As a small business owner, your options and resources are often limited. You have to wear multiple hats, including one as a project manager, which means it’s your job to select a framework that works best for your team. But sometimes it seems as if there are as many project management frameworks as there are projects. Add to that the fact that each framework or methodology has its own set of guidelines and prescribed method for working from kickoff to completion and, understandably, choosing the right one can be a challenge. But if you follow the steps we’ve laid out below, making a decision will be much easier.
How To Choose A Project Management Framework
Step 1. Look at project scope and size.
Projects come in all shapes and sizes. You could have a colossal project that requires teams from multiple organizations, spans geographies, lasts several years, and has a budget in the millions. But you could also have a small, three-person team working on a client’s website for two weeks. These are two extreme examples, but they showcase the wide spectrum projects could fall on, which has a significant impact on the applicability of a methodology.
“The larger and more complex a project is, the less clear requirements will be and the more likely business needs will change given the extended timeline,” explains Rohit Keserwani, project manager at StraitsBridge Advisors. Thus, you need to select a framework that allows for progressive elaboration, where project planning is done as you approach each new phase—instead of all at the beginning. “More adaptive methodologies like agile are suitable in these cases.”
On the opposite end, smaller, less complex projects are typically good candidates for methodologies such as waterfall, where requirements are clear from the beginning and there is less opportunity for business requirements to change significantly.
Step 2. Shortlist potential methodologies.
As you identify methodologies that could be suitable, keep track of them using a spreadsheet or other tool. You want to be able to easily compare their identifying characteristics and weigh their pros and cons as they relate to your needs. “Ultimately, you’re looking for the framework that will return the best results for your team, while minimizing any risk you may face in the types of projects you undertake,” says David White, senior project manager at Best Response Media.
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Step 3. Get team buy-in.
While you may find a certain framework suitable, that doesn’t mean everyone will agree with you. Whether the reasons are differences in perspective or just cultural, even as a leader, you need buy-in on your choice from team members if you expect them to embrace it.
White says this is one of the most critical steps in selecting the right project management framework. “Without buy-in from your team, no methodology is going to be implemented smoothly. Getting buy-in early will give you the best chance at success.”
Step 4. Verify the fit.
Choosing a methodology is not the end of the road. To ensure you’ve made the right selection, you’ll need to gauge its fit within your organization. Keserwani says you can accomplish this through several methods:
- Compare the success rate of projects in the past to their success rate after implementing the new methodology. “Success rate” may include key performance indicators such as on time, under budget, and within scope. This may require cycling through multiple projects to make a solid judgement.
- Ask for feedback from your team(s). Do they find the methodology useful? Does it make them more productive? Are they completing their work faster or to a higher quality? Are they able to collaborate more effectively? Do they feel it gives them better opportunities for individual success?
- Do a self-assessment as a project manager. Are you able to run your projects easier or with fewer mistakes? Are you better able to manage your team and other stakeholders? Do you have to depend less on contingencies?
Regardless of which framework you choose, you’ll get to the finish line as long as you have a good team and you know how to manage them. The choice is just about following a methodology that supports your team’s working style and ensures your projects go as smoothly as possible. (If you’re still not sure which methodology to choose, look to project management experts to see what they recommend.)