Which Project Management Training Method is the best for a small business?

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Small businesses can have 2 employees, or up to 50. One of the best things about being in a small business is watching the growth year on year. Success and growth of your business could be attributed to workflow methodologies set up for the smooth running of general day to day activities.

Project management methodologies on the other hand are set up in a way that provides a clear process to follow, so that new service or product deliveries are adhered to, and completed. This makes sure no task or process falls through the cracks, as it were. As a business owner or a manager, knowing how to implement a project management strategy benefits your team by increasing productivity. Two of the most popular project management methodologies are Agile and Prince2. Have you heard of Kan-ban or Six-sigma? Lean, Six-Sigma and Kan-ban are examples of workflow management methodologies that have since been ‘adopted’ into Agile project management.

What is Agile?

Originally developed in the software development industry, the Agile methodology is now used by millions of businesses throughout a variety of sectors. When applied to project management, the Agile methodology focuses on consistent improvement, on-going collaboration, and short iterations or “sprints”. As short work cycles are prioritised, a small business using Agile principles can deliver projects rapidly and achieve optimal results via frequent revisions.

Since it was first introduced, various approaches to the Agile methodology have developed and existing approaches incorporated, such as Kanban, Scrum, extreme programming (XP), Lean and test-driven development (TDD). Finding the right approach for your business will enable you to implement the Agile methodology in a way that’s best suited to your working style and business goals.

What is Prince2?

Short for ‘Projects IN Controlled Environments’, Prince2 is a process-based project management methodology. When using Prince2, you’ll divide projects into small stages and rely on seven distinct principles throughout the project lifecycle. These are:

  1. Continued Business Justification
  2. Learn from Experience
  3. Roles and Responsibilities are Defined
  4. Manage by Stages
  5. Manage by Exception
  6. Focus on Products
  7. Tailor to Suit Project Environment

Agile vs Prince2

Although Agile and Prince2 are both project management methodologies, they are applied in different ways. Prince2 is a plan-based methodology, for example, whereas Agile allows for more flexibility as it eschews a master plan in favour of short-term objectives.

Choosing which project management methodology to use for your small business is an important decision and it’s vital to consider your overriding objectives and the nature of the projects you’ll be working on. Agile can be best suited to projects that are likely to be subject to unexpected changes or to provide flexibility for adaptation for example, whereas Prince2 can work well when companies want to achieve long-term commercial goals.

What is the waterfall methodology?

There are many waterfall methodologies about, some more structured such as Prince2 and others less rigid, such as the Association for Project Management (APM) approaches based on best-practice principles rather than a defined process. The waterfall approach is structured and linear. Some are more strict than others, but based on the notion that to move onto the next phase, the current phase has to be complete. There is little opportunity to revisit a previous stage  with the waterfall approach either.

Using the waterfall methodology if you miss a deadline there is a knock-on impact where all the subsequent phases are affected. Just like many other project management methodologies, there are advantages and disadvantages to the approach.

The advantages of waterfall:

  • Needs less frequent coordination because there are clearly defined phases in a sequential process
  • Each clear project phrase easily defines dependencies of work and outputs
  • After the requirements are defined a project cost and overall timescale can be estimated
  • Improved focus on documentation (designs and requirements)
  • Methodical and structured

The disadvantages of waterfall:

  • More difficult to adjust and share work due to the strict phase sequence (teams are specialised)
  • If there are delays with one phase the remaining phases are also delayed resulting in wasted  time
  • As the phases are specialised, there is a need for additional specific resource to fill those spaces.
  • Enhanced communication required during handover between phases
  • Compared to Agile, sometimes product ownership and engagement may be weaker due to focus on each current phase.

Can you replace a project manager with a project management tool? 

No! There are hundreds of project management tools that can be used for a small business. Some of the most common ones are Click Up, Monday, Trello, Asana, or Jira. Each project management tool can be used for a variety of project management methodologies, and often you can choose which one to use for the project.

While these are important for the success of day-to-day project task management, do you really need someone to fill the project manager role alongside using the software tool? This is a common question we see, and a professional and experienced project manager will use a project management tool more effectively, to implement and carry out a project. One cannot replace the other. While some project managers prefer certain project management tools, this is often because these managers are trained and proficient in a certain methodology that the software tool specialises in.

Which methodology is right for your business?

A project leader using the appropriate methodology ideally brings structure with clearly defining processes and increases productivity. Whichever methodology you choose, the right leadership position can propel your business forward. Do not be set back with overthinking which methodology to choose, the right leader knows how to manage the people and the project to deliver the best results.

As the project management industry has evolved, a whole new language has developed, which can make it hard for newcomers to determine exactly what they need. However, it’s important to remember that Prince2 and Agile are simply different methodologies that can be used to manage your projects. While they are all different, they can also complement each other, hence the rise of Prince2 Agile certifications.

By examining your company’s operations, resources, and teams, you can determine whether a super-flexible Agile approach, a structured Waterfall methodology, an established Prince2 framework or a hybrid model is most suitable for your needs. Then, you simply need to set about finding the right training provider to deliver online, classroom-based or hybrid training to develop successful project management professionals that will send your business soaring!

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