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Extreme project management is a planning method used to manage unusual or difficult projects. Centering on a flexible approach to management, extreme project management is in contrast with traditional project management, which outlines a generally rigid set of guidelines and evaluation dates to keep a project on track. Extreme project managers outline some project guidelines to focus the project, but many details are left flexible to allow the system to adapt to changes and new information.
Traditional project management methods are generally more effective than extreme project management for completing routine business processes. In traditional project management, a prescribed set of steps are followed to achieve a consistent result. Extreme project managing means the management plan is flexible to allow the manager and team to make changes to the process on the fly.
Flexible project management systems like extreme project management can also be called agile project management. Adaptable planning like that found in extreme project management is best when approaching a project with many unknowns or variables. When a project manager goes into a project with limited information or faced with changes he is unable to control, a flexible management strategy may be the only way to complete the task at hand.
Though this type of project management does occur on a flexible schedule, it is not without its rules and framework. Though many parts of a project plan are flexible and fairly easy to change, a properly managed extreme project still has performance deadlines that need to be met to show that the project is running on time. Hard-set evaluations to monitor performance of an extreme project can help detect and correct problems in the project direction to improve the outcome of the project. For this type of project, even the performance checkpoints can be flexible occasionally and within a small margin.
The differences between extreme and traditional project management are significant, and both are successful when applied under the correct circumstances. If extreme project management is like a scavenger hunt through an unknown forest, then traditional project management is like a planned shopping trip through the local mall. While an open and loosely-planned extreme approach to navigating a familiar mall might slow down a team of shoppers, a planned, traditional approach to a forest scavenger hunt would be nearly impossible due to all of the variables in an unknown forest. One downside to extreme management styles is that they can make it difficult to estimate cost and completion time.