Do you often get overwhelmed trying to figure out priorities while handling multiple projects?
Does getting approvals from various project stakeholders place you in the middle of a chaotic frenzy?
Or are you still struggling to familiarize yourself with solid project management techniques?
Well, these are common project management problems that are part and parcel of a project manager’s daily workload. However, these can be effectively tackled, given the various types of PM techniques.
If you have ever found yourself trying to make sense of which project management technique is ideal for your project and team needs and are still not able to completely select the one that suits you and your workflow, you’ve arrived at the right place.
In this blog, we will decode project management techniques in detail to help you choose the best technique for your unique project and team needs.
What are Project Management Techniques?
Project management techniques act as the roadmap of a project. They make project management easier and enable you to reach project goals effectively.
As project managers, you may rely on different techniques to handle your projects, depending on the unique needs of your team.
Besides, you may combine a couple of techniques to empower your project team with a more robust management approach.
Why Do You Need Project Management Techniques?
A project management technique refers to a defined procedure for implementing the best project route possible. It involves creating the project workflow using an established project management methodology that is proven to power the project workflow and lead to better project outcomes.
Sometimes, you might find yourself in the midst of uncertain challenges that refuse to give way to an appropriate solution. Thus, it’s best to create a robust plan to execute the project hassle-free. Here are a few reasons why it’s beneficial to rope in a project management technique for leading your team to project success.
A. Realistic project planning
A project planning technique helps create a well-analyzed plan that is your best shot at enabling a realistic project plan. It involves getting a clear brief from key stakeholders and sequencing activities that ensure project excellence.
B. Effective risk management
Project control techniques allow you to develop a risk management plan that takes into account any potential risks. This helps prevent or at least minimize the effect of any risk that might arise in the midst of project execution.
C. Efficient team communication
Team communication forms the core of project execution. Without it, a project may end up going haywire. Thus, it’s best to provide a space that allows team members to collaborate with each other seamlessly.
D. Effective resource, time, and cost allocation
It is crucial to accurately allocate resources, time, and budget to a project. This results in minimum wastage and effective utilization of resources, time, and budget, thus, strengthening project execution.
E. Quality control
The right project management techniques ensure that the project quality adheres to the specifications of the project that are clearly laid out at the beginning of a project.
Hence, a project management technique helps bring certainty into the picture. It also helps you equip with the best possible response in case of any deviation from the set path.
And don’t worry. You do not have to stick to a specific approach for each project. You can adopt a different approach for a different project. If you think that a specific approach will complement the workflow of your team better, you can switch the technique that best suits your existing team’s needs.
12 Helpful Project Management Techniques
These techniques of project management act as the secret recipe of your project, ensuring that you stay on track and lead better project outcomes.
1. Classic Technique
The classic technique is excellent for small projects and teams. You plan, create, and assign tasks that help achieve project objectives. You can also prioritize tasks as per importance or urgency.
Correctly allocating resources to the right tasks becomes crucial as each resource comes with its unique set of expertise. When allocated to the right task, the resource is more likely to excel and deliver tasks with better results plus sooner than expected.
This crystal-clear workflow enables a shared understanding of the project path, leading to better project processes and better project results.
How to Use:
Allocate the right resources to the right task: It’s crucial to allocate resources to the right task. Mismatch of skills and task requirements will lead to unintended project results and delayed tasks.
2. Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
The work breakdown structure technique helps break the overall work into simpler, more manageable pieces of work. It makes approaching a given task easier, enabling faster and a better project outcomes.
There are 2 types of Work Breakdown Structures:
This approach executes projects keeping in mind the final project deliverables. The entire project workflow is created to accomplish these deliverables by the desired timeline.
This approach consists of five phases. Each phase has a different set of deliverables which must be completed one phase at a time.
How to Use:
Breakdown tasks carefully: Simplify otherwise complicated tasks by breaking them into attainable tasks. Such bite-sized tasks ensure that specific results are achieved more accurately and on time.
3. Gantt Chart
Gantt charts are undeniably one of the most popular project management techniques. They help visualize projects and gain a clear overview of how the project is moving forward.
A tool that displays an ideal Gantt chart helps keep track of project progress and analyze if it is in alignment with the expected project goals.
A Gantt chart helps bring transparency throughout the development process across teams and projects. It is one of the easiest ways to graphically represent your projects and keep everyone on the same page with how the project is progressing.
How to Use:
Setup your Gantt chart: Create tasks. Assign resources to them. Define their deadline. Your project tasks will reflect on the left side while all other task information will reflect on the right. Also, you may set dependencies for better team coordination.
PERT stands for program evaluation and review technique.
It’s obvious that the more time you take to complete a project, the more the project will cost. Thus, it becomes a necessity to break down the project and evaluate the project estimates and consequences timely.
A PERT’s graphical chart uses circles or rectangles, called nodes, to represent key project milestones. These are linked to represent their order of completion. It displays the sequence of tasks to be completed one after the other. It also displays tasks that are independent of each other and are scheduled to be executed at the same time. These are called parallel tasks.
The chart also defines an “Optimistic time”, representing the shortest duration to complete a project, and a “Pessimistic time”, representing the longest duration to complete a project.
How to Use:
Define clear milestones: Clearly define key milestones inside numbered circles or rectangles. Let arrows indicate the path of project completion right from the start.
Define target project duration: Estimate the best possible timeframe that you can complete the project in.
5. Critical Path Method
Critical Path Method (CPM) is a technique that helps schedule project activities accurately by estimating the shortest path to accomplish a project.
The technique involves identifying the activities that lie on the critical path. This refers to activities that are dependent on other activities to be started. Thus, you must complete certain activities in order to start the activities lying on the critical path. This helps determine the best possible route to complete a project on time.
Remember, activities on the critical path are not the most important activities of a project. They are merely dependent on other activities to be completed in order for them to be started.
How to Use:
Estimate tasks and dependencies: Once you have the project scope laid out, determine the tasks that are dependent on other tasks in order to move ahead in the project. These are tasks that lie on the critical path and must be accomplished first.
6. Agile Project Management
Agile project management is an effective way to manage complex and fast-evolving projects. It is your best bet to adapt and execute projects within the specified time frame without a hitch.
It incorporates changes and feedback at each stage of project execution, demanding continuous improvement proactively.
It equips you with a better ability to respond to changes without impacting the expected quality of the project. It ensures that team collaboration is made stronger and processes are streamlined throughout the project’s life cycle.
How to Use:
Be flexible: Be ready to incorporate changes at any time of the project. Create project stages such that its framework can be revised and adjusted smoothly.
Kanban is a project management technique that helps visualize the workflow with cards and columns.
In Kanban, every task is represented by a separate card within the columns. It helps you to closely monitor task progress, ensuring timely project execution.
Kanban offers solid project visualization and easy task traceability with continuous improvement, making it one of the most preferred project management techniques by agile teams.
How to Use:
Create a task list: Determine the project tasks and activities right from project initiation to its closure.
Divide tasks as per stage of completion: Once you have the task list in front of you, divide these tasks into categories based on where these stand in terms of completion.
8. Waterfall/ Linear
Waterfall or linear methodology involves tasks that flow in a sequence, in a chronological pattern, like a waterfall. In this, you cannot begin a phase until the previous one is completed.
Also, the technique does not allow you to return to a previous phase. However, if you absolutely wish to revisit a specific phase, you have to start the project again from the first phase. As a result, it becomes crucial to outline project requirements and create a well-analyzed plan that ensures a smooth-flowing project.
It follows a definite project path, sticking to a fixed schedule throughout a project’s life cycle.
Moreover, the project cost and timeline can be clearly defined once the project requirements are specified.
The phases of a waterfall project management include:
a. Requirement gathering
Project requirements are clearly outlined after a feasibility analysis, leaving no room for project discrepancies. With this, a Requirements Understanding Document (RUD) is created.
b. System design
Here, the hardware and software requirements such as programming language and user interface are outlined.
The planning is implemented here. It follows a strict path as defined in the project plan.
The codes are sent for testing here to check for bugs and any other flaws, enabling quality assurance.
Here, the code is deployed into the user’s system. This may also involve training to familiarize users with the deployment.
This stage involves providing support to the user if they encounter any bugs or errors while using the deployed product.
How to Use:
Planning is key: The secret to mastering this technique is strategic planning. If you have aced planning, you have aced the project delivery. So, map out the project requirements and create a step-by-step plan that has weighed in all possible turns and deviations that a project may take. For this, it is best to break each task into subtasks and allocate resources and deadlines accordingly.
Moving on to the next stage: Since you cannot revisit a previous stage unless restarting the entire project, ensure that you move on to the next stage after thorough analysis of achieving the set goals in a specific stage.
Scrum is an agile project management methodology. It is suitable for projects with ever-evolving project requirements. Also, it is suitable for executing complex projects easily.
It provides an adaptive solution for managing projects for better and faster project output.
Scrum provides a framework for working in sprints. These sprints are of not more than two weeks and consist of a specific project deliverable that must be accomplished within the time frame.
Scrum is ideal for complex projects that demand frequent changes throughout a project’s life cycle.
How to Use:
Hold effective meetings: Your daily meetings should address tasks and possible roadblocks proactively.
Plan upcoming sprints effectively: Focus on the outcomes. Go over backlog items. Plan your sprints such that the sprint plan is clear on achieving set goals proactively.
10. Extreme Project Management
Extreme project management is ideal for managing very complex or uncertain projects that can’t be executed with a well-defined workflow at its initiation. This may involve making dynamic changes to the project and its workflow such as allocating a new budget, assigning more resources, or creating a new workflow strategy in the middle of a phase.
Such a project does not define a clear project goal, making managing projects easier as you progress through the project. Thus, it is a flexible project management technique that steps away from traditional project management technique to lead projects with high complexity.
How to Use:
Plan each stage of the project: Since changes are dynamic in nature, it makes sense to make short-term plans. This makes it easier to incorporate changes as you move along the project.
11. Critical Chain Technique
Critical Chain Technique is the updated version of the Critical Path Method. It compensates for the shortcomings of CPM, enabling a smoother project run.
In Critical Chain Technique, you use a buffer to enable project success. These may be a project buffer, a feeding buffer, or a resource buffer.
- A project buffer is kept between the last task of a project and the project deadline. Any delay during project tasks will consume this time period without delaying the project.
- A feeding buffer is estimated the same way as a project buffer. It is kept between the last task and the project deadline, but on the non-critical chain.
- A resource buffer is kept to be utilized if the need arises during project execution. This is kept to avoid last-minute grapple to avail required resources timely.
How to Use:
Planning buffers: Plan your project buffers such that they are able to act as cushions if deadlines are delayed and resources fall short. Keep adequate buffer for achieving set goals as on time and as required.
12. Rational Unified Process (RUP)
Rational Unified Process (RUP), also known as Unified Process Model, is an object-oriented model.
Created by Rational corporation and designed using Unified Modeling Language, it is included in IBM Rational Method Composer product.
The RUP technique divides the workflow of a project into five phases, namely, modeling, analysis and design, implementation, testing, and deployment. This involves identifying the project scope, evaluating the plan, executing the project, and releasing the project to the users. Also, it involves checking the final deliverables for desired quality, ensuring project success.
How to Use:
Identify scope: Identify accurate project cost and duration. Leave no room for uncertainty or estimations to be carried out in future.
Perform detailed evaluation: To eliminate any risks, perform a detailed evaluation of the development plan. Check for potential project derailment causes or discrepancies, if any.
Should You Use Project Management Software for These Techniques?
Often, as a project manager, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed with managing projects single-handedly. You can rely on good project management software for these techniques if:
You are managing cross-functional teams
Managing resources across teams and departments can be an uphill battle. Coordinating their efforts to accomplish the desired goal can be made easier with project management tools that allows you to collaborate with team members seamlessly.
You are managing multiple projects simultaneously
Managing multiple projects simultaneously can be challenging. You can ease overall project management by creating and tracking projects on one intuitive platform.
You wish to gain control of the project workflow
If you have mastered project and team workflows, half the battle is won right there. A project management tool allows you to do just that. What more? You can customize and standardize the workflows to suit your project and team needs.
Picking the Right Project Management Techniques
Picking the right project management technique is easier than you think. Simply analyze the kind of workflow that would complement your project and team needs.
Each technique offers something unique. While some techniques offer an excellent graphical representation of project workflow, others might offer a solid project execution path.
If in doubt, it’s best to try a few techniques on a couple of different projects and see if it impacted your management process positively.
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