We would like to welcome you to our series about project management methodologies. There are 3 parts in total (Traditional methods, Agile and Lean).
There are plenty of articles that explain technical details of various Project Management Methodologies when you search for them. To provide some additional value, we would like to concentrate more on the human aspect of using these methodologies, how they can influence the communication and overall progress and results. We will put some psychology into it.
For a subtle technical introduction, let’s begin with looking around what has been already defined and whether there isn’t any standardization authority. In Project Management, this could be the Project Management Institute (PMI). Their mission is to be the leading not-for-profit professional membership association for the project management profession.
Founded in 1969, PMI delivers value for more than 2.9 million professionals working in nearly every country in the world through global advocacy, collaboration, education and research.
PMI regularly releases the PMBOK which is a guide detailing a set of standards that characterize project management.
PMBOK stands for the Project Management Body of Knowledge. It summarizes the five process groups that are prevalent in almost every project. They are:
- Initiating: Defining the start of a new project or a new phase of an existing project.
- Planning: What is the scope of the project, what are the objectives, and how the objectives will be achieved.
- Executing: Actually doing the work defined in the project management plan.
- Monitoring and Controlling: When you need to track, review, and regulate the progress and performance.
- Closing: Concluding all activities across all Process Groups to formally close the project or phase.
Along with this, it includes best practices, conventions, and techniques that are considered to be the industry standard. Latest edition (the sixth) was released both online and in print in 2017. We definitely recommend it as a great resource if you are into a career path in Project Management for instance.
We will soon see that these project phases are more or less reflected in all frequently used methodologies.
In this first part of our series, we inspect the most traditional project management methodology.
Methodology 1: Waterfall
Waterfall is a linear sequential approach where one phase can only begin when the previous phase is completed.
Also, you need to have the final results (product requirements) specified in advance. That puts a high demand on mental skills and responsibility of all participating teams to think everything through and imagine all possible risks in advance.
Risk 1. Unfortunately, to think about the future is not what humans are especially good at. Also, we are often overly optimistic about the future and the project progress.
Waterfall is a heavily documentation-oriented project management. Originally, its aim was to allow a smooth transition of knowledge between individual team members as they come and go. Simply, a new team members reads the existing documents and they can smoothly onboard. In theory of course.
Risk 2. This does not necessarily reflect reality as the documentation is written by the team members who are very well familiar with the project, which leads to omitting details here and there.
The core principle of the Waterfall methodology is to have a clear definition of outcomes of individual phases and acceptance criteria of the next phase. Individual phases are executed by teams of specific experts.
Risk 3. When there is an overlap of people between individual phases, it can become very hard for them to stick to the rules of phases handover. This can create unwanted unpredicted states.
Risk 4. Waterfall typically flows only down. There can be a reverse speed in your gearbox. When a critical issue is discovered, the only thing that can be done is to return to the previous state of the process. This causes lengthy delays and problems with teams utilization.
Risk 5. In Waterfall, the active phase indicates which team is the busiest one at the moment. The team in the earlier phase has completed their work and they could have started on another project already. The team in a later phase might be still completing their previous project. Do you see the big hidden assumption here? The assumption is that all phases take equal amount of time. This is rarely true.
This constant inflow of other projects (to keep the people utilized) makes reversing the process very difficult. Suddenly, one team faces a situation where there are two projects on their plate at the same time. On the other hand, the team that returned the Material or Work In Progress (WIP) to the previous phase is empty-handed.
Risk 6. The WIP handover between the phases is a typical friction point between the teams. When team members are under stress and the project deadline is close, even a tiny issue can fire up a huge blame war. It is important to remind the teams that they are all in the same boat and that they have the same goal.
Who can benefit best from Waterfall? So far we mostly talked about the risks in the Waterfall methodology. Yet, there are some really good cases when it should be strongly considered.
If you have a manufacturing process that is spread over several geographical locations and there is not an option to return WIP back to the previous stage, then it is great to have the handover criteria set very well.
Other indicators can be a manufacturing process with years of experience (you produce the same thing for years already) with no to only cosmetic changes. When the WIP stays for a significant amount of time in each phase and you have a constant throughput, then Waterfall is probably your friend.
Also the the right tool with support for tracking multiple projects at the same time can be a huge help.
Next time, we’ll have a look on Agile and derived methodologies – Scrum and Kanban.
The job market is a very dynamic environment and statistics show that the time people spend at one job is decreasing. Companies open way more new positions than ever before which introduces an additional overhead to HR departments who take care of the whole process: post new positions, review applications, communicate with candidates, conduct interviews and so on. Delivering an excellent first experience to candidates has the top priority and it should not be obscured by navigating a complex recruitment software. Lumeer’s Candidates coordination template helps you streamline the hiring process and focus on delivering the best experience to the candidates and the best results to the company.
The two main parts of the process are management of positions and management of candidates, and we will focus exactly on that.
Managing the positions
If you work in an HR department or in a recruiting agency, chances are that there are a lot of positions to process and you need a clear overview at any moment. Depending on the workflow, position can be in multiple states.
One of the typical workflows may be:
- pending approval – the manager has to approve opening of the position,
- open – the position is open and advertised (posting on job portal, screening and contacting potential candidates),
- on hold – if for whatever reason the process has been paused, the position is put on hold,
- closed – the hiring process has been finished.
Board perspective groups positions in columns by state and allows you to easily switch positions from one state to another:
Time aspect is important too – what if you need to see which positions are going to be closed in the near future? Timeline perspective shows you exactly that:
Managing the candidates
When your goal is to find the best people for the positions, then, naturally, candidates are the most valuable asset that you work with, therefore you want to make sure that the communication and the whole hiring experience is as smooth, effective and engaging as possible.
One of the activities recruiting certainly contains is interviewing the candidates. Then, of course, you want to have a calendar which shows you upcoming interviews:
After a candidate applies for a position, we need to record this and set up an interview. One person can apply to multiple positions and have multiple interviews. It is especially useful to know this to further optimize your processes and avoid multiple company introductions for example:
And of course, a particular person has to be responsible for the interview and this also needs to be recorded. In another view, we can assign interviews to recruiters:
Did you find the right person for the position? Then congratulations! But what about the candidates that were not hired? What if there were more brilliant people that could be a valuable asset to your company, but you could hire only one for the position? That means they could fit a different position.
Distance from home is one of the aspects people consider when choosing their job. Therefore we could approach unsuccessful candidates with job offers close to their home. Map shows us which offices are the nearest to the candidate’s home and we can determine which other positions could be relevant based on the offices location:
Make it yours
Lumeer provides you with templates to save your time, not to restrict your work. You can always customize tables, views and perspectives to your needs.
Maybe the information you store about candidates is not sufficient and you need to store their CV as well. How? Go to Applicants table and add a column with file attachment:
Double click on the cell, upload the file and it’s there!
Do you manage HR department? Try Candidates coordination template and see how it can help you to focus on your work!
With globalization and expansion of industry all around the world, supply chain is something that most companies cannot avoid and need to employ efficient tools for its management.
Lumeer offers you a template created just for that purpose. Template is a pre-defined set of tables and views – you can start using it immediately or customize it to your specific needs.
We use a model with SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) that flow between vendors (external suppliers to order SKUs from), depots (distribution points that store larger amounts of SKUs) and stores (where SKUs are actually sold to customers). The stores order from the depots, and if a depot runs out of stock, the depot orders from a vendor.
We can see all three parts of the chain in a map (notice that different colours represent different entities from the search field):
In one place, we can track which SKU is supplied by which Vendor, so when something is low in stock in a depot, we know where should we order from. On the left side, there are SKUs, and on the right side there are linked Vendors which supply that SKU:
Breakdown of SKUs by categories is easy to understand from the chart:
We can also track orders of SKUs without duplicating any data – SKUs are linked to records with orders. The connection between SKUs and Orders has its own parameters – Number (No) of units and Cost, and what’s more, Cost is automatically calculated from No of units and SKU’s Cost per unit. The Total amount of each order is automatically calculated too:
To easily track stock levels in stores, we use pivot table. Rows represent stores, columns represent SKUs and values in the table represent stock levels (empty means that there is no stock present):
Pivot table also has advanced features for displaying content from multiple tables and links and aggregate it with different functions. We use them for tracking stock vs. demand on all depots. Demand is calculated from all orders that have not been completed yet. Sum of Stock level represents how many SKU units are in the depot, and Sum of No of units represents how many units are currently requested from the depot in open orders.