With so many Project Management tools to choose from, the obvious question is ‘which one is best?’. However in reality there is no one best way – each comes with its own merits and drawbacks.

In this quick guide to 4 of the most common PM tools we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each.

PRINCE2

Prince2 is a methodology which is owned and promoted by Axelos and the UK government. The name is taken from “Projects INControlled Environments”. In Prince2, projects must have an established business justification, and follow a linear lifecycle.

The first steps of Prince2 centre around identifying a clear need, a target customer, realistic benefits and a cost assessment. Prince2 gives overall responsibility for project success to a project board, and the Project Manager takes care of day-to-day activities.

Free PRINCE2 Downloads!The emphasis in Prince2 is establishing the business case, process and governance. Prince2 is action oriented – it tells you as a Project manager what you should do, and lays out processes, principles, and themes.

Pros: Utilizes detailed documentation which is useful for giving visibility on projects and tracking performance. Uses a globally recognized industry-standard set of tools and terminology, meaning that it is relatively easy to find project managers who are trained in the discipline.

Cons: Can be cumbersome to adapt to project changes, and maintaining the documentation and logs at each stage can require significant effort.

PMP

The PMP is a Project Management qualification that is built from the Project Management Body of Knowledge, or PMBOK.

As with Prince2, it is one of the most popular certifications in project management, and is promoted by PMI, the Project Management Institute. But whereas Prince2 deals with what a Project Manager should do, PMP specifies what a Project Manager should know– in terms of both knowledge and skills.

Rather than being a methodology, PMP is more of a collection of best practices. In some senses, PMP is a theoretical reference guide. For this reason, it is good for Project Managers who want to augment, develop and refine their career toolset.

Pros: Provides a good selection of useful knowledge which can inform the project management activities and lead to a higher skill level for PM professionals.

Cons: Doesn’t specify a PM methodology as such, and isn’t a fully comprehensive resource of all project management skills.

Agile

Whereas Prince2 could be thought of as carefully taking aim and firing an arrow, Agile could be compared to a heat-seeking missile.

Agile Project Management is all about allowing a quick response to changing demands and new information. In Agile, the emphasis is on making adjustments as you go that allow you to steer a project towards a moving target.

These adaptations rely on rapidly cycling through iterations of activity – each time evaluating the outcome and adjusting the process accordingly. This is similar to the way that a good cook regularly tastes their soup to know which ingredients to add and get it just right. The key with Agile is that continuous collaboration between the project stakeholders allows the process to adapt and improve.

Agile is succinctly laid out in ‘12 Agile Principles’ and the ‘Manifesto for Agile Software Development’.

Pros: Useful when the end-product cannot be easily defined at the start of the project, and needs to be explored through experimentation and review. Agile allows projects to have greater flexibility and potentially a much more appropriate end product.

Cons: Unlike other methodologies that provide management with a clear picture of timelines and budgets, Agile can be inherently unpredictable. It also requires that stakeholders dedicate the necessary time to engage with the project on a day-to-day basis.

Scrum

Scrum technically comes under the umbrella of Agile project management techniques, but it can be used as lightweight process framework in itself. In Scrum, productivity is prioritized above all else.

In this highly simplified system there are only three roles – the product owner (representing the company), the Scrum master (Project Manager) and the team (consisting of pigs, and chickens). The scrum master is tasked with removing any barriers to progress.

The pigs (who ‘risk their bacon’) are responsible for completing a given task, and the chickens assist. Meetings are daily, and project steps are organized into ‘sprints’.

Pros: Quick testing of new developments and fixing of mistakes. Scrum can really shorten the time to market.

Cons: Scrum projects are highly susceptible to scope creep, and disruption caused by a member leaving. In addition, the daily meetings require substantial resources.

Free PRINCE2 Resources