Why a Good Project Management Methodology Is Key

A good and successful project stems out from a well planned and executed project management methodology. Successful project management is characterized by good planning, effective scoping and resourcing, realistic expectations of outcomes and strong management support. The more complex a project, the more important it is to have rigor applied to its project management through the adoption and use of a project management methodology.

What exactly is a project management methodology?

A project management methodology is a system of inter-related phases, procedures, activities and tasks that define the project process from the start through to completion. Each phase of the project produces a major deliverable that contributes towards achieving project objectives. Phasing of the project is also used to provide logical breaks in the project associated with key decision points. Phases consist of a number of activities that are groups of related tasks and, when viewed in isolation, give a clear indication of the logical sequence of steps to be taken to achieve either phase or project objectives. Each activity will have a number of tasks. Tasks are the lowest level shown in the breakdown and produce an outcome contributing towards major deliverables.

Project management methodology can also be easily split into 3 major parts namely initiation, control and closing.

Initiation
All projects start with an idea for a product, service, new capability or other desired outcome. The idea is communicated to the project sponsor using the mandate. The mandate provides a structured approach to proposing a project and contains the project’s business case.

Once the mandate has been approved a further document is prepared that explains the project in greater detail. The project definition report is used to provide this information. This document is used as a key part of the assessment when deciding whether the project should be undertaken.

In particular it outlines the goals, objectives, scope, deliverables, assumptions, constraints, risks, issues, key people, benefits, costs and duration.

Control
The control phase involves managing and tracking the project. To do this a project plan is developed. The project plan is most commonly expressed in the form of a Gantt chart and identifies the stages, tasks, timeline and resources. A good plan will include regular milestones that act as a measure of progress and keep the project team focused on short-term goals. Project plans may also include information about costs and dependent projects.

Closing
Project closure is an important aspect of project management that is often overlooked. A project that is not closed will continue to consume resources, albeit slowly.

To receive acknowledgment from the customer that the project has ended the customer acceptance form is used. Once signed off the project team is disbanded and no more work is carried out.

At this point it is important to know whether the project has achieved its goals and objectives. This is done using the project closure report. This document communicates how well the project has performed against its original business case, quality criteria, costs, duration and tolerances.

Rather than leave valuable project experiences locked in peoples heads, it’s a good idea to complete and publish a lessons learnt report. This document is used to pass on any lessons that can be usefully applied to future projects.

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