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Popular project management methodologies explained

by | Dec 10, 2021

Managing and planning a new project is a massive undertaking. In order to help effectively strategize and oversee the completion of these projects, many companies use what is known as a “project management methodology.”

Project management methodologies are used for a wide array of purposes, including digital marketing, data analytics, immersive design, and more. 

Thought leaders and project managers within these industries understand just how important it is to choose the right project management methodology to get the job done. However, selecting a methodology can be incredibly challenging due to the sheer number of options available.

With that in mind, we have created this comprehensive guide to project management methodologies. Below, we’ll provide you with a roadmap for choosing a project management methodology. 

In addition, our experts will discuss the specific capabilities of some of the most commonly used project management methodologies that are at your disposal.

What is a project management methodology?

Investopedia outlines that project management “involves the planning and organization of a company’s resources to move a specific task, event, or duty towards completion.” The term can be used to refer to something done once or recurring activity, but it includes oversight of team members, budgets, tools, and intellectual property.

A project management methodology is a specific set of processes and principles that are used to manage, plan, and complete a project. These principles will guide project leaders in the deployment of resources. The project management methodology will also determine how staff members prioritize work.

Types of project management methodologies

There are literally dozens of project management methodologies to choose from. Each option has a unique set of principles, practices, and rules. Therefore, not all methodologies will align with the goals of your organization.

When selecting a project management methodology, you must evaluate its efficacy based on specific criteria, which are outlined below. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that there is no “right” and “wrong” methodology. One project management methodology may be perfect for a particular project but poorly suited for another. That is why you should be flexible when deciding which methodology to deploy.

How to choose a project management methodology

There are a wealth of factors that will influence which project management methodology is a good match for your organization. Criteria that you should consider when making your decision include the following:

Cost and budget

How big is your budget? Does your project involve a lot of variables that may force you to adjust your budget or is the funding available to you set in stone?

Some methodologies are more flexible, which means that you can easily adjust them on the fly if your budget has a little wiggle room. Other project management methodologies are incredibly complex, so you’ll have to account for every variable during the planning phase.

Team size

A small team of only 5 to 10 people will have different needs than a massive collective of 100 individuals or more. That is why your team size will be a major determining factor that influences which project management methodology you choose. 

Larger groups require a more rigid set of rules that clearly delegates each task. Otherwise, confusion can cause expensive delays that prevent the project from being completed on time.

Risk management

One of the key benefits of adopting a project management methodology is that it helps organizations to mitigate risks. This is especially important when they’re tasked with completing multimillion-dollar projects that could have a significant impact on the overall financial success of the organization.


How long do you have to complete the project? Do stakeholders expect a fast turnaround or are they more concerned with the quality of the finished product? 

Agile project management methodologies will help your team rapidly complete key tasks. However, they usually have fewer quality control measures in place.

On the other hand, a methodology that addresses every component of the project in great detail will preserve the quality of the finished product. Unfortunately, this often comes at the expense of timeliness.

Striking the perfect balance between efficiency and quality control will help you to complete a project in line with set benchmarks.


While thorough planning can help your team remain focused on the core goals of a particular project, the scope of your efforts may change along the way. This is especially true when you’re completing large-scale, lengthy projects.

With this in mind, it’s vital that you select a project management methodology that provides adequate flexibility. Otherwise, you may have to transition your approach mid-project, which can create a logistical nightmare for your staff!

What are the most commonly used project management methodologies?

Now that you know how to determine which project management methodology is the right fit for your business, let’s turn our attention to some of your options! 

Below are the most commonly used project management methodologies available when you’re planning your next venture:


Agile is widely known for being an incredibly flexible project management methodology. 

Agile is a great methodology for facilitating interactions between individuals. It is a non-linear methodology, which means that creatives can freely collaborate with one another to develop truly unique products or services. 

Agile is best suited for short projects that are subject to change during the development phase.

Most organizations using Agile start by creating large backlogs of pending projects. The project manager is responsible for prioritizing these backlogged tasks so that team members know where to focus their efforts.


The Scrum project management methodology is a specific form of “Agile.” When using this method, work is divided into brief cycles, which are commonly referred to as “sprints.” Most organizations limit these sprints to a one to two-week period.

As with the traditional agile methodology, work is selected from a backlog. Each Scrum team is led by the Scrum Master. This individual is tasked with reviewing their team’s performance and editing the project (if necessary) before they start the next work cycle.


Kanban is unique in that it provides everyone involved in the project with a visual overview. This project management methodology incorporates a tool known as a Kanban board. 

By visualizing the progress of each piece of work, project managers can easily identify barriers that are hindering the completion of a specific task.

Kanban is typically used in conjunction with the Agile methodology. One of the key tenets of Kanban is that it includes WIP (work-in-progress) limits. These limitations restrict how many projects can be active at a given time, which prevents an organization from overstretching its staff members.


As the name suggests, Scrumban is a hybrid project management methodology that incorporates the key principles of both Scrum and Kanban. 

When using this method, teams can continuously select projects from the Kanban backlog. They do not have to wait for the Scrum sprint cycle to end. Instead, they can begin a new project as soon as the Scrum Master has approved their current work.

Scrumban is appealing because it maintains a continuous workflow while still providing organized project planning strategies.


The Lean project management methodology can trace its roots to the Toyota Production System. Originally, this methodology was focused on reducing the amount of waste created during the manufacturing process. However, it has been modified and applied to project management on a broader scale.

eXtreme Programming (XP)

XP or eXtreme Programming methodology is based around the Agile strategy. This project management methodology was created specifically for software development applications. 

At the core of the XP methodology are five values, which include the following:

  • Simplicity
  • Communication
  • Feedback
  • Respect
  • Courage

You may want to deploy this methodology if your goal is to foster collaboration amongst a small, on-site team.


The Waterfall project methodology earned its namesake due to its linear format. Each sequence in the Waterfall protocol cascades into the next. 

While the sequences included in your Waterfall project management methodology can vary, this approach typically incorporates the following stages:

  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Construction
  • Testing
  • Deployment
  • Maintenance

The Waterfall methodology is a suitable option if your project’s end goal is clearly defined. However, it offers minimal flexibility, which makes it a poor fit for more dynamic projects.


PRINCE2 or Projects IN Controlled Environments is a formal certification and project management methodology that is designed to equip managers with a working knowledge of best practices. 

You do not need to obtain any prerequisites before enrolling in this program. This makes PRINCE 2 a good option for individuals that want to learn the basics of project management methodology.


The Project Management Institute has developed its own Project Management Book of Knowledge (PMBOK). This comprehensive guide covers a multitude of best practices for project management. 

Individuals that complete this course can receive a Project Management Professional certification from the PMI, which will distinguish them as an expert on the subject.

Project management solutions from Pathstream

While there are many different project management methodologies available, the PMI PMBOK option is by far the most comprehensive option. The PMBOK will teach you the core tenets of project management and equip you to choose the right methodology for your organization’s needs. 

However, preparing for the PMI exam can be quite challenging.

Fortunately, Pathstream has the perfect solution via our Asana Project Management Certificate. In addition, this program will teach you how to perform project management using Asana. Our program is divided into three, 6-week courses that include hands-on learning experiences.

Upon completion of this program, you will have earned the 23 hours of project management education necessary to sit for the Certified Associate in Project Management exam administered by the Project Management Institute. 

If you would like to learn more about our program, contact us today to speak with an advisor.

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