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An effective project manager uses their experience and tools to implement innovative and effective strategies. Careful deployment of innovative project management (PM) strategies speeds up production times and leaves project teams feeling fresh and ready to tackle the next task on their plates.

The rigid nature of traditional PM, and the predictability it aims for, can be at odds with innovation. This, however, doesn’t mean project managers must always stick to the book—sometimes unique challenges are best overcome with agile thinking and flexibility.  

The challenge is finding a strategy that allows for oversight without stifling creativity. The following are a few innovative ways businesses are re-imagining project management while encouraging creativity and ideation.

Use the right project management methodology

Every project is unique and can benefit from a specific project management methodology to achieve the best results. Knowing what to do, in what order, and by when is only part of the puzzle. After settling on a project plan, plugging that plan into a process or framework will give project managers the support they need to succeed.

Savvy project managers understand that methodologies should be used as tools rather than constraints. 

Choosing an appropriate project management methodology to implement before a project kicks off will keep things moving along and aligned with requirements after kick-off to produce a successful end product. Winging it and using a loose, barely-there style of management will most likely present a situation riddled with gaps, delays, and unhappy customers when the budget gets spent too soon and results in a subpar product.

Three of the commonly used project management methodologies are:

Agile

Agile project management is an iterative approach that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement. It breaks projects into smaller increments and promotes open communication, adaptability to change, and empowered teams.

Technical projects, like software development or engineering efforts, are often run in an agile framework. This gives them the ability to iteratively build and progress a series of smaller complicated pieces that require a continuous testing and improvement conveyor belt.

Waterfall 

The waterfall methodology is a linear project management approach with sequential phases: requirements gathering, system design, implementation, testing, deployment, and maintenance. It assumes stable requirements and needs to be more flexible to accommodate changes.

Projects like construction projects are better suited to a waterfall or stepped process when something needs to be completed before the next part can begin. As another example, a design project would also benefit from a waterfall methodology, such as a GUI or interface that must be designed and approved before functionality and features can be developed to utilize that digital space.

Hybrid 

Hybrid methodology in project management refers to a customized approach that combines elements of different project management methodologies, such as waterfall and agile, to suit a project’s specific needs and characteristics. It allows for flexibility and tailoring to ensure an optimal balance between predictability and adaptability throughout the project lifecycle.

Hybrid approaches may be best for work that includes both technical and creative aspects, such as websites, online courses, or video games.

Build in time and scope to experiment and fail

Experimentation doesn’t always have a neat home in modern project management methodologies. Project management tends to focus on assigning very specific tasks and initiatives to meet metrics and KPIs that produce easily identifiable progress. Often, this means that experimentation will fall by the wayside if time is not set aside for it.

  • Building dedicated testing time into each project period as tasks
  • Scheduling project-sharing sessions where teams can collaborate on the success of creative projects
  • Noting and celebrating failures as well as wins and reviewing lessons learned

Simplify the process with the right PM tools

project management

Robust project management tools allow many different project team members to enter data, track progress, and report on results. 

Modern project management tools encourage smooth communication through clear processes, automations, and centralized updates. Project managers can have more control of task organization and process management than ever before, and team members can be empowered to take minute task management into their own hands. 

Use tools to ease bottlenecks

Project management software can make it easy to spot where tasks are held up the most. With the right setup, you can see problems at a glance, and some software can track how long tasks sit in various statuses. By identifying where bottlenecks are, a project manager can make adjustments to eliminate roadblocks. 

Test different tools with free trials

Most project management software and tools offer free trials so you can get a feel for the setup and see if it works for your team. Don’t be afraid to test a few or several—you may find your team needs more than one tool to get the job done.

Identify where tools can save time

There is a tool for every team. Sometimes multiple tools can integrate with your current infrastructure. Automating time-consuming tasks like planning, scheduling, tracking, and resource allocation frees up time for more important work and for more innovation.

Moreover, complex projects require close planning, tracking, and collaboration to be successful. Project management tools can provide the necessary functions to simplify these steps for more success.

Learn from past mistakes and successes

Once the product is out the door, the site is launched, or the update is implemented, a team should always take time to reflect on what went well and what didn’t.

  • Schedule and lead retrospective conversations with everyone involved to gather feedback through pointed, planned questions.
  • Gather a deep well of data and information to improve the project development cycle.
  • During these debriefs, cultivate a comfortable culture of candid honesty so team members and relevant stakeholders are able to give actionable feedback. Like a product review, those with strong feelings will want to be heard.
  • If your team is not yet comfortable speaking up in a group setting, offer anonymous opportunities for feedback, like forms or digital whiteboards.

Find balance between accountability and creativity

Finding a happy balance in an organization’s project efforts can be difficult. While it’s important to keep projects in check with scope and budget restrictions, it’s just as important to encourage opportunities for innovation.These strategies will help project managers find their footing and open avenues of creativity and accountability across teams while finding time in the development cycle for change and experimentation.

If you’re thinking it’s time for a new project management software to make the most of these strategies, take a look at our top project management software picks.

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FAQs

What is project management?

Project management is the process of planning and controlling resources to reach specific goals within defined constraints. It involves coordinating tasks, managing resources, and ensuring successful project completion while meeting stakeholders’ expectations.

What are the other project management methodologies?

Other project management methodologies include Agile (Scrum, Kanban, XP), Lean, and PRINCE2, each with its own unique approach and principles for managing projects effectively and achieving successful outcomes.