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'Which is the Best Project Management Methodology' Is the Wrong Question

By ILX Team | 3 August 2017

Many people ask, what’s the best methodology? Project software developers Liquid Planner may have the answer. This year, they released their report, State of Project Management in Manufacturing. Liquid Planner surveyed 106 US executives, engineers and project managers in manufacturing companies. 74% of highly satisfied respondents actually use a combination of methodologies.

So the answer is, no methodology can claim to be “the best one”. Here are five reasons why this is, and what you can do with a diverse portfolio.

  1. Serve different teams

One company doesn’t always mean one culture. Every team has their own way of working. If you’re trained in many disciplines, it will be easier to manage the whole organisation. For example, a lot of manufacturing companies also develop software, even if it’s only for in-house use.

So, you might have to think about manufacturing and software development teams. Manufacturers traditionally like waterfall, while developers go for agile. Knowing the nuances of this, you can make smart intuitive decisions. For example, you might provide Gantt charts for manufacturers and burndown charts for developers.

  1. Adapt to new environments

Knowing different methodologies makes it easy to adapt. That doesn’t just apply to different teams in the same company. Every project is different, even when you’re working with the same team. This is even truer when they come with some kind of change, like a move towards agile.

It also helps when working with different companies. That’s where project managers can get shocked by different working cultures. You should always research and integrate for new project, teams and organisations. The transition period can be rough, but a broad skillset will ease the transition. You’re more likely to get other work cultures if you get other work methods.

  1. Negotiate

It’s unfortunate, but project managers spend a lot of time justifying best practises. That’s because people often want to skip important processes. To many, ‘being agile’ is just cutting corners. If you know other methodologies, especially agile ones, you can counter this.

Say a manager challenges PRINCE2’s Stage Plans, saying they’re bureaucratic and unnecessary. You can compare Stage Plans to AgilePM’s four phases of analysis, design, build and test. With that, you can either prove the importance of PRINCE2’s Stage Plans by showing there are analogues in other frameworks, or offer a good alternative.

  1. Get a big picture view

Inexperienced project managers can be methodology slaves. They’re the polar opposite of senior managers who cut out best practises to look agile. Some documents and processes can be streamlined or removed, if you know how to do it. Remember that your team is working towards a project, not a methodology.

Knowing how to go off-script but stay on-track makes it easier for the team. You can say, for example, “I know why we use this template, but this mind-mapping tool from Trello will accomplish the same task and be easier to use.” In other words, knowing multiple methodologies prevents tunnel vision. You’ll know what’s necessary by following common themes from AXELOS, PMI, APM, etc.

  1. Learn more

Many aspiring project managers ask for the best methodology. The implied question is, ‘how can I achieve the most while learning the least?’ The real question should be, ‘how can I achieve anything if I’ve stopped learning?’

The big takeaway is that no single methodology is perfect. There’s something to learn from all of them. PMP might be the most revered certification. Even then, many still pair it with a PRINCE2 certification. That’s because PRINCE2 has more direct, applicable instructions.

Even then, that’s just scratching the surface. There’s still agile methodologies, ones focused on risk management, change management and many more. If you want to be like 74% of the highly satisfied respondents, tell us your learning goals on our contact page.

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