Project management standards
Project management isn’t a one-size-fits-all discipline, even within a single company. Projects have differing needs, constraints, and contexts, which must be considered when selecting a project-management approach. There are many methodologies project managers can choose (waterfall, agile, rolling wave, big bang, phased delivery, etc.). Selecting the most appropriate approach is the first step to achieving project success.
Some companies have defined project-management standards, which may constrain the project manager’s options; however, even within the context of these organizations, project managers often have some level of flexibility to make adaptations within a standard to address the project’s unique needs. A seasoned project manager will consider many factors when selecting a methodology for a project. Some of the most important factors include:
Large projects often require greater project management rigor and formality to separate and manage project complexity than small, simple projects. A common project management software often proves to be a solution here.
Projects with a clearly defined scope are often better suited for waterfall-type methodologies. Projects with large degrees of scope ambiguity are often more easily managed with agile and rolling-wave approaches, which defer many decisions until later during the project lifecycle when greater scope clarity can be achieved.
The impact of project failure on an organization is probably the most important consideration when choosing a project management methodology. If a company’s viability or reputation is at risk or if the product could put lives at risk, then project managers should select project management methodologies that focus on rigor, quality, and structured-risk management.
Compliance and documentation requirements
Some projects have regulatory-compliance requirements that mandate a certain level of project formality, documentation and decision governance. Agile methodologies that empower individual team members to move quickly and encourage risk-taking may not be appropriate for such projects.
Culture and experience of the project team
The dynamics of the project team itself may also be a factor in the approach selection. Project teams that have been working together and have established work methods may be more successful continuing to use existing working methods rather than introducing a new project management methodology.