According to Teamwork “a project management methodology is a set of principles and practices that guide you in organizing your projects to ensure their optimum performance.” Many software development paradigms are available to use on any given project. Some developers may prefer to use one exclusively, regardless of the project, while others like to change their methodology depending on individual project requirements.
As a development company that performs work for a wide variety of clients, BairesDev prefers to excel in multiple methodologies so we can be flexible and determine the best approach for each situation. Every method has its advantages and disadvantages and we believe that there is no one “best” project management methodology for software development, but there is the best one for each project. Here we describe some of the most popular methods.
The name “waterfall” reflects the sequential nature of this approach. Just as water flowing downward must reach one height before it descends to another, with the waterfall approach you must complete step 1 before moving on to step 2, and so on. Some people find this paradigm too rigid, but it works well for certain projects, such as those with a clear set of sequential stages or those of a type you’ve worked on many times before.
The biggest benefit of this method is that all stakeholders know what to expect in terms of the finished product, timeline, and budget. This knowledge makes it easier to plan based on the outcome. The biggest drawback is that there is little room for flexibility, as everything is planned ahead and doesn’t contemplate deviations from the original idea.
The following video explains the waterfall methodology as well as other popular project management approaches, some of which are mentioned below:
A highly popular method, agile involves an iterative approach in which users frequently solicit feedback and make changes to the project based on suggestions. This approach works better than waterfall with projects that could take multiple directions, depending on the decisions made at each stage. It’s also good for projects that don’t need to reach an ending point before parts of it can be delivered.
The agile method can contribute to project success by identifying problems during the development stage rather than the end when they may be harder to correct. It works well for projects with unclear requirements and those that are large or complex.
If any approach is the best project management methodology for software development, it may be the hybrid method since it combines components of Waterfall, Agile, and any other approaches you find useful. It’s best when no one method seems to be entirely right for a project, though you can lean on one more heavily, depending on project needs.
When you use the hybrid approach, you can take elements of any other methodology that works well for you, such as Gantt charts, which are used in the critical path method, or sprint cycles from Scrum. The hybrid method might be useful for a software development project that also involves a hardware component.
Scrum is a subset of the agile framework. Like agile, it’s iterative, involving “sprints,” which are brief, defined time periods during which developers work toward specific results. After each sprint, reviewers provide feedback that determines the work of the next sprint. As with the agile framework, scrum is useful for projects that are highly creative or include many unknowns.
The biggest benefit is that stakeholders get a say in how the project is progressing, meaning they can suggest improvements that will bring the final product closer to their expectations. Because new features are added incrementally, you can more quickly deliver a finished product.
Another agile approach is kanban, which uses a visual board to determine and manage project goals and workflow. The board typically has three columns: “requested,” “in progress,” and “done.” Each task is assigned to one of these columns or others that you add based on your unique workflow. The tasks move from one column to the next as they pass through each phase.
Kanban provides a useful overview of all the tasks being performed and what stage they’re in. This view is especially helpful in identifying tasks that haven’t yet been addressed by the team. With this knowledge, you can shift priorities, change which team members are working on what, or expand the team if needed. This methodology is useful when you have many pieces to a project or multiple projects going on at one time.
The lean development model is adapted from the manufacturing industry and is yet another subset of agile. When using this approach, teams strive to eliminate any actions that don’t add value, or that don’t correspond with a specific client need and only focus on those that do. For example, a team starting a project using the lean approach might view documentation as superfluous and, therefore, not something to be addressed until later in the process.
This methodology encourages its users to keep an eye out for anything slowing down the process or creating inefficiencies. Such factors could include multitasking, pointless meetings, or planning too far ahead. This method is useful for completing projects as quickly and efficiently as possible.
eXtreme Programming (XP)
This methodology focuses on collaboration between stakeholders, including developers, managers, and clients. Because of the collaboration aspect, it works best if your team is all located in the same physical place. This approach is best for projects in which requirements shift in real-time.
XP is based on the five values of simplicity, communication, feedback, respect, and courage. These qualities are used to improve software quality and closely align with client requirements. XP also includes rules for technical practices such as incorporating metaphor, simple design, test-driven development, pair programming, and continuous integration.
Other methodologies include PRINCE2, Scrumban, critical path, critical chain project management, integrated project management, and PRiSM.
Flexible Project Management
Before determining the best project management methodology for software development, consider things like complexity, working style of team members, and needs of your company, client, and industry. Also important to note are the timeline, availability of stakeholders, and the team’s tolerance for risk.
While it’s easier and more efficient to pick a method in advance and stick with it, you can also change to another during the project if the one you’re using just isn’t working out. As you use different approaches, take note of which ones work best for which types of projects and circumstances. That way you’ll always have a good place to start.