Selecting the Best Project Management Approach

As a civil engineer, using the waterfall model has always been the best option. This is because, in great part, engineering and construction lend themselves to an incremental and predictive manner. However, not all projects are about designing and constructing a building or other structure. Therefore, we have agile, for example, to have a more flexible and adaptable approach. Furthermore, you can always apply a hybrid of both by selecting the applicable parts of each approach. And this is exactly what I am currently doing.

Currently, I am working on various projects in different stages of development, as well as funding sources and types of stakeholders. This is because I am working on managing projects which are 1) community-driven, 2) environmentally transformative, and 3) funded by both grants and the community. Therefore, as is expected, expectations, priorities, funding amounts, and risks are much more fluid, and the management team needs to act quickly and be extra proactive. To that end, a hybrid of predictive and agile has been the best approach for these projects.

Since the projects are all design-build, a predictive approach is best for performing civil engineering, which is constrained by the topography, area, and building codes. However, landscape engineering, including community spaces and art, can vary based on 1) funding, 2) stakeholder (community members) wishes, and 3) open space guidelines. In other words, we can take the best of each approach and create a project management framework that is in the community’s and the project’s best interest. Also, the more flexible approach allows us to stage some of the work and, perhaps, offset some of the work for a year or two when additional funding might be available, and site modifications might work better for the community.

Sometimes the biggest challenge to creating a hybrid project management approach is the lack of experience and a template or sample, especially if you use one method over another. However, like in any project, the key is to develop the plan in detail to create the roadmap and provide the stakeholders with an idea of what is being executed. Additionally, just because we create a roadmap does not mean that it cannot be adjusted. Often we forget that the project management plan is a living document and can be modified to address the changing conditions, environment, and constraints. That said, it is also important to either have a project manager with the appropriate experience or, at the very least, project management team members with varied experience who can contribute to the overall hybrid approach. For example, as noted earlier, engineers are well-versed in the predictive approach, but IT professionals, as well as artists, are more used to a more flexible approach to executing their work; this is due to obvious reasons.

At PM Workshops, we have expertise working on various projects and training in predictive, hybrid, agile, and other methodologies. Feel free to contact us with your consulting and training needs.

Selecting the Best Project Management Approach

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