Top 8 Project Management Methodologies and When to Use Them

Editorial Team

Project Management Methodologies

There are a lot of Project Management Methodologies and tools that can be applied to make your work as a project manager easier. These methodologies differ in terms of scope and application, which can make choosing the best one harder.

Here is a guide offering you a brief overview of each project management methodology and situations where the methodology is applicable.

1. Agile Project Management Methodology

One word that is becoming more and more popular especially with the spreading of the information age and advent of Large Scale software development is ‘agile’. Although a lot of people love referring to agile as a project management methodology, the fact is, agile is not really a methodology, it’s basically a set of principles or rules that are used to help in streamlining team projects so that the teams can work faster and be more efficient when working.

The Agile Manifesto, the manifesto that outlines the rules for the agile methodology explicitly mentions four values that act as the bedrock for agile project management. The four values mentioned by the manifesto are as follows:-

1. Individuals and Interactions

2. Working Products

3. Collaboration

4. Response to Change

Agile Project Management is about flexibility. Instead of focusing on tools, processes, massive documentation and other technical things, the project team focuses on the things that influence the direct outcomes of the project and maintaining flexibility to enable the teams to implement changes on the fly.

The processes of planning, execution, and evaluation are not once-off processes in Agile, they are iterative. Teams will often have to cycle through the processes whilst figuring out what works.

The Agile Methodology is useful for bigger and complex projects where the requirements are constantly shifting. This is especially true for IT and Software Development Projects.

2. Kanban Project Management Methodology

Unlike the Agile Methodology that focuses on teams and interactions, the Kanban is lean towards the processes within a project with the end goal of increasing the efficiency of work within the project. Although the focus of Kanban are the processes within a project, Kanban tends to both focus on the processes on one hand, while trying to achieve flexibility on the other.

How does it achieve this? By making it possible for the teams within a project to focus on what matters. The core practices in the Kanban Methodology include limiting the amount of work in progress at any given time, measuring the lead-time, and visualizing the workflow. All these things work to improve the project output and minimize the amount of time spent on doing a specific task.

To achieve great and efficient outputs, managers using the Kanban Methodology use a varied range of tools to achieve their output. The tools used can include project boards like Trello, which will be used to represent the team’s workflow to accurately visualize what has to be done on a particular project. Visualizing what has to be done this way will, in turn, limit the amount of work in progress at any given time helping improve the overall project workflow.

The Kanban methodology is useful in maintenance or support projects that often require a sustained steady output over a lot period.  

3. The Scrum Project Management Methodology

The Scrum Methodology is another popular methodology whose name stems from the sport of Rugby. In Rugby terms, a scrum is a method used to restart play when either the ball goes out or the referee calls a foul. During a scrum, to ensure that they get possession of the ball, a team will have to pack themselves together with their heads down. From the onset, when you look at a scrum in rugby, it might look as if there is no organization and coordination among the players, which isn’t correct. The players will form themselves in such a way that it is easy for them to regain possession of the ball when the referee throws it in the air.

How does this work in project management? Like in the sport, the Scrum methodology is focused on delivery. All the principles and processes proposed within the methodology are focused on improving the delivery of the project. One thing to also have in mind when it comes to Scrum is its relatedness to Agile Project Management.

If you recall from the above paragraphs, we mentioned that Agile is not really a methodology but rather a set of rules and principles. The relatedness of Scrum to Agile comes in the fact that Scrum is Agile put in Practice. The Scrum methodology has one main goal, improving communication and speed of development by fostering teamwork.

The Scrum Methodology is useful in Software or other stage based projects where people have to work in teams with each team focusing on a particular area of the project.

4. The Scrumban Project Management Methodology

The word Scrumban comes from the words Scrum and Kanban. It is a methodology that is derived from the combination of both the Scrum and Kanban Methodologies. Kanban is flexible whilst Scrum is structured, when we combine this flexibility and structuring, we can get some very interesting results.

The main principle used in Scrumban is planning on demand where the project backlog and tasks are filled and completed when the teams can actually set aside time to work on them. This, in turn, is useful as it limits the work in progress at any given time helping the teams focus more on the task.

What about the reviews, one may ask. The reviews are still an essential part of the Scrumban methodology, as they should be done daily due to the ‘Scrum’ part. Project planning, however, is not done in advance but on an as-required basis which in turn helps to save time and ensures that the project teams involved get to focus more on the task at hand rather than incomplete tasks and other things.

For projects with no clear end goal where the requirements evolve, Scrumban might be a good methodology to work with.

5. XP – Extreme Programming Methodology

As the name implies, this methodology is often used by software development teams when managing and working on large-scale software development projects. This methodology focuses on four important values to deliver projects namely simplicity, communication, courage, and feedback, which is almost similar to a scrum.

In addition to that, the extreme programming methodology stresses the importance of customer satisfaction when developing software. Customer requirements are always changing especially when in a software development lifecycle and the extreme methodology makes developers responsive to the changing needs of the customers enabling them to implement any required changes on the fly as and when needed by the customers.

The key people in this methodology are the managers, customers, and developers who all have to work together in a collaborative manner to achieve the desired results.

Extreme Programming is useful in large scale software development projects as the concepts was made for such projects.

6. The Waterfall Methodology

Waterfall, unlike all the other methodologies mentioned in this article, focuses on perfect planning that is done to the dot. With waterfall, the basic rule when working on a project is firstly to do it once and do it right. It’s about making a plan and executing on the plan.

The key to success with the waterfall methodology is to plan for the project up front before execution. This makes the project manager an important part of the project, as he has to drive the project from start making sure that everything is implemented in a sequence with all the initial project requirements being adhered to in a very strict manner.

To understand this methodology better, you have to visualize a waterfall and how it operates. All the requirements of a project are stated in full right at the beginning of the project (the top of the waterfall) and when work starts, the project is done in phases like the water falling down a waterfall until completion.

Changes are done when necessary. The waterfall methodology is a traditional approach to project management but still relevant.

The waterfall methodology is useful for large scale construction projects that have to be planned from the onset and implemented once off. The requirements don’t usually shift for such projects.

7. PMI’s PMBOK Methodology

The Pioneer of this methodology is the Project Management Institute, the largest professional body for project managers in the World. This methodology stresses some standards that have to be used for any project and can be used in managing the project. The standards are as follows; initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and lastly, closing.

The PMBOK Methodology is just a set of standards that be referenced when wanting to create a universal language and best practices for making the process of running projects more efficient.

Since PMBOK is a set of standards as opposed to a standalone methodology, it is applicable in any project case. The key is to remember the standards.

8. Prince2 Methodology

The Prince2 Methodology is an effective project management methodology that is based on the Waterfall methodology. PRINCE is short for Projects IN Controlled Environments and was established by the UK Government to streamline their IT development projects. The PRINCE2 Method is very process oriented and achieves this by dividing projects into different stages or process with each stage having its own plans that have to be strictly followed.

The PRINCE2 was designed for large-scale enterprise IT Projects and would work in such environments where there are 100’s of team members involved and working on a particular project.


To choose the right project management methodology to work with, it’s important to first consider the complexity of your particular project and other things like the resources available and constraints. Depending on your business type, you have to iterate through the methodologies and settle for the one that goes best with your business needs.