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Find the right project management approach for your marketing project

The outcome of a marketing project can be driven as much by the project management approach as it is by the design and development. Picking the right approach to project management can be as critical as picking the right agency.

Here are three common project management approaches – they are all right at the right times.

Waterfall:
The waterfall model is a sequential design process, often used in software development, in which progress is seen as flowing steadily downwards (like a waterfall) through the phases of Conception, Initiation, Analysis, Design, Construction, Testing, Production/Implementation, and Maintenance.

The waterfall development model originates in the manufacturing and construction industries; highly structured physical environments in which after-the-fact changes are prohibitively costly, if not impossible. Since no formal software development methodologies existed at the time, this hardware-oriented model was simply adapted for software development.


 

  • Pros: Predictable spend and project schedule throughout the entire project. There is limited risk of the project going over budget.
  • Cons: Project schedule and timeline isn’t flexible, and changes in scope or timeline require change orders to the original project scope.

Agile
Agile project management is an iterative method of determining requirements for projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner. It requires capable individuals from the relevant business, with supplier and customer input.

Agile techniques are best used in small-scale projects, on elements of a wider program of work, or on projects that are too complex for the customer to understand and specify before testing prototypes.

With Agile, deliverables are submitted in stages. The delivery time in agile is typically in weeks rather than months. Agile methodologies were developed as a reaction to various obstacles that developed in more traditional project management. Projects that develop in iterations can constantly gather feedback to help refine those requirements.

  • Pros: The project owner can adjust the approach based on key learning’s from the project, and teams have the flexibility to change tasks or priorities on the fly.
  • Cons: Difficult to predict the project budget or timeline. Additional project management resources are needed to monitor budget and progress, and course correct to keep the project on track. 

Agile with SCRUM
Scrum is a simple approach for managing complex projects. The tenets of Scrum include a foundation of common sense, less documentation, early and frequent releases, high levels of communication, and an agile practice. The Scrum process flow is iteratrive and incremental in nature and often results in quality performance.

Scrum allows changes at any point with the exception of during the release cycle. Scrum is rooted in daily meetings during sprints in which team members provide rapid updates.

Agile with SCRUM can be a perfect fit for projects that need to begin before you’ve developed a vision and strategy. Agile with SCRUM is well suited for projects in which the priorities and goals are expected to shift as new ideas emerge throughout the project.

SCRUM projects are run in one- to two-week sprints. Timelines, budgets, and priorities are set for each sprint immediately before the sprint begins in a planning session. This gives each sprint characteristics of a waterfall project, while maintaining flexibility across the project. 

  • Pros: Each two-week sprint of the project has a predictable timeline and budget. Task priorities are re-evaluated as a team before each sprint.
  • Cons: SCRUM is only effective when working with teams that are experienced with SCRUM that also have an experienced SCRUM master (team lead).

Bottom Line:

The right project management approach is every bit as important as the strategic and creative approaches. There is no one-size-fits all project management approach, so you should always include a discussion about the approach that is best suited for your desired outcome.