Project Management (PM) methodologies are characterized by guiding processes which can be used as the framework to facilitate the completion of a given project. As a professional project manager, I have realized that there are different PM methodologies and tools which can lead the fast flow of the project and rapid accomplishment of the project tasks whereas others can derail the attainment of the project goals and deadlines. It is also imperative to acknowledge that projects are identified with distinct requirements and features, implying that no fixed PM methodology can be utilized on a particular project. There is the need of exploring available PM methodologies and tools to assess their application in different settings. Some of the conventional PM methodologies and tools which can be applied include waterfall project management, agile project management, and Scrum methodology.
Waterfall Project Management Methodology
The waterfall is the project management model where the project is accomplished through distinct phases and moved stepwise towards the eventual release to the client. While working with a waterfall project management approach, I usually make the master plan upfront before executing it linearly, with an anticipation that there will not be the introduction of new changes in the plan (Olic, 2016). The waterfall is identified as the traditional methodology which draws its origin from manufacturing and construction industry, which do not apply the process of iteration.
Failure to iterate makes waterfall to be unsuitable in the software development projects since they are vulnerable to modifications in the later stages (Katcherovski, 2012). This feature has made waterfall to be termed as a sequential and linear process as far project management is concerned. It is characterized by discrete stages. While applying the waterfall project management model, I realized that moving to the next step can only be achieved once the current phase of project management has been completed. This implies that whenever the project ends at a given stage, it acts as the point of termination, ultimately making it impossible to revisit the previous stage once it has terminated (Katcherovski, 2012). The only way to return to the earlier phase is by starting over at the first stage of the project.
Waterfall project management methodology is commonly applicable to the projects whose requirements arise out of great necessity. Since there is revisiting of the phase once it is completed or no iteration, proper planning for such projects is paramount.
The requirements of the project need to be explicitly stated upfront. The stakeholders involved in the stated requirements need to be continuously reminded of the progress. Also, every member of the project team should understand the responsibilities and tasks assigned to them to avoid cases of confusion (Olic, 2016). It is also essential that the information regarding the project is meticulously documented before it is distributed to each member of the project.
Agile Project Management Methodology
Agile project management model is also another tool which I have worked with when undertaking the role I project manager. I learned that agile approach tries to resolve the shortcomings depicted in the waterfall methods of project management.
The agile method attempts to provide the project delivery which is relatively rapid and continuous to the project owner. Agile project management model utilizes short development cycles referred to as sprints to facilitate the concentration or focusing of the efforts on constant improvement in the process of developing the product or a service (Alexander, 2017). Initially, the agile method was explicitly designed for the software industry. However, with time the agile project management approach is being utilized in other filed such as advertising, marketing, education and finance.
Agile project management model seeks to solve different limitations depicted by traditional methods. Unlike waterfall methods which are cumbersome, rigid and requiring the whole project team to meet on regularly for the discussion of the project progress and goals on every phase, agile utilizes relatively smaller and focused groups which meet only to discuss specific goals. This makes it easier when it comes to achieving rapid changes in the project (Alexander, 2017). The mechanisms used by agile methodology allows the agility of the project team, ultimately increasing their efficiency which is vital to meeting the clients goals successfully. While working with an agile model, I found out that it is possible to iterate a given process, isolate the project problem and attain a particular goal quickly as opposed to a waterfall approach, where changes cannot be made on the previous stage once it terminates. This can result in the delays in delivering a complete project to the customer.
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There are some strengths associated with the use of agile project management method. For instance, agile enhances fast deployment of solutions to the identified project problems as well as reducing waste through the utilization of minimized resources. Agile model is associated with increased success and turnaround times due to its ability to channel focused efforts on the specific project tasks (Katcherovski, 2012). When working agile, the issue can be identified and isolated fast. Some of the shortcomings of the agile method are that it favors the project owners (client) and developers and not necessarily the end users experiences. The agile approach is less formal and increasingly flexible. This makes it hard to be absorbed in large and traditional institutions. However, it is possible to combine agile with other methods such as waterfall, paving the way for the hybrid solution.
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Scrum is an instance of agile project management methodology, which concentrates on the 30-day sprints as well as monthly scrum sessions which allows the project deliverables to be segmented into the intervals of 30-days. Initially, the scrum was explicitly meant for software development projects. However, its increased application made it be used in other fields which are considered to be complicated and characterized by an innovative range of tasks (Alexander, 2017). When embarking on the sprint planning, the project team focuses on the small chunk of issues from the top of the priority list, before deciding on how to implement the identified pieces.
While working with scrum methodology, I learned that the project team is assigned a specific amount of time, known as a sprint, which is typically one to four weeks. During a given sprint, the group is expected to accomplish the work, but the members are obliged to meet daily to update each other on the progress they have achieved (Katcherovski, 2012). I also realized that under scrum model of project management, the title of the project manager is excluded. Instead, there is a ScrumMaster, whose key role is to ensure the team stays focused on attaining the project goals. This involves addressing any issue that can be disruptive to the ability of the team members to accomplish the tasks assigned to them.
Agile methodology is fast moving and project errors can be quickly rectified. Scrum is iterative, thus leaving room for modifications in various project development stages. Scrum model operates under the concept of the sprints which are short. This indicates that it is easier to cope with changes introduced in different phases of the project development cycle. The members meet daily to account on the progress they have made regarding the tasks assigned to them. This encourages high productivity among the team members (Adell, 2013). On another hand, the use of the scrum can also be a hindrance to the completion of the project. For instance, I found out that scrum is the primary cause of scope creep. Failure to have a definite termination and delivery date can tempt the stakeholders to continue adding new functionalities, thus distorting the original project requirements. Whenever the team members become less committed to their tasks, then the project is at increased risk of failing.
How Project Management Methodology and Tools can be modified to Increase Efficiency
Waterfall, agile and scrum are some of the project management methodologies that I have utilized in my profession. There are some aspects of these models, which when modified, can make them suitable for improving the success of the current and future projects. There is the need of introducing iteration feature in the waterfall methodology to enhance its efficiency. This should involve the introduction of the multiple cycles called mini-waterfalls, which should be distinct from the agile sprints (Adell, 2013). However, the mini waterfalls should allow the partial completion of the project, thus leaving room for modification as per the feedback from the users. I will also incorporate Rapid Application Design sessions to facilitate the acceleration of the waterfall methodology.
Improvement of the agile (scrum) project management model can also facilitate the success of the current and future projects. Removing of the impediments can improve the efficiency of the different methods of agile. The primary role of the Scrum Master is ensuring barriers are efficiently managed in the early phases of the development cycle. This should involve asking the appropriate questions during the scrum meetings and sprints to ensure the team members have the required resources or information to complete their assigned tasks (Alexander, 2017). The team size for the agile methodology needs to be small (4 to 8 members) to improve their productivity. Allowing team members of in the agile method to choose their sprint capacity will strengthen their levels of commitments, ultimately increasing the success chances of the project.
New experiences and innovations in the process of project management are contributing to the changing approaches applied. This is an indication that project management methodologies and tools will continuously undergo modifications to cope with the dynamics of the project management. It is imperative for the project managers to utilize models which increase the success chances of the project.
Adell, L. (2013). Benefits & Pitfalls of using Scrum software development methodology. 1-5. Retrieved from http://www.belatrixsf.com/blog/benefits-pitfalls-of-using-scrum-software-development-methodology/
Alexander, M. (2017). Agile project management: A beginner's guide. CIO, 1-5.
Katcherovski, V. (2012). Effective Project Management Methodologies and When to Use Them. Easy Projects , 1-4.
Olic, A. (2016). Waterfall Project Management Methodology. Active Collab, 1-6.
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