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Is there ONE right project management method for all projects? When this question is asked, the answer must be “No”. Nevertheless, the question is relevant and must be addressed before or at the beginning of a project. After all, you want to play the right cards from the beginning and determine the most efficient and goal-oriented method for your project. Which method to use depends on different factors and each has its strengths and weaknesses. In the discussion below, I will explain the differences between individual methods and when it makes sense to use them.

Plan-Driven Project Management (PD-PM)

(Traditional PMI/GPM/PRINCE2/V model…)

In conventional project management (PM), the objectives (content, time, costs) are elaborated in detail during project planning based on the Business Case and the project charter before actual implementation, the necessary processes, management plans and baselines are drawn up and recorded in a specification sheet. Only after the complete planning and approval of these topics by the sponsor, if necessary also by the team, the implementation begins. For this purpose, the project life cycle is divided into individual phases with defined milestones. Only after the successful completion of one phase does the project move on to the next phase.

Process Phase PM

 

Figure 1: Project phases

Traditional PM is usually used when all objectives can be defined before implementation and/or when the project is complex and involves many (project) team members and stakeholders.

Advantages/Disadvantages Plan_Driven PM

 

Table 1: Advantages and disadvantages PD-PM

Examples of traditional PM are a construction project, development of a new vehicle or even the relocation of a data center. (The project is known and has clear procedures)

Change-Driven Project Management (CD-PM)

At first glance, Change-Driven PM seems somehow unstructured and uncoordinated, as the team takes over the planning and management itself. At the beginning of the project there is a vision of the final product with few requirements. The project is therefore not divided into phases but into iterations with identical timing, in which the implementation takes place in small teams. The use of change-driven is particularly suitable for complex projects with undefined end results.

(Scrum/PMI/Kanban/PRINCE2 Agile…)

 

Table 2: Advantages and disadvantages CD-PM

The figure below shows an exemplary iterations of the project with Change-Driven Project Management:

Project iterations using Change-Driven PM

 

Figure 2: Project iterations using Change-Driven PM

Depending on the available information and defined requirements, there are three types of Change-Driven PM: incremental, adaptive and iterative PM.

With incremental and iterative PM, sufficient requirements for the end product are available at the beginning so that preliminary estimates of time and costs can be made. These requirements are further refined in each iteration and new requirements are identified. The big difference between these two methods is that with incremental PM, a fully usable increment of the final product is available at the end of each iteration, and with iterative PM, the final product is developed gradually until it is fully usable.

In contrast to incremental or iterative PM, the adaptive PM has time and cost limitations from the beginning. The requirements are kept very general, are refined in the course of the project and prioritized in the product backlog. The work is divided into small steps so the customer can constantly change and re-prioritize them within the constraints. The project ends when one of the constraints is reached.

Examples of Change-Driven PM are software development, website development or prototyping. (High uncertainty, try and react).

Hybrid project management (HD-PM)

(Predictive + change-driven)

Hybrid project management is a combination of traditional and adaptive PM. It uses the respective advantages of both methods to achieve the best possible result, but also starts the implementation with still unknown requirements directly after planning. Known requirements are implemented in a traditional way and insufficiently known requirements are implemented in an agile way.

Advantages/Disadvantages hyprid project management

 

Table 3: Advantages and disadvantages HD-PM

The phases of a hybrid PM approach are illustrated below:

Process hybrid project management

 

Figure 3: Project workflow based on hybrid project management

Conclusion

The topic concerning project management methods is not quite simple and it takes time to get to grips with the different methods and approaches so that the best possible approach can be chosen for each project.

The original version of this article by Bastian Wunderskirchner (SVA System Vertrieb Alexander GmbH) can be found at https://focus.sva.de/plan-driven-change-driven-oder-hybrides-projektmanagement/.

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