Top 20 Project Management Methodologies & their Scions: Which One You Should Choose & Why?

Project Management Methodologies

Project management has evolved quickly from a set of principles to a comprehensive domain of knowledge. The sheer number of project management methodologies can boggle your mind, especially if you are unaware of the pros and cons of project management methodologies. As a result, you might end up choosing the wrong project management methodology, which is one of the main causes of project failure.

With each project having different requirements, there is no one size fits all formula here. It is critical to choose the right project management methodology based on project needs and avoid making common project management mistakes to drive your projects to success.

In this article, you will learn about 20 best project management methodologies so you can choose the right one for your projects.

What is Project Management Methodology?

Project management methodology can be defined as. “A combination of logically related processes, practices and methods that determine how to plan, develop, control and deliver a project until successful completion or termination.” In short, it is a scientifically proven, step by step and disciplined approach to project design, execution and completion.”

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Project Management Methodology

Here are some of the factors you should consider when choosing a project management methodology.

  1. Project Timeline
  2. Complexity of Project
  3. Project Budget
  4. Resource requirement
  5. Stakeholder involvement
  6. Industry

When To Choose Project Management Methodology?

Choose a project management methodology when:

  1. Project scope is defined
  2. Project costs are calculated
  3. Stakeholders needs are defined
  4. All the conflicts and dependencies are identified and removed.
  5. All tasks follow the same methodology and approach.

How to Choose the Right Project Management Methodology?

Here is how you can choose the best project management methodologies for your projects.

  1. Determine the variables that will drive the project. Next, compare those variables to your project goals.
  2. Identify the metrics that the methodology will impact.
  3. Compare all project management methodologies with one another and then decide which project management methodology is the right fit for your project.
  4. Identify which project management methodology has the highest risk and which project management methodology help you achieve the best results.
  5. Take your team members on board and involve them in the decision-making process. Consult with them about which project management methodology you should choose.
  6. Document the project management methodology that you are planning to implement.
  7. Apply the methodology to the project and measure its performance.

Top 20 Project Management Methodologies

Here is a list of project management methodologies.

  1. Agile
  2. PRINCE2
  3. Critical Path Method
  4. Adaptive Project Framework
  5. PRiSM
  6. Critical Chain Project Management
  8. Scrum
  9. Kanban
  10. Spiral
  11. Rapid Application Development
  12. Six Sigma
  13. Waterfall
  14. Lean
  15. Extreme Programming
  16. New Product Introduction
  17. Packaged Enabled Reengineering
  18. Crystal
  19. Rational Unified Process
  20. Outcome Mapping

1.  Agile

Project Management Methodologies

Agile project management methodology follows an iterative model to bring continuous improvements and ensure consistent product delivery. It offers flexibility to change, which means that you can make changes midway through the project. It overcame many shortcomings of waterfall model such as process rigidity and higher risk and delivered a much better solution.

With feedback on every iteration and client involvement throughout the process, you can deliver a product that satisfies your clients, thanks to agile project management methodology. Reap the real benefits of agile project management methodology by learning key principles of agile project management.


Project Management Methodologies

PRINCE stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments. PRINCE2 is a structured project methodology which can adapt to fulfill different project requirements irrespective of the type and scale of the project. There are certain principles, themes and processes you will have to follow when implementing PRINCE2 project management methodology. It gives you more control over your team and helps in minimizing project risks, which makes it an ideal choice for large and complex projects.

3. Critical Path Method

Project Management Methodologies

Not all tasks are created equal. Some are more important than others. Some are dependent on other tasks, while others are independent. If you are working on a project that has many dependent tasks, then the critical path method should be your choice, as it is the only project management methodology that takes task dependency into account.

By focusing on critical tasks first, project managers can avoid annoying bottlenecks by allocating more resources to critical tasks, so they are completed quickly. This allows you to optimize resource utilization and improve your productivity. TaskQue uses the same concept to good effect with its smart Queue feature.

4.  Adaptive Project Framework

Project Management Methodologies

As the older project management methodologies struggle to cope with future project management challenges, this gives rise to emerging project management methodologies. One of the best example in this regard is adaptive project framework. It excels in areas where other project management methodologies stumble.

Adaptive project framework follows the same iterative model, but unlike others, it works according to requirement breakdown structure. Strategic goals are defined based on requirement breakdown structure. This methodology offers stakeholders the freedom to make changes to the scope at the beginning of every iteration. The same cycle is repeated until the desired output is achieved.

5. PRiSM

Project Management Methodologies

PRiSM stands for Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods. It is a project management methodology that focuses on minimizing the negative impact of the project on the environment. It follows the project lifecycle even after delivery and focuses on maximizing sustainability. PRiSM is a great choice for large projects where reducing waste, energy consumption and carbon footprint is critical. Unfortunately, it is not a great choice for a project which does not take environmental factors into account. Additionally, you will have to involve your whole team to achieve success through this project management methodology, from external stakeholders such as contractors and vendors to internal teams, which is not an easy thing to do for most businesses.

6. Critical Chain Project Management

Project Management Methodologies

Critical chain project management put the resources required to complete the task into the limelight. It forces project managers to create a schedule and set a deadline at the start and stick to it no matter what. In critical chain project management, resources and time buffer are allocated for critical tasks. Although it might seem a little rigid and restrictive to many, it does pay off when it comes to meeting deadlines as a project that adopts critical chain project management methodology never miss a deadline. If you can stick to a plan and your project needs are static, then you should choose this methodology.


Project Management Methodologies

PMI’s own project management body of knowledge lays down certain rules which you can follow for managing your projects. The opinion is divided among project managers about PMBOK. Some consider it as a project management methodology while others look at it as a reference book. Irrespective of which narrative you agree with, it lays down key guidelines and set a standard for all project managers to follow. It divides the project into five steps:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Execution
  • Controlling
  • Closing

8. Scrum


Project Management Methodologies

Scrum is a framework and not a project management methodology. It is an offshoot of agile project management methodology and borrows many principles and processes from agile project management methodology, but it also has specific methods and tactics. Short sprints, stand up meetings and emphasis on communication differentiates scrum from other agile project management methodologies. You can also use scrum best practices to make your meetings fruitful.

It enables rapid iterations and development with an added focus on project teams. On the flip side, lack of flexibility and higher project risk might deter many project managers from choosing this methodology for managing their projects. Lack of a fixed deadline can result in scope creep, which is one of the main reasons why projects fail.

9.  Kanban

 Project Management Methodologies

Kanban is a Japanese word, which means “Signal card” Toyota developed this method way back in the 1940s. This methodology focuses on lean principles and applies strict processes to increase efficiency. It allows you to visualize the workflow, minimize work in progress and wastage and measure lead time.

By reducing work in progress, you can improve the workflow and minimize the time required to complete a particular task. That is why task management software uses Kanban boards to show progress. It might not be the best options for large teams, but it will work fine for small teams.


Project Management Methodologies

Spiral development model consists of four different quadrants.

  • Analysis
  • Risk Evaluation
  • Development and Execution
  • Planning the Next Iteration

Each quadrant represents a different development phase. Once you complete one cycle, the same process is repeated over and over again in the iteration loop, bringing consistent improvements. This process continues until the product is released. If you are working on a mission-critical project, then you should choose the spiral model, as it can avoid risk thanks to its strong approval and documentation control. Moreover, it also offers flexibility to change and creates a working product earlier than other methodologies.

11. Rapid Application Development

Project Management Methodologies

In rapid application development, project teams create prototypes to identify user needs and tinker with the design. The short cycles are repeated many times to bring constant improvements to product and user experience. It allows you to reuse components and ensure rapid delivery of products. This methodology is not the right fit for complex projects that require long interactions and deeper development.

12. Six Sigma

Project Management Methodologies

Six Sigma is a data-driven is a technique employed for eliminating defects in a product, process or service. The focus is on improving the quality of the output by identifying and removing the causes of defects. It also helps with reducing the variation in manufacturing and business processes by using quality management methods.

Six Sigma is based on the DMAIC model. DMAIC stands for:

  • Define
  • Measure
  • Analyze
  • Improve
  • Control

Focus on customer requirements and project goals and define the system. Measure key aspects of the current process and collect relevant data. Analyze the data to identify and verify the cause and effect relationship. Improve the current process and control the future process to ensure little to no deviation from the target.

13. Waterfall

Project Management Methodologies

Waterfall is one of the oldest project management methodology around. Presented by Dr.Winston Royce back in 1970 to meet the complex software development needs, Waterfall model has become a preferred choice for software developers. It follows a sequential process, which means that you will have to complete the first phase before moving on to the next phase. The rigidity of a structured project management approach and the risk associated with it are some of its biggest downsides. It is an ideal choice for small and simple projects and projects with fixed requirements but not a good option for large, complex projects with dynamic project needs.

14. Lean

Project Management Methodologies

Just like Six Sigma and Kanban, lean project management methodology focuses on streamlining the business process, delivering value and eliminates wastage. For this purpose, it creates a work process breakdown to remove bottlenecks and minimize delays. As a result, it enhances your efficiency and boosts productivity. With lean project management, you can reduce overall costs and increases customer satisfaction.

There are five key principles of lean project management:

  • Specify value
  • Map the value stream
  • Make value flow by eliminating waste
  • Make value flow at the pull of the customer
  • Embrace continuous improvement in pursuit of perfection

15. Extreme Programming

Project Management Methodologies

Another project management methodology that’s derived from agile, extreme programming enhances your capacity to adapt to ever-changing customer needs and refine the final output to surpass customer expectations. Extreme programming uses a combination of iterations, sprints and ensures consistent collaborations with project stakeholders. It allows you the freedom to make changes during the sprints as you can swap similar tasks. Follow these change management principles to handle change efficiently.

16. New Product Introduction

Project Management Methodologies

Not as popular as many of its rivals, many business leaders still use NPI for focusing on steps of a particular task. Its omission of critical elements such as work breakdown structure makes it a bad choice for complex projects. It can be the right fit for product-based teams. Due to this, NPI managers oversee a single product throughout the development process. This means that you will have to create teams for every sector of the organization responsible for creating a new product.

17. Packaged Enabled Re-engineering

Project Management Methodologies

If you want to redesign a product or complete system from scratch, then, packaged enabled re-engineering methodology is for you. It offers a great opportunity to direct the traditional mindset and look at the company’s products from a fresh perspective. This allows you to come up with new and innovative ideas to redesign your products.

Innovation-driven companies adopt this methodology because it allows them to stay true to their corporate culture of innovation. This allows your business to adapt and respond to changing market dynamics and consumer demands in a more efficient manner, thus increasing your revenues and return on investments.

18. Crystal

Project Management Methodologies


Crystal methodology takes cues from agile methodology and maps it on software development. Instead of focusing on processes, it put more emphasis on team communications, skills and interaction. This means that you can tweak tools and processes to meet the project team requirements. Due to this, it does not involve extensive documentation, management and reporting. It assumes that workers will improve their process as they improve their work.

Some of the advantages of crystal project management methodology are:

  • Faster delivery
  • Consistent improvement
  • Focus
  • Human-centric
  • Adaptive
  • Lightweight

19. Rational Unified Process

project management methodologies

RUP is an iterative software development framework. It breaks down the project lifecycle into four different phases.

  • Inception Phase
  • Elaboration Phase
  • Construction Phase
  • Transition Phase

Each of these phases ends with achieving a milestone. Some of the best practices of the rational unified process are iterative development, using components, modelling visually, verifying quality and control changes. As a result, it spends a long time on each iteration so you should keep that in mind. By following these best practices, you can achieve your project goals by using rational unified process.

20. Outcome Mapping

project management methodologies

There are two phases involved in outcome mapping:

  • Record keeping phase
  • Design phase

For record-keeping purposes, organizations have to keep three types of journals: performance, strategy and outcome. The performance journal records meeting minutes and organizational progress. The strategy journal highlights the task completed. The outcome journal focuses on the realization of stated goals. During the design phase, the project manager writes essays to identify partners, lay down progress markers and metrics for record-keeping. They also assign tasks to partners.

What makes it stand out from other project management methodologies out there is that it focuses more on behavioral changes instead of measuring deliverables and KPIs. This makes it a great choice for social projects and humanitarian causes.  In fact, outcome mapping is widely used in developing countries for charitable projects.

Which project management methodology do you use for your project? Let us know in the comments section below.

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