Software and IT projects are not all the same. The purpose of this post is to explore factors which impact our selection of a project approach.
Normally projects are expected to meet some up-front goals, which were supporting the business case for its funding in the first place. There are projects which their outcome should be something unexpected, something goes in contrary to the norm but something that can create breakthrough product. The project is predominantly discovery driven and its staffing might not be selected based on suitability of their skills to the required activities but rather based on their characters.
Although general projects have an innovation factor, here we are not driven by satisfying the customer needs but to tell them what their wants should be.
The fact of not knowing the destination and the means to reach it characterize projects which are required to produce innovative products. The outcome and means are discovered through the course of the project and such discoveries can lead to surprising but desired product features.
Digressing from existing company culture
The existing stagnation and apathy which hinder the organization from differentiating themselves are symptoms of the need for culture change. Using the same mentalities which led to the status quo can only produce limited innovation. Such mentalities are hindered by their own baggage. The project team is desired to separate itself from existing ideologies to bring something foreign to the culture but desired by the market and therefore extremely useful to the organization.
The team is responsible on producing the unknown outcome which the organization highly anticipates. The team is empowered to decide on its own methods. The team figures the needs for training, visits to other companies, adding new members, talking to other groups in or out the organization, sub-contracting other companies for part of the work and other activities.
Freedom from project management
Although project management definition includes produce something unique, I believe the intent of project management is to achieve defined results. Its success is measured in terms of full-filling the stakeholder needs in time and with economy. The previous statement is in contrary with the above four factors. Innovative projects can have time-frame, but there is no scope to fit within it. The requirements in innovative projects are uncovered through the course of work. The budget is changing according to how promising the discoveries are.
I believe any project can be rated against the above factors. I believe this rating should drive which project should implement a Defined Methodology, Lean or Agile. An organization can have project mix and the right project approach is required to achieve its objectives.