Part I: The Importance of Project Management Methodologies

In modern times, the use of project management methodologies has become increasingly vital to enable successful project delivery. Throughout the following series of articles – starting with this one, we will discuss the importance of project management methodologies, the most popular methodologies, two of the most relevant methodologies in the software industry, and Sybrin’s hybrid approach for successful project delivery.

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), a methodology is defined as ‘a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.’

Okay, so what is programme management then?

Programme management is the process of managing several related projects, often with the intention of improving an organisation's performance. In practice and in its aims, programme management is often closely related to systems engineering, industrial engineering, change management, and business transformation. In the government sector, it is the dominant approach to managing very large projects. Because major government programmes entail working with contractors, it is often called acquisition management, indicating that the government buyer acquires goods and services by means of contractors.

The general aim of a project management methodology is to be able to standardise, structure, and organise work methods. This helps focus all projects in the same way and allows us to repeat successful aspects and learn from mistakes, resulting in a continuous improvement process. Project management methods can be applied to any project. It is often tailored to a specific type of projects based on project size, nature, and industry. The IT and software industries have also evolved to develop its own form of project management which specialises in the delivery of technical assets and services that are required to pass through various lifecycle phases such as planning, design, development, testing, and deployment.

Even though there are numerous methodologies and approaches for successful project delivery available today, there certain characteristics that they all share; it should always have specific start and end dates, they are performed and completed by a group of people, the output is the delivery of a unique product or service, they are temporary in nature, and it is progressively elaborated.

A recent study suggested that the success of any project depends on how well four key aspects are aligned with the contextual dynamics affecting the project, these are referred to as the four P's:

  • Plan: The planning and forecasting activities.
  • Process: The overall approach to all activities and project governance.
  • People: Including dynamics of how they collaborate and communicate.
  • Power: Lines of authority, decision-makers, organograms, policies for implementation, and the like.

Regardless of the methodology employed, careful consideration must be given to the overall project objectives, timeline, and cost, as well as the roles and responsibilities of all participants and stakeholders.

Successful Project Delivery
There is a common tendency to confuse the project success with project management success. They are two different things. Project management success criteria is different from project success criteria. The project management is successful if the given project is completed within the agreed upon time, met the agreed upon scope, and within the agreed upon budget. Meanwhile, a project is said to be successful when it succeeds in achieving the expected business case.

Some benefits of implementing a project management methodology

Effective decision making - Having clarity on the roles and expected behaviours of the different players in a project enables effective decision making. Confusion over who is accountable for what is one of the main causes of delays in projects.

A more motivated team - Projects that are better controlled with fewer unexpected surprises, are more enjoyable to work on. And a happier team will be better motivated to work more effectively, saving time and money.

Project scope is controlled - An effective method will help manage the scope, which is a common cause of cost and time overruns.

Costs are controlled - A more clearly-defined project, with good time and cost estimates as well as tracking of actual costs, all help to keep the costs under control.

Better problem resolution - The risk management processes will ensure many risks can be anticipated and prepared for. The communication processes also prevent surprises if risks do occur.

The client knows what to expect - In some cases, the final project deliverable doesn't meet the needs of the client. A project management method helps ensure that the client and the project team are in agreement on what will be delivered.

Struggling projects are more quickly identified - Project management methods reveal those projects that have overrun on time or budget, or those that are no longer on track to deliver the expected benefits, so that they can be dealt with early on.

Re-use saves money and time - Having a clear roadmap for a project supported by a common set of processes that are used over and over again for all projects will speed up the project initiation phase and ensure teams and stakeholders know what is expected of them so projects can be delivered more rapidly and save money.

Which methodology you use will have a profound and ongoing impact on how you and your team operate. Different project management methodologies have their own pros and cons for different project types. Be sure to check out our next article where we will discuss the most popular project management methodologies available today.

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