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Projects are big challenges. A high expenditure of planning and resources can quickly lead to difficulties and failure all along the line. A one-time goal should be achieved within the given time with available human and financial resources. To do this, each individual measure must be optimally coordinated.
"PM as the application of knowledge, skills, methods and techniques to the processes of a project

In the course of time, many methods for project management have developed and become established. The application always depends on the project phase, size, type and industry.
1. Project structure planning
2. Network plan technology
3. Milestone trend analysis
4. Kanban
5. Stakeholder analysis
6. Risk analysis
7. Make-or-buy analysis
8. Waterfall model
9. Critical Path Method
10. Scrum
11. Lean
12. Other project management methods

1. Project structure planning

Visual representations are very popular within PM methods . Project connections are shown quickly and clearly and can be planned intuitively.
The work breakdown structure is a good example of this and an important part of the project plan . It shows all elements of a project hierarchically in operationalizable units including their relationships. The resulting tree only shows the rough structure of a project.

Make complex things clear

It is often difficult to capture larger projects as a whole, in particular. A project structure plan divides the project into sub-areas, thus reducing complexity and making it understandable for everyone. This enables an easy overview.


The work breakdown structure precisely outlines a project with all of its tasks. This also makes it easy to identify what belongs to the project and what needs to be done and what does not. That creates orientation.

Clear distribution of tasks

With specific packages and tasks, the plan forms the basis for task management . For example, individual packages can be given responsibility for other teams and tasks can be assigned to different team members.

Basis for further projects

As a general overview of which tasks belong to a project, the structure plan serves as the basis for further plans such as the schedule , which then deal more specifically with the “when” and “how”. The creation is made much easier by a previously existing work breakdown structure.

2. Network plan technique

The network plan graphically represents the logical and temporal sequence of sub-processes in the project. By taking into account many factors, the network plan is one of the most precise and therefore most important instruments in process management .

A network plan in the project graphically represents the networks and provides those involved in the project with a simple overview of the processes
Overall, this network map shows the following information:
• Dependencies between sub-steps
Which task must be completed before a new one can be started?
• Duration of the tasks
How much time do you have to plan in each case?
• Buffer times
Where can delays occur - where not?
• Earliest and latest starting point of a task
When can a task be started, when does it have to be started at the latest in order not to endanger the end date?
• Earliest and latest end point of a task
When could a task be finished at the earliest, when does it have to be finished at the latest?
• Critical path
Which tasks are particularly important from a time point of view in order to meet the planned end date?

The network plan helps to determine the total duration of a project, visualizes processes that could endanger the planned end of the project and creates possible buffers and time reserves. Optimizations in the time planning can also be determined on the basis of this.
In practice, the plan is particularly applied in the area of ??procurement and production.

3. Milestone trend analysis

Dates always in view and shown graphically - the milestone trend analysis (MTA) is suitable for this. It is a method for forecasting and controlling project deadlines.
In any case, milestones must be defined in the project. These are important times when certain results should be available. Test or intermediate status appointments with the client often determine the further course of the project.

These milestones are checked at certain points in time - and regularly to identify any discrepancies. In this way, information can be given as to whether the entire project is on schedule.
A special feature of this graphic representation is the derivation of trends:
• Horizontal line: appointments as planned
• Rising line: Delay in the milestone date
• Sloping line: earlier completion
Risk minimization - Delays can be identified at an early stage and countermeasures can be initiated.

4. Kanban

Kanban, originally developed as a method for production control, is now one of the most widespread agile project management methods alongside Scrum (point 10) .
The Kanban Board is classically divided into three columns next to each other, in which various tasks are classified according to their status:
• To Do: planned tasks that have not yet started
• In Progress: active tasks that are in progress
• Done: completed, completed tasks
As an extremely flexible approach, the columns can always be adapted to the respective project. So maybe several columns are more suitable or different column names have to be found.

This method is particularly suitable for simple task management, i.e. the organization of everyday business. Always at a glance what needs to be done and what's next. Kanban enables better utilization, greater transparency and faster interactions in the project.

5. Stakeholder Analysis

Stakeholders - also called stakeholder groups - are
"All internal and external groups of people who are currently or in the future directly or indirectly affected by business activities." - Prof. Dr. Jean-Paul Thommen, author for the Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon
When carrying out a project, different interests inevitably collide. It is therefore important to recognize them and to distinguish between “friend” and “enemy”.
In the stakeholder analysis - it is part of the SWOT analysis - all those affected and involved are identified and their respective influence on the project is analyzed.

In this way, groups of people can be identified who could endanger the implementation of the project and possible strategies can be developed to deal with these “blockers”.
Accordingly, the goal should not be to please all groups, but to become clear about the values, influences and interests of the stakeholders. Communication planning can then take place on the basis of the analysis.

6. Risk analysis

All projects, albeit similar, are in their own way mostly temporary and one-off projects that involve different risks. Risk management is particularly important for a project, as it identifies opportunities and risks, develops measures and ultimately monitors the success of implementation.
There are basically five steps involved in performing a risk analysis.

Identify risks

In the first step, possible risks must first be identified. Where do the risks come from? Possible sources can be:
• Competing goals: individual goals that compete with one another or are mutually exclusive
• Project environment: factors from the environment have a limiting effect
• Stakeholder: Stakeholder groups with a high degree of influence on the project

Assess risks

The aim of the next step is to sort the listed risks and highlight the most dangerous ones. Because not all of them have the same impact on the project. When assessing the risks, a distinction is made between two main factors.
• Probability of occurrence: The higher the probability, the more dangerous the risk - except for 100%, then it is a general condition and not a risk.
• Scope: The scope describes the damage that occurs when the risk occurs. In most cases, the carrying width is given in terms of financial damage.
• The risk value: The product of scope and probability of occurrence provides information about which risks should be particularly monitored.

Define strategies

The third step is to define how risks are to be dealt with. There are several strategies in this regard.
• Avoid: In the case of particularly dangerous risks, “getting out of the way” makes sense, even if the project plan usually has to be changed.
• Reduce: Most often in practice, attempts are made to reduce the probability of occurrence or the consequences.
• Relocating: Relocating to other parties involved can reduce the risk, although the overall project does not fundamentally change.
• Accept: In the case of risks that are less dangerous, one can simply wait and see.

Develop measures

Once developed, the strategies must be converted into measures. A distinction is made between preventive and corrective measures.
• Preventive measures: These measures relate to the cause of the risk, reduce the likelihood of occurrence and thus have a preventive effect.
• Corrective Action: If the risk has already occurred, corrective action will reduce the damage.


Checking the effectiveness of the measures is part of the standard of (digital) project management . Monitoring must be continuous - especially with regard to risks. A risk that is assessed to be harmless may develop into a disaster scenario after all.

7. Make-or-Buy Analysis

Do it yourself or commission it externally? That is the big question that has to be answered according to the criteria of cost, quality, time, resource availability and risks.
Accordingly, a make-or-buy analysis should be defined as a standardized company process. This avoids that the decision is influenced by subjective criteria and can therefore be optimally made in the interests of the company.
The following criteria should always be taken into account in an analysis:

• Costs: Which variant incurs lower costs for the company?
• Time: Which of the two paths is best to be agreed with the project schedule?
• Quality: Purchased or developed in-house - by which of the two variants does the product meet the project requirements?
• Resource availability: Are there enough resources - personnel, material, machines - and specialist knowledge available for in-house development?
• Risks: Which variant has fewer risks in a specific case?

8. Waterfall model

In the approach of the waterfall model , the project flow is divided into sequential phases that build on each other. The name results from the graphic representation in which the project phases are arranged as a cascade.
The “step by step” model is often used in software development. It structures and controls. In comparison to project management methods from the agile environment such as Scrum and Kanban, however, it rather stands for the opposite, namely classic project management. What makes the difference is the development of the course of the project, the
• with agile methods only develops in the course of the project or
• with traditional approaches it is completely created at the beginning.

The critical path, i.e. the longest chain of related activities, can be calculated from this information - this results in a calculation of the times for individual processes and the resulting buffer times.
In a comparison of the project management methods, this is particularly suitable for larger, complex projects in order to distinguish critical from non-critical tasks and to be able to optimize the project duration.

10. Scrum

Scrum is an agile process model for product and project management. The basic idea behind it is: Many development projects are too complex to be summarized in a comprehensive plan. For this reason, a significant part of the requirements and solutions is unclear at the beginning. These are worked out step by step by creating interim results.

Scrum divides the project duration into stages, so-called sprints. At the end of each sprint - after 30 days - there should be a functional intermediate product. The next result is worked out on the basis of the feedback provided.
In addition to a few rules, the “Scrum model” defines three roles, three artifacts and five activities.


• The product owner
creates a product vision, sets technical requirements for the product and prioritizes them.
• The development team
develops the product in a self-organized manner.
• The Scrum Master
is a kind of moderator who ensures that Scrum works as a whole.


• The Product Backlog
is a collection of requirements that is constantly updated by the Product Owner.
• The sprint backlog
is a selection from the entire catalog of requirements that is important during a sprint.
• The product increment
is the functional intermediate product that exists at the end of a sprint.


• The next sprint is planned in sprint planning - the result is the sprint backlog.
• The Daily Scrum
is a daily, quarter-hour meeting in which all team members exchange information about the stage.
• During the sprint review
, the intermediate product is checked by the development team, the product backlog is adjusted, feedback is obtained and the next steps are discussed.
• The Sprint Retrospective
is about reviewing project work and continuously improving it.
• The Product Backlog Refinement
is an organized, specific and updated product backlog.

11. Lean

Like Scrum and Kanban, Lean is also a method from agile project management. Lean is about the absolute optimization of effort and income in order to get the most out of it without wasting resources. The goal is an efficient value chain with customer benefit and price efficiency at the center.
This method differentiates between three different types of waste, which are also known as 3M.


Muda is the collective term for activities and processes that have no added value as a result and ultimately represent a waste of resources. These should be identified and stopped according to the lean method.


Mura is about eliminating imbalances and coordinating processes better in terms of time or organization. This uses resources more efficiently and enables a smooth workflow, for example in production or purchasing.


The point Muri revolves around an even utilization of all resources, e.g. employees, machines or rooms. If the individual steps are delayed due to overload. this lowers productivity and efficiency. As with Mura, the aim here is to create time and organizational coordination so that no capacities are overloaded.

The 5 principles of Lean

The project management method is based on 5 principles :
1. Recognize values ??from the customer's point of view
2. Recognize all steps in the value chain and eliminate all that do not create value
3. Set up value-adding processes in close succession to enable a smooth workflow to the end customer
4. The customer receives exactly what he asked for, not anything else
5. Continuously restart the value creation process and optimize the previous steps until the value creation is perfected without waste

Other project management methods

In addition to the methods mentioned here, there are other different approaches to project management. Which one is best depends on the organizational structure, process management and also the industry.
The portal The Digital Project Manager explains, among other things, the project management methods XP, PRINCE2 and PMBOK in an article .
In the project magazine you can also find out more about the topics of environment analysis and project canvas .
The Kayenta site also sheds light on brainstorming and mind mapping in an article on PM methods .

The right PM method - conclusion

Choosing the right method is time-consuming and complex, but it pays off enormously for product management. Depending on the project itself, the company and the industry, methods must be selected individually. For example, based on the following criteria:
• Strategic goals and core values ??of the organization
• Decisive driver for the business
• Restrictions
• Stakeholder / stakeholder
• Risks
• complexity
• Project scope and costs

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