Chapter Project Management Frameworks

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Overview

Sometimes you are faced with a project that could cost a small fortune from hundreds of thousands of dollars to a few million dollars. As project manager, you are charged with delivering the project within cost, specification, and schedule. This is often the opening line for many project managers today. Without an effective project framework in place, it will not matter what you do projects will undoubtedly be more complicated and troublesome. In this chapter, I provide a few project methodologies or frameworks used today across industry, as well as the components that make up these project methodologies. Sometimes, one methodology framework is not the most appropriate to use you may need to adapt to some other methodology.

Vinod Khosla (April 2001) in "GigaTrends," Wired magazine, states: "Most of our predictions are based on very linear thinking. That's why they will most likely be wrong!"

In fact, the very success of the company could depend on the successful outcome of projects, so it becomes essential that you minimize as much risk as possible and approach projects in such a way that it almost guarantees success. But how do we do this? One technique uses a tried and tested project methodology, which covers all possible areas when a project starts. By employing the appropriate methodology, project managers are likely to deliver the solutions their clients want. I introduce and clarify two types of methodologies. Although they go hand-in-hand, there is a difference.

Project management methodologies (this lays the high-level project framework).

Development methodologies (this provides the detail on system design and development).

It is likely that you will encounter a project that consists of both a project methodology and a development methodology. You have the shell dealing with the project approach, competencies, and so on and then the content of the shell which deals with the specific development approach. You can see more about development methodologies in Chapter 4 of this book. We concentrate on purely project methodologies in this chapter.

Some people would like to challenge my contention that many project managers often live a lie, perhaps by force, when it comes to adhering to a methodology. This normally happens when a project manager is assigned a project already half completed; he or she simply follows his or her best guess and proceeds from there often ignoring key issues and steps that make a truly great project. He or she continues to plan, predict, and deliver as best as possible, working the best way he or she knows. It appears that many project managers do not want to create the wrong perception on their projects. As soon as the project starts, project managers jump in, build the solution one way, and when they encounter trouble, pretend to build it another way, flying by the seat of their pants. The lesson here is that rigid methodologies are often far too constraining and fall short in delivering a project into production. When we review many projects that have failed, we see that overhead is often created to prove that the methodology is on track.

When starting a project, many project managers gather as much documentation pertaining to the project as they can. They start creating elaborate project Gantt schedules, using sophisticated software tools, extending it to Pert charts, critical path networks, believing that by following a few simple techniques and a trick here and there, the project will start magically taking shape. However, being smart in a few project techniques and being flashy are not synonymous with great results. What's forgotten here is adhering to the methodology, as well as to the development model. You don't have to rigidly follow the project process step-by-step; you can tailor the framework at any stage for each project or solution.

Figure 3.1 shows a typical flow of common problems identified on a project, the causes of the problems, and the solution. Look at the problem "over schedule." We see that it is caused by the waterfall methodology being used (e.g., takes too long). The solution is to use an iterative approach, as discussed in more detail in Chapter 4.

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Figure 3.1: Assessing project management frameworks.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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