Five Questions in Determining Project Approach


Project Approach is also sometimes called your project strategy or strategic approach. It also matters more for larger projects or programs. An easy way to think of your approach is your collection of life cycles you will use for the project or program.

When deciding what approach to take on a project there are some key questions you always want to ask in helping you decide what methodology to use for your project. For more complex projects you could find yourself with multiple parallel deliverables which could each use a different approach. One deliverable could use a straight waterfall approach, while another deliverable will need an iterative approach to handle less than complete requirements.

Question 1: How many concurrent/parallel deliverables do you have?
If you have a lot of large deliverables you might consider creating a program or work streams. Each with their own lead or project manager.

Question 2: What is the expected life of the solution?
Are you creating a bridge that needs to last 100 years or are you improving an internal process flow with little risk in cost? If a bridge, you’ll want to make sure everything is looked at closely.

Question 3: How easily can changes be made to the solution once it is live?
If you are creating the Mars Rover you better get everything right the first time. However, if you are creating the next version of Windows you have some wiggle room as you can fix issues through service packs.

Question 4: What is the up-front capital cost for the project?
If you have a project to replace your network infrastructure you will be spending a lot in new hardware up front. Another example is signing a 30 year lease on a new building where you are also buying a lot of construction materials. If you have high up front costs you’ll want to spend a little more time on the planning side to make sure you don’t end up with any waste.

Question 5: What is the experience level and skill set of your Project Team?
If you want to use an Agile life cycle and no one on the team has used Agile, it is not going to work very well the first few times. Understanding the experience and skills of your team is not only critical to the approach, they should provide feedback to the approach before it is finalized.



One thought on “Five Questions in Determining Project Approach

  1. Andrew 'Project Manager' Newey

    The 4 questions you have listed are good ones to help decide approach. All different types of projects have 1 thing in common: people. The people you have and their capability, ability communicate and synergise together as a team will also dictate how you approach a project and your project management style.


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