Project Management Style Explained

The art of project management has taken on a new and improved form in the digital age. But managing a project, no matter the size, is still at its core a lesson in skills placement, time diligence, effective use of collaboration, and iterative learning.

The modern project manager needs to consider, above all else, the people, before structuring or building a project framework. Prompt and accurate analysis of the skills needed, and the characters on the team, will point a project manager in the right direction for what type of project management style, or method, will suit their particular project.

There are 7 main types of project management “type”, and 7 project management subsets or breakaways, that are used by firms in almost every industry across the world. These methodologies represent the backbone of every project, setting structure, goals, iterative adaptations, testing and review, in various forms, to suit the project and guarantee a successful outcome.

As stipulated below, the various types highlight or prioritise certain elements of the project lifecycle in the aim of suiting certain outcomes.

Waterfall Project Management

The Waterfall Project Management method is one of the most traditional workflow/PM systems, and is simply defined by a project where each sequential step in the project flow is only started once the previous one is finished. It provides linear structure, easily defined goals, and a simple end goal that teams can rally behind. The idea of this system is that each stage, once completed, cannot be returned to. This form of project management was developed in manufacturing and traditional, non-digital industries, where things like quality control at each stage meant each stage was terminal.

Agile Project Management

This style of project management was developed in the software industry, and is a tried and tested method for successful project roll out. Agile project management is defined by working in small batches of work, with each stage adjusted through iterative learning, customer collaboration, and team and customer feedback. As the “Agile Manifesto” states, effective agile project management is built around 5 pillars: transparency, customer focus, adaptability, sense of ownership and continuous improvement.

Scrum Project Management

Scrum is a form of Agile project management revolving around sprints – short, sharp, intense periods of work done by teams in the aim of meeting a near-goal – based around the philosophy of Agile project management (iterative learning etc.). Scrums are much more focused in their definition of smaller work loads, and include named participants in the system, such as a Scrum Master, to better direct the work. Scrum is a version of Agile methodology.

Kanban Project Management

Kanban project management has come of age in the era of “just in time” supply chains. Although often used in DevOps, it was formed as a lean project management methodology in manufacturing in the mid-20th century. Kanban in essence matches work-in-progress to team capacity, and uses visual aids called Kanban Boards to monitor workflow. This has been proved to increase collaboration, traceability and project access.

Lean Project Management

Lean quite literally means what it says – doing more with less. “Lean” in this regard means the elimination of waste (such as over-production, waiting, over processing, inventory, defects and rebuilds) on the path to operational success. This style of project management was again founded in the manufacturing industry, but has found its way into multiple business sectors.

Six Sigma Project Management

A style of project management founded in the engineering sector, Six Sigma is a style of PM that strives for near perfection, and is defined as a process proven to have less than 3.4 defects per million opportunities. It’s a style of project management married to QC, but revolving entirely around reducing deviations from customer specifics.

PRINCE2 Project Management

The Prince2 school of project management split into 6 tolerances (scope, timescale, risk, quality, benefits cost), delivered via 7 Principles (Continued Business Justification, Learn From Experience, Defined Roles and Responsibilities, Manage by Stages, Manage by Exception, Focus on Products, Tailor to Suit Project Environment) that are designed to be both scalable and tailored to any project.

There are also hybrids or substantial named elements of the above 7 principles that stand out as other mini project management methodologies, such as:

  • Scrumban
  • Hybrid
  • Adaptive/Iterative
  • Critical Path
  • PERT
  • Rational Unified Process
  • Extreme
  • Crystal

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