Top Project Management Methods and Tools in 2024

What is Project Management? Project management is the art of planning, organizing, and managing resources to achieve specific objectives. In this article, explore the essential methods and tools to manage your projects successfully.

Key Points of the Article

  • Project management involves planning, executing, and controlling resources, costs, and timelines to achieve specific goals within a predefined framework.
  • Project management methods such as Gantt charts, PERT, and agile approaches like Scrum and Kanban are crucial for prioritizing and adapting to changes.
  • Project management certifications, such as PMP, Prince2, and Hermes 2022, are essential for demonstrating advanced skills and knowledge, offering career opportunities and international recognition.

Introduction to Project Management

Navigating the complex world of project management means leading a team towards ambitious goals while adhering to constraints such as time, cost, and quality. It’s an art that requires both rigor and flexibility, and mastering it can make the difference between a successful project and one doomed to fail.

In this overview, we will introduce the fundamental principles, key players, and proven strategies and tools. We will guide you step-by-step to success.

Understanding Project Management

Illustration de la gestion de projet

Project management is the North Star for modern industry navigators, allowing them to stay on course and reach distant destinations with unfailing precision. But what truly lies behind this often-mentioned, sometimes misunderstood discipline? What skills and knowledge must a good manager master to turn each project into a successful journey?

From planning to execution, each project is a world in itself, requiring a suitable methodology and wise direction.

Definition and Objectives

A project is like a ship designed for a unique and specific mission, with a dedicated crew and a predefined route, aimed at meeting a specific need within a given timeframe. Managing this project means skillfully navigating between available resources, time constraints, and quality imperatives while keeping on course towards the set objective.

It’s a challenge that requires mastering the various stages from conception to realization, including planning and control, to ensure optimal value creation.

Difference from Operations

While business operations are the constant, predictable waves of their daily ocean, projects are the winds of change, blowing towards new directions and opportunities. Unlike ongoing activities, each project is a temporary journey towards an unexplored horizon, a concerted effort to create something unique.

This crucial distinction makes project management a special adventure, requiring tools and methods designed to navigate the waters of the unexpected and innovation.

Key Components of Project Management

Just as a ship cannot travel without a crew, provisions, or maps, a project cannot materialize without aligning its three key components: resources, costs, and timelines. These elements are the pillars upon which every project rests, determining its ability to navigate towards success. Their effective management is the main role of the project manager, who must ensure that each component is optimized to meet the project objectives while respecting the defined framework.

Project Lifecycle

Cycle de vie d'un projet

The project lifecycle is akin to crossing an ocean, with distinct phases such as:

  • Conception
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Closure

Each phase represents a crucial segment of the journey, requiring specific approaches and skills. The first step is to define the needs and resources, like a captain preparing his ship before departure.

The project then progresses through implementation and evaluation stages, before reaching the final phase of closure and sharing the knowledge gained during the journey.

Main Actors

On the deck of the project ship, several actors play key roles, orchestrated by the captain, or rather the project manager. The latter coordinates the project’s progress, ensuring that each team member contributes effectively according to their assigned role.

Stakeholders, including the project owner and the project team, are the eyes and hands shaping the project, ensuring that every wave encountered is an opportunity for improvement rather than an obstacle.

Project Management Techniques and Methods

Project management methods are the maps and navigation instruments that guide the manager through the sometimes turbulent waters of project realization. Choosing the right technique can make the difference between a smooth voyage and a shipwreck.

Whether through strict organization of work or more flexible approaches allowing for adjustments along the way, each method brings its advantages and specificities, to be adapted according to the nature and objectives of each project and organization, as well as the proportion of available resources.

Planning and Scheduling Techniques

Planning and scheduling are the compasses and sextants of project management, indispensable tools for charting the course and prioritizing. Establishing a project timeline, like a Gantt chart, and using scheduling methods such as PERT, allows clear visualization of the project path and alignment of resources and timelines.

By forecasting phases and milestones, the manager can anticipate headwinds and ensure smooth navigation towards objectives.

Milestone Technique

Milestoning is the act of marking the cardinal points of a project, landmarks that indicate whether the ship is advancing according to the established navigation plan. These milestones, key stages of the project, serve as checkpoints to measure progress and ensure the project stays on the right track.

Like distant lighthouses, they guide the team and offer opportunities for celebration at each significant stage reached, even in the face of numerous challenges.

Agile Methods

Méthodes agiles dans la gestion de projet

In the universe of project management methods, agile approaches are like fast, maneuverable ships, capable of quickly changing course in response to unforeseen currents. With iterative lifecycles and sprints, these methods allow dynamic adjustments and close collaboration with clients.

Methods such as Scrum and Kanban emphasize transparency, communication, and continuous improvement, making each project an agile and responsive adventure.

Project Management Certifications

Navigating project management without a proper certification is like taking to the sea without a captain’s license. Certifications like PMP, Prince2, or Hermes 2022 are recognitions of competence that attest to a manager’s ability to successfully lead complex and diverse projects. They are not only a guarantee of quality and credibility but also a springboard to leadership positions and better remuneration.

PMP (Project Management Professional)

The PMP certification is the high seas flag in the field of project management, indicating that the holder possesses an international level of expertise and competence. Issued by the Project Management Institute, it requires serious preparation and confirmed experience, but opens doors to global career opportunities and borderless recognition.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is an internationally recognized accreditation, awarded by the Project Management Institute (PMI). It is designed to validate the skills and experience of professionals in project management.

The PMP certification is based on the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) guide, which is regularly updated by PMI to reflect best practices in project management. It aims to demonstrate that the holder has the necessary skills to lead and manage projects effectively, applying standardized and evolving project management principles.

PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments)

Bearing the banner of British rigor, the PRINCE2 certification is globally recognized for its structured methodological framework. It symbolizes a commitment to best practices in project management and the ability to manage large-scale projects.

With PRINCE2, each project manager becomes a conductor capable of harmonizing the different stakeholders and steering projects with exemplary precision and quality.

PRINCE2 is based on seven fundamental principles that must be adhered to for the method to be correctly applied:

  1. Continued business justification: Each project must have a clear reason for being and defined benefits, maintained throughout the project.
  2. Learn from experience: Teams must record lessons learned at each stage of the project to avoid repeating past mistakes.
  3. Defined roles and responsibilities: The responsibilities of each team member must be clearly defined to avoid any confusion.
  4. Manage by stages: The project is divided into manageable phases, with checkpoints at the end of each phase to assess progress and adjust plans if necessary.
  5. Manage by exception: Tolerances for project objectives (time, cost, quality, etc.) are defined, and significant deviations are escalated to the higher management level.
  6. Focus on products: Emphasis is placed on defining and delivering project products, particularly their quality requirements.
  7. Tailor to the project environment: PRINCE2 must be adapted based on the size, complexity, importance, and risks of the project.

PRINCE2 offers several advantages, including:

  • Clear and organized structure: PRINCE2 provides a structured framework for project management, with well-defined roles and responsibilities.
  • Flexibility and adaptability: The method can be tailored to any type of project, regardless of its size or complexity.
  • Continuous improvement: The focus on continuous learning allows for process improvement and better project outcomes.
  • International recognition: PRINCE2 is widely recognized and used worldwide, making it a valuable asset for project management professionals.

Hermes 2022

The Hermes 2022 certification, named after the messenger of the gods in mythology, is the sail propelling IT projects in Switzerland. HERMES 2022 is a project management method developed by the Swiss federal administration. Specifically designed for the Swiss context, it ensures that project management professionals are equipped with the best practices and knowledge to guide IT projects safely to shore, considering local specifics and high-quality standards. It is designed to adapt to current organizational needs by integrating classic, hybrid, and agile approaches.

HERMES 2022 has been significantly revamped to meet the requirements of modern project management. The method now offers a coherent framework allowing project managers to flexibly integrate classic, hybrid, and agile methods. Special emphasis is placed on organizational and business aspects, reducing the dominance of IT.

Phases and Methodology:

The HERMES 2022 method maintains the clear and understandable methodological structure of its previous versions but with significant improvements:

  • Project Phases: The concept of phases has been reworked to include a new phase, allowing for more flexible project management.
  • Sizing and Segmentation: Two new tools have been added to make the application lighter and more flexible.

ITIL

The Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is like a maritime chart for IT service management, widely recognized and used globally. It provides guidelines and best practices, comparable to well-established navigation routes, for effectively managing IT services using standardized and proven processes. ITIL helps organizations navigate towards better quality, efficiency, and flexibility of their IT services while aligning with business strategic objectives, like a ship adjusting its course to reach its final destination.

Adopting ITIL offers numerous advantages for businesses:

  1. Alignment with business objectives: ITIL aligns IT services with the strategic goals of the organization, creating value for customers.
  2. Improvement of service quality: ITIL ensures high-quality, reliable, and efficient IT services, reducing disruptions and increasing user satisfaction.
  3. Cost reduction: ITIL optimizes processes, eliminates waste, and avoids costly disruptions, allowing for long-term savings.
  4. Risk management: ITIL helps identify and mitigate risks, enhancing resilience and business continuity.
  5. Continuous improvement: ITIL promotes continuous improvement by setting clear, measurable objectives.
  6. Process standardization: ITIL provides a common language and standardized processes, facilitating collaboration and sharing of best practices.
  7. Flexibility and integration: ITIL 4 easily integrates with frameworks such as Agile, DevOps, and Lean, allowing companies to adopt modern methodologies.

In summary, ITIL optimizes IT services, reduces costs, manages risks, and promotes continuous improvement and adaptation to change.

Project Management Training

Project management training is the wind that fills the sails of professional competence. Whether aiming for a degree or improving practical skills, the vast ocean of project management training offers diverse routes, ranging from academic programs to professional training.

Each of these options aims to equip the project manager with the necessary tools to face storms and take advantage of favorable winds.

Academic Training

Academic training in project management is the foundation on which theoretical and practical skills are built. From mastering planning techniques to understanding group dynamics, universities and business schools offer comprehensive programs that prepare aspiring managers to take the helm of projects of all sizes in all sectors, equipped with solid know-how and a global vision of the profession.

Professional Training

Professional training offers learning anchored in real-world experience, a chance to strengthen skills where the winds of experience blow strongest. These trainings, often flexible and adapted to the needs of professionals already in position, allow acquiring recognized certifications and specializing in areas such as agile management, risk management, or change management, thus broadening the horizon of their career.

Among the major players in this field in Switzerland, ITTA stands out for 20 years as a key leader in project management and IT training. With its expertise and deep understanding of market needs, ITTA offers training programs that precisely meet the requirements of modern businesses and professionals seeking development.

The training offered by ITTA includes internationally recognized certifications such as PMP (Project Management Professional), PRINCE2, ITIL, and many others, allowing participants to validate their skills and enhance their employability.

Project Management Tools

In the modern project manager’s arsenal, project management tools are precise and reliable instruments that ensure teamwork and efficiency. From simple checklists to complex management platforms, these tools are designed to meet the needs of today’s dynamic and collaborative crews, allowing them to stay aligned with their goals even in the face of the most unpredictable seas.

Project Management Software

Logiciels de gestion de projet

The digital compass of project management lies in specialized software such as Asana, Trello, or Smartsheet. These modern tools centralize collaboration and coordination, offering automation opportunities and transparent visibility into project progress.

Whether for a small team or a large organization, there is project management software to suit every need, team, and project.

Collaborative Tools

In the era of remote work and dispersed teams, collaborative tools have become the rigging that keeps the entire ship in cohesion. Platforms like Teams, Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, and many others, allow bringing all crew members together on the digital deck, fostering smooth information exchange and indispensable synergy for the smooth running of projects.

Risk and Opportunity Management

At the heart of the storm, risk and opportunity management is the anchor that stabilizes the project. It involves proactively identifying adverse winds and favorable currents to adjust the sails accordingly.

A good project manager knows that it is just as important to guard against risks as it is to seize opportunities, turning challenges into successes.

Risk Identification

To navigate safely, risk identification is essential. It is done through dialogue with the crew and stakeholders, organizing brainstorming sessions, and verifying navigation assumptions.

Creating a risk assessment matrix helps rank and prioritize risks, ensuring that the most critical are managed with the vigilance of a lookout.

Mitigation Strategies

When clouds of uncertainty loom on the horizon, mitigation strategies are the tactical maneuvers that allow avoiding storms. Proactive risk management, well-defined mitigation plans, and careful monitoring are essential measures to stay on course and enable the project to traverse turbulent areas safely.

formation gestion de projet

Project Closure

Like any journey comes to an end, the project closure is the moment to drop anchor and return to shore. This crucial phase includes analyzing the results, sorting and preserving important documents, and a “post-mortem” meeting to celebrate successes and learn from mistakes.

It is a period of reflection that closes the project chapter while preparing the crew for the next adventures.

Result Evaluation

Result evaluation is the treasure map revealing whether the loot was achieved. Through analyzing performance indicators such as ROI, the project manager can determine if the objectives were met and measure the project’s real impact.

This phase ensures that lessons learned are integrated into future management practices, improving the navigation of future projects.

Lessons Learned

Documenting lessons learned is the legacy left by the project to the organization. It allows capitalizing on experience, avoiding repeating mistakes, and continuously refining management methods.

These valuable insights must be widely shared to enrich the project management culture and elevate collective competence.

Article Summary

At the end of this navigation through the turbulent seas of project management, we hope you now feel ready to take the helm of your own projects. Whether you’ve learned to better understand management methods and tools, grasp the importance of certifications, or evaluate available training, remember that each project is an opportunity for growth, learning, and success. Now, set sail on your projects, and may the winds be favorable!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between project management and operations management?

Project management focuses on organizing and leading temporary and unique projects, while operations management deals with the daily and recurring processes within a business. These are two distinct areas within business management.

What are the key components of project management?

The key components of project management are resources, costs, and timelines. Their effective management is essential to achieving project objectives.

Why are agile methods important in project management?

Agile methods are important in project management because they offer greater flexibility, adaptability to changes, and foster close collaboration with clients, thereby improving the quality and relevance of the final project.

What is the advantage of holding a project management certification?

Holding a project management certification, such as PMP or Prince2, enhances your professional credibility and opens up career opportunities.

How does documenting lessons learned contribute to future project improvement?

Documenting lessons learned allows organizations to capitalize on experience, improve processes, and avoid repeating the same mistakes in future projects. This is essential for continuous improvement.

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ITTA is the leader in IT training and project management solutions and services in French-speaking Switzerland.

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