How to cope with Different Project Management Methodologies in an Organization?

Do you know the project failure rate can be as high as 70 percent? Most organizations find it difficult to complete a project as per the guidelines. Either the project deliverables are not in coherence with business objectives, or the budget exceeds the limit, or the project falls behind schedule. Indeed, project management is a challenge for project managers. And using different methodologies is a part of this challenge.

A project's success is not just dependent on a project management methodology (PMM). You need a team of professionals, the right set of tools & resources, reliable project management software, and a defined set of objectives. A PMM, along with these variables, forms the framework of project management. So, if you adopt an inappropriate methodology or a set of methodologies, the project may deviate from its path. This results in inefficiencies within an organization. 

In most cases, it is difficult to rely on a single PMM. For example, software development requires a particular approach and a marketing campaign demands another. You have no option but to adopt two different PMMs. How do you conquer this challenge? This write-up discusses different methodologies and practices to overcome this challenge. This will help you in project management in an organization, right from the initiation until the completion of the project.

What is a Project Management Methodology?

A project management methodology is a model comprising of methods, practices, techniques, and steps. This model assists project managers - and other dignitaries - in planning, implementing, assessing, and completing a project. The project team works in accordance with the guiding principles to fulfill the objectives. 

Since the PMM influences project management, it is crucial to identify the most suitable methodology. For example, a construction project demands a particular PM technique, such as PRINCE2 and Six Sigma. The focus is on the judicious use of resources, process management, and the quality of the end result. At the same time, software development projects use PM methodologies like Agile and Kanban. The emphasis is on keeping the customer in the loop, continuous delivery, and regular updates. 

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During different phases of a project, a PMM ensures adherence to objectives. This is because the methodologies are based on principles, processes, themes, and standards. These predefined guidelines let project managers draft a project plan, right from initiation until closure.

Let’s assume the PRINCE2 project management method. This is based on seven principles, seven themes, seven processes, and six aspects. The freedom to customize PRINCE2 according to these parameters makes it ideal for all industries. On the other hand, PMI's PMBOK is a set of standards that serve as a guide for project management. 

Some of the methodologies have their own set of objectives. If the project has similar objectives, you can adopt any of these methodologies. For example, utilizing minimum resources and ensuring topmost quality are your objectives. Lean is a suitable PMM for you in this case. This methodology aims at using fewer resources, eliminating risks, and creating value.

Why Organizations use different PM Methodologies?

The projects are defined according to the industry, project type, scope of work, a set of objectives, and various other factors. Evidently and as discussed above, it is difficult to align all projects according to a particular methodology.

For example, phase-based methodologies, like the Critical Path Method, are best suited for on-site construction. Kanban - a visual scheduling system - is preferable for a marketing campaign. Since you want to fulfill objectives in the most efficient manner, using different methodologies is an obligation. 

An organization comprises of various divisions. For example, a document management software development company has production & testing, marketing, and CRM wings. The nature of projects will differ in these departments. Therefore, these projects may work on different methodologies. 

Downsides of Using Different Methodologies

Whether you are using different PM methodologies in a project or within an organization, the following problems may occur:

Complications in Task Dependencies

There are multiple milestones in a project. After achieving a milestone, you start with the next one. As evident, these milestones, or tasks, are interlinked. Now if you are using a PM methodology in a project, it becomes easier to measure development and to take necessary steps. For example, the Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) allows you to manage critical activities and accordingly devote time and resources. This methodology relies on the fact that a new task cannot begin until the completion of the previous one. 

But in an organization, two or more projects are running on different methodologies. So, it becomes difficult to calculate task dependencies. This results in delays, waste of time & resources, and undesired outcomes. 

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Inefficient Human Resource Management 

As a project manager, handling two projects at the same time can be a hectic affair. The problem escalates when different methodologies drive these projects. Managing project teams, reviewing their tasks, assigning jobs, and shuffling workloads - these are some of the complexities that are bound to occur. 

It becomes difficult to map out priorities that demand immediate attention. And, even if you are able to do so, allocating responsibilities is a problem. Either a team member is already deployed in a task or you cannot find a suitable member for the job. 

Communication Problems

Although methodologies like Crystal emphasize communication, problems may still exist. PM methodologies use different procedures for reporting and analysis. It is possible that some of the procedures don't generate the desired information. For example, reports generated by the non-Agile team may or may not contain essential information required by the Agile team. 

Discrepancies in Reviews and Updates

Now let’s assume a project is running on the Waterfall method that divides a project into phases. Another project runs on Agile, dividing a project into sprints. As evident, differences are bound to occur in the product development cycles. The phases and sprints differ in terms of duration and approach. This results in discrepancies that may hamper the product release and updates. 

How to Overcome this Challenge?

There are ways to mitigate challenges associated with using different PM methodologies, such as: 

Use a Single PM Methodology

The best way is to avoid using different methodologies. Instead, stick to any one of the methodologies that's apt for your organization. Take a look at the examples:

  • Construction & manufacturing industries can adopt PM methodologies like Projects integrating Sustainable Methods (PRiSM), PMI's PMBOK, and Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
  • Scrum for creative projects, Agile & Rapid Action Development (RAD) for swift & customized software development.
  • Kanban, Critical Path Method and Benefits Realization Management are suitable for projects in all types of industries.
  • If you have specific factors to consider like minimized resource consumption, eliminating defects, and improving quality; opt for  PM methodologies like Lean and Six Sigma 

Use Combined PM Models

In most cases, it’s not possible to rely on a particular PM framework. This is due to the varying nature of projects in an organization. In these cases, consider adopting a hybrid PM methodology. These methodologies adopt techniques and procedures from two or more methodologies. Some of the examples are:

  • Lean Six Sigma - This technique aims at creating more value by reducing waste & defects and utilizing minimal resources.
  • Scrumban - A hybrid of Scrum and Kanban. It adopts sprints & daily meet-ups concept from Scrum and work-in-progress (WIP) limits & continuous delivery concepts from Kanban. 

Besides hybrid techniques, there are methodologies designed to integrate different processes. This facilitates seamless communication, manageable tasks dependencies, and scheduled product or service delivery. 

For example, PRiSM (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods) supports green project management. It also emphasizes human rights. So PRiSM addresses environmental and social concerns without compromising on the project's objectives. Similarly, Integrated Project Development (IPD) integrates multiple processes within an organization. This promotes effective communication, access to resources, and accountability of team members. 

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Deploy Project Management Software

Whether you adopt a single methodology or work on different methodologies, project management software can simplify project management chores within your organization. You can customize the software's functioning according to the methodologies. It acts as an integrated workspace where multiple methodologies can co-exist and thrive. 

Benefits of integrating PM methodologies in project management software

Managing projects driven by different methodologies is a hassle-free affair with project management software. Let us look at the benefits: 

Management of complex projects becomes simpler and efficient

The project management software is capable of handling multiple projects simultaneously. It acts as a multitasking tool that automates, synchronizes, and organizes tasks & projects. The use of different methodologies is not a problem. The software emphasizes project elements rather than the methodology. 

Renders a comprehensive view of projects at the organizational level

The centralized dashboard renders a bird-eye view to the project managers. Whether you run a single project or multiple projects, you can manage all of them from your device screen. You can analyze progress, mitigate risks, manage teams, access reports, allocate resources, and much more. The budget and the timeline - the two most important elements of a project - are always in highlight.  You can monitor the progress of the project according to these elements and other variables as well. 

Equipped with the necessary tools and resources to structure projects

No methodology is an ideal fit for a project. You have to structure a project according to the objectives, the client's requirements, the scope of work, schedule, and budget. A methodology assists in devising a framework, keeping all these variables into consideration. The tools assist you in scheduling, creating timelines, assigning responsibilities, business intelligence, and much more. 

Boosts collaboration and communication

The project management system allows project managers and team members to communicate with each other. The centralized functioning of the software allows communication and collaboration amongst teams working on different projects.

Ensures accountability and responsibility

An integrated platform holds everyone accountable for the project outcome. Even a single blunder can derail the progress of a project and this may affect other projects as well. Since the tasks are visible to everyone working on the project, you have to be diligent and punctual.

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Allows you to identify priorities and complete them at the earliest

Similar to Kanban's WIP limits, the software assists you in identifying priorities that require immediate attention. The urgent tasks may include the ones approaching the deadline or the ones that need a rework. You can easily detect these priorities and assign these tasks to designated team members. 

Keeps everyone in the loop; decision-makers, team members, and clients

Some of the methodologies, such as CPM focus on the end product without the need to involve the client. While some of the methodologies like Adaptive Project Framework and XPM keep the client in the communication loop. The PM software assists you in both cases.

The PM tool allows project managers to efficiently manage task dependencies

The PM software can be termed as task management software because everything depends on task management. The project managers can determine task dependencies and accordingly prioritize the tasks. Whether it’s extending the deadline, allocating resources, changing user permissions, or rendering an update; the software allows you to configure as per the need of the hour. 

Reporting & analytics furnishes detailed insights

Whether it’s about a project team or multiple projects, the project management software generates performance reports for every department. The metrics convey complete information about the project. The tools visualize metrics in a profound manner to convey a clearer picture. It also ensures if the methodology is the right fit for the project or not.

The Bottom Line

We can summarize by saying that there is no right methodology for a project. You must customize a suitable methodology according to the objectives, and requirements of the team and the client. Further, you don't need to rely on a single methodology for all the projects. Choose the most appropriate methodology that ensures the desired outcome. If managed wisely, using different PM methodologies is not a challenge. 

In both, the aforementioned cases, project management software will assist you in striking the right balance. Whether it's communication, task management, team collaboration, reiterations, reporting & analytics, or any other project-related aspect; use the project management tool to mitigate the challenges. 

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Last updated: 03 Apr 2023
About Author

Ravindra Savaram is a Technical Lead at His passion lies in writing articles on the most popular IT platforms including Machine learning, DevOps, Data Science, Artificial Intelligence, RPA, Deep Learning, and so on. You can stay up to date on all these technologies by following him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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