Far too often project management plans (exactly how a project will be managed) are butchered to conform to the latest and greatest popular approach to project management, as if a team of scientists had established beyond doubt that it is the most effective method, and not simply the latest fad. Organizations have even confidently built their Project Management Offices on this shifting sand. And while in some cases it may be appropriate, as often as not the latest shiny object is prioritized over the true requirements of the project, leaving your frustrated team to pound a square peg into a round hole.
The drivers that define the best approach for a project include the obvious: the objectives of the project, the time, and the budget. In many cases these drivers are predictable and a company can model its approach on the common features of its project portfolios. But there are also outliers, projects that do not fit in the template. If the preferred model is inflexible, if it is stubbornly applied whether or not it is really appropriate to the circumstances, then the project will be more challenging than it needs to be.
The devil is usually in the details. Other variables that frequently get short shrift include the preferences of the team members and the communication requirements; the PM must consider the culture of the company and the cohesiveness that will develop (or not) based on the communication channels. Pertinent questions include:
- What is the size of team and where are they located?
- What are the participants’ skill levels if working remotely?
- How will the team communicate with each other; or with leadership and the customer?
- How will we interact with the end user?
- What reporting is required, expected, or desired?
- Is this to be a high touch or low touch effort?
Not surprisingly, all of these questions concern people—those who will work on the project and who will be its beneficiaries. The great news is that these varied approaches demonstrate the vibrant and ever changing and growing depth of project management in our work places. The challenge today is knowing how to apply them to get the best results.
Solution: Choose the Right Tools
At Gadfly, we recognize that all of the methodologies available to us are tools—not religious mandates—and we pack our toolbox based on the job to be done. This could mean a traditional waterfall approach, straight agile, or a combination of both, along with other approaches to accommodate the customer. But as the questions above illustrate, the key to success is the people who are doing the work; project management, whatever the method, only works when the team’s efforts are synchronized like a finely tuned orchestra playing the right tune for a particular audience.