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Understanding different project management styles: pros, cons, and tips

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Updated on:
May 28, 2024
May 29, 2024
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Project management methods vary from the structured Waterfall style to the flexible Agile project management, likewise Scrum and Kanban. Usually, the right project management approach often depends on the project life cycle and the specific needs of the project manager and team. 

Note that each style is guided by key project management principles, with Waterfall focusing on clear timelines Notably, understanding the pros, cons, and specific skills required for each style can improve the project management process. For instance, Lean project management is good for reducing waste but may need more strategic project management.

Introduction to project management styles

Project management includes a variety of methods and styles used to efficiently execute and oversee projects. Commonly, these include Agile project management, Scrum, and Kanban, which are flexible and focus on continuous improvement. However, the waterfall style is more sequential and phase-based.

The best project management approach largely depends on the project’s nature and scope. Despite the chosen style, a deep understanding of project management principles, and thorough knowledge of the project life cycle are essential for success.

Understanding the importance of project management styles

It’s obvious that project management styles are crucial to effectively guide a project towards its goal. These methods, such as Scrum provide the project manager with an effective roadmap. Mostly, they structure the project life cycle by aligning tasks with overall objectives.

Choosing the right project management approach is also vital. Typically, the Agile style is great for projects needing flexibility and incremental progress, while lean project management focuses on resource efficiency. There is no doubt that project management skills are invaluable in implementing these styles successfully.

Role of project management styles in successful project execution

Conventionally, project management styles play a key role in the successful execution of a project. Among these, the following are commonly used methods:

  • Agile project management
  • Lean project management
  • Strategic project management

What’s interesting is lean focuses on reducing waste, while strategic project management aligns project goals with organizational objectives. As a result, a project manager should have a comprehensive understanding of these project management methods and choose the appropriate project management approach based on project requirements. 

Impact of project management styles on team dynamics

It is often seen that the style of project management greatly affects team dynamics. Notably, Agile project management encourages continuous improvement promoting an active, involved, and cohesive team environment. Yet traditional methods like the waterfall style, demand a more linear approach which can sometimes limit team flexibility.

It’s fascinating how both styles can significantly influence the project management process! So, a project manager should wisely choose their project management approach, preferably following the project life cycle for optimal results.

Overview of different project management styles

Project management styles refer to the various methods and approaches used by project managers to successfully guide projects from start to finish. Inarguably, these styles influence the project management process and contribute to project success. 

Obviously, all these approaches have unique project management principles. Choosing the right style depends on several factors, such as:

  1. The project life cycle
  2. Strategic project management requirements
  3. Project scope
  4. Team size and complexity

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Waterfall project management style

It’s well known that the Waterfall Project Management Style is a traditional project management approach. Habitually, it’s ideal for projects with clear goals and defined stages. Unlike Agile or Scrum, Waterfall follows a linear and sequential pattern, not iterative processes. What’s notable is the project life cycle in this style progresses systematically from conception to initiation. 

Additionally, Waterfall thrives on key project management principles. These include proper documentation, rigid project control, and a strong emphasis on planning ahead. This ensures the success of strategic project management, making it a preferred approach for many project managers.

Agile project management style

Usually, Agile project management is a popular approach often contrasted with the waterfall style. It’s noteworthy to mention that it is a part of project management methodologies that implement strategic project management principles. The agile style is often associated with Scrum and Kanban.

Unlike traditional methods, the amazing thing about Agile project management is it embraces changes along with continuous improvement. Therefore the project manager using Agile methodologies needs specific skills such as the following: 

  1. Effective collaboration
  2. Adaptability
  3. The ability to work in a fast-paced environment

Scrum project management style

Generally, The Scrum project management style is a subset of Agile project management. It’s a highly strategic approach that helps streamline the project life cycle effectively and efficiently. Scrum facilitates a flexible project management process, particularly appreciated in developing complex software applications. This style aims to eliminate wastes, improving the project management skills of the team.

One thing is for sure: The Scrum style is a good alternative to the traditional waterfall style with its regular review system and adaptability. It uses a Kanban board for visual process management. 

Kanban project management style

Interestingly Kanban is a part of Agile project management. It focuses on delivering continuously without putting too much pressure on the team. It helps the project manager improve their skills by helping them see the workflow, limit ongoing work, along with increasing efficiency.

This method is used in many project management styles, including Scrum. In Scrum, tasks move from one section of a Kanban board to another. It’s astounding to know how flexible Kanban is! It allows for changes in the project. Obviously, it is a key part of lean project management, which aims to deliver high value with less waste.

Lean project management style

Mostly Lean project management is inspired by methods that focus on efficiency. It aims to reduce waste in all forms by using the Agile project management style. There is no doubt that this speeds up the project lifecycle. The main goal is to provide value to the client. 

Frequently, Lean project management uses principles from Kanban and Scrum to improve the project management process. The project manager uses these methods to use resources better, reduce waste, etc. 

Pros and cons of different project management styles

The Waterfall style is a project management method. It’s simple and follows a straight line. But, it’s not flexible. Provided that It moves through project stages in order, it’s hard to go back. 

Agile project management, like Scrum and Kanban, is flexible and can change easily. The sad thing is it might not be strong enough for complex projects. 

Lean project management focuses on being efficient and reducing waste. Note that it needs a strong project manager who understands project management well.

Advantages and disadvantages of Waterfall project management style

One thing is for certain: The Waterfall style has benefits. Its straight and ordered project life cycle lets project managers track the process easily unlike Agile. The cool thing is this ensures that no stages are missed. 

Whereas the waterfall style has some downsides too. Sadly, it’s not as flexible as Agile or Scrum; it’s hard to make changes once the project has started. The whole project depends heavily on the initial requirements. And the worrying part is if these change, the whole project can be delayed or fail. 

Pros and cons of Agile project management style

It’s a fact that The Agile project management style is flexible and can adapt to changes. It’s staggering how it encourages teamwork while allowing for continuous improvement!

This method uses Scrum and Kanban, which focus on making progress throughout the project. But, it might not be as structured and predictable as the Waterfall style because it doesn’t follow a set process. To be successful, Agile project management needs a skilled and involved project manager and team. The worst part is poor strategic project management and misunderstanding of project management principles can lead to project failure.

Strengths and weaknesses of Scrum project management style

Scrum is known for being flexible and adaptable. One thing to note is that it lets teams adapt to changes quickly through iterative processes. This strategic project management style encourages the following things-

  1. User involvement
  2. Immediate feedback
  3. Promotes customer satisfaction

Scrum also improves project management skills as it encourages teamwork.

Yet, Scrum has its weaknesses too. Without a strong project manager or Scrum master, Scrum can lead to scope creep and project overruns. Unlike the Waterfall style, the Scrum style relies heavily on teamwork and communication. If any team member doesn’t fully understand the project management approach or principles, it could hurt the project.

Benefits and drawbacks of Kanban project management style

It comes as no surprise that The Kanban project management style has various benefits. It allows for flexibility within the project, improves project management skills by focusing on continuous delivery without overloading team members. One of the best things about Kanban is it aids in clearly visualizing work and workflow.

However, this project management approach might not be suitable for all projects. Since Kanban focuses on ongoing improvements, it may not work well for projects with a clear end or those that follow a more strategic project management approach like the Waterfall style. It’s worrying that without disciplined project managers, it can lead to scope creep and lack of timelines.

Pros and cons of Lean project management style

Commonly The Lean project management style is known for increasing efficiency, and improving delivery time. But, its rigid project life cycle and strategic project management approach lack the flexibility of Agile or Scrum that makes it less suited for projects with frequent changes or uncertainty. 

Another downside is that, like in the Waterfall style, the whole project plan must be defined at the beginning. As a consequence of that it doesn’t always accommodate change well.

Notably, the pros of the Lean project management style are as follows: 

  • Increases efficiency
  • Reduces waste 
  • Improves delivery time

Cons of the Lean project management style are:

  • Lacks flexibility
  • The project plan has to be defined at the beginning

Choosing the right project management style for your agency

Consequently, choosing the right project management style for your agency can greatly improve productivity along with effectiveness. Traditional methods like the Waterfall style might work better for projects with clear, unchanging requirements. On the contrary, Agile project management, including Scrum and Kanban, is suitable for projects that are complex and subject to frequent changes.

It’s well known that it is important to understand the project life cycle and your team’s needs when choosing a project management approach. No matter which method you choose, sticking to project management principles and skills is key to success.

Factors to consider when choosing a project management style

When choosing a project management style, obviously you need to consider several factors. You should think about the nature and complexity of the project. As a result, the project life cycle, methodologies, approach, and strategic planning will largely influence your choice.

For example, Agile project management is better for projects that are more ambiguous. But, the Waterfall style could be better for projects that follow a straight line. Scrum and Kanban are good for projects that need speed and flexibility. What’s fascinating is the project manager’s skills and expertise play a big role in deciding the right management style.

How to implement a new project management style in your agency

To use a new project management style in your agency, you need to choose the right project management methodologies. Agile project management is one of the most effective methodologies for managing projects. 

It’s crucial to be aware that each one has different project management principles. Strategic project management involves looking at each project’s goals, requirements, and benefits throughout the project life cycle. It’s crucial to know that to use a new project management approach like waterfall style, you need careful planning and team engagement.

Conclusion: adapting to different project management styles

One thing is for certain: It’s crucial for any project manager to be able to adapt to different project management styles. This involves understanding and using different project management methodologies, like Scrum, or Kanban A strategic project management approach requires the project manager to understand the differences between the Waterfall style and the Agile style. They need to use their unique project management skills to effectively navigate the project management process.

Using lean project management principles can be very important in making things more efficient. But, this needs to fit well with the changing nature of the project highlighting the importance of being able to adapt to project management styles.

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