The top project management methodologies
“You mean there’s more than one project management methodology?” There are quite a lot of them, actually, and some even combine to form new hybrid approaches. But what are they exactly? How do they help project teams work better? And what makes one methodology better than another?
Project management methodologies are essentially different ways to approach a project. Each one has a unique process and workflow.
If you’re looking for a quick visual guide to popular methodologies, then check out this blog post and infographic: 16 Top Project Management Methodologies.
Here, we look at some of the top project management methodologies, grouped by similarity and popularity.
A. The traditional, sequential methodologies
Waterfall project management methodology
The most common way to plan out a project is to sequence the tasks that lead to a final deliverable and work on them in order. This process is also known as the waterfall methodology — the traditional method for managing projects and the one that is simplest to understand. You have to complete one task before the next one begins in a connected sequence of items that add up to the overall deliverable. It’s an ideal method for projects that result in physical objects (buildings, computers), and you can easily replicate project plans for future use.
The power of this methodology is that every step is preplanned and laid out in the proper sequence. While this may be the simplest method to implement initially, any changes in stakeholders’ needs or priorities will disrupt the series of tasks, making it very difficult to manage. This methodology excels in predictability but lacks in flexibility.
Critical path method (CPM)
The critical path method was developed in the 1950s, based on the idea that there are some tasks you can’t start until you finish the previous one. When you string these dependent tasks together from start to finish, you plot out your critical path.
Identifying and focusing on this critical path allows project managers to prioritize and allocate resources to get the most important work done and reschedule any lower priority tasks that may be clogging up your team’s bandwidth. This way, if you need to make changes to the project schedule, you can optimize your team’s work process without delaying the results.