Traditional project management approaches, with their discipline and structure, are frequently appropriate for complicated, regulation-heavy, and/or sensitive projects, such as replacing a financial system for a publicly listed business that would necessitate accurate and detailed documentation.
In this article, we describe what traditional project management is, its benefits, and the five stages of a project’s lifetime. This article is intended particularly for project managers who may need a tune-up, but we break down the “what” and “how” in such a way that “accidental project managers” may benefit as well.
Let’s start with the foundations.
What is the definition of a traditional project management methodology?
Traditional project management is a technique based on five major steps of project planning and implementation. It is often referred to as the waterfall approach. The conventional method is ideal for:
- Complex projects with bigger project teams
- More stable surroundings with limited usage of new technology
- When detailed and strict documentation is necessary
- When the final product is to be delivered all at once, at the conclusion
As you can see, traditional project management is best suited to the construction of buildings, planes, or any tangible deliverable. Imagine the confusion that would arise in a building project where the customer demanded to inspect and approve the work done every two weeks.
Advantages of traditional project management
In project management, the term “traditional” does not imply rigidity or antiquity. It entails properly designing and planning before beginning work, having well-defined requirements, and having a clear understanding of what the ultimate output will be.
The following are some of the advantages of using a traditional approach:
- The duties of the team members are well defined, allowing for the efficient use of highly technical resources.
- At the end of the project’s schedule, a fully finished product is delivered.
- The customer is usually only involved at the beginning and conclusion of the project.
- The linear method helps in the establishment of clear expectations with the team and stakeholders.
- Documentation is generated that is detailed and precise in order to meet compliance or regulatory requirements.
- The project as a whole will be well-prepared for stakeholder scrutiny and compliance audits.
Now that we’ve discussed the concept and advantages of traditional project management, let’s take a look at the linear process mentioned a few times.
The five stages of the project life cycle
A typical project’s linear trajectory consists of five steps that generally follow each other. The only exception is step four, monitoring or regulating, which begins in phase three.
This is when the concept for the project’s final delivery begins, as well as the first planning. During this phase, the requester communicates their desires and requirements to other stakeholders, including, ideally, the project manager. It will require the project manager to create the project charter during this phase, which will explain the business challenge and suggested solution, or the business case, as well as establish the project team.
The project manager should be able to organise the project kickoff meeting before the end of initiation.
This is the most essential phase, and it must be given adequate time to design and plan the project completely. During this phase, the project manager will develop the whole project plan, including the communication strategy, risk management plan, requirements, work breakdown structure (WBS), work cadence, and project timeline.
By the end of planning, the project manager should be able to deliver a Gantt chart to the project team and senior management.
Pro tip: Schedule time in the project plan to generate, evaluate, and manage documentation. Not only does the project need to be ready for any needed audits, but the documentation also helps influence process changes that may be implemented for future projects. Also, even years later, don’t underestimate the value of solid documentation.
Now that the staff understands what is expected of them, they can go to work. As previously stated, if the requirements are not well specified during the planning phase, certain projects benefit from a hybrid approach in which planning, execution, and monitoring/control are combined into an agile method.
By the end of the project execution phase, the client or business owner should have received and signed off on the whole project.
This is the stage where a good project manager can truly shine. While we would say that a comprehensive planning phase is what ensures the project’s success, it is during the monitor or control phase that the team and stakeholders truly appreciate the project manager’s contribution. During execution, the project manager will generate progress reports, frequently inform all stakeholders, update documentation, remove barriers for the team, and oversee the quality of the work being done.
5. Finishing off the project
This last phase consists mainly of work for the PM, such as documenting lessons learned, holding a post-mortem, and verifying and rechecking all documentation. The majority of the time here will be spent conversing with the customer and team, as well as documenting.
But don’t forget to recognise the team! There is probably a budget for some kind of project close recognition, and it’s critical that project manger’s don’t skip this stage or allow new work take over. The staff will value not only the time spent together for team building, but they will also want to hear from the client that their work is valued, therefore invite the client or business owner if feasible.
Of course, managers are free to mix and match approaches to best suit the demands of the project. Many project managers will even employ an agile or scrum-style approach during the execution phase provided the requirements are well defined in the project plan. This hybrid method, also known as hybrid project management, may provide the project team and client with the flexibility they need to make incremental adjustments and improvements while still offering the structure that many senior executives want.
Because there is no one-size-fits-all strategy to project management, mastering different techniques, processes, and approaches can help you manage and deliver a successful project. That is most likely why you are reading this!