It’s no secret that project management is a difficult beast.
Not only do you have to track every aspect of your team’s progress, but you also need to be able to ensure that the process by which decisions are made is an efficient one.
This begs the question: what sort of methodologies are out there to help with the project management process?
When it comes to project management, there are two predominant methodologies to choose from: lean methodology vs. agile.
The ideal methodology for your project truly depends on the type of project you’re working on. Using either methodology would benefit your team, but the benefits grow exponentially when you figure out which one is best for you.
What is Lean Methodology?
Lean methodology, inspired by the process by which Toyota pulled itself out of bankruptcy, emphasizes creating the most value out of the fewest resources. If the customer doesn’t value something, it’s not needed in the production process.
It’s all about optimization. If a process or workflow can be optimized to lower costs, it should be. As the methodology was developed while looking at a physical, repetitive production process, it may be better suited for projects that are frequently repeated.
There are five core principles in lean methodology: Value, the Value Stream, Flow, Pull and Perfection. Let’s break down what each of those principles mean, individually.
Value: What the customer is willing to pay for.
The Value Stream: Identification of any and all activities that contribute to values.
Flow: Ensuring all processes move smoothly.
Pull: Limit excess inventory to work with only what is needed.
Perfection: Acknowledge that there is always room to improve your processes.
What is Agile?
There are a good number of differences between lean methodology vs. agile.
While lean methodology was created and pioneered to deal with production problems in manufacturing, agile was created to deal with production problems in technology.
Since technology has a short life cycle, it was important to develop a methodology that allows for constant, swift development. That’s where agile comes in.
The goal of agile is to be able to deliver results in small, consumable increments. It was developed as an improvement over the waterfall methodology, where nothing would be delivered until a large product launch was in the cards. As technology moves fast, this would lead to almost instantaneously obsolete results.
To use a food metaphor, agile methodology allows you to deliver a meal, course by course, through the span of an evening. Using waterfall methodology, you would have to wait to serve the meal until everything was completed, leading to cold, stale, disappointing plates.
Lean Methodology vs. Agile: Which is Better?
It’s impossible to create a value proposition and definitively say which methodology is better between lean methodology vs. agile. For some teams, lean methodology is the way to go. For others, it’s agile methodology.
As with many things in life, the best methodology is the one that works for you. Lean methodology is focused on optimizing processes, while agile is focused on delivering bite-sized improvements in quick fashion. Whichever one you choose, any methodology is better than nothing at all.
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