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April 30, 2019

My family does not like to stray far from tradition.

No matter how many cousins get married and have children, you can still find us packed into the same house on Thanksgiving morning. We like knowing how things work. We like the comfort that comes with familiarity. 

Those engaging in traditional project management practices might feel the same way. Instead of utilizing a more complex project management approach, project managers with simpler objectives have the option of using a strategy that is tried and true.

Let’s dive further into traditional project management so you can determine if it’s the right approach for you.

What is traditional project management?

Traditional project management is a bare bones approach to project management. It does not require the use of any fancy charts, but is rather simple in nature. 

Traditional project management is the process of planning, executing and controlling a set of tasks in order to arrive at a desired goal within a specified timeframe, and under a desired budget.

Why use traditional project management?

Not all projects are complex and require something as detailed as a matrix organizational structure. Some projects have a clear sequence of events and do not require many changes. Those are the projects where you might use this simpler approach. 

In traditional PM, projects go through the classic project life cycle. The project life cycle has five stages: ideation, planning, execution, monitoring/control, and closure. Project managers can decide the tools, strategies, etc. that they prefer to use in these various stages. 

traditional project management life cycle

 Image courtesy of ActiveCollab

For example, one project manager might choose to use a Gantt chart to get a good project overview, while others might prefer to utilize a PERT chart. It depends on that particular PM, their team, and the project itself.

What is a traditional project?

Good question. Let’s explore a hypothetical project that might be a good fit for traditional project management.

Say you work at a small law firm that provides employees with laptops. The head of your firm wants to change to a different cybersecurity tool that has to be installed on every employee’s device. Each installation will take a day, and needs to be completed by the end of the month.

Your firm might assign someone the role of project manager, or hire a PM externally, to help coordinate the timeline of the installation, decide whose devices get updated on what days, and ensure your firm stays under budget throughout the process.

The PM on this project is also in charge of determining what resources are necessary. In this case, the software solution and each employee’s equipment would be the extent of resources needed, but other projects might have a longer list.

Stick with tradition

If tradition suits you, why change? Traditional project management is a great method to choose if you’re new to the industry, or if your project lacks the complexities associated with other approaches. And when you're looking to take a next step in project management, check out G2's guide to the best project management software.

Not feeling like traditional project management is the right path for you? Find the right project management methodology for you.

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