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Learn about different schools of thought when it comes to project management methods. Here, we’ve broken down how each project management method is used into simple terms. We’ve also done the legwork for you and found the best project management software for each method.
The need for efficient project management methods is increasing every year. Businesses small and large need to manage various projects. This includes setting deadlines, assigning each task to the right person, and prioritizing tasks based on urgency. The more projects and departments a business has and the more people involved, the more complicated project management can be. Not having the right project management method in place to manage your projects can lead to missed deadlines and tasks that can directly affect a business’ bottom line.
By selecting right project management tools, businesses can ensure efficient teamwork. This includes clear and documented communication between all team members and departments, which lead to better results. There are many project management tools available, each with its own unique set of features and capabilities. Every business should be able to find one that is right for their needs and budget.
Here are 10 of the most popular project management methods to consider.
Good for: breaking short, simple projects down to ordered tasks.
Used by: Wrike
The waterfall project method is one of the most popular across all industries. However, it is particularly popular among software developers. The approach is similar to how developers approach a development project. They divide it up into clear steps and actions items that must be carried out in a certain order. When managing any project using the waterfall methodology, you can break the project down to a list of tasks and consider the order in which they are executed. This way, you must complete an action item in order to move on to the next. This is a great method to use in projects that require step-by-step actions, where each step relies on the results or information acquired in the previous step. In some cases, companies that use this method set a rule that you cannot return to any previous steps. However, this depends on your specific project.
Good for: identifying those tasks which are critical to a project’s success.
Used by: ProjectManager.com
Also called the CPM method, the critical path method involves defining all of the tasks required for a project, then determining which tasks are critical and which are non-critical. This is particularly useful for complex projects or projects that have a very close deadline. This is because it helps companies avoid wasting time on non-critical tasks while also identifying the tasks that may create bottlenecks in completing the project. The critical path method is also great for helping companies assign the critical tasks to the right team members and ensure everything is done in the most efficient manner.
Good for: project with no set due date and that needs regular changes.
You’ve probably heard this word in the context of software development. That’s because it’s another approach to development, often compared to the Waterfall method. The Waterfall method involves planning the tasks and the order in which they are performed. Agile project management is a repetitive process that focuses on being flexible, producing an MVP (Minimum Viable Product), and then going back and improving it. This may not sound efficient, but it can be a good method to work with in certain situations. One example is when a start-up requires an MVP within a certain amount of time to present to investors, or to test the market before investing in a fully-functional product. The agile project management method also helps companies launch an MVP and gradually add new features with each repetition of the process. This is helpful in industries that change quickly, allowing companies to change and adapt requirements.
Good for: medium-sized projects that require flexibility but also structure.
Used by: ProjectManager.com
As the name implies, this method is a hybrid of two others: both the Waterfall methodology and the Agile project management method. For companies that require both methods, the hybrid method is the perfect middle ground. This allows them to benefit from structure while also remaining flexible and responsive.
Good for: breaking down a complex team project into manageable parts.
The scrum method is similar to the agile project management method. It focuses on monthly sets of tasks and deliverables. In this method, an MVP is created and improved each month. This is helpful in breaking down tasks and goals to only 30 days. This makes the overall process less complex and can increase productivity. If you’re new to the Scrum method, Wrike has a great article with tips on how to use scrum and what best practices to use when starting.
Good for: visually assessing a project and its progress.
The Kanban method is used often in various project management tools that offer visual boards, such as Monday.com. In this method, tasks are shown on a board as notes and can be moved around and easily prioritized. This method is a great way to get a visual picture of where a project stands, including what is currently being done and how much is left to complete. The Kanban method is a great way to get an overview of a project for people who work visually. For example, you can see the tasks in the “completed” and “in progress” areas of the board. It is particularly popular among small businesses and freelancers.
Good for: decreasing expenses by removing unnecessary tasks.
Used by: Monday.com
As the name implies, the lean project management method focuses on reducing expenses and production time. This method ncreases quality and results by eliminating waste. In project management, waste is seen as unnecessary documentation, planning, meetings, tasks, etc. The lean project management method focuses on moving quickly and efficiently with a low level of friction.
Good for: effectively mitigate risk and control available resources.
Used by: Wrike
The Prince2 method (which stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments), is a process developed by the UK government. It focuses on business justification, defining organizational structure, using a product-based planning approach, dividing a project into manageable steps, and flexibility that can be applied at appropriate stages. When managing a project, there will be high-level activities, like business justification and allocation resources. Manage these on a project board, while project managers take care of day-to-day activities like scheduling and assigning tasks. The Prince2 method allows companies to mitigate risk more effectively and have more control over the resources available to them. Tools like Wrike can be helpful using this method.
In many cases, choosing a project management method and its corresponding tool can be difficult if you don’t yet have a clear picture of your needs or don’t have experience with these methods. Looking at a project plan template or project management templates can help clarify this.
Whatever method you choose, it’s helpful to have project management software or tools that support your process. Make sure to read project management reviews and sign up for a trial before committing to any one tool. You can also view our project management software comparison tool to find the best one to suit your needs.
There are many different tools available, and they vary greatly in their features and prices. It’s important to clarify a few things before deciding which tool to go with:
Read a little bit about additional project management features that you may not have considered that could make your process even more efficient. You can also find free project management software that offers a free package with limited features.
Once you find a few good options, check the reviews and comparison articles to filter the list to 1 or 2 options, and sign up for a free trial to test it out. This is a great way to find the best project management software for your business.
Though it may appear challenging, there are many project management methods and tools available to help make your tasks more efficient and manageable. Companies benefit from online project management tools because information is easily shared in real time with all team members and projects can be tracked and documented with notifications and better communication. The right project management tool for your project or business can have a significant effect on your bottom line. They can even change your work atmosphere, improve communication, and help team members reach positive results without unnecessary frustration.
This article was originally published on December 12, 2017, and has since been updated to reflect new information.