How should your business be managing projects?
As companies grow, they can find themselves working to tighter deadlines and dealing with increasingly high expectations from clients.
This is where project management comes in.
Successful project management is key to the long term success of any SME, with organisations that undervalue project management reporting a project failure rate of 67%.
If you’re managing a business without a dedicated project management department, it can be tricky to know how to effectively undertake projects and ensure a positive outcome.
Luckily, we’ve done the work for you. We’ve collated some of the best tips from popular project management methodologies to ensure you meet your deadlines, improve your efficiency and keep stakeholders happy.
Sometimes, clients or stakeholders like to see the results of a project as soon as possible. You may be undertaking a project to maximise profits or efficiency, and your manager or investors want to see tangible benefits before it gets signed off.
Boasting a success rate of 64%, the Agile project management method is ideal for such a scenario.
The Agile approach involves taking a large project and breaking it down into smaller steps, known as ‘sprints’.
That way, each sprint can be approved or supported by stakeholders, and you can rest assured that your project will meet stakeholders’ approval rather than risk the end result facing disapproval.
The Agile approach encourages collaboration with stakeholders, seeking their approval at multiple stages during your project’s journey, then putting together these sprints to create the end result.
This methodology requires flexibility and adaptability from you and your team, but taking care over each sprint in the short term can wield a greater chance of project approval and success in the long term.
If your business tends to have multiple projects underway at any given time, you’ll benefit from the Kanban approach to project management. In this methodology, all projects are listed on either a physical whiteboard or a virtual alternative.
Projects are separated by status, so in a simple Kanban usage case, you may have three categories: ‘New’, ‘In Progress’, and ‘Finished’, with all your projects listed under their corresponding status.
If your projects are complex, you use smaller milestones as categories, such as ‘Data Collection’ or ‘Stakeholder Sign-off.’
Kanban methodology allows you to track the progress of multiple projects in one space, although the board should be regularly updated to avoid confusion.
If you’re managing a project with a simple work path, Waterfall methodology is for you. Waterfall methodology is best suited to projects involving a single task with multiple steps, each relying on the former steps having been completed.
Waterfall project management tends to be divided into steps that relate to planning, designing, implementation, testing, and maintenance.
For example, if you were to create a new menu for your restaurant, you wouldn’t move on to printing the menus until you’d conducted market research on which dishes customers wanted to see.
Whilst this methodology works well for projects with simple steps, it’s not ideal for tasks that require lots of flexibility since there’s limited scope for reworking.
Critical Path methodology is similar to Waterfall in that it’s suited to projects that require tasks to be completed in a specific and non-negotiable sequence. Critical Path, however, is more suited to complex projects.
Within the Critical Path method, various independent steps can occur simultaneously, but future steps may depend on their success.
To go back to our menu example, maybe your market research occurs at the same time as researching the variety of food offered by your suppliers. These steps can co-occur, but the menus can’t be printed until both of them have been completed.
The Critical Path method can be invaluable in complex projects, as it allows you to accurately estimate the duration of each task and, therefore, the overall project duration.
This methodology also helps you identify critical tasks and allocate the necessary resources needed to undertake them.
Choosing the right methodology for your business
When implemented correctly, project management can lead to improved efficiency and increased profit margins for your business.
Different project management methodologies suit different project types, with Agile suiting complex projects, Kanban working best for companies with multiple simultaneous projects, and Waterfall and Critical Path being suited to projects that involve small, simple steps.
Even if you don’t have the budget for an entire project management team, you can use project management methodologies in your everyday tasks to improve productivity and make sure the relevant stakeholders are kept in the loop.