Project Management Methodologies: A Comprehensive Guide for Beginner’s

project management methodologies

Project Management is a very popular subject all over the world. Learning project management Methodologies is not a simple task and it involves taking help from the best practices and experiences of experts.

This article is based on research and best practices being done by various project managers. This article is useful for the beginners who want to start career in project management.

It covers the most popular project management methodologies.  Before going in depth about the methodologies, first it should be understood that what “Methodology” is actually all about.

What is meant by Methodology?

A methodology is basically a body of procedures, methods and practices. They solely belong to those working in a specific discipline.

Why a Project Manager Need it?

Every project manager needs to steer projects in the right direction. So these project management methodologies help them to work in a structured manner.

What are Project Management Methodologies?

They are basically approaches for project managers. These approaches might require to use software tools for managing with fast and result oriented approach.

These methodologies are being used by millions of professionals all over the world. They guide how to carry on project activities from start to finish.

In this guide, we will go through the most popular project management methodologies.

Here is the list of project management methodologies which are discuss below

1. Agile Methodology
2. Waterfall Methodology
3. Scrum Methodology
4. RAD (Rapid Applications Development)
5. NPI Methodology
6. PER Methodology
7. PRINCE2 Methodology
8. Kanban Methodology
9. Six Sigma Methodology
10. Outcome Mapping
11. Critical path method(CPM)
12. Critical chain project management(CCPM)
13. Adaptive Project Framework (APF) Methodology
14. Change Management Methodologies
15. Extreme Project Management (XPM)
16. Lean Methodology
17. PRiSM Methodology
18. Benefits Realization Methodology
19. Crystal methodology
20. Joint Application Development (JAD)
21. Rational unified process (RUP)
22. Spiral Methodology

  • Agile Methodology:

It is the most commonly used methodology in software development.  Purpose of Agile is to make sure regular delivery of product to the customer.

It is different from traditional methodologies such as waterfall method because in agile there is no clarity defined about the end product at the onset.

Agile consist of a prioritization process. Non static requirements like regular communication, flexibility and constant change.

Although it is a very popular among software developers and very powerful approach to other types of projects as well.

In agile, development process is broken up into sprints with chunk of milestones.

Neil Killick , a passionate technology professional shares his views about agile as follows:

Related article :  10 Reasons Why Agile Project Management Methodology Works

  • Waterfall Methodology:

It is the most widely used methodology in project management. It is being used commonly in software development and construction industry.

It is a traditional methodology. It works in a sequential manner that is sequence tasks that will lead to deliverables and follow the same flow. Waterfall suggests that one task must be completed before the next begins.

It is basically a connected sequence of tasks which ultimately lead to a deliverable. Waterfall methodology is ideal for construction projects or such projects in which the ultimate milestone is a physical object.

Phases of Waterfall Method:

Waterfall method is usually divided into various versions but following are few original high level phases.

  1. Design
  2. Requirements specification.
  3. Integration
  4. Construction (Coding)
  5. Installation
  6. Maintenance
  7. Testing and Debugging

Pam Rotella, a health freedom activist talk about Waterfall as follows:

  • Scrum Methodology:

Scrum methodology is basically a type of agile in which there is a focus on 30 day sprints and scrum sessions on monthly basis.

This methodology works best for those teams which feel difficulty in prioritizing tasks as all of them have their own significance.

Adopting scrum can massively increase productivity of the team.

Project Manager Or Scrum Master?

In scrum methodology, there is no job title such as a “project manager” but the role of a ”scrum master”. His responsibility is to ensure smooth communications and tackle every hindrance which affects the team members’ performance.

Scrum Suitability Environments:

This methodology is highly suitable for specific type of environments. These environments include:

  • Dedicated Environment:

That is an environment with 100% dedicated team members. Dedicated means they should not be working as shared resources.

  • Unlimited Support Environment:

They also include the ones with unlimited support. It implies that there is no time and budget constraint.

Related article: 8 Scrum Best Practices That Make your Meetings Fruitful

  • RAD (Rapid Applications Development)

It is another widely used methodology of software development. It utilizes prototyping and structured techniques for designing the annual system. It involves a cycle of models in the process.

Critics About RAD:

RAD methodology has been criticized by many project managers because it’s a claim by many project managers that short interactions creates hurdles to develop an in-depth methodology.

  • NPI Methodology:

NPI stands for new product introduction. It is quite an unpopular methodology but still followed by many organizations.

It is not a complete project management methodology. It lacks few necessities for a project’s success such as WBS (Work Breakdown structure).

This methodology is mostly used in product based companies.

  • PER Methodology:

PER stands for packaged enable re engineering methodology.  It implies the business traditional approach to project management.

  • PRINCE2 Methodology:

PRINCE2 stands for projects in controlled environments. PRINCE2 methodology is a standard used by the government of United Kingdom.  It is used and recognized in public as well as private organizations. It gives greater control over team and helps in managing risks.


It is different from PMI’s publication PMBOK in this regard as PMBOK is a collection of best practices, not a methodology. PMBoK fifth edition is recommended to prepare for the PMI certifications.

  • Kanban Methodology:

In this methodology, project progress is displayed on a board. Stickies are very common in this regard which moves from left to right generally.

They are categorized as tasks in progress, recently completed and in queue.

Kanban makes it easy to visualize what work is being going on and what’s next.

Kanban methodology works best for a small team. Also individuals consider the use of personal kanban boards as effective use of methodology.

  • Six Sigma Methodology:

This methodology was originally developed by Motorola. Six Sigma is a data driven and disciplined methodology. This methodology was developed for eliminating the causes of defects. However,  Many professionals don’t think it as a methodology.

What is DMAIC:

Six sigma is actually based on DMAIC-S which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control. Its purpose is basically to synergize the organization. DMAIC cycle is used for optimizing, improving and stabilizing designs and processes.

lets watch what define phase of DMAIC is all about:

  • Outcome Mapping:

It basically comprises of two phases; record keeping phase and a design phase. This approach is widely used in developing countries for charitable projects. Outcome mapping was basically designed by IDRC(International Development Research Centre)

Outcome mapping is different from other methodologies as it focuses only on behavioral change rather than measurable deliverables.

  • Critical path method(CPM):

It was first developed in 1950’s. It is based upon the fact that few tasks can never be initiated until the previous ones are completed. A critical path is plotted among these dependent tasks.

The critical path method was first developed in the 1950s. It is based on the concept that there are some tasks you can never start until previous ones are completed. When you string these dependent tasks together from start to finish, you plot out your critical path.

Critical path method helps project managers in prioritizing and allocating resources for getting the most important work done and rescheduling the low priority work.

  • Critical chain project management(CCPM):

In CCPM methodology, resources required for completing tasks are the main focus. It involves building project schedule in the start and then get stick to it under all circumstances.

It also involves reserving resources for high priority tasks. Time buffers are also made in project schedule.  It helps in meeting deadlines.

Lets watch an introductry video about CCPM

  • PMBOK methodology:

Many project managers believe that it is not solely a methodology. As PMI claims, PMBOK is a collection of best practices not a collection of processes. This methodology basically works by breaking down the project in 5 process groups as shown below:

  • Extreme Programming (XP) Methodology:

It is an offshoot of Agile. It is basically designed for improving the quality of the software and the company tendency to adapt to the customer needs.  XP uses iterations, sprints and consistent collaboration with the stakeholders. Change may happen in a sprint. If some task has not been initiated then it can be swapped by a similar task.

  • Adaptive Project Framework (APF) Methodology:


It is a reality that traditional methodologies are not sufficient to manage most of the IT projects The reason is uncertainty and the changing requirements. This  is where APF completely fits the bill.

It works with RBS (requirements breakdown structure) for defining strategic goals based on features, functions and product requirements.

Project then proceeds in various iterative stages and at the end of every stage previous outcomes are evaluated for improving performance and practices. Stakeholders also have the right to make changes in project scope at the beginning of every iteration stage.

  • Change Management Methodologies:

These methodologies are best utilized when project undergoes rapid change. It focuses on planning for risks and then controlling the outcomes. Methods are as follows:

  • Event Chain Methodology (ECM):

Basic idea of ECM is that there exists a potential risk which mostly lies outside the project scope. It is important to plan for unexpected events which can ultimately affect the project’s success.

  • Extreme Project Management (XPM):

It helps in managing massive change. It is actually the opposite of waterfall methodology.

This methodology enables you to make changes in budget, plan and even the final milestones to best fit the changing demands.

This methodology is usually adapted for managing projects with smaller timeline.

  • Lean Methodology:

It is a type of process based methodology. It deals with business process management. The purpose of Lean is to focus on streamlining and cut down the waste.

It involves the creation of work process breakdown for eliminating delays and bottlenecks. Lean’s methodology objective is to deliver customer more with less human resource and time.

  • PRiSM Methodology:

It stands for projects integrating sustainable methods. It is used for managing change and ensuring environmental sustainably into processes. Basic purpose of PRiSM is to finish projects with reduction of organization’s social impact.

  • Benefits Realization Methodology:

It focuses on satisfaction of customers by ensuring deliverables. It is not only about the on time delivery of a product within the allocated budget but to deliver value to stakeholders.

  • Crystal methodology:

In this methodology, processes are comparatively given a low priority. This methodology focuses on team member skills, team communication and team interactions. They are under the roof of agile.

  • Dynamic systems development model (DSDM):

It is actually the descendent of RAD methodology. It totally focuses on active user involvement in the project life cycle.

  • Feature Driven Development (FDD):

FDD focuses on feature driven delivery cycles. It is all about concentrating on simple and well defined processes.

  • Information technology infrastructure Library (ITIL):

ITIL is actually the collection of best practices in project management methodologies. This methodology focuses on organizational management level processes.

  • Joint Application Development (JAD):

JAD focuses on involvement of client from the initial stages. JAD sessions are held between client and the project team for getting input from the client. These sessions are conducted in the entire project life cycle.

  • Rational unified process (RUP):

RUP methodology is all about focusing on positive aspects of modern software development methodologies and provide them in a single package. RUP was the first methodology which recommended iterative approach to software development.

  • Spiral Methodology:

It is actually the extended version of waterfall methodology which contains prototypes. This methodology is preferred in large projects as a replacement of waterfall.

  • Systems Development Life Cycle: (SDLC)

SDLC is a conception model which is utilized in software development projects. It may be a combination of two or more project management methodologies for the best results. SDLC focuses on documentation process along with strict guidelines.


Above discussed methodologies are very useful in their specific need but selecting a best methodology is typically a tricky task. However, an experience project manager can pick the best one according to the scope of a specific project.

There are hundreds of factors which must be considered when selecting a right methodology. A Project manager must consider all the weaknesses and strengths before selecting the methodology best suited for a project.

Tweet of Mr. James Townsend, (an entrepreneur at infostrat) is perfect to conclude the topic:

Don’t forget to share your valuable experience and knowledge with the community. Which methodology do you use? Share it with the community in comments section.

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  1. started good but then becomes very confusing; lot of mixing up there … would have been better to focus on one topic and may be split it in several postings …just my 2 cents