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 exaggeratedA 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.’
It is not an analysis of an area of Project Management knowledge. Rather, it is two things:
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.
If you prefer to watch than to read, here’s a video that summarizes this article.
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.
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.
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.
If you want an informed view of what Waterfall Project Management is, take a look at our article, What Really is the Waterfall Method?
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:
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.
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.
However, there are going to be clear use-cases for:
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.
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.
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.
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…
These are my medium, large, and extra-large Predictive Project Management courses.
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.
If that’s you, drop me a line. I have something for you.
But note: recently means the last month or two.
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.
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.
How do you use Predictive Project Management? What are your thoughts on its long-term future? Let us know in the comments below.
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 ProjectManager.com 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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