Project Methodology For Design & Development Teams
Who are these geniuses that combine innovation, science, engineering, art and technology into the things we rely on every day to make our lives easier, safer or simply more enjoyable? They are the scores of product designers and development teams that marry their gifts of creativity with the discipline of a methodical approach — akin to the scientific method — to ultimately produce an elegant solution that has potential to affect a great mass of people.
Harnessing the power of creativity is no simple matter. One the one hand, there must remain the opportunity for free thought and inspiration that foster new perspectives and ideas, but on the other hand, a degree of structure – albeit flexible — is important to ensure the march toward the goal is clear and maintains the opportunity to pivot when new information is available.
Successful project managers know how to employ a mix of methodical approach with flexible structure to maximize the potential of the teams they lead. A seasoned project manager will keep several methodologies in his or her arsenal and bring them out when the situation calls for one or the other.
There are many methodologies that are applicable to product design and development. While the proper methodology can work as a useful tool toward an organization’s goal, it is important to understand that each has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on the mission you are attempting to execute and the environment you are working in.
Understanding the popular methodologies and determining which is best for a particular need is key to maximizing the potential of a product design and development team.
The Agile methodology seeks to provide fast, continuous delivery of smaller sets of deliverables to the stakeholder. Agile is not a linear process. Instead, it intentionally avoids defining the end result at the inception of the project, allowing a more flexible approach. This doesn’t mean there is a lack of governance. Quite the contrary; Agile has a disciplined process, but the fluid nature of the requirements and their ability to change many times throughout the life cycle creates a more flexible approach.
The Scrum approach is a form of the Agile methodology insofar as it is a flexible approach that allows fluid response to requirements that are not finalized. Scrum has its own identity because it focuses on short “sprints” (usually thirty days), during which the team concentrates only on the deliverables of the next thirty days. By rendering invisible the overwhelming, long-term deliverables of the mission, the team is made more productive.
The Waterfall method is very common and is perhaps the most broadly used across multiple organization types, although it originated in the construction and manufacturing sectors. As the name implies, the Waterfall method employs distinct, sequential phases that follow one another. Each phase has its own deliverables and is dependent on the preceding phase. There are many, many variations of the Waterfall phases. Here is one example:
- Requirements gathering
- Testing (user acceptance, performance, etc.)
- Production release
Employing a methodology to the universe of product design and development is the foundation of successful and repeatable results. A good project manager can lend significant value by helping to not only ensure the right methodology is applied and followed, but also when to abandon one methodology for a more favorable one.
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