Project Smart ~ Exploring trends and developments in project management today

Calendar icon
Adobe PDF icon

Picking a Project Management Methodology

~ By Mark Phillips

PDCA methodology infographic

A short study from Vertabase on choosing between an agile or waterfall approach for a software development project.

We were having an internal meeting to pick a project management methodology for a web project we are working on for a new client. As developers of commercial software, our instinct was to lean towards an agile based approach where our process would be:

  • Make an initial feature list
  • Get time estimates on each feature
  • Prioritise the list
  • Time box the development effort
  • Build and test as much as possible in that time
  • Launch
  • Get user feedback

This works great for a tightly defined set of deliverables and a client who has done software before. However, that's not what this project is nor the profile of this client.

More than building features, this client is interested in having us take care of them. They are new to technology. They have a great idea, an understanding of their target users and the enthusiasm to stick with the project.

In their case, we are providing a full service consulting and execution experience. The application we're building is the centre of that experience, it's the basis for the services we're providing. But the scope extends way beyond building the application.

In this scenario, a waterfall approach combined with constant communication and flexibility is the right approach. Namely, the focus will be to:

  • Understand the client's vision
  • Write a detailed, final specification through many iterations
  • Brainstorm with the client
  • Build according to the specification
  • Launch an alpha internally for functionality and scope affirmation
  • Integrate comments and changes
  • Another alpha release iterate
  • Launch a beta for testing and scalability
  • Bug fix and test
  • Bug fix and test
  • Bug fix and test
  • Launch to the public

All the while, we will be educating the client on different facets of development, software, user experience and running a software based business. We'll be having numerous discussions and creative brainstorming sessions. We will be delivering the exact product they want and providing the service level they've requested. The specification and the process itself become the foundation for the conversations and the subject, as it were, around which our conversations, services and deliverables will revolve.

Both agile and waterfall can be powerful approaches. It all depends on the context of the engagement. You have to pick the right methodology for the right engagement and the right client. As the dean of a local incubator said yesterday, it's about finding the right fit.


Mark Phillips is the product manager and principal at Vertabase project management software. He has worked with hundreds of companies to improve their workflow on thousands of projects. A regular speaker at conferences and user groups, Mark's articles have appeared in ComputerWorld Magazine, C|Net and in upcoming issues of Fusion Authority. He writes regularly at the Vertabase blog. Mark has a B.Sc. [Econ] from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Masters in Applied Economics from the University of Michigan.


Comments

Be the first to comment on this article.

Add a comment



(never displayed)



 
2000
Out of 56, 14 or 27, which is the largest?
Notify me of new comments via email.
Remember my form inputs on this computer.

So You Want to Be a Project Manager

Businessman smiling with hands together

Not sure what skills it takes to become a Project Manager? This article lists the six key skills required to be a successful project manager.

Project Planning in a Nutshell

Gantt chart

This article provides an overview of why it is important to prepare a project plan. It also shows what elements a good project plan will include.

How to Build a High-Performance Project Team

Business people and bar graph going upwards

What makes a winning project team? Why do some teams achieve greatness while others struggle? Let's look at the factors present on winning project teams.

Effort Estimating: A Primer

Effort time money blue dice representing the ingredients for business

Good estimating is a skill like any other, it can be developed with practice to the point where it may seem like magic to the uninformed.

PROJECT SMART is the project management resource that helps managers at all levels improve their performance. We provide an important knowledge base for those involved in managing projects of all kinds. With weekly exclusive updates, we keep you in touch with the latest project management thinking.

WE ARE CONNECTED ~ Follow us on social media to get regular updates and opinion on what's happening in the world of project management.


Latest Comments

Paula commented on…
How to Deal with the People Factor of Change Management
- Thu 16 May 2:52am

Billy Rane commented on…
6 Success Factors for Managing Project Quality
- Tue 14 May 4:30am

Duncan Haughey commented on…
When is a Project Manager not a Project Manager
- Fri 10 May 3:10pm

Latest tweets

In his short, but insightful article, A Thought-Provoking Idea on the Dangers of 'Nouns', Vishen Lakhiani looks at… https://t.co/PZ7MgdRqzw about 1 day ago

General Project Management • Some advice on software https://t.co/VX5cy3IdLb about 6 days ago

General Project Management • Advice for Best Complimentary Qualification https://t.co/djava71tDD about 8 days ago