The Crucial Step Missing From Project Managers’ Automated Workflow

Wikipedia defines a project manager as:

“the person responsible for accomplishing the project objectives by creating clear and attainable project objectives, procuring the project requirements like human resources, contractors, material or technology to accomplish the goals.”

Walt Disney was famous for his movies, but the behind-the-screens efforts were crucial to producing acclaimed successes that continue to this day.

Walt Disney once said, “Of all the things I’ve done, the most vital is coordinating the talents of those who work for us and pointing them towards a certain goal.”

While the goal of the project manager is coordination, this individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but rather strives to maintain the progress, mutual interaction and tasks of various parties in such a way that reduces the risk of overall failure, maximizes benefits, and minimizes costs.

To increase odds of project success if project managers were to start with determining what process they will use to complete the project, they would set themselves and their team up for a better end result. Deciding on a process aligned with needs, expectations and client objectives leads to more organized and consistent work, as well as focused collaboration.

While Walt Disney didn’t have access to the processes and technology that you do today, if you’re ready to take your project management to the next level, then consider implementing the four tried-and-true project management processes described below before project kick-off.

Waterfall

The waterfall process is a very straightforward, chronological approach to project management. It involves (1) determining the project requirements, (2) designing the project, (3) building the project, and (4) integrating the project. Ideally, the project is reviewed and tested throughout the entire process. This is a great option for teams that prefer to see exactly how the project will evolve from the beginning. It also allows employees to work on other projects when the current project is not in their assigned phase (e.g. the designer can work on other design projects once he or she has finished designing this one, rather than having to come back to it repeatedly, as required in the agile method).

Agile

In contrast to the waterfall method, the agile process requires all employees to “sprint” through various phases of the project together. Each sprint represents a length of time and various objectives that must be completed within that time. At the end of every sprint, the product is a more improved and complete version than it was at the beginning. One of the most valuable benefits of this method is that it allows clients to check in on the product from beginning to end, and request any necessary changes before your team gets to the final version.

Six Sigma

The Six Sigma approach is your best bet for creating flawless technical processes. Two acronyms exist for this method—DMAIC and DMADV. DMAIC, or Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control, is designed for existing processes that you are improving. DMADV, or Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify, is for creating new processes. The ultimate goal of this method is for your process to be defective no more than 3.4 times per million opportunities. Processes that benefit from this method could be anything from manufacturing to software systems.

Kanban

The kanban method uses an unexpected visual tool—sticky notes. Each of your project’s tasks is written on a sticky note. You, the project manager, would place these sticky notes on a white board separated into three categories: in queue, in progress, and recently completed. This is a great option for your team to see how the project is progressing and maintain a balance between urgent and less urgent tasks.

As a project manager, you want to lead your team in the most strategic way possible. This begins by determining what process you will use to complete each project. Whether you use waterfall, agile, Six Sigma, or kanban, try out one of these methods and be prepared to impress your team and

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