Projects: The Right Approach

So you’ve written your business case to justify the project and are now set to get on with the delivery of your transformational change or delivering your new product to market.

The next decision you are faced with is how to deliver the goods. Projects can be delivered in various ways but generally there are two mainstream and well recognised approaches.

The Planned (predictive) and Agile (adaptive) approaches are the best recognised industry standards for delivering projects. They are in great demand in all sectors and are backed up by several decades of use in mainstream industries such as IT, finance, construction, manufacturing and life sciences. These represent the most tried and trusted methods to deliver your projects.

But which one is best for your business? Before we get into that lets look at what they are.

Planned (Predictive)

This methodology has been in use since the time someone put a plan on paper or maybe parchment. It would be quite natural to most of us who like to take a look over the edge before we jump. If we stop and think about our holidays for next year it would be customary to decide now on the destination, when we want to be there, and what we want to spend on it well in advance of arrival. This is fundamentally the Planned Approach to project management.

The Planned Approach is therefore attempting to predict as much as possible before moving into delivery. Because of this it needs to be relatively heavy on process and procedure and works best when set standards are used consistently in your business.

Agile (Adaptive)

This approach is based on delivering something quickly with a light plan, reflecting on the outcome and being flexible on change. If we take the example of our holiday. We would know what we are spending and when we want to go but not sure on where we want to go. In this case in order to decide on our destination we might choose Spain, spend a day or two in Spain not like it and fly off to say Italy the next day, then decide Italy is where we want to holiday.

So Agile is all about being ready and willing to adapt as we go. Therefore, it is light on process and has a need for flexibility and willingness to accept change through out the project.

Which Approach?

Now that we understand the two approaches here is how you decide which one to use.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can I clearly define my scope?
  2. Are my requirements reasonably fixed and not likely to change much?
  3. Can I define my activities with a good degree of confidence?
  4. Can I break the project down into clearly defined phases?
  5. Is success measured by achieving the project objectives?
  6. Do I operate in a heavily regulated environment?

If the answer to all or most of these questions is yes, then the Planned Approach is the way to go. A process driven method works very well when a clear path is visible, and success is based on the final deliverables.

The Agile Approach is most effective when the scope is vague and success is based on customer satisfaction.

It is important to note that one approach is not better than the other. It’s horses for courses. They just need to be used under the right circumstances with appropriately trained and coached teams. Some businesses will operate a hybrid approach however it is important that the approach suits your business governance structures.

Curo Project Training provide project training, mentoring, coaching and consulting services for all types of businesses in any sector.

For further reading on this subject try the following websites:

https://www.scrum.org/  – Agile Approach

https://www.projectmanager.com/resources/   – Planned Approach

Brian Cleere

Author Brian Cleere

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