A misconception that most people seem to have about startups is that they do not need robust project management skills on the same level as larger organizations. This couldn’t be further from truth. Delivering a project on time and within the specified budget is a challenge for most businesses. And it happens to be especially true for startups who have even little room for error. For startups, their success depends heavily on carefully set expectations, proper planning, risk evaluation and above all – delivering value to all stakeholders.
Project management gurus will tell you that almost all successful projects rely on one recognized methodology or the other. There happen to be many established project management methodologies, but as far as startups are concerned, the majority of their projects can be managed efficiently using one of the following methodologies.
Methodology 1 – Traditional
The traditional, also known as the classic, project management methodology involves assessing the various tasks required for the completion of a project and accordingly provides a process to oversee, monitor, and accomplish them. The methodology requires project manager to actively monitor and provide feedbacks to team members through the various tasks.
The traditional methodology handles the process sequentially, from concept and planning, through to completion, quality assurance, and maintenance. The project manager defines the requirements at the start of the project and provides any coaching that is required to the team members. There is almost no alteration to the plan from start to finish. This methodology is used primarily for large-scale development projects.
Methodology 2 – Agile
The agile project management methodology is employed when extreme flexibility, extensive control over deliverables and speed are the primary requirements. The methodology allows for the ability to adapt to frequently changing requirements and constant feedback – whether it comes from the client or from team members. This is best suited for projects where the clients themselves, or the management, actively participate in the production process. In scenarios like this, it’s not unusual for specifications and team assignments to change frequently and, sometimes, drastically.
The Agile methodology is usually recommended for smaller software projects and for projects with accelerated development schedules. This methodology is commonly used by project managers for in-house projects and works by breaking down larger milestones into smaller “sprints”, or short delivery cycles.
Methodology 3 – Critical Chain / Path
This methodology is employed for projects consisting of tasks that are dependent on one another. In contrast to the traditional and agile project management methods that focus on schedules and tasks, the critical chain project management methodology is all about solving resource problems.
This project management style works by creating outlines for all the critical and noncritical tasks required for the project. This is followed by calculating the timelines for these tasks thereby establishing the minimum overall project timeline. The methodology then devotes adequate resources to the chain of critical tasks while assigning enough resources to other non-critical tasks so that they can run concurrently, while still retaining some buffer to reassign resources as needed. The methodology is ideally suited for resource-intensive teams.
Methodology 4 – Scrum
The Scrum method builds upon the framework of the agile project management.
It’s an iterative project management methodology, featuring several “sprints” or “sessions” that typically last for a month. Each sprint focuses on prioritizing specific tasks in the project and making sure they are completed within the sprint period.
The project manager for a Scrum project is usually referred to as a Scrum Master. The Scrum Master is responsible for managing the sprints and developing units of team members responsible for the individual sprints. The units frequently meet the Scrum Master to appraise them on the task progress and other updates. The meetings are also a good time to look at any backlogs and reprioritize them accordingly.
Methodology 5 – Adaptive
Adaptive project management methodology does what it says: it adapts.
Within adaptive project management, the very scope of the project can change with time, while the cost and time required to complete the project remain unchanged. Businesses usually opt for this style of project management to get the maximum value from any project.
The adaptive project methodology does not treat projects as a mere collection of tasks that need to be accomplished. Instead, projects are treated as business processes and must deliver business results.
Startups often struggle with resources and project managers working with startups need to be realistic about what can be achieved with the team at hand. While getting additional resources is not always a possibility, optimizing these resources is something that is possible. Hopefully, by adopting one of the above project management methodologies, some of the resource issues can be mitigated.