Project Management

Project management is an essential component of today's business world. Project managers must be able to not only oversee a project, but must also be able to initiate and plan the project from the ground up, monitor it throughout its life-cycle, control the various systems (and employees) involved in the project and lead the entire thing to a successful conclusion. To help project managers, several different approaches have been developed, though these differ considerably from one another. Understanding these options and how they benefit you as a project manager is vital.

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A Look at the Traditional Method of Managing Projects

The "traditional" method of managing a project is probably the best known, but not always the optimal choice. Essentially, it consists of five different areas, including initiation, planning and design of the project, project execution, constant monitoring and control of the project and, finally, successfully concluding the project.

Of course, anyone who's ever managed a project of any scope knows that this simplistic depiction truly isn't how things unfold all the time. The ease of moving from one step to another (and the complexity of each step) varies considerably from one project to another.
Going Extreme with Managing Projects

The extreme management approach is a bit misleading - it's not necessarily about breaking barriers or rules. Rather, it's about being dynamic and fluid. This approach is useful for situations where there truly is no "beginning and end" of a project, but rather an ongoing process with a defined goal. Project plans are usually based strictly on market data (competitor plans, customer requirements, changing government regulations, etc.), and changes to those data sets must be used to alter the management plan.

Event chain management is similar to extreme management in that the planning process (and most of the other steps found within the traditional model) is guided by events that impact the project or the project's goals directly.

The Agile Management Method

Today, one of the "hot" words in the area of management is "agility". Agile project management is exactly what it sounds like. This is a lean, fluid management approach that relies on the intelligence, intuition and ability to make independent decisions of the business to use customer/supplier feedback. There is some confusion between agile management and extreme management (the terms can be seen as interchangeable) but they're actually different forms.

Using the Event Chain for Management

Event chain management is similar to extreme methods, in that managing the project relies solely on reacting to events during the course of the project. Requiring little planning and initiation, this management style is not ideal for overall strategies. Rather, it should be used as a complement to others (the traditional model, for instance). The main benefit of this type of management approach is its ability to predict a future outcome based on a series (or chain) of events. It can even be used to forecast results when there is limited data available (an ongoing project, for instance).

The Lean Management Model

Lean has become almost as hot as agile in the world of management (and business operations in general). Running lean offers better profitability, lower costs and reducing waste throughout the life-cycle of a project. However, this is often one of the most difficult approaches to implement correctly because it hinges so much on being able to successfully integrate other lean methodologies within disparate parts of a business.

As you can see, the correct management method for your needs can vary considerably. The method you ultimately choose should hinge on the scope of the project, the need for human interaction and the project's goals.