project success

12 Jul

Project Business – Which Project Approach is Right?

One of the keys to growth and success in Project led business is standardisation of core functions i.e. the processes and the function of project management.

Critical to this is deciding on which project management approach to adopt to deliver your goods or service. There are two mainstream approaches.

The Planned (predictive) and Agile (adaptive) approaches are the best recognised industry standards for delivering projects and represent the most tried and trusted methods to deliver your projects and to help you to standardise.

But which is best for your project business?

Planned (Predictive)

The Planned approach attempts to predict as much as possible before moving into delivery. If we think about the installation of new equipment into a manufacturing plant we produce a set of detailed drawings, a schedule and a budget for the work prior to installation.

Because of the detail and accuracy required it needs to be relatively heavy on process and procedure and works best when set standards are used consistently in your business. The planned approach tends to favour delivering on physical things such as new or upgraded equipment, a building or fitout.

Two globally recognised planned methods include the Prince2® methodology and the Project Management Institute (PMI) methodology.

Agile (Adaptive)

This Agile approach is based on delivering something quickly with a light plan, reflecting on the outcome rather than the output and being flexible on change. If we take the same example we may proceed with a rough scope of work, indicative schedule and budget but need to adapt to the daily changing situation. We would be expecting change and even rework but it is fast and responsive.

Agile is about being ready and willing to adapt as we go. Therefore, it is light on planning and process and has a need for flexibility and willingness to accept change throughout the project. Here the scope of work is based on a capability, i.e. I need to increase the power output of my facility with the need to start immediately. 

Two globally recognised Agile methods include the Scrum® framework and Kanban.

Which Approach suits your business needs?



To help decide ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Can you clearly define the scope or requirements?
  2. Are these requirements reasonably fixed and not likely to change much?
  3. Can you define your activities with a good degree of confidence?
  4. Can you break the project down into clearly defined phases?
  5. Is success measured by achieving the project objectives?
  6. Are you operating in a highly regulated environment?

If the answer to all or most of these questions is yes, then the Planned Approach is the way to go. A process driven method works very well when a clear path is visible, and success is based on the final deliverables.

The Agile Approach is most effective when the scope is vague and success is based on customer satisfaction not delivery of scope.

One approach is not better than the other. They just need to be used under the right circumstances with appropriately trained and mentored teams. Some businesses will operate a hybrid approach however it is important that the approach suits your governance structures for your Project Business.

If you want to know more about Project Based businesses and how to increase project success in your business contact us for a free consultation.

Brian Cleere is a Project Management Consultant operating in the SME area. He has many years of experience in Project Management both operationally and in delivering training. He is a Certified Project Manager (PMP), Professional Scrum Master (PSM), Prince 2 Certified Practitioner, P30 Certified Practitioner (PMO) and Chartered Engineer (MIEI).

Cleere Project Office provides project training and consulting services for Project Businesses.

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