The Difference between Informal and Formal Project Management Explained


A lot of companies are adopting informal project management approach to managing project. Chances are that you are already aware of informal project management. But what exactly are the principal methodologies of the two approaches? And most importantly, which of the two approaches are better to manage the projects.

After knowing about the two methodologies, you will be better able to come to a specific decision. Let’s talk about formal project management approach first.

Formal Project Management Approach

Formal project management approach consists of using traditional project planning, scope, and benchmarking in order to manage a project. The technique consists of using traditional tools and techniques for managing a project.

Generally, formal project management consists of using waterfall or agile technology. Project managers usually have certification in one or more traditional project management approach. They are technical experts and guide the team and coordinate their activities according to a specific project management methodology.

Formal project management implies using strict procedures and documenting every plan. The approach to project management involves implementing processes and also controls to ensure that the project completes within time and budget.

Informal Project Management Approach

Informal project management approach doesn’t involve using strict standards and rules for managing the project. The management approach focuses on open communication and greater flexibility.

The approach to project management does not adhere to any traditional approach or methodology. Instead, the project manager manages the projects based on the requirements of the projects. With informal project management approach, there is no extensive documentation regarding project plan, scope, and monitoring. Also, the regular meeting does not take place between the employees. The informal approach does not have any preferred scope, roles, control, or responsibilities.

With informal project management, open communication between the team members is preferred. The role of the project manager is more of a facilitator and coach instead of a leader. The project manager focuses on coordinating the activities of the team using online team collaboration software. In case of informal project management, the team accepts and facilitates the changes instead of opposing it.

Which is the Better Approach: Formal or Informal?

Both formal and informal project management approach has pros and cons. The formal is a more disciplined approach while the latter provides more flexibility. There is no one right approach to managing a project.

Informal approach is better if innovation and risk-taking are more valued than stability. The formal approach is better where there are no requirements or need to benefit from the enterprising ability of the employees.

Some organizations even go for a combined approach. The project management approach consists of combining the rigidity and flexibility of the two project management approaches. The flexibility of the informal approach helps in managing complex, dynamic project requirements while rigidity helps in satisfying multiple stakeholders.