Choosing the right project management methodology for the job is essential. Our guide to evaluating project management methodologies will ensure you pick the perfect fit for your next project.
Choosing the right project management methodology for your team is the first step to success. But with so many different — and in some cases, overlapping — approaches to managing the complexities of any given project, how can you know which project management methodology is best?
Project managers can assist their organizations in improving how they implement projects in the most effective and efficient way while reducing risks. But this requires much more than just recognizing organizational priorities. You have to have a deeper understanding of how each project management methodology can create the greatest positive impact — and how each can derail your organization’s likelihood of project success.
Here, we outline the most popular project management methodologies (PMMs) in practice today, showing you how to evaluate which is best for your project and organization. Once developed, a process for evaluating and choosing the right project management methodology can be documented and repeated, enabling your organization to spend less time haggling over how to structure and manage your projects, and more time on achieving project objectives and deliverables.
The most popular project management methodologies today
Waterfall: Waterfall has been a mainstay project management methodology for years. It is sequential in nature and is used across many industries, most commonly in software development. It comprises static phases (requirements analysis, design, testing, implementation, and maintenance) that are executed in a specific order. Waterfall allows for increased control throughout each phase but can be highly inflexible if a project’s scope changes after it is already underway. It offers a more formal planning stage that may increase the chances of capturing all project requirements up front, reducing the loss of any key information and requirements in the initial stages.
Agile: Agile takes a significantly different approach to project management. It was initially developed for projects that require significant flexibility and speed. To achieve this, agile is composed of short delivery cycles, aka “sprints.” Agile may be best-suited for projects requiring less control and real-time communication within self-motivated team settings. As a project management methodology, agile is highly interactive, allowing for rapid adjustments throughout a project. It is commonly used in software development projects in large part because it makes it easier to identify issues quickly and to make modifications early in the development process, rather than having to wait until testing is complete. Agile offers repeatable processes, reduces risk, allows for immediate feedback, provides fast turnaround and reduces complexity.
Moira Alexander, PMP, I.S.P., ITCP/IP3P, is a recognized project management influencer, thought leader, a regular correspondent for PMI’s Projectified podcast, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of PMWorld 360 Magazine, Founder of Lead-Her-Ship Group, and author of “LEAD or LAG: Linking Strategic Project Management & Thought Leadership”. Moira has over 25 years of experience in business (IS&T) and project management for small to large businesses in the US and Canada and has been quoted in various publications including Forbes. She writes thought leadership content for top-tier publications and business blogs and oversees or writes sponsored content and software reviews on PMWorld 360 Magazine.