A project approach refers to the set of methods, practices, and processes applied to plan, control, and accomplish a project. It is what allows project managers to logically and systematically make decisions that will move their project forward. With this, it is easier to determine how tasks should be carried out as well as when deliverables must be handed over.
How do you plan a project? Do you focus on scheduling to ensure you meet deadlines? Perhaps you make it a point to assess risks and create buffers in case certain tasks don’t go as planned? Whatever the case, having a solid project management approach is necessary if you want your plans to go as smoothly as possible.
In this article, we will be discussing some of the most efficient project management techniques used by PM professionals worldwide. We will walk you through the processes involved in each approach and what kinds of projects these methods are ideal for. This way, you can see which techniques would blend well with your business model.
We have also included some examples of how you can use project management software to reinforce these approaches. Hopefully, with this, you can understand how to maximize SaaS for your operations.
There’s no one way to tackle projects. That is to say, a strategy that worked for one project might not necessarily work for another. After all, there are different types of projects. So, you can expect equally varied ways to manage and execute them.
In addition, there are plenty of other factors to consider when it comes to managing a project. Most of them are things that you won’t even encounter until after the planning period. The 2018 Pulse of Profession Study shows that project failure is caused by priority changes and sudden modification of project objectives. Some also chalk it up to lack of communication, unforeseen risks and opportunities, and poor change management.
Change in Organizational Priorities%
Change in Project Objectives%
Inaccurate Requirements Gathering%
Inadequate Vision or Goal for the Project%
Undefined Opportunities and Risks%
Inaccurate Cost Estimates%
Poor Change Management%
Inadequate Sponsor Support%
Source: 2018 PMI Pulse of the ProfessionDesigned by
This only shows that having a detailed plan is not an assurance of success. What you really need to focus on is having the right project management approach. By doing so, you can streamline your processes and formulate standard operating procedures for unforeseen circumstances.
Despite the benefits of developing project approaches, however, the 2018 State of Project Management states that not all teams have defined PM methodologies. Only 60% of their respondents said that they use specific approaches or undertake risk management for their operations.
Make sure you don’t make the same mistake to ensure the best possible results for your projects. Take the time to understand the different project management approaches out there. This way, it is easier to determine the proper techniques for all the tasks you undertake. Eventually, you may even formulate your own strategy by combining different approaches.
But before we get into the nitty-gritty of discussing the PM techniques, let us first define project management approach.
What is a project approach? A project approach refers to the set of rules and practices that are applied in the management of a project. It serves as a guideline for managers so that they may systematically make decisions to move their project forward.
Having a defined approach to project management makes it is easier for teams to determine how tasks should be carried out. It also determines when to hand over deliverables. What’s more is that it allows managers to know the right time for reviewing processes, consulting stakeholders, and revising methodologies.
Many professionals plan these approaches manually but some carry these out using software solutions. For instance, an online project management tool like monday.com can visualize your processes depending on what method you want to use. Monday.com features include tools such as Gantt charts, Kanban boards, calendar options, and other customizable features to help you map out your approach.
If you’d like, you may sign up for monday.com free trial here.
Of course, these functionalities aren’t necessarily You may want to check out our article on what is project management software if you’d like to get a better idea of what these platforms can do.
Let’s start with the most basic but tried and tested approach to project management—the traditional method. This leverages a linear process and strict, well-defined steps, making it suitable for projects that undergo minimal changes or modifications during execution. In a nutshell, it simply aims to help teams achieve project goals within a certain time frame and budget.
This approach often consists of five phases: brainstorming, task planning, implementation, monitoring, and project closing. With this, mapping out your project timeline should be easier. The only tricky part here is that the success of your project will rely heavily on how thorough you were during the brainstorming and task planning stages.
Of course, in case you do feel that there are flaws in how you use this approach, you can always review your project by summarizing your methodologies as you go. So, how do you write a project report? You can do this by defining your procedures and noting down the problems you’ve encountered and the measures you’ve taken to resolve them.
Upon the culmination of your project, you can analyze your processes, making sure to note down if there were steps you could have done differently. This way, it is easier to determine any points for improvement that you may address during your next project.
The Phased PM approach or Waterfall method is a traditional structured planning technique often used in the manufacturing and construction industries. It works on the principle that any kind of project can be divided into a series of stages and accomplished using a linear approach. This means that the start of project management stages is dependent on the completion of the preceding ones.
With that said, it is great for well-defined projects wherein you know your goal and have a good idea of what processes to use. However, it might not work for complex projects that require experimenting as it doesn’t leave room for revisions.
As you’ll see below, this offers a more linear approach from the moment you analyze the requirements of your clients to the implementation stage to the deployment stage. Also, unlike other approaches, this ends in a maintenance phase. You can do this creating a project brief detailing any problems you’ve encountered and the measures you’ve taken. This can accelerate any maintenance issues later on.
Another type of traditional method is the Critical Chain Project Management Approach (CCPM). This was developed by Dr. Eliyahu Goldratt in 1997 to minimize missed deadlines, completion delays, unexpected project expenses, as well as low-quality output. It puts focus on resource-efficiency, eliminating any possible constraints that you might encounter during the project. The only issue here is that it is not built for resource distribution, so it might not be ideal for multi-project environments.
This is an extension of the critical path method which focuses on prioritizing and scheduling tasks to remove any process bottlenecks. You can learn more about this approach in our critical path method implementation guide.
Using CCPM, you will need to schedule tasks in accordance with their duration and the availability of resources. After your initial series of assignments, you will add a resource buffer which will indicate when you will start the critical tasks that require more resources. This ensures you will get the materials you need on time.
Before you merge the output of your critical tasks, you will first add feeding buffers. This will allow you to offset delays in case the outputs are not ready at the same time. The last step here is the project buffer which is essentially a safety margin between the completion of the project and the actual deadline. This may be calculated based on estimated time frames as well as the anticipated changes that might affect the completion date.
The Agile project management approach is perhaps one of the most popular and most used methodologies in various industries today. This method was created for flexibility and is best suited for highly collaborative teams that take on projects requiring trial and error.
The Agile method was created in 2001 and has since expanded and branched out into other approaches such as Kanban and Scrum, which we will be discussing later on in this post. Some also use a Gantt chart for agile project management in case of overlapping tasks. The only thing these branches have in common is that all of them must involve the project stakeholder.
So, the question is in the context of agile project management, how do you write a project approach? A basic template for this would be to brainstorm based on client requirements, plan processes, initiate tasks, test the initial output, deploy the product, and get feedback from clients. After which, PM experts will repeat the whole process until the client ends up with the output that they desire.
The Kanban approach is a type of agile project management system developed by Toyota Corporation in the 1940s. It leverages a system of visual cues that allows managers and team members to see the quantity and urgency of tasks that need to be done to accomplish a single project.
Unlike the other options we have on this list, this technique does not require dealing with sprints and milestones. Instead, it focuses more on continuous delivery using a visual approach that gives you a bird’s eye view of your project status. This makes it ideal if you are tackling projects where priorities often fluctuate as it comes with high flexibility while optimizing resources and increasing output.
To start, a good rule of thumb would be to start listing all the tasks you need to do. After which, you need to set up separate columns for your priority tasks, tasks in progress, tasks for review, and completed assignments. As you go along with your daily processes, you will simply keep moving each task to the next column until it is complete.
Another agile approach is the Scrum method. This iterative method allows for a more streamlined development of plans, flexible task delegation, and faster production like other agile techniques. However, it sets itself apart because it lets you break down end goals into smaller chunks, making it more ideal for larger and more complex projects.
The only downside to using this framework is that while it focuses on team collaboration, it works on the premise that you have a close-knit team of highly experienced professionals. This is because the Scrum method involves quick decision making that can only be done if all team members are always on the same page when it comes to setting project priorities. Meaning, this is perhaps not the best approach for larger teams.
Should you want to try out this approach, you can start by brainstorming what tasks are needed to be done to accomplish your project. After which, the manager or Scrum master will need to divvy them up into “sprints” or short task cycles that last 1 to 2 weeks. Teams will then queue and carry out the sprints, making sure to review the output and get stakeholder feedback at the end of each cycle.
Not all projects are straightforward. Sometimes, you will need to be open to changes to your workflow or revise major aspects of your processes. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should start over from scratch. At least, not when you opt for an adaptive project framework (APF).
APF is a structured, dynamic approach to project management created by C.S. Holling and Carl J. Walters in the 1970s. It is built to learn from discovery and thrive on change, accommodating process changes and fluctuating client demands. This makes it ideal if you know your end goal but you don’t quite know how to get there.
Keep in mind, however, that this approach involves quite a lot of trial and error. So if you’re dealing with something time-sensitive or you are looking to cut down on project expenses, this might not be the most suitable option for you.
As you can see in the project management approach template provided, you can start by conceptualizing the major aspects of the project. Once you know your goals, you can break down and delegate tasks until you have an initial output. Upon getting the client feedback, you’ll have to go back to the cycle planning stage to carry out the revisions. Project managers will then continue to repeat the process until the client is satisfied with the finished product.
As you have read from our list of project management approach examples, not all methodologies are created equal. Some can be flexible while others can be strict. The point here is that each has its strengths and weaknesses. So, it is best to consider these factors in the planning stage.
So, how do you know which project management approach is right for you? To help you gauge your options, you may want to ask the following questions as you go:
Asking these questions will simplify the process of zeroing in on what approach you should use for your projects. Of course, you don’t have to limit yourself to the approaches we’ve mentioned as there are many others that you can choose from. You can even opt to combine different methods to perfectly match your processes.
Lastly, you might want to consider using a project management software like monday.com to reinforce your approach. This platform consolidates your processes and provides you with comprehensive tools for your operations. To learn more, you may sign up for monday.com free trial here.
In case you want to expand your choices, there are other SaaS products you can select from. You can check out this list of project management tools to help you kickstart your search.
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