Project Management 101.

Project Management essentials

Rapid development, waterfall methodology, agile scrum – these are all terms one might hear while overseeing some sort of project management. But what do they mean? Are they important? A project manager bases their project management principles, practices, and processes on industry project methodology like waterfall or agile scrum. They are all unique topics in project management and are widely used when creating guidelines for a project. Different projects require different methodologies and the decision on which method is reliant on the project manager. Rapid development is not a methodology as opposed to the other two. Rapid development is better known as a form of philosophy or approach to software projects, unlike methodologies that are a specific development process.

tracerprojectman
tracerprojectman

Rapid Development Philosophy

The practice of modern day projects is extremely wasteful: massive costs, schedule overruns, low quality, cancelled projects, high turnovers and friction between managers, developers, and customers are only a few issues that arise. With this in mind, Tracer Digital uses the Steve McConnell approach called rapid development approach. McConnell believes that through his approach, projects can cut development time significantly (sometimes even by half). The rapid development approach is based on four main pillars the project manager must be mindful of. These four pillars are avoid classic mistakes, development fundamentals, risk management, and schedule oriented practices.

tracerdevelopmentpillars
tracerdevelopmentpillars

Tracer Digital believes that by using the four pillars of rapid development, we can speed up project time in addition to any methodologies. His first pillar is to avoid classic mistakes; mistakes that usually appear as the easy solution but end up as creating more issues. An example is the addition of workers on a project if the deadlines are approaching too fast. Development fundamentals can be split into two different types. The first is management fundamentals where for any project to be successful, the project manager must be able to properly divide resources, create an action plan with those resources and monitor prevent project failure. The second is technical fundamentals. Technical fundamentals are also known as requirements, managing and design. To put simply, it’s like how software engineers must know the essential plans before coding and building. Risk management consists of nine different characteristics: avoid, transfer, buy info about the risk, eliminate the root cause, assume/accept the risk, publicize the risk, control the risk and remember the risk. A project manager needs to realize risks before they materialize into threats. The failure to do so would result in the lost of resources and time. The last pillar, schedule orientate practices, entails the project manager always take into consideration the set schedule. This assures the delivery of the finished project within a timely manner.

Waterfall Methodology

This is one of the oldest methodologies still being implemented in the industry. In the waterfall methodology, the project cycles through a sequence of six steps. These steps are software conceptrequirement analysisarchitectural designdetailed designcoding and debugging, and system testing. This methodology is extremely document driven by the design pre detailing and pre planned software lifecycle. The project must also hold a review at the end of each phase before moving onto the next stage. However the waterfall method is not perfect. Many consumers paying for the project often don’t fully know what they want right away – contradicting with the requirements of the waterfall methodology that need to be specified in the very beginning.

tracerwaterfall
tracerwaterfall

Rapid Development Philosophy

The Agile Scrum Framework is built on the popular agile methodology. The project manager in the Scrum framework is known as the scrum master and the framework itself is relatively simple. The framework itself involves the continuous reevaluation of the many pieces. It begins with the product owner creating a list of features that they want – also known as backlog. The developers then meet and review the backlog to decide which features they will develop the following week – also known as a sprint. Once the team has finished their sprint, they retrospect their own process. In this way, the team is always improving and innovating. When the reviews are finished, they return to the product backlog and start the process all over again.

traceragiledevelopmentcycle
traceragiledevelopmentcycle

Rapid Development Philosophy

While both are both popular and useful, they are not interchangeable. The decision lies on the project manager to choose which would work best for their individual projects. Waterfall projects are optimal for fixed price contracts because it’s easier to eliminate costs by designing and planning everything prior to coding and debugging. Agile scrum is not suggested for fixed price contracts as the additions to the project could potentially cost more than the fixed terms. Projects that are constantly developing or correlate with an hourly wage could also be paired with the waterfall methodology as there are modifications, such as spiral waterfall and parallel waterfall, that reduce a few risks the pure waterfall has. If the requirements for a project are relatively vague than an agile scrum process could be more beneficial. The product owner is able to add to their project as they realize the outcome they want. The added implementation of McConnell’s rapid development philosophies can reduce the cost, resources, and time of the project too. These four pillars can be added to both the agile scrum and waterfall approach to increase the productivity.

To be a successful project manager, it’s necessary to identify the requirements of the project and analyze it to fit a methodology utilizing the resources most efficiently. A project manager must also accept the risks that will be associated with the chosen methodology. Learning more methodologies prepares the manager for the various projects they may encounter. 

Article brought to you by Anthony Green, CIO Tracer Digital

Edited by Lanna Do

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