A Methodical Approach to IT Project Methodologies

Time, cost, and quality; the three pillars of project management, and the impossible determining trinity of a project’s success. Efficient management of these project aspects are crucial, and implementing the correct project management methodology certainly helps; however, the methodological choices are vast, and choosing the framework of best fit can be a difficult feat.

All projects start with a vision, and when this vision is broken down into feasible aims and objectives, a rough plan begins to manifest. At this point, an inclination of management requirements will be apparent, and whilst not absolute, an applicable project management methodology will be evident; however, the doubt still remains – will this methodology be right for my project?

Agile Methodology

Agile methodology is an incremental approach, in which minimal planning time is favored, to maximise implementation time. Flexibility is at the heart of Agile methodology, and stakeholder communication is pivotal; however, whilst flexibility is usually a positive relief, issues can become rampant, and develop into a troubling state of requirement ambiguity.

Lifecycle

agile

The Framework

During the planning phase, stakeholder requirements are gathered and converted into quantifiable business requirements. The requirements are then converted into feasible prioritised tasks and allocated to resources. A strategic design is prepared, development commences, then concludes with a requirements testing phase. Handover is the final phase, in which the product is delivered, and the contingency period begins. This is an exceedingly simplified description of Agile methodology and describes the framework basis.

The Advantages

  • Requirement Change

As an example, let’s envisage a scenario where a customer decides upon a new UI design during the UAT phase of the original UI design. Usually, this would be of great impact to the project, cause a substantial scope creep, and costly resolutions; however, with Agile methodology, planning phases are small, and tasks are prioritised, meaning changes can usually be implemented with minimal impact.

  • Customer Focus

Every project team encounters customers who desire inconceivable visibility, and absurd demands; however, with Agile methodology, customers are in constant communication with the project team and can receive visible results of project progress. Customer satisfaction is the predominant driver of Agile methodology, and customers have a substantial input on the project; therefore, customers have much ownership of the project due to the close working proximity, thus customers are reassured of progress, satisfied, and much easier to work with.

  • High-Quality Deliverables

Deliverables are produced at a reasonable pace due to the incremental working nature of Agile methodology. The Agile process of planning, designing, developing and testing allows for great team focus and feedback opportunities, resulting in issues being resolved in good time, and high-quality deliverables being presented with minimal uneasiness.

The Disadvantages

  • Timeline Deviation

The reprioritisation of tasks can result in many task deadlines not being met, and contributing to a timeline deviation. For the end-product to be of reasonable quality, and to the satisfaction of the customer, additional phases may have to be implemented; however, if a deadline is resolute, then a loss of quality will result.

  • Documentation Negligence

Agile methodology promotes minimal planning time and maximum implementation time, and whilst planning is still a necessary phase, it can become neglected as the project progresses and deadlines loom. Efficient documentation is critical for balancing resource responsibility, risk management, and a successful product handover.

Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall methodology follows a sequential process, in which meticulous planning is necessary. Requirement change is unfavourable and much planning and documentation are necessary to minimise risks, and alleviate requirements change.

Lifecycle

wf

Framework

During the planning phase, the stakeholder requirements are gathered and a clear project requirement case is defined with great detail (including aims and objectives, scope, deliverables, milestones).The requirements are converted into a design, the implementation phase begins, then concludes with the testing phase. Handover is the final phase, in which the product will be delivered, and result in a contingency period with regular maintenance. This is again a greatly simplified description of Waterfall methodology, to describe the framework basis.

Advantages

  • Great Control

The sequential working nature of Waterfall methodology means each phase has predetermined specific deliverables, milestones, and deadlines; therefore, management is more simplified, due to greater foreseeability.

  • Promotes Documentation Standards

For a phase to begin with Waterfall methodology, a previous phase must end; however, for a previous phase to end efficiently, complete documentation must be created and compiled for future readability, recovery, and evidence.

Disadvantages

  • Requirement Change

Waterfall methodology is sequential and meticulously pre-planned, and change in requirements can have a substantial impact on the project; therefore, much planning must be completed to reduce risks, minimise issues, and ensure a clear roadmap is maintained.

My Experience

From academic and industry experience, I’ve learned that there is no perfect project management methodology standard, and the correct methodology of choice is very much a primary endeavour. Manipulating different project management methodologies and combining various aspects of each framework, can result in a  tailored methodology of best fit for your project.

Thank you for reading, please comment, and share!

Curtis Dunnett-Jones

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