A common debate in project management circles is between the two styles of creating and executing a project plan, top down and bottom up. Top down strategy involves the management of a project, i.e. the project manager having complete control over the delegation of tasks and the setting of the project schedule and deadlines. On the other hand, the bottom up approach calls for more input from those who will be completing the tasks.
As we have already investigated the comparison of top down vs. bottom up strategy we will take a closer look at just one of those options, to make it easier to figure out which one suits your management style or individual project the best.
If you think that you’d like to start incorporating more of the bottom up approach into your project planning processes, here are some of the factors to take into consideration.
- Inclusive task planning
The most obvious difference between top down and bottom up strategy is the influence all team members have on how and when tasks will be completed. The logic is that someone who is closely involved with a certain field will be able to better estimate what needs to be done and how long it will take. This leads to better approximations of deadlines and more significant project milestones. The downside can be that project planning takes longer as more stakeholders need to be involved, but the advantages are often considered to outweigh this problem.
- Clearer communication
To achieve a successful implementation of the bottom up approach, strong communication with team members is an absolute necessity. This requires both a high level of trust and of comfort. Not all team members may be confident enough to speak their mind in front of a group, but to make sure the bottom up strategy succeeds, all those involved need to be able to contribute to the project plan.
- Gaining unique insights
One of the major advantages of the bottom up strategy is that it allows you to make decisions with a much wider pool of knowledge. As each additional team member is involved, so they contribute their own unique knowledge and experience of the tasks that need to be completed. Thus, the overall project plan will have a much higher degree of accuracy for the individual elements of each task strand.
- Employees feel more appreciated
Employee recognition is increasingly one of the most important elements of job satisfaction. While not adopting a truly horizontal approach, a bottom up strategy lets team members know that their views are being listened to and knowledge valued. This leads to greater loyalty and feelings of ownership among team members, as well as the advantages for the project itself.
- Ability to maximize potential
With a top down strategy, it is incumbent on the project manager to fully discern the strengths and weaknesses of each team member and delegate appropriate tasks to them. With a bottom up approach, however, each employee can help their PM by making them aware of their own opinion of their abilities. This enables a project manager to tap resources which they may not have been fully aware of before and thus maximize the productivity of their team.