The one truth every project manager knows: the success of your project often hinges on choosing the right project management methodology. So choose well!
A project management methodology is a set of principles, tools, and techniques used to plan, execute, and manage projects. Simply put, they help project managers to maximize the use of resources and time.
There are of course, many methodologies to choose from, each with its own rules, principles, processes, and practices. The type of methodology you adopt will depend entirely on the kind of project you plan to undertake.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular methodologies to find the one that best fits your team’s needs.
11 Popular Project Management Methodologies
One of the most common project management processes. Technically, Agile technically isn’t a methodology but rather a principle that stems from the values and principles of the Agile Manifesto. Tasks in Agile projects are developed, executed, and adapted as the situation demands rather than having a pre-planned process.
The idea behind Agile is to make it possible for teams to respond to the unpredictable nature of projects through gradual, frequent work processes. The agile methodology offers project teams a dynamic way to work and collaborate.
Best suited for: The Agile principle is universal, making this framework suitable for just about any team. However, projects that require flexibility and have a level of complexity or uncertainty will appreciate this methodology more.
Scrum proposes short “sprints” to create a project cycle. These short cycles span one to two weeks and usually involve teams of 10 or fewer.
The main focus of Scrum is to have improved communication, teamwork and increased speed of development through collaboration, accountability, and iterative progress.
Best suited for: Scrum is ideal for teams of less than ten people who need a flexible approach to delivering a product or service. While the methodology has been used predominantly in software development, it’s also applicable across any industry or business that demands flexibility in its processes.
In the Waterfall or Stage-Gate methodology, the project phases flow downward (similar to a waterfall) and are organized in sequential order. Unlike the Agile approach that favors incremental and iterative delivery, Waterfall values solid pre-planning so you can do it once and do it right.
Each work task is connected by a dependency, which means teams can’t move from one project phase to another without completing the previous phase successfully. This approach fosters clear communication and ensures that work stays on track throughout the project.
Best suited for: Stage-Gate is most suitable for product innovation and development projects which require maintaining stringent stages, deadlines, and constant review and decision-making.
Kanban s a visual approach to project management that helps manage workflow by placing tasks on a Kanban board. The board is designed to make, the project workflow and progress clear to all team members.
This methodology helps to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies early on in the development process so you can get a handle on them and prevent the project from failing. Project management software usually comes pre-loaded with features to help you easily put Kanban to work for you.
Best suited for: Kanban boards are great for teams of all sizes. Almost anyone can plan with Kanban boards to manage resources, task deadlines, and more.
Six Sigma was first introduced by engineers at Motorola in 1986. This framework focuses on increasing quality by reducing waste— and the number of errors in a process. The goal is to continuously identify what is not working and consequently, remove it from the process.
Project managers usually pair the Six Sigma methodology with either an Agile framework (Agile- Six Sigma) or a lean methodology (Lean- Six Sigma).
Best suited for: Six Sigma works best in larger organizations that want to improve quality and efficiency through a data-driven methodology.
As the name suggests, Scrumban is a hybrid project framework. Scrumban combines the flexibility of Kanban and the structure of Scrum to create a collaborative and optimized project management process.
Scrumban removes the potentially restrictive, timeboxed sprints of Scrum and uses an adaptive approach to planning to fill the backlog. Individual tasks are pulled into the plan according to priority, like in Kanban.
Best suited for: Scrumban is great for teams that prefer breaking down a project into smaller tasks but also want to keep it visually simple. It can also be suitable for product development with an unclear vision and evolving requirements.
PRINCE2 stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments and is a structured certified methodology initially created by the UK government for IT projects. PRINCE2 is not a one-size-fits-all solution but follows seven principles, themes, and procedures.
The methodology defines inputs and outputs for every project phase to ensure nothing is left to chance. You can use this framework to streamline individual project management tasks such as controlling a stage, managing product delivery, and initiating and closing a project.
Best suited for: PRINCE2 is a great framework for running large, predictable enterprise projects with several project stakeholders.
The Lean project management methodology aims at enabling teams to do more with less by cutting waste. In return, project managers can maximize efficiency and teamwork.
The Lean framework identifies three types of waste (3Ms):
- Muda (wastefulness): Practices that consume resources but don’t add value
- Mura (unevenness): Overproduction that leaves behind waste
- Muri (overburden): Too much strain on resources
Best suited for: Lean project management is best suited for teams struggling with efficiency issues and wants to drive products and services focused on the end-user and increase customer satisfaction.
Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)
PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge), isn’t a methodology but in fact, a set of standard definitions and guidelines for project planning, scheduling, executing and controlling.
PMBOK was developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). This framework focuses on implementing the five project management phases that make it easier to manage a project from start to finish:
- Project initiation
- Project planning
- Project executing
- Project performance
- Project closure
Best suited for: PMBOK can be used on its own for small teams or paired with a more detailed methodology (like CPM) for large teams handling complex projects.
Critical Path Method (CPM)
The critical path method (CPM) involves identifying the most extended sequence of tasks necessary for project completion, the duration, task dependencies, and scheduling flexibilities. These tasks are referred to as “critical activities” because the whole project completion will be delayed if they’re delayed.
This methodology aims to map out milestones and deliverables correctly to deliver successful projects at scale.
Best suited for: CPM works better with smaller or mid-sized projects because it isn’t built to manage complex projects that require many deliverables.
Critical chain project management (CCPM)
The critical chain project management methodology (CCPM) is closely related to the critical path methodology but is more detailed—making it one of the most comprehensive approaches.
In addition to creating a work breakdown structure like CPM, CCPM includes specific time requirements for each task. This makes it easier for project managers to identify when tasks are going over their allotted time. It also makes resource planning and allocation easier, thereby balancing workloads among all resources.
Best suited for: CCPM is an excellent method for small and large teams but is suitable for projects with efficiency problems.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to project management methodologies. Each offers unique principles to take a project from an initial plan to final execution. The best way to determine which approach is most suitable for you is to keep in mind the size of your team and how your team prefers to work.
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