Agile Vs. Waterfall Management Approach: Which One is Better?

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Project managers can use different approaches and models to managing different types of projects. However, the two most common approaches to managing a project include agile and waterfall approaches.

Each of these models has its advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will take a look at the pros and cons of both the approaches to determining which one is a winner when it comes to managing a project.

Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall project management approach was put forward by Winston W. Royce in 1970. In this approach, each stage of the lifecycle occurs in sequence (one after the other). The project progresses through different stages like a waterfall cascading down the stream. The approach also introduced a modern method for system analysis and design.

Project managers were quick to adopt the system as it seemed intuitive: everything flowed logically from one project to the next. The central premise of the waterfall approach is that the majority of effort and time should be spent upfront. It argued that since around 20 to 40 percent of the time and cost is incurred in initial phases of the project. It is well suited for projects where quality rather than time and cost is the main requirement.

The benefit of the waterfall approach is that it is simple to implement. Furthermore, project complexity is reduced since the project phases are not overlapped.

Moreover, the waterfall approach results in high visibility of the deliverables. The clients can see results at different stages of the project. This results in efficient communication with the clients that increases the chance of project success.

The problem with the waterfall approach to managing the project is that it is only suitable for projects where the project requirements are well defined. It cannot be used effectively for complex projects with undefined end delivery. The approach is also not suitable for large or long duration projects.

Agile Project Management

The agile approach is also known as scrum project management. The approach favors linear process instead of an iterative one. With this approach, there is no extensive planning upfront. The method allows cross-functional team management and flexible process. At the end of every stage, work is reviewed and feedback taken from the client.

The benefit of this approach is that there is greater collaboration between the stakeholders. Also, changes are incorporated at different stages of the project. It provides the opportunity for continuous improvement and transparent process.   

The disadvantage of the approach is that it is often more complex as compared to the simple waterfall approach. Also, the emphasis is on the execution of the project with less consideration to planning and documentation. If not implemented correctly, it can result in great inefficiencies. 

Having said all that, the best approach will differ from project to project. Whatever approach that you implement, it’s important to use the right work management software. Make sure that the team management software allows efficient collaboration between the team members. In this context, it’s recommended to use online project management software that lets you to update deliverables in real-time and allows team members to access it anytime and from anywhere.   

3 Effective Approaches to Manage IT Projects

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Managing IT projects requires a slightly different set of skills and approaches. What works in traditional projects may not be effective in managing IT projects. The project managers can implement many different approaches to manage the project. 

Whichever approach is taken, the goal of the project manager should be to reduce costs and ensure quality of project deliverables.  Here we will look at three effective approaches to managing IT projects

1. Iterative Approach

In the iterative approach to project management, the activity duration and cost estimates are defined during the initial stage of the project. The client is delivered small amounts of functionality at regular periods. The cost and time estimates are adjusted as the project progresses.

The benefit of this approach is that it allows business and technology changes to be incorporated easily. Plus, user feedback provided at different stages proves invaluable in ensuring project success. 

2. Adaptive Approach

Another effective project management approach is carrying on the project with short bursts of planning and execution. This approach is ideal in managing large IT projects. The planning and execution are carried out in stages. Examples of adaptive approaches include scrum and agile project management techniques.

3. Predictive Approach

The predictive approach to project management is considered a traditional approach for managing IT projects. The manager defines the scope, schedule, and estimated costs before the execution phase. The phases of the project are defined as each phase achieving a specific type of work. The phases are completed in a specific order that is established according to the time and cost constraints. The type of approach is also known as the ‘waterfall’ approach since the project flows down different phases.  However, it remains a proven and effective method of managing IT projects. 

The above three approaches are effective in managing IT projects. The common thing in the above approaches is that the project is completed in stages.  The project manager, customer requirements, and the strategic requirements of the project will determine the specific approach that is utilized by the project manager in managing the IT project.

Conclusion

Adopting one of the above-mentioned approaches can help in reducing the risk of budget overruns, costly reworks, and not meeting project deadlines. The process of managing IT projects moves through the different process including planning, executing, and controlling. During each of these processes, the main goal of the IT project manager should be to ensure efficient utilization of resources and quickly adjust to the changing demands of the project. In this respect, online work management software will prove invaluable. 

Online team management software provides flexibility in managing diverse teams. The application can be used to collaborate with different personnel located in different locations. It allows the team members to connect and collaborate remotely, and update the status of the tasks. This will result in a more effective group effort in achieving project deliverables. 

The 3 Outdated Project Management Approaches You Must Avoid

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Project managers need to constantly adapt, adopt, and improve their project management approaches. In this ultra-competitive corporate era, the importance of adopting cost effective and efficient task management approaches cannot be emphasized enough. It’s important for project managers to avoid outdated approaches that do nothing but create all sorts of delays, dissonance, and cost overruns.

Let’s look at three outdated project management approaches that are still being used but should be avoided in the future.

1. Using Spreadsheet to Manage Project Timeline and Deliverables

While spreadsheet software such as MS Excel are effective for managing certain aspects of a project , they are not efficient in managing them.  You can use a spreadsheet to create a budget and project timeline. However, as the project number of project deliverables and factors increase, their effectiveness reduces.

An online collaboration software, on the other hand, makes it easier to work and manage almost any size and type of projects. You can use a work collaboration tool to more efficiently manage the teams and resources. Online project management software allows you to work on real time data. Plus you can collaborate with employees working from different locations. Workers can connect remotely and easily update the accounts. This way, the information will always be up-to-date and accurate. This is something that is not possible when using spreadsheet software. 

2. Carrying on Status Meetings

Conducting status meetings is another ineffective and outdated project management activity that kills productivity of the team. The reality is that meetings take a lot of time. They drain precious time resources. And since time is money for the firm, the wasted time represents cost wastages.

It’s much better to use collaboration software to remain up-to-date about the project’s progress. Good team management software will show the status of the tasks on the dashboard. Using the software will also allow you to save precious time of the team spent on conducting status meetings.

While one-on-one interactions with the team members are important to motivate and gauge the temperature of the employees, they should not be used for getting an update on the project status. A work collaboration software will be better suited for the task.

3. Communicating with Team Using Email

One of the most outdated project management practices is using email to communicate with the team members.  Using email is an inefficient way to communicate with your team. The problem with this mode of communication is that the data is not centralize and the conversation is spread out over different email threads and you have tons of attachments. What’s more, they can easily become distracting and the regular checking, organizing, and deleting emails takes a lot of time that could otherwise be used for more productive activities. 

In conclusion, the outdated approach to project management can result in a great time wasting for the project team members. In order to save time and boost the productivity of the team members, it is advisable to make use of project management software. Using project management software is essential for effective and efficient management of projects that will ultimately have an improved impact on the company’s bottom-line. 

5 Powerful Ways to Improve Team Collaboration

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The project team is the most important component for the success of a project. It is the task of the project manager to ensure that the team members work together and remain productive. But how can you help the team members remain efficient and collaborate to ensure quality project delivery?

Here are five ways that you can help you jump start your discovery of efficient ways to improve collaboration in your firm.

1. Clarify Mutual Goals and Responsibilities

One of the most effective ways you can ensure effective collaboration between the team members is by bringing them on the same wavelength regarding the team purpose, the overall goal, and the responsibilities of each team member. The creation of the agreement should be the first task that should be completed before commencing of the project. This will ensure that everyone has  buy-in regarding how to collaborate together.

2. Aggregate the Ideas and Adapt

Bringing ideas on the table is not that difficult task. What’s challenging, and important, is to weave together the ideas of the team in a way that provides the best results. In this respect, an online project management software can prove invaluable.  A cloud collaboration software allows better coordination between the team members. The software allows sharing of real time data between the team members.

Also, the software can display updated information regarding the team progress. The information about the project will help project managers to understand the constraints and make adjustment on the fly.  The end result is more improved collaboration between the team members that can help ensure quality execution of the tasks. 

3. Make it Easier to Collaborate

The project manager should create an atmosphere of trust between the team members. The people should easily get to know each other and spend time getting to know each other. In order to achieve this goal, the project manager should encourage grapevine communication channels. Grapevine is an informal communication channel that allows better coordination between the team members. This will help in overcoming some of the awkwardness that people feel with strangers. Reducing the barriers between the team will help in effective and more efficient collaboration. 

4. Energize the Team

An effective project manager knows how to inspire the team members. Simply by acknowledging the hardwork of the employees can energize and inspire them to make greater collaborative effort to achieve organizational goals. An energized and motivated team will make sure that the project deliverables are achieved at the completion of the project. 

5. Clear Communization

The project manager should ensure that there is clear and inclusive communication between the team members. The team should have no problem in sharing details regarding the project. The project manager should try to create a sense of workplace effectiveness that encourages participation and collaboration. 

A cohesive team will be better able to collectively achieve project deliverable. By following the tips mentioned in this article, a project manager will be better able to achieve cohesion and ensure collaboration between the team members. The result will be improved employee morale,  increased productivity, and improved bottom line for the company. 

Overcoming PM Challenges with Scrum Project Management Approach

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Project managers that have experience in managing software or engineering projects are often well versed in using the scrum approach. The approach is known by different names including agile, stand-up, and sprints. Whatever the name of the approach, the fact cannot be denied that it is extremely effective in managing project deliverables.

In this article, we will shed light on the salient features of the scrum approach and how it can be applied in the present context.

Scrum Project Management

Developed in 1993 by Jeff Sutherland, the scrum project management approach can be linked to the concept of scrum that was introduced by Takeuchi and Nonaka in 1986. The best thing about the project management approach is that it can be applied using any work management software. The approach was developed after comparing the effectiveness of highly effective cross functional teams.

Scrum approach to managing project is used by Fortune 500 companies. The Scrum approach offers a less complex approach to managing projects. It consists of an iterative process that helps organizations deliver quality project delivery. 

A typical scrum approach consists of the following important components:

  • A ScrumMaster keeps the team members laser-focused on the goals
  • The team members have to complete the tasks in sprints. Each sprint usually lasts three to four weeks.
  • A product owner creates a backlog that consists of a prioritized wish list.
  • At the end of each sprint, the work is made ready and delivered to the customer.
  • Every spring ends with retrospection and review
  • Another set of tasks are chosen from the backlog, and the cycle repeats.

The scrum cycle will repeat until the entire project is completed, the deadline arrives, or the budget has depleted. The project requirements will determine what milestones mark the end of the project. Scrum management ensures that the project deliverables fully meets the requirements of the end user. 

Scrum consists of fixed length iterations. Also, known as sprints, these give the team a benchmark for finishing the tasks. They act as a milestone that must be completed to ensure quality project delivery. It serves as a tangible progress of the team. Also, the approach acts as a continuous inspiration that will help in successful completion of the project. 

Conclusion

Whichever method you use to manage the project, it’s important that you select the right software. The software that you use will determine largely the success of the project. Make sure that the work management solution meets the need of the team. The software should allow easy collaboration between the team members. Consider going for online collaboration software that offers greater flexibility in connecting the team. With an online project management application, you can better apply the concept of scrum approach resulting in efficient project management.