Strong project management isn’t just about getting things done. It is also about HOW you do it. Choosing a project management methodology, best suited for your team and tasks is the first step to success.
About 11,5% of investment is wasted due to project failures, according to the most recent survey Pulse of Profession 2020. Organizations that undervalue project management report 67% more of their ideas miscarrying. At the same time, companies that use proven project methodologies tend to loose 28x fewer resources than those without one.
What is PMM?
A project management methodology (PMM) is essentially a blueprint for accomplishing goals. It is a set of principles that brings the structure and cohesiveness into the workflow.
There are dozens of approaches to choose from, each with particular advantages, disadvantages. Some of them work best for certain types of projects, while some projects demand a thoughtful mix. To choose the right one for your organization, get yourself familiar with each of them. We’ve narrowed the list down to seven most widely used methodologies.
Most Commonly Used Project Management Methodologies
The most popular PMM is a hybrid one. It is used by 89% of organizations, surveyed by the Project Management Institute last year. Hybrid basically means the combination of two or more methodological approaches into one coherent system. By learning the highlights of each system, you will be able to create your own mix or choose the best-fitted one.
Over 70% of organizations use Agile methodology or at least its elements. It is a project management philosophy, that provides principles and values for other approaches.
The main idea: Fast and flexible.
Teams work in short cycles of planning, executing, and evaluation (sprints), collaborate with stakeholders, and constantly adjust to new circumstances and ideas.
- More freedom, fewer risks because of small incremental data-driven changes
- Deliverable results help teams to stay motivated
- Collaboration with stakeholders ensures regular feedback
- Luck of fixed plan and unclear deadlines
- Poor documentation, because of rapid changes
- Dependence on communication skills. Not everyone is a good speaker and can deliver their feedback quickly and clearly.
Use it if:
- You are working with rough, innovative ideas with no fixed end date
- You need quick rather than perfect results. Improving is constant
- Communication is your key strength.
Scrum is a popular form of agile project management often used in software development.
The main idea: A small cross-functional team focuses on one project at a time.
The end-goal is broken down into small chunks. The work is done in sprints of 10-30 days (usually two weeks). The team is self-organized and everyone has their role: Scrum master ensures following the methodology, the product owner has the vision of the goal, and other team members work on the project. The team has short daily stand-up meetings.
- Quick development/testing cycles
- Bit-sized tasks
- Empowered teamwork, communication, and self-discipline
- Absence of clear leadership.
- Lack of flexibility for big teams
- Dependence on a team’s motivation
Use it if: You’re working on a large complex project with a skilled, experienced, and committed team.
Another one of agile methodologies which adopts lean principles and aims to increase efficiency.
The main idea: Visual overview of the workflow.
Tasks are represented as cards on a Kanban board. Each of them moves from “To-do” through “In progress” into “Done”. Kanban helps the team to focus on the most important tasks, using visualized workflow, limiting work in progress, and measuring lead time.
- Visuality and transparency allow spotting bottlenecks in a workflow.
- Limited work in progress helps each team member to focus on current tasks.
- Implementation is easy.
- Not suitable for complex long-term projects with too many progress stages or iterative tasks.
- The need to update the board after each task is complete.
- No timeline.
Use it if:
- Your organization requires a steady output.
- You work in production, maintenance, or support.
- Your project is small and flexible.
The Waterfall methodology is the opposite of Agile. It is also called “traditional”.
The main idea: Sequential tasks.
This approach requires thorough planning and the proper order of steps. A team starts working on a task only after finishing the previous one. Progress flows in one direction instead of repeating cycles. After completing the last task, you’ll receive the final product.
- The project is well structured and documented. Each task is clearly defined.
- You have to deliver perfect results on each stage because there is no way back.
- Easy to implement and use
- Any errors or changes disrupt the sequence and the process has to start all over.
- There are higher risks because of the possibility of changes.
- Success is dependent on the correct understanding of requirements.
Use it if:
- You are building a physical object.
- You have done a similar project before and you know what to expect.
- You have very specific requirements and they will not change.
Lean can be called a godfather of Agile. The methodology focuses on getting big results with small teams.
The main idea: More with less.
Lean strives to reduce “waste” while delivering value to a customer. To optimize the workflow, you have to strip it to the bare valuable essentials and cut the fluffy stuff. Key principles of lean are eliminating wastefulness, unevenness, and overburden.
- Helps to make the complex project less heavy to understand and implement
- Keeps customer value in focus
- Identifies bottlenecks and workflow problems to increase productivity.
- Requires a highly committed team
- Requires constant change, which is stressful for people
Use it if:
- You want to boost the innovations.
- You have a small team and a short timeframe.
- You feel like you’ve drawn into paperwork or revisions.
eXtreme Programming (XP)
XP is one of the most effective methodologies for software development.
The main idea: Fast and furious.
XP features short cycles and multiple releases, small teams with defined roles, and emphasis on collaboration. It is highly responsive to changing customer requirements. The XP has strict rules, based on five values: feedback, respect, courage, simplicity, and communication.
- Arguably the fastest software development method
- Small feedback loop means reduced costs of change
- Pair programming enhances teamwork and support within tight deadlines.
- Not suitable for remote teams; requires communication in person
- Focuses on code over design and UX
- Time pressure and stress
Use it if:
- You have a small team working in one office.
- You need to build software fast, but the customer’s requirements are not very clear.
PRINCE2 stands PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is an official methodology of the UK government. It is the most strict of all listed above and requires certification.
The main Idea: Structure and hierarchy.
PRINCE2 is based on six aspects, seven principles, seven themes, and seven processes. It divides large projects into smaller stages, clearly defines roles and responsibilities, and focuses on the end-user. High-level activities are controlled by a structured project board. A PM is responsible for day-to-day decisions.
- Structured and organized.
- Every process is well documented. It makes future projects easier to plan.
- Not suitable for small projects
- Doesn’t allow independent decision making
- An overload of documentation
Use it if:
- You work for the UK governmental agency.
- You have a large complex project with fixed dates and requirements.
Every project is created unique and requires different methodologies and execution. The choice of methodology depends on your team, type of the project, its scope, industry, and many other factors. While hybrid methodologies are on the rise now, you are responsible for what goes into the mix.