methods. 
  3. The level of customer involvement: Are the customers going to be actively involved in the development process? If so, then an agile approach may be more suitable. 
  4. The budget: Is there a fixed budget for the project, or is there some flexibility? Fixed-budget projects are more suited to traditional methods, while projects with flexible budgets are more suited to agile methods. 
  5. The schedule: Are you working with a fixed schedule or is there some flexibility? Fixed-schedule projects are more suited to traditional methods, while projects with flexible schedules are more suited to agile methods. 

There is no single "best" project management methodology; the best methodology for your project depends on a number of factors, as outlined above. By considering these factors carefully, you should be able to choose the right methodology for your particular project.

Common Projects & Methodologies That Go Together: Examples

Now let’s look at examples for each methodology, so you can easily choose the right approach for your particular project.

Construction: A Prime Example For The Waterfall Methodology

A commonly used project management method with a linear process.

The waterfall methodology is a linear approach to project management in which each stage is completed sequentially, with no overlap or iteration between stages.

This methodology is often used in industries where the product or outcome has to meet very specific requirements, and there is little room for change or revision once the project has begun. 

For example, in the construction industry, using the waterfall model ensures that each stage of the project (design, planning, execution, etc.) is completed before moving on to the next stage.

This minimizes the risk of errors and unexpected surprises that can occur when different parts of the project are completed out of sequence. 

While the waterfall model can be a useful approach in some situations, it does have its limitations. In particular, it can be inflexible and may not allow for enough feedback from users or stakeholders during development.

As a result, newer and more agile approaches to project management are increasingly being adopted in many industries.

Construction project management may also be referred to as capital project management.

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The PMI (Project Management Institute) publishes the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) which is a reference guide for project management standards.

Therefore, it should be consulted in order to apply best practices to your project, but it is not an actual project management methodology in itself. 

Public Sectors Projects: PRINCE2 Is A Viable Option

A process-based approach that provides a simple, customizable, and scalable technique. 

Let's say your project is concerned with implementing a new regulation for equipment in the public healthcare sector. The first step is to establish a business case for the project, which will quantify the investment of resources. 

Once the business case has been approved, we will move on to the next stage of the project, which is planning. Here we will develop a detailed plan for the implementation process, including timelines, milestones, and deliverables. 

We will also assign roles and responsibilities within the project team. During the execution phase of the project, we will carry out the implementation process as planned.

And finally, in the close-out phase, we will review the project results and lessons learned in order to continuously improve our processes. This is just one example of how PRINCE2 can be applied to achieve successful outcomes.

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a project management methodology that provides a framework for managing projects of all sizes. It is based on seven principles, which are: continued business justification, learn from experience, define roles and responsibilities, manage by stages, manage by exception, and focus on products and tailor to suit the project environment.

The PRINCE2 methodology can be applied to any type of project. However, it is widely used in the public and the private sector, but is particularly popular in the UK and Europe. 

Manufacturing: Transforming Businesses with The Lean Methodology

Streamlining and eliminating waste to deliver more with less.

Toyota is a prime example of how to cut production costs by applying lean initiatives. Other companies have achieved similar results, proving that lean project management can be a highly effective way to improve efficiency in manufacturing.

The lean project management methodology was developed in the early 2000s as a way to streamline project management processes and eliminate waste. Lean is based on the principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS), which emphasizes continuous improvement and the elimination of waste. 

In a lean project, all activities are geared toward delivering value to the customer. This involves identifying and eliminating superfluous activities, or "waste."

There are seven types of waste: overproduction, inventory, defects, motion, over-processing, waiting, and transportation. By eliminating these wastes, projects can be completed more quickly and efficiently. 

That being said, the lean methodology is frequently mistaken for being concerned with manufacturing businesses, yet it may be applied to any business or organization that does not want a process in and of itself but rather wishes to change how they conduct their operations.

Therefore, it has been successfully used in a variety of industries, from software development to sales. In each case, it has helped to improve project quality and deliver value to customers.

Software Development: The Perfect Application For Agile and Scrum 

Collaborating to iteratively deliver whatever works.

Agile is a popular approach to software development that emphasizes iterative planning and delivery, close collaboration between developers and stakeholders, and regular adaptation in response to feedback. A practical example of an agile methodology in action is the Scrum framework. 

Scrum is a specific implementation of agile that focuses on short, time-boxed sprints (usually two weeks) during which specific tasks are completed and delivered. At the end of each sprint, the team reflects on what went well and what could be improved for the next sprint. 

This continuous process of improvement helps to ensure that the final product meets the needs of the stakeholders. Because agile is so flexible, it can be adapted to a variety of different software development projects. 

As a result, it has become one of the most popular approaches to software development in recent years. However, although the agile methodology is most commonly associated with software development, it can be applied to any project where there is a need for flexibility and adaptability.

Improving Productivity: Kanban

Improving speed and quality of delivery by increasing visibility of work in progress and limiting multitasking.

Kanban is another popular agile approach that, like Scrum, emphasizes early releases and collaborative self-managing teams. It was originally designed at Toyota factories in the 1940s as a very visual method to help reduce bottlenecks by “painting a picture” of the workflow process so that they may be spotted quickly during development. 

The following are six basic principles:

  1. Visualization
  2. Limiting work in progress
  3. Flow management
  4. Making policies explicit
  5. Using feedback loops
  6. Collaborative or experimental evolution

There are no hard and fast rules for Kanban, although it relies on a Kanban board to show the stages of development from inception through execution to completion. The basic structure of the board usually consists of three columns labeled "to-do," "doing," and "done."

Kanban, like most agile methodologies, became well-known in the software development world. However, because of its flexibility, it has gained traction among other sectors and is one of a few project management techniques that may be used with any project requiring continuous improvement throughout the life cycle.

​​Kanban, like Scrum, is ideal for projects with small-scale teams that need a flexible solution to create a product or service. It is also a perfect choice for optimizing personal productivity. See some examples of Kanban in use here.

Read about Kanban vs agile here, and about Kanban vs Scrum here.

How To Recognize When A Project Methodology Is Not Working

Choosing the right project methodology is crucial to the success of your project. The right methodology can help you complete your project on time, within budget, and with a high level of quality.

However, the wrong methodology can cause delays, cost overruns, and a host of other problems. So how can you tell when it's time to pivot to a new methodology? 

Here are 5 signs to look out for:

  1. You're consistently going over budget.
  2. Your project is constantly behind schedule.
  3. The quality of your deliverables is suffering.
  4. Your team is unhappy and morale is low.
  5. You're not seeing the results you expected.

If you're experiencing any of these problems, it's time to consider a new approach. Now, let me explain how to successfully pivot to a new project management methodology.

How To Pivot To A New Project Methodology

The key to doing this successfully is to carefully assess the situation and choose a new methodology that is well-suited to the unique needs of the project. For example, if a project is behind schedule, switching to a more agile methodology such as Kanban or Scrum may help to get things back on track. 

On the other hand, if budget constraints are an issue, switching to a more ‘slender’ methodology such as the lean methodology may be the best course of action. Whatever the case may be, carefully evaluating all options and choosing the best fit will help to ensure that the project is successful.

Here are a few tips on how to pivot to a new project management methodology.

1. Define the Problem

Before you can start exploring new options, it's important to take a step back and identify the specific problems you're experiencing with your current methodology. This will help you narrow down your search and focus on finding a methodology that addresses your specific needs.

2. Research Your Options

Once you know what you're looking for, it's time to start researching your options. There are many online resources available that can help you compare different methodologies and find the one that best fits your organization's needs.

3. Implement the Change

Once you've decided on a new methodology, it's time to implement the change. This process will vary depending on the size and scope of your organization, but it's important to have a plan in place to ensure a smooth transition.

Making the switch to a new project management methodology can be daunting, but it's often necessary in order to ensure the success of your project. By following these steps, you can make the transition as seamless as possible.

Over To You

So, what’s the best methodology for your project? Hopefully, this article has given you a good starting point. And remember, if things don’t seem to be going well, or you hit a snag along the way, it might be time to switch gears and try a different approach. 

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