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Predictive Project Management is not Dead: it’s in Rude Health

Predictive Project Management is not Dead: it’s in Rude Health

The way some blogs and video channels tackle Agile and Predictive Project Management, it would be easy to get the impression that Predictive Project Management is dead and gone – or at least moribund. But this could not be further from the truth.

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

A cable reportedly sent by Mark Twain from London to the press in the United States after his obituary had been mistakenly published. In fact, he said ‘the report of my death was an exaggeration.’

This article is an unusual one for us

Predictive Project Management is not Dead: it’s in Rude Health

It is not an analysis of an area of Project Management knowledge. Rather, it is two things:

  1. An explanation of a trenchant opinion, that Predictive Project Management is, remains, and will remain a core Project Management skillset.
  2. A major anouncement from OnlinePMCourses, and my justification for the biggest change we’ve ever made.

But of course, if you’re one of my many readers whose primary mission is to learn, I’ll refer you to loads of rigorous articles along the way.

Here’s what we’ll cover…

  1. Rise of Agile and the Dying of Predictive Project Management
  2. Rude Health of Predictive Project Management
  3. BIG CHANGE: Our Core Predictive Project Management Program

If you prefer to watch than to read, here’s a video that summarizes this article.

Rise of Agile and the Dying of Predictive Project Management

The label, ‘Agile‘ was first applied to Project Management in 2001, when 17 software developers published the Agile Manifesto. I cover this, and the valuable 12 Agile Principles, in our article: Agile Principles: The 12 Keys to Adaptive Project Management.


A Short History of Project Management: Project Management Timeline

By the way, if you are interested in the history of Project management, do take a look at our video, A Short History of Project Management: Project Management Timeline.

Since then, Agile practitioners have repeatedly berated more traditional styles of Project Management and many of their characteristics. Yet, too many forget that the core aspects of adaptive Project Management: iteration and increments; have been around for a very long time. Agile did not invent them.

Waterfall as a Perjorative Term for Predictive Project Management

In addition to asserting that there may no longer be a place for predictive Project Management, some agilists have adopted the term ‘Waterfall Project Management’ as a pejorative term for traditional, predictive Project Management.

The term Waterfall originally referred to Winston Royce’s 6-phase model for software engineering projects. Without a doubt, for this kind of project, adaptive methodologies are far more suitable.


An Informed Assessment of Waterfall Project Management

If you want an informed view of what Waterfall Project Management is, take a look at our article, What Really is the Waterfall Method?

Rude Health of Predictive Project Management

However, despite all claims to the contrary, predictive Project Management remains widely used and rightly so. It’s not that some die-hards are clinging on to it; the approach remains valuable for many reasons and in many contexts.

In our article, Agile vs Waterfall: Which one is Right for Your Project?, I argue that setting adaptive against predictive project management is just plain bonkers. We have an either/or choice. We can have both and select:

  • one of them
  • the other of them
  • or, better still, the best of both!

In fact, I have a short video that gives a sideways view of the debate. It argues that the choice of one or the other is absurd: Waterfall vs Agile: The Big Principle at Stake | Video.

Hybrid Project Management

I used to think of hybrid Project Management as some form of overlap: where adaptive and predictive practices match. It’s a poor metaphor. There are overlaps, of course. But a true hybrid takes the distinctive elements of both – rather than just the matching elements. I am indebted to Hélio Costa for this insight. The link will take you to my interview with Hélio, in which he explains this, with the metaphor of cutlery. Learn more about Hélio’s FLEKS model of hybrid Project Management in the feature article he wrote: Hybrid Project Management: Get Better Results with the Free FLEKS Hybrid Model.

Traditional, Agile, and Hybrid Methods

All Project Management is Hybrid Project Management

However, there are going to be clear use-cases for:

  • Primarily predictive project management approaches
  • Largely adaptive project management approaches
  • Genuinely hybrid project management approaches

This means that a strong understanding of the principles, methods, and processes of predictive Project Management will serve you well, in two out of three cases (and, to a degree, in the third!)

A core knowledge of Predictive Project Management is valuable, in both its own right and because it is necessary as part of the Tailoring process for creating an effective hybrid approach.

BIG CHANGE: Our Core Predictive Project Management Program

But, the truth is Predictive Project Management Works.

For millions of project managers across the globe, this is not just their introduction to Project Management. It is their daily professional bread and butter.

Incidental Project Managers

And, for those managers and professionals who never aspire to be a project manager… Yet they need to deliver projects on time and to budget…

Yup, for them, predictive project management is perfect for their needs.

Predictive AND Adaptive Project Management

I’m not arguing that, for a long-term Project Management career, you should not learn about Agile methods. Adaptive Project Management is every bit as valuable an asset in your toolkit as Predictive.

But I am arguing that we should not throw the Predictive baby out with the Project Management bathwater.

I would say every Project Manager, other than a hard-core, dedicated Agilist, needs a solid grounding in basic predictive Project Management.

And that’s what I aimed to provide when I started OnlinePMCourses in 2016. I built everything around three core Project Management courses, The Project Manager’s…

  1. Fast Start Program
  2. Skills Mastery Program
  3. Immersion Program

These are my medium, large, and extra-large Predictive Project Management courses.

But today, I have my biggest announcement ever.

It is a price drop – and it’s a big one.

And no, I am NOT talking about a Sale. I am dropping my prices permanently.

Probably, it will be forever. Certainly, it will be until further notice.

Basically, I am Halving the Prices of our Core Project Management Courses

Why am I doing this?

  1. I have held our prices since launch in March 2016. And, after 6 years, I have covered my original costs of recording, editing, publishing, and hosting. Hundreds of people have benefited from these courses, which have helped them to build the careers they deserve.
  2. I set up the OnlinePMCourses YouTube channel to market my courses. But, I have become aware how popular the free content is. The YouTube channel now takes up most of my time.
  3. Many, many of you, my followers, are not yet highly paid Project Managers. Some of you live in countries where salaries are lower than here in Europe, or in places like Australia, Canada, and the US. Too many people found my old pricing hard to afford.
  4. I want more people to have access to my courses. And I am prepared to take a big cut in my profit to achieve this.

If I were you, I’d have questions…

What if I bought at the old price recently?

If that’s you, drop me a line. I have something for you.
But note: recently means the last month or two.

What about seasonal sales?

Well, who knows? Probably not. But I do like to reward loyalty. So, I tend to save my discounts for members of the community. I make these offers through my newsletter and in Livestreams on YouTube. 

Is this just a way to sell more?

Yes, it is. I want more people to buy my courses and learn project management. It’s that simple. Maybe, I’ll sell enough more to make up for the price drop. That would be a win-win.

What is Your View of Predictive Project Management?

How do you use Predictive Project Management? What are your thoughts on its long-term future? Let us know in the comments below.

About the Author Mike Clayton

Dr Mike Clayton is one of the most successful and in-demand project management trainers in the UK. He is author of 14 best-selling books, including four about project management. He is also a prolific blogger and contributor to and Project, the journal of the Association for Project Management. Between 1990 and 2002, Mike was a successful project manager, leading large project teams and delivering complex projects. In 2016, Mike launched OnlinePMCourses.

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