Project management ensures you deliver products and services for your customers correctly and on time. To guarantee this, using the right project management methodologies is important.
Selecting the right project management methodology is crucial for executing and delivering projects effectively. This guide provides an in-depth look at the most widely used project management frameworks – Agile, Waterfall, and Hybrid – to help teams choose the right approach based on their needs.
This includes everything from deciding on a project’s:
- And costs.
The challenge of any project is that it is not a routine procedure.
Instead, it is a short-term mission that should be accomplished by a specific date and planned measurements. Different project management methodologies are developed to adapt to the varying nature of different projects.
Table of Contents
What Is Project Management?
Project management ensures that products and services meet the customer’s expectations and are delivered on time. Today, this is a distinct profession involving the application of knowledge, skills, and tools to execute a project.
These procedures are divided into five stages:
- Monitoring and controlling,
- And closing.
What is a Project Management Methodology?
Project management methodologies are the different frameworks you can use to plan, execute, and deliver a project. This includes how you will communicate, follow up, and change your initial plan.
Methodologies also consider the project’s objective, budget, and nature. Some methodologies may suit certain projects more than others. For example, some project methodologies are specific to certain industries.
Project management methodologies allow the management to control and monitor a project through effective decision-making and problem-solving. This can prevent issues from arising, including miscommunications or missed deadlines.
The 7 Key Project Management Methodologies
So, how do you know which project management methodologies are right for you?
The key here is understanding the basic ideas behind each of the seven main methodologies. Each has pros and cons, making some more suitable for different industries and business models.
Traditional Project Management Methodologies: Waterfall
The Waterfall system is one of the traditional project management methodologies. It follows the natural sequence of execution of the stages of a project. In other words, a phase should be completely accomplished before moving on to the next one.
That is why it is known as a sequential approach.
This requires the elimination of risks or any unplanned occurrences during the implementation of a project. Otherwise, the project’s delivery will be delayed.
For this reason, project managers following the Waterfall methodology have to do a detailed plan for the project beforehand.
This methodology minimised the scope for sudden changes. Therefore, it is convenient for projects with well-defined tasks and phases. It is generally best for projects with physical objects, such as construction or hardware installation.
Agile Project Management Methodologies
As you can guess from the methodology’s name, this approach is about adapting to changes. It is more flexible and is designed to make room for changes that may come along the way during project implementation.
Its core principles are:
- And continuous improvement.
The agile approach runs in short phases called Sprints. Team members and their project manager conduct daily meetings to follow up on the accomplished tasks and discuss what they’ll work on that day.
They also meet up at the end of every sprint to provide each other with feedback and report any obstacles they face. Where necessary, these challenges can lead to changes in the project itself.
This methodology’s strong point is that it pushes your team towards working creatively and efficiently. It is best for on-the-go marketing, design, and copywriting projects.
Change Management Methodologies: Extreme Project Management
Extreme project management is essentially the opposite methodology to waterfall. It provides maximum flexibility for adjustments and changes without interrupting the path of the project’s completion.
According to Wrike, “In XPM, you can alter the project plan, budget, and even the final deliverable to fit changing needs, no matter where the project is.” This is the perfect methodology for extremely short-term projects that last weeks or even days.
Process-Based Project Management Methodologies: Lean, Six Sigma, and Lean Six Sigma
Firstly, Lean methodologies are all about minimalism. It intends to produce the best outcomes using minimum effort, costs, and time. That concept is achieved by eliminating all forms of waste.
Secondly, the Six Sigma approach is a “perfectionist” methodology.
It aims to increase quality and reach a zero-defect rate. Therefore, if a project reaches 99.99966% as a quality score, it obtains the rating of Six Sigma.
Finally, as you might guess, Lean Six Sigma mixes the two methodologies.
It follows the minimalist concept in addition to eliminating defects. This makes it favourable to many project managers since it guarantees quality and cost-efficiency and takes the shortest road to achieve both.
The PRINCE2 Methodology
PRINCE2 is probably the most elaborate project management methodology.
It is thoroughly planned and ensures the highest control over the whole project from start to finish. Therefore, governments like the UK adopt the PRINCE2 methodology for project execution.
The PRINCE2 approach includes seven principles:
- Projects must have a business justification.
- Teams should learn from every stage.
- Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined.
- Work is planned in stages.
- Project boards are managed by exception.
- Teams keep a constant focus on quality.
- The approach is tailored for each project.
PRiSM stands for Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods. In brief, this methodology may be called the “eco-friendly” methodology. It prioritises protecting environmental resources and ensures that the project is environmentally safe.
Typically, this means dividing projects into four key stages:
- Concerned groups,
- Sustainability orientation,
- Organisational orientation,
Benefits Realisation Methodology
The Benefits Realisation methodology commits itself to providing maximum value to the customer. Of course, commitment to the customer’s time frame and budget matters, but ensuring value is its top priority.
The benefits realisation methodology divides projects into four stages:
- Identify and structure,
- Planning benefits,
- Monitoring and optimisation benefits,
- Realise and evaluate benefits.
In other words, the core goal at each stage is to add value to the project.
Project Management Methodology Adoption Trends
- 71% of organizations use Agile approaches on some projects, up from 59% in 2020 (ProjectManagement.com)
- Waterfall is used for 52% of project work, but it is declining as more shift to Agile (Economics & Business Journal)
- 49% of project managers report using hybrid Agile and Waterfall methodologies (PMI Pulse of Profession)
Agile Project Management Agile is an iterative approach emphasising flexibility, collaboration, and incrementally delivering value. Key features:
- Iterative sprints of 1-4 weeks to deliver working functionality
- Daily standup meetings for communication
- Prioritized product backlogs and sprint plans
- Continuous feedback and improvements
- Self-organizing teams and shared accountability
- Working software as the measure of progress
- Faster adaptation to change
- Continuous delivery of value
- Increased transparency
- Improved team morale and ownership
- It is not ideal for a defined, inflexible scope.
- High customer involvement is required.
- It can be chaotic for larger teams.
Use Agile When: Requirements are likely to change, cross-functional collaboration is key, and releasing often is beneficial.
Waterfall Project Management Waterfall follows a linear, sequential approach with distinct phases for each project lifecycle stage.
- Requirements gathering
- Design/solutions planning
- Testing/quality assurance
- Rigorous planning and documentation
- Strict change control
- Clear milestones and schedule
- Defined responsibilities
- There is little flexibility for changes.
- Risk of failure if requirements unclear
- No value is delivered till the end.
- Team frustration with rigidity
Use Waterfall When: Clear project scope, predictable outcomes, fixed deadlines, and minimized risk is critical.
Hybrid Project Management Hybrid combines elements of both Waterfall for planning/requirements and Agile for development iterations.
- Waterfall for project scoping, initial planning
- Agile sprints for development, testing
- Continuous integration and delivery
- Change controlled milestones
- Balances flexibility and structure
- Late changes limited to development
- Get the best of both approaches.
- Complex coordination of methodologies
- Conflicting team priorities
- Milestones may lag if priorities change
Use Hybrid When: Seeking middle ground between a rigid plan and complete agility
Comparing Methodologies by Key Elements: [Insert table comparing Agile, Waterfall and Hybrid across phases, roles, documentation, releases, changing requirements, etc.]
An Overview of Project Management Methodologies
Project management methodologies are developed to facilitate leadership and to establish a strong building strategy towards achieving a goal. Understanding different project management methodologies helps you reach better outcomes.
As a business owner, you are usually leading teams, projects, and departments; therefore, you must be fully aware of different project management methodologies and how to implement them.
Select a suitable methodology according to the nature of each project you lead. In addition, always consider the nature of the team and observe their history and ability to meet the methodology’s requirements.
Invest time in developing your team of project managers, too. This will guarantee the best performance and make you feel more confident about future project delegations.
Project Management Methodologies Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is the main difference between Agile and Waterfall project management?
A: The key difference is that Agile is iterative while Waterfall is sequential. Agile allows requirements to evolve through incremental deliveries and feedback. Waterfall locks in requirements upfront and follows defined phases.
Q: When should we use Waterfall over Agile?
A: Waterfall is better suited when requirements are clear and unlikely to change, the project scope is fixed, and strict deadlines or high risks make flexibility risky. It provides formal plans and documentation.
Q: What are the benefits of a hybrid project management approach?
A: Hybrid combines the planning of Waterfall with the agility of iterative development. This provides structure while allowing for some flexibility in implementation. It’s ideal for organizations transitioning from Waterfall to Agile.
Q: How do we choose between methodologies for a project?
A: Consider factors like how defined the requirements are, how much change is expected, the corporate culture, how much documentation is needed, and the appetite for uncertainty. Align to goals like adaptability, risk mitigation, or frequent deliveries.
Q: Can Agile work for large, complex projects?
A: Agile can scale to large initiatives through frameworks like SAFe, which coordinates multiple smaller Agile teams. However, it requires expertise and more rigorous planning for bigger projects.
Q: How can we implement hybrid project management?
A: Start with Waterfall planning and requirements, then use Agile sprints for executing and delivering working functionality in iterations. Maintain change control and integration across siloed teams.
Project Management Methodologies Conclusion
Factors like your team culture, project complexity, budget, deadlines, and appetite for change can dictate which methodology is right for your needs. While Agile provides greater adaptability and continuous delivery, stricter Waterfall approaches shine for projects with high risk, stable scope and requirements, and fixed constraints.
Adopting a hybrid model allows organizations to realize the benefits of both methods. Assess your unique priorities and environment to determine the best-fit PM approach.