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Guide to project management methodologies in IT

Walk-through of the most commonly used project management methodologies for the IT industry

Written by Bunch Consulting

In the beginning, there was a Waterfall. 

That is, Waterfall was the first methodology to surface in project management. Dr. Winston Royce, a computer scientist in the USA, who had worked as a project manager in the aeronautical industry, introduced this model, 50 years ago.

Since then project management methodologies have evolved and mutated into many forms: Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, PRINCE2, to name but a few. 

What happened over the years was not exactly the survival of the fittest. While some do consider the Waterfall methodology as the dinosaur of project management, it has not become extinct. Certain kinds of projects still lend themselves to the original Waterfall methodology. But not many in the IT sector do.

PM Methodology in the IT Era

The IT boom in the 1990s and the app revolution in the 2000s had seen new project management methodologies coming and going. By the end of it all, everybody associated with project management had become convinced of one thing: there would not be a perfect methodology that fits all sizes and types of projects. 

The quest for an all-encompassing project management methodology is futile. Any attempt for it should be considered the pure alchemy of the IT era.  

If something works for you, fine. Get on with it. If not, get another methodology that works. Although the process sounds very simple and cool, in practice it rarely is. 

In this backdrop, this quick guide to the most commonly used project management methodologies for the IT industry should help in finding what can be called a project manager’s Holy Grail.

A Note to Classifications

Some would say there are only two methodologies in project management; all others are deviants of these two. The two so-called mothers of all project management methodologies are Waterfall and Agile.  

Waterfall

Waterfall involves thorough planning – something probably like what your parents or grandparents would have advised you about exam preparation. Plan everything to the minutest of the details. Then just execute it without fail. 

The project battle is thus won or lost during the planning stage. Correction. The project could fail if the implementation stage witnesses something like – well– a Corona outbreak. 

In fact, even something lesser in magnitude and impact than the Corona outbreak could send the traditional Waterfall methodology haywire. Such things happen all too often in the fast-paced and technology-rich IT industry. Agile is more suited for software development and IT solution implementation.

Agile

The Agile methodology allows for planning on the go. In fact, it is more of a set of principles than a coherent methodology. 

These principles place people and interactions ahead of processes and tools; do not mandate extensive documentation; accommodate changing client requirements during the project implementation stage; and encourage adapting to changes rather than sticking on to a detailed plan. Now you can see why IT project managers love Agile!

Hybrid

Agile can sometimes lead to uncertain results. After all, what is the project management without planning and all those spreadsheets? Thus emerged a convenient third group: hybrid. It is a blend of both the Waterfall and Agile project management methodologies.

Project Management Methodologies in IT

Scrum

Scrum was the first useful methodology borne out of the Agile principles.  This is one of the easiest methodologies to implement for IT product development. The idea is to divide a project into various “sprints”, which are basically independent batches of tasks. There will be frequent “demos”, followed by “reviews”, under the supervision and guidance of a manager who is called “Scrum master”. 

It is highly convenient for small teams. It may not be best suited for teams with more than 10 people. Scrum is ideal for projects that do not last more than one month.

Kanban

Kanban is another methodology based on Agile concepts. Unlike Scrum, there are no independent batches of tasks. The idea is to optimize the work in progress. It is great for reducing wastage of resources and time. 

The main focus of this methodology is the time taken to carry out each task. It allows for a visual display of status and updates, which enables the whole team to continuously monitor and realign the priorities based on the output requirements. 

It is suited for support and maintenance projects having a continuous workflow that need to pass through frequent changes in priority. In other words, it is more fluid than Scrum.  

Scrumban

Scrumban, as you can guess, is a mixture of the best and combinable features of Scrum and Kanban. It keeps the daily review and target setting as in Scrum, but functions with the more flexible approach of Kanban.

It is suitable for big projects that involve large teams and long duration. It is a flexible project management methodology ideal for projects that do not have clearly well-defined goals and development stages.  

Lean

Lean’s basic premise is to do more with less. In that, it shares Agile’s philosophy. The methodology has been used in manufacturing sectors, notably in the automobile industry, for a long time. Its objectives are three-fold:

1. Do it right the first time so that revisions and resultant waste of time and resources are avoided.
2. Standardize the processes as much as possible.
3. Work at the right capacity – no overloading on resources.

Lean is the best for large, continuous IT product development projects.

eXtreme Programming (XP)

XP is basically a Scrum methodology customized for the IT project management. It adds software coding, testing, and initial user reviews into the classic Scrum framework. Originated somewhere in the mid-1990s, it focuses on delivering the software exactly with the same specifications on the exact same date that the customer demands.

The main focus of XP is on quick communication and honest feedback between software developers and clients and within the development team. It empowers developers and offers flexibility and monitoring options for clients.

PRojects IN Controlled Environments  (PRINCE)2

This is the best project management methodology of the Waterfall type for managing IT projects. It was officially formulated by the UK government in 1996 as the exclusive methodology for software development.

Like all Waterfall methodologies, the initial process is to define the project and plan each stage of the project in an exhaustive manner based on project cost, customer expectations, and potential benefits. There will be a monitoring committee to whom the project managers send reports about day-to-day progress.

It is a process-intensive methodology best suited for large projects. It may not be ideal for small projects involving small teams.

PMI’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

It is more of a compilation of suitable frameworks, best practices, conventions and guidelines than a methodology as such. PMBOK basically recommends a process in the Waterfall mould. A commonly used system in traditional industries, it is suitable for large IT projects too.

Like PRINCE2, it also needs robust initial planning and research. As a result, it may not be a great choice for small projects.

To sum up, project management methodologies in the IT sector are continuously evolving based on the requirements, technology and, above all, culture. Necessity, indeed, will remain the mother of many such new methodologies.

Are you still hesitating on which methodology to choose? Contact us and we will gladly help you kick-start your IT project!

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