Agile Versus Traditional Project Management

Tipped to be the hottest trend in project management for 2014, Agile has seen its heyday come at last. Not a new concept, agile project management has been used to some degree in the software industry for several decades, but is only now coming to the fore as a workable project management method for other industries too.

Using agile project management techniques is not a million miles away from traditional methods. You still do the same work and arrive at the same end goal, but with the agile method work tends to be faster, more productive and risks tend to be diminished. Here’s why.

Traditional project management
This method, also known as the waterfall method, is the most widely used form of PM worldwide. It typically involves six key steps from start to finish:

1. Requirements
2. Design
3. Development
4. Integration
5. Testing
6. Deployment

Each one stage is completed before the whole team moves onto the next stage, making this sequential method seem like something of a waterfall cascade, hence the name. Not all projects include all stages, and some may include a few more, but in essence this is the formation of waterfall PM.

Traditional PM is widely accepted as being valuable for smaller, well designed projects, but can sometimes struggle when dealing with larger and less well defined situations. It is designed for use in construction and manufacturing industries, where later changes are impossible or not cost effective, meaning everything needs to be done in a certain order.

Agile PM
The agile method differs in that everything can take place in any order, and is not necessarily sequentially completed. The method relies on human interaction management, and works on the project as a set of small tasks which are defined and completed as the demand arises. Large projects can be simply broken down into smaller components, known as ‘sprints’, and tackled for a short space of time until complete.

In agile, the design, testing, integration and development are all undertaken during each sprint, which makes the likelihood of errors being built into the final project much less. This means there may be major changes made throughout the lifespan of the project, and the final product might not be exactly what was envisaged at the start. It will, if done right, be relevant, useful and flawless.

Which is best?
The most suitable method for managing your project is something you will need to decide for yourself. It will largely depend on the type of project you are delivering, as well as the scale. Projects involving creative industries or software development benefit much more naturally from agile than those involved in creating physical products, as they allow for changes to be made even at very late stages in the project delivery.

Consider how stable the requirements of the project are. Projects that are likely to undergo changes to the brief or the requirements will respond much better to an agile project management framework, whereas those with well-defined business requirements and where certain stages need to be completed before moving on are more suited to traditional PM.

5 Hot Project Management Trends for 2014

As we reach the second quarter of 2014, we are seeing some exciting trends emerging in the world of project management. Within these, there are five key trends we are seeing across the globe which project managers really should be sitting up and taking notice of. Here are our five hottest trends of 2014 so far.

1. More projects are moving to the cloud

As the ‘cloud’ becomes a bit of a buzz word for offsite, secure hosting of pretty much anything we want, we are seeing so many more projects moving their schedules into virtual storage. Cloud based project management tools such as Wrike, LiquidPlanner and Gantter are competing directly with office based applications, and are proving to be cost effective reliable and functional across the PM world.

2. Online collaboration has increased

In this modern age of social networking and instant messaging, it is hardly surprising that these conveniences have made their way into the project management sphere too. Web based document sharing is being replaced by intuitive collaboration tools such as Trello, tibbr and Asana as a more powerful way of working collectively on documents and projects.

3. Distributed teams are on the rise

With the rise in cloud based management and online collaboration, the ability to utilise human resources from all over the world has influenced a significant rise in distributed teams. The use of freelancers has increased too, with many firms realising the benefits of hiring in expert help on short term contracts over employing someone in house.

4. Agile is on the rise

Agile project management was once restricted to companies involved in IT and software development projects, but now the benefits of this type of project management method are encouraging more diverse industries to adopt Agile. It is seen as a solution to that age old problem of building in faults doing the delivery process, and companies are working hard to get their heads around how exactly to do Agile because they know it will be better for their outcomes.

5. Resource management is tighter than ever

With more processes being streamlined, automate and managed electronically, being able to see what is in the project pipeline is easier than ever before. Now project managers and business owners are able to see better who is doing what and who has capacity, enabling them to use their human and physical resources more wisely rather than guestimating what their capacity is. Better resource management is leading to more efficiency in businesses in general, which is an essential trend as the UK starts to climb its way out of the economic slump.

It’s a great thing that we are seeing such a rapid uptake of new technology in the project management sector and new project management courses to help PMs stay informed of the latest developments. As more companies look to use the latest software and tools to make their business run better, we will no doubt see even more developments hitting the market before the end of the year. All this will undoubtedly result in a faster, better and cheaper delivery for the client and improved project success rates, which has to be a good thing, right? What trends are you seeing in your project management environment so far this year?

Do You Have What It Takes to Be an IT Project Manager?

If you have been working within the IT field from quite some time, then at some point or the other, the thought might have occurred to you that you should look for IT project management jobs. No doubt, management jobs within the IT field hold great potential, but do you really have what it takes to be an IT project manager?

In the IT field, the individual who has a comprehensive background in software development and bears responsibility of managing all IT-related projects is known as the IT project manager. The waterfall model is taken into account in conventional IT project management, though adaptive and simpler methods such as DSDM, SCRUM and XP are also included in this field. Development of new software systems that support gradual and small scale develop cycles to ensure an organization’s growth is what such a professional aspires to achieve.

Having detailed and thorough knowledge of the following is essential for anyone who is pursuing jobs that involve managing IT projects:

– Application development
– Logical and physical data base design
– Networking
– Solicitation

Developing and executing internet technology of professional laboratory-related projects are among the responsibilities should will be taking up as an IT manager. Working your way through the ranks of different IT professionals within a technologically savvy organization on a full-time basis will be a necessary aspect of this profession.

Having a four year degree in computer science, information technology or any relevant IT related field will be a major requirement if you are interested in managing IT projects. As an alternative, you can even enroll in a specialized computer trade school in order to seek IT education in IT project management. Many employers will allow your classroom education act as a substitute for the necessary practical experience. Depending on the jobs you will be seeking, you might also need to have a bit of background and experience in engineering too.

As an IT project management professional, the knowledge that you gain while studying will help you acquire all the necessary skills. Employers might also expect you to have a PMP designation that you can acquire from the Project Management Institute, some graduate technical qualification or an advanced degree in a field like MSPM. As an IT project manager, you will need to have the skills of aiding projects meet deadlines and empowering employees to put in their best efforts.

Doing some freelancing can help you acquire the right kind of training that will take you closer to your goal of becoming an IT manager. You can go a long way if you have prior experience in this field. Until the year 2014, significant growth is expected to occur in the career prospects in this field.

Once you actually manage to secure a position in some organization, you will be able to earn anywhere between $70,000 and $84,000 every year. However, before that, you need to make sure that you have what it takes to be an IT project manager. With the help of MAS Healthcare & Technology, you will be able to find a myriad of IT project management jobs.

Four Steps to Be the Best Manager

As a manager, your main value to your company is your influence. Good managers influence their company far more than average employees by trickling ideas both down and up the ladder.

Mary Kay Ash once said, “People are definitely a company’s greatest asset. It doesn’t make and difference whether the product is cars or cosmetics. A company is only as good as the people it keeps.”

If people are the greatest asset of a company, then a good manager is invaluable. Here are four ways to help you be the best manager you can be:

1. Pay attention to improving your company’s competitive advantage. Remind employees that the first law of business is “take care of the customer”. Encourage your employees to innovate and create to prevent your competitors from having better ideas than you. In the hospitality industry, it’s easy to get caught up in the mundane repetitiveness of day-to-day activities. Spice it up by incorporating a “new ideas” segment into weekly staff meetings. Quality of product, quality of service, and overall quality of experience must be exemplary in the hospitality industry in order to prevent loss of your customer base to a competitor. Ensure rewards for employee efficiency.

2. Diversify! To make sure your company has a solid ladle of the melting pot, hire people of every age range, race, ethnicity, and gender. By 2060, half of the American population will be made up of ethnic and racial minority groups. Also, familiarize yourself with global cultures, especially if your company plans to expand internationally. It is important to diversify your employee pool in order to not only keep up with your customer base, but also to ensure the organizational strength of your company by maximizing the diverse contributions that you will only get by having a diverse employee pool.

3. Technology is your friend – use it! Spending on retail software will exceed $20 billion by 2014. Technology has transformed industries and changed the very nature of business. Minimally, e-business practices will reduce your cost of communication. If used effectively, e-business technologies can have a far greater positive impact on your profit margin through accelerated decision making, broadened communication, expedited handling of employee and store issues, more thorough hiring practices, and the many benefits project and employee management software can offer. If you incorporate the right management software in your business, scheduling, tracking, communication, and hiring employees can be faster, easier, and considerably more efficient financially.

4. Don’t forget yourself. While managing in the fast paced hospitality industry, it can be easy to compartmentalize your life – home life and work life need not intertwine. This can be beneficial to your sanity, but it can make you feel like two different people. When making decisions at work, be sure to remind yourself who you are and what your ethics dictate. In today’s high pressure climate in one of the most competitive industries, the need to meet quotas and deadlines can leave you facing some major ethical dilemmas. Consider the implications of your decisions, and whether the decision fits into your life plan. Be sure that your company’s culture fits your compass of ethics, as it can be difficult to juggle bosses, subordinates, your daily workload, and two conflicting sets of rules.