Denis Jakus

making tech less cryptic

CTO x Unique People

Denis Jakus

making tech less cryptic

CTO x Unique People

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Project Management: What should you know Part 2/49 min read

02 September 2023 Management
Project Management: What should you know Part 2/49 min read

We will continue where we left off with Part 1 of Project Management.

Today’s topic is all about the methodologies and tools used in Project Management.

Methodologies and Tools in Project Management

I will mention a couple of methodologies but I will focus solely on one methodology(well it’s not a methodology but rather a development approach that is widely used in the software development process) as I have the most experience with it.

So just to mention the two:

  • ITIL (an acronym that stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library) and
  • PRINCE2 (an acronym that stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments)

and the development approaches on which I will focus more are:

  • WATERFALL
  • AGILE

Now, let me say a few words about ITIL and PRINCE2 first:

ITIL

Now, since the ITIL, is methodology, there are certain processes and methods which you need to follow to be able to finish the project successfully. All of these processes and methods can be learned and thus you can be certified, just like for the PRINCE2.

There are a lot of questions if it’s better to go with ITIL or PMP certification way, but let’s keep it simple and say that ITIL gives you the foundation and when you get certified by it your certification never expires, unlike the PMP detailed and prone to some neverending changes. That said PMP certification is harder to achieve and you need to get certified every three years. And there are some rules that you need to abide by to accumulate PDU units. (stands for Professional Development Units (PDUs) are one-hour blocks of time that you spend learning, teaching others, or volunteering.) Each of the PMP certificates consists of 60 PDUs.

PRINCE2

PRINCE2 (PRoject IN Controlled Environments) ensures the smooth running of projects by following the project life cycle along with principles that can be applicable to any project. The projects are planned, monitored, and controlled at every stage, which complies with the PMBOK guide.

Let’s transition now to the more software-oriented methodologies.

Waterfall

WATERFALL – is a system development life cycle (SDLC) (which is a part of the project lifecycle mostly comprised of the Execution phase) in which one stage is completed before the initiation of the other. For instance, in a software development project, coding is done only after the completion of designing, and designing can be started only after the requirements are known. The main advantage of the WATERFALL over the PRINCE2 is that it is more specific and technical than a generic one.

The main disadvantages are slow speed, and inability to return to the previous stage if that stage is completed/finished/done.

As you can see in the picture, it consists of Requirements, Analysis, Design, Implementation, and Testing.

AGILE

In the above image, we can see the most used type of software development approach today.

Agile is an iterative approach to project management that helps teams to deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches. Work is structured around Sprints, each sprint, usually, is 2 or more weeks long and consists of Plan, Design, Develop, Test, Deploy, Review, and all over again until the project is finished.

So, Iterative or agile project management focuses on delivering maximum value against business priorities in the time and budget allowed, especially when the drive to deliver is greater than the risk. Some agile principles include:

  • The project breaks a requirement into smaller pieces, which are then prioritized by the team in terms of importance.
  • The agile project promotes collaborative working, especially with the customer. 
  • The agile project reflects, learns, and adjusts at regular intervals to ensure that the customer is always satisfied and is provided with outcomes that result in benefits.
  • Agile methods integrate planning with execution, allowing an organization to create a working mindset that helps a team respond effectively to changing requirements.

Agile is a set of abstract principles around which several frameworks were developed like:

  • SCRUM
  • KANBAN
  • LEAN
  • XP

SCRUM

Scrum is a hands-on system consisting of simple interlocking steps and components:

  • A product owner makes a prioritized wish list known as a product backlog.
  • The scrum team takes one small piece at the top of the wish list called a sprint backlog and plans to implement it.
  • The team completes their sprint backlog task in a sprint (a 2-4 week period). They assess progress in a meeting called a daily scrum.
  • The ScrumMaster keeps the team focused on the goal.
  • At the sprint’s end, the work is ready to ship or show. The team closes the sprint with a review and then starts a new sprint.

KANBAN

Is the most typical project-management strategy aligned with Agile principles. The Kanban framework was invented by a Toyota engineer Taiichi Ohno, in the late 1940’s and it promotes workplace efficiency by providing teams the freedom to change their workload throughout a given job. The central principle of Kanban is the Kanban board. This is a board that everyone on the team uses for project management and to analyze workflow. The board is divided into several categories: backlog, on deck, in progress, and completed. These divisions make it easier to visualize the team’s workflow.

This task list works best for separate groups by providing a way to stay up to date mirroring their activities, monitoring progress through updates on the board, and making sure there aren’t too many assignments being juggled at once. As tasks move through this process, the board will be updated by the group to show this.

Kanban’s key strength is that it employs a step-by-step procedure with cumulative outcomes. 

LEAN

This is an agile strategy based on the ideology that eliminating waste is critical, and by doing so, teams can achieve an efficient end product with only the required features.

Lean development is built on the principle that the MVP (minimum viable product) is the baseline of the product that will be offered, and everything else should be built upon this. Teams, therefore, attempt to strip features away until the MVP is clear and proceed to add things based on feedback provided by users.

XP (eXtreme Programming)

The final project management methodology we’ll discuss is Extreme programming.

Extreme programming started out as an experiment by Kent Beck, who was working at Chrysler at the time. The idea was to take cherry-picked programming practices to the extreme and see what happens. For instance, instead of code reviews, you do pair programming continuously, technically reviewing code.

Nowadays, one can see XP practices used by teams that utilize Scrum, Kanban, and other organizational Agile methodologies to squeeze the most out of the developers’ potential. It advocates frequent “releases” of the product in short development cycles, which inherently improves the productivity of the system, and also introduces a checkpoint where any customer requirements can be easily implemented.

TOOLS

JIRA

While there are a bunch of tools for handling agile development projects and many of them are great like Monday.com, ClickUP, Teamwork, etc… one of the most used tools is JIRA. Developed by a company Atlassian which created a bunch of tools to ease software development that integrates great together and provides fully efficient workflow for developers, managers, and other software development teams.

COCOMO

Now, I want to provide you with one more tool for software-development-oriented project managers, if you are really interested in estimating and doing a cost calculation. 

There are many times when Project Managers are faced with rough estimations about certain project pricing and doing some upsell to existing customers, which may in the end be taken for granted by the end customers and thus hard to negotiate the price in the end. 

Sometimes you are provided with just 1 slide by the end-customer who wants to know the overall cost estimation of the project.

How would you even know the rough estimation without more details and going into deep discussions with the end customer, which usually avoids any details?!

The adequate solution for this problem is provided by, none other than NASA itself. They have created a Cost Model (COCOMO) computation which is used to estimate the level of effort needed to produce a given quantity of code. This helps in calculation support make or buy, decisions.

If you want to go any deeper with this tool you can google it and find out more details about it and how it works. 

There is COCOMOS version 2 available with additional features so feel free to explore it.

After we explored methodologies and tools, in Part 3 of this series we will discuss, how to assemble a team.

Cheers!

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