Project management approaches enable organisations to accomplish projects efficiently, addressing both internal constraints and dynamic external situations in the interim. Project management enables organisations to prevent or remove internal project constraints and also adapt to unforeseen changes in project scope or goals. An organisation can, depending on its requirements, either adopt a standard project management approach or combine multiple approaches. Additionally, an organisation has the advantage of project management software applications which facilitates intelligent planning, constraint removal and monitoring of projects.

Here is a list of standard project management approaches.

Traditional approach
The traditional approach assumes that the project scope and goals will remain constant till project completion. Obviously, a project manager plans and identifies project resources based on this assumption. The traditional approach lays down the following project phases:

• Project initiation
• Project planning and design
• Project monitoring and control
• Project execution
• Project completion

Since the approach is inherently rigid, many organisations may choose a hybrid project management approach.

Critical chain approach
The approach assumes that at least one constraint (behavioural or process-related) is likely to hinder projects which utilise complex processes and a large number of cross-functional teams. The approach recommends the use of behavioural and mathematical sciences to first predict, and then analyse and remove constraints. The project team can use data to remove the constraints. For example, if productivity is a foreseen concern, then a project manager could track the actual time spent by team members on the job. This approach is useful in sending quality deliverables on time by proactively removing constraints.

Extreme project approach
This approach is suitable for projects which handle dynamic situations, such as, changing customer requirements. Often, it may not be possible to obtain a full clarity of requirements and a project may purely be guided by market changes. The mobile phone industry, which experiences rapid changes, is a case in point. The project team, hence, plans purely on the basis of the currently available data and depending on requirement changes, modifies plans.

Event chain project approach
According to this approach, a single constraint can create a chain of constraints and severely impede a project. For example, in a project, if several departments depend on one another, then constraints in any one department can negatively impact the productivity of downstream departments. A project team can use past data to foresee a negative event and identify preventive measures. Reliable data, collected over time, can even help track event chains. The Gantt chart is a popular event chain tracking tool. The event chain approach, hence, could be an excellent problem solving approach for critical projects.

Project management software — how useful is it?
Project management software capabilities have expanded notably and it gives more than just scheduling meetings and activities. A project management tool can estimate the effort, monitor project progress and highlight risks. It can also preserve historical data on past projects, which can be extremely useful in foreseeing constraints. Project management tools are available as desktop, web-based and collaborative applications and they are compatible for every type of project management approach.

Many organisations have begun to adopt a hybrid project management approach, by combining the best features of standard project management approaches. This approach has been beneficial and indeed goes to show how flexible the project management approaches are.

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