So you are finally ready to start on your website project! Read this post before diving in. You will be glad you did. Following these simple recommendations will save you time and help to prevent headaches later.
Understanding Website Project Management Methodologies
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing and controlling inputs and resources to achieve the goals of your project. The primary constraints in project management are scope, time, quality and budget. Why should you care? Well, without proper project management, your website may be late and over budget, so understanding how projects are managed is the key to your success.
There are a great number of project management methodologies. There is no right or wrong methodology for a website project, and every web developer certainly has his own preference. Before you start your project, ask your web developer what methodology they use. Most established companies might even have certifications in project management such as PMP, ISO 9000, PRINCE 2, etc.
For the purpose of this book, we will focus on the two of the most common project methodologies used in web development—Agile and Waterfall. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, and the methodology preferred depends on the detail and scope of your project.
What Is Waterfall Project Methodology
Waterfall is the more traditional project management methodology, in which every phase of the project must be fully completed and signed off before moving forward to the next stage. The Waterfall approach relies on project documentation, such as technical specifications to define the scope of work clearly before it is started. Waterfall is a great methodology for ensuring that all deliverables meet expectations.
The Waterfall approach is recommended for projects that must be completed within a fixed timeframe and do not have the budget for multiple revisions or iterations.
The disadvantage of Waterfall is that it is not flexible. Because it relies on the scope and specifics to be defined up-front, there is little room for change during the project. The limited flexibility is a drawback if any corrections are required during the course of the project (i.e., a specific aspect of the project appears differently than planned). Finally, projects managed under Waterfall methodology generally take much longer since each stage must be fully completed before proceeding to next stage.
For projects managed under Waterfall methodology, you can expect a fixed budget and an accurate timeframe.
What Is Agile Project Methodology
Agile project methodology was developed specifically to address the limitations of Waterfall and other traditional approaches. The concept of Agile methodology is that it is ongoing and is based on principles of interaction and collaboration among team members, where tasks are executed quickly and in an adaptive manner. In other words, there is much less advance planning, and steps are completed as the project requires. The team focuses their efforts on small tasks that require immediate attention without pre-planning the entire project.
This methodology is preferred for projects with limited short-term timeframes where the website (or at least the initial part) must be launched as soon as possible. Agile method also supports quick changes to the scope and direction of the project based on market requirements.
The disadvantage of this methodology is because of its ongoing nature, you can be virtually investing an endless amount of money, time and resources into the project. In addition, because of lack of planning, frequent testing is required, and this commands much more of your involvement. If you prefer a hands-off approach, Agile methodology may not be the best choice.
For projects managed under Agile methodology, you are generally paying for the time spent (e.g., a week’s worth of teamwork). It may not be possible to operate within a fixed budget, since the scope of the project is not clearly defined.
You should also know that there are firms who practice the mixed methodology (a combination of both Agile and Waterfall). For example, our firm always starts with the Waterfall approach for the main project, and the uses the Agile methodology where changes and additions are required. This mixed approach allows us to use the advantages of both methodologies, while avoiding the disadvantages.