Approaches to Project Management

There are several approaches that can be taken to project management, including phased, incremental and iterative approaches.

What is the Agile approach?

Whilst the “traditional” approach identifies a sequence of steps to be completed. This contrasts with the agile software development approach in which the project is seen as relatively small tasks rather than a complete process. The objective of this approach is to impose as little overhead as possible in the form of rationale, justification, documentation, reporting, meetings and permission. This approach may also be called the “spiral” approach, since completion of one of the small tasks leads to the beginning of the next. Advanced approaches to agile project management, applicable not only to software development but to any area, utilize the principles of human interaction management to deal with the complexities of human collaboration.

What is the traditional approach to projects?

In the traditional approach, we can distinguish 5 phases or stages, in the development of a project:

Starting/Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, Closing

Not all projects will visit every stage as projects can be terminated before they reach completion. Some projects probably don’t have the planning and/or the monitoring. Some projects will go through steps 2, 3 and 4 multiple times.

Many industries utilize variations on these stages and whilst the names may differ from industry to industry, the actual stages typically follow common steps to problem solving (defining the problem, weighing options, choosing a path, implementation and evaluation).

What are project variables?

Project management tries to gain control over common variables:

1. Time – The amount of time required to complete the project. Typically broken down for analytical purposes into the time required to complete the stages of the project, which is then further broken down into the time required to complete each task contributing to the completion of each stage.

2. Cost – Calculated from the time variable. Cost to develop an internal project is time multiplied by the cost of the team members involved. When hiring an independent consultant for a project, cost will typically be determined by the consultant or firm’s hourly rate multiplied by an estimated time to complete.

3. Quality – The amount of time put into individual tasks determines the overall quality of the project. Some tasks may require a given amount of time to complete adequately but given more time could be completed exceptionally. Over the course of a large project, quality can have a significant impact on time and cost (or vice versa).

4. Scope – Requirements specified for the end result. The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish.

5. Risk – Potential points of failure. Most risks or potential failures can be overcome or resolved, given enough time.

To keep control over the project from the beginning of the project all the way to its natural conclusion, a project manager uses a number of differing techniques.