Choosing the right modal approach for a project doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Discover the effects of mode one and mode two approaches to project management – and how to ensure continued success.

Modal Management   Ensuring success with the differing modal approaches to project management  01

Project management is a fundamental consideration in any revitalization or improvement of software-based architectures. To manage well affords the most audacious of undertakings: the opportunity to succeed.

To project manage badly means the simplest undertakings are doomed before they start. While there’s a whole load of information about how things go wrong, there’s no authoritative reference on how to ensure success.

Setting up for modal success

As the initiator of a project, remember that you are the root project manager. Whether you engage with internal teams or many external implementers, it’s your duty to understand the scope of the project and to ensure management of each module so that you can manage it as a whole.

A lack of oversight at this stage could see you face a problem for which you have no solution. Should comprehensive auditing be remiss, your ability to hold people accountable will be lost.

How does a bimodal approach differ?

The key difference in managing these approaches is in the level of adaptability that both project phases and subsequent implementations can employ. This is correlative to the aims of mode one (rigidity and stability) and mode two (agile development and flexibility) approaches. Is this correlation intentional? Probably, but more relevant is how it changes our management of a project.

Mode one project management is inherently linear, with well-defined endpoints. To support this approach, focus must be towards deep requirements analysis and design to mitigate revisits due to a lack of details. In this vein timescales are better defined and thus business cases easier to sell to those with the ticket, but conversely the undertakings are comparatively larger in scope and subject to higher risk as a result.

Mode two points towards multi-layered, incremental methodologies, for example, the agile family of project management tools utilised commonly within the IT world.

A recurrent misconception is that taking this approach without rigid implementation designed means a potentially endless project and overrunning expenditure at the hands of an over zealous project delivery team. This need not be the case, however, as long-term vision can be subdivided and modularised within the project as well as the implementation. This would reduce the risk and provide greater executive visibility of the project’s performance.

At LinuxIT, we’ve been both the effective overseer and the subcontractor in a vast array of projects across mode zero (the “legacy” TIN-esque buy-it-and-design-it on the fly type project), mode one and mode two approaches.

The mode that’s right for me…

From the project management perspective, either mode may suit the appetite of a business, but you must focus on maintaining realism. A project manager has to look at the worst case scenario and plan accordingly, cutting out the traditionally over-optimistic viewpoints of technologists buying into the latest fancy approach to development.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have a clear vision and sound analysis at the start of a project, the mode two approach will ensure that you don’t take too much on in a project by allowing you to dissolve it into easier modules.

If you can get buy-in for a proper analysis and design phase that can be adhered to, then do not shy away from the regimented approach mode one will provide – it gives much more clarity of scope and is particularly well suited when dealing with multiple sub-contractors.

The rule of thumb is that if you’re unsure how well something will fit your goals, don’t try to define it.


  • The choice of mode for approaching a project is always a judgement call by the project manager and should be founded solely on suitability – never on approaches or styles that are simply “fashionable”
  • Mode one projects will suit projects that are well defined, where minimal risk exists that can be easily managed
  • Mode two projects will suit long-term strategies and projects that may fundamentally change – although risk can be mitigated through subdivision of projects
  • Project management always requires interaction when multiple parties are involved – if you’re overseeing it, make sure yours is not the only plan you look at

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