Welcome to the PROJECT Method Micro Guide
The PROJECT Management Method is a small, memorable methodology that aspiring, new, and accidental project managers can apply to quickly master the fundamentals of managing projects. Whether you are managing traditional or agile projects, the PROJECT management method can be applied. This micro guide is a quick reference to the methodology. Once you have read either Accidental Project Manager or Accidental Agile Project Manager, come here for a quick refresher by access to information and templates.
Introduction and Definitions
A project is a set of activities which are temporary, have a beginning and end, and result in the creation of a new product, service, or other result. Projects normally expend budget and other resources.
In contrast, an operation is repetitive, more or less permanent, and may need to be profitable to sustain itself.
Project managers use resources, budget, and other tools to manage the work of the project and produce the expected results.
One early decision the project manager needs to make is the lifecycle that will be used.
Predictive or “waterfall” lifecycles define the project as much as possible up front. Changes and costs are managed carefully. The early definition of requirements ensures deadlines and contractual obligations can be met. If, for any reason, they cannot be, there are usually early warning signs. These signs enable clients to make choices. Waterfall lifecycles typically work best for projects with needs that can be well defined or when there are significant constraints.
In contrast, adaptive or “agile” lifecycles are performed iteratively. The exact requirements and scope are defined and approved before each iteration. While essential needs may be known up front, details are revealed as the project moves forward.
Agile lifecycles allow for scope flexibility and risk management. The flexibility often comes with a sacrifice of time and cost. The agile lifecycle also works best for exploratory projects and projects requiring greater flexibility. In some cases, product feedback from the client may be essential to include as the project progresses.
The PROJECT Methodology helps aspiring, new, and accidental project managers hit the ground running and successfully manage projects.
P is for People
People can make or break projects. The actions they take and the decisions they make contribute to success of failure.
There are two key groups of people involved in projects: the project team and those impacted by the project. Together, these two groups are the project stakeholders.
Project managers need to identify the stakeholders, their communication needs, and the communications they will receive throughout the project.
R is for Requirements
Requirements must be elicited or drawn out from the stakeholders, just as you would need to find and take buried treasure out of the ground. It takes a lot of digging.
As a first step, project managers need to plan for obtaining the requirements. They must determine the information needed to successfully complete the project, and the techniques they will use to discover it. These techniques include interviews, document reviews, and observation.
Predictive or "waterfall" projects determine all the requirements up front, then carefully manage change. Formal requirements documents are developed. Adaptive or agile projects typically use a simpler form of requirements known as user stories.
O is for Organize
Organize all the requirements and identified work into a plan. A Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) constructed by the team and including estimates for time and costs is a starting point.
Then, consider any constraints, limitations, or risks, and use the information to create a milestone plan and get team and client buy-in.
Agile projects often need milestone plans as well. Instead of a WBS, the user stories are organized into a Product Backlog. Milestones represent the iterations or sprints which are completed periodically, usually around three week intervals. Each sprint strives to deliver valuable and potentially usable components to the client.
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J is for Jell
Jell with the team, because teamwork is critical for success. Project managers must motivate the team through influence, rather than authority. Many projects start with a kickoff meeting to bring the team together and start to build a common understanding of the project.
While most all teams have a similar composition, including a leader and the members that will carry out the project, agile teams are a little different. For agile teams, a product owner and other cross functional team members to carry out the work, such as business analysts and testers, are essential. Agile teams normally have a project work area where everyone can collaborate together.
Virtual teams, teams which are separated by distance, and often time and language, are also possible for projects.
E is for Execute
Execution is smoothest when beginning after good planning. Project managers need to exercise soft skills like communication, delegation, follow up, feedback, and accountability.
Agile projects execute in sprints. Every day starts with a stand up meeting to review progress. At the end of each sprint there is a demonstration for the client and a retrospective to see how well the sprint was performed. Based on the information gathered, the next sprint is planned, the product backlog is revised, and new requirements may be introduced.
What are Agile Ceremonies? (aka events)
C is for Control
Control keeps everything on track. For a predictive or waterfall project, this includes creating a baseline of plans before project execution, then periodically measuring progress. Deviations from plan are known as variance.
Waterfall projects also need change control. Changes to scope or other parts of the plan are managed.
Regular status reports provide the right information, for the right people, at the right time, in the right format.
Adaptive or agile projects measure the burn down rate, the rate at which user stories are implemented, instead of measuring variance. This informs adjustment to the Work in Progress Limit, the amount of work that can be completed within a sprint.
T is for Transfer
Transfer is the process to turn over the completed project to the client or sponsor. What happens during transfer is what project managers are remembered for, so be sure the fully tested project meets all requirements, passes all acceptance tests, includes documentation, and delivers on all promises. Good support throughout the process is crucial.
This time is also an opportunity to transform the team through evaluations and lessons learned.
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