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Top 10 questions during Project / Program Manager interview (third part) -- All answers about project methodologies!

The interview questions asked by GoogleLinkedIn, and Facebook recruiters do not really matter: what matters is the knowledge you need to give the right answers to any question! So, stop reading hundredth of interview questions: it is a waste of time. Rather learn the key concepts described in this post and you will be in a much better position the day of the interview. In particular, many questions are are about the methodologies you would use as a project manager, or you have used in your past projects.

In this post, I will tell you about the key properties of the most common project management methodologies in an understandable way. In fact, the promoters of all these methods have created a lot of jargon whereas their ideas are simple and go back to management basics. So, this post tries to make things clearer.

Keep in mind that the methodologies of a project manager depend on the project type and size. For software development there are many project management methods. For other types of project it can be hard to obtain the level of cooperation required by some methodologies such as agile and scrum

Waterfall

Waterfall project methodology is the old school project management model: 
  • Tasks are run successively, 
  • Testing comes at the end, 
  • Requirements and project scope are not supposed to change over the course of the project
This model is not flexible enough and I would qualify it as deprecated.

Lean

The lean approach focuses on value creation for the user. This focus on users is a really important aspect of all successful businesses so it is an interesting methodology, that comes from the automotive industry. Key things about it (in my opinion):
  • Focus on value creation for the end users
  • Try to reduce waste
  • Incremental improvements: prototyping and incremental changes to reach excellence
  • Measure process times to remove bottlenecks

Agile

The agile approach focuses on flexibility and motivation of the project team and short release cycles. If a project team is not motivated, it cannot produce good results. And to stay motivated, people need to have impact (small team, lot of interactions among team members) and to be focused (not 10 projects in parallel for every project member).
  • Deliver working products often
  • Welcome project scope and requirement changes
  • Communicate in real-time

Scrum

Scrum is a popular project methodology that focuses on prioritization and bottom up decisions (manager does not impose the choices to the project team).

Scrum starts with the PM designing the list of requirements (called "backlogs" and representing the list of things to be done) of the product and prioritize them. Then, the team review these backlogs and see what they can really deliver. This ensures adhesion of the team to the targets. The team meets every day, and after a cycle of meetings (30 days typically), they are supposed to deliver a product that is ready to be shipped.
English: The Scrum project management method. ...
English: The Scrum project management method. Part of the image is based on public domain graphics from Open Clip Art Library (openclipart.org). Deutsch: Die Srum-Projektmanagement-Methode. Teile des Bildes basieren auf Public Domain-Grafiken aus der Open Clip Art Library http://openclipart.org (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • Requirements oriented development
  • Frequent release cycles
  • Daily meetings
  • Monitoring of the delivery date with a burn down chart as in the figure below. A burn down chart describes the work remaining to do (y axis) versus time (x axis)


English: A sample burndown chart as used in Ag...
English: A sample burndown chart as used in Agile software development methodologies, for example Scrum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
To close this post, I advise you to read the PMBOK, it's the best way to learn all aspects of project management and a good preparation to the PMP certification.

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