Evaluating the most Popular Project Management Methodologies

The process of selecting the best-suited methodology is an essential component of getting your job done in the most efficient manner possible. But, how do you choose which methodology will work for your project or product? Is there a definitive one that’s better than the other? Frankly, it’s hard to say – it really depends on what you’re working on, how involved stakeholders are, how many people are involved, and the time available.

What is a Project Management Methodology?

To begin, let’s define what exactly a project management methodology is. Project Management is a methodology that outlines “a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.” These processes help project managers effectively get through their projects with ease. Each methodology has its own set of strategies that contribute to the project’s execution.

Which Project Management Methodology is best for you?

With so many methodologies, it can be tricky to decide which one will work best for your project, especially since they each have their own specific rules, principles, practices, and processes. By selecting an appropriate methodology, you should be able to utilize your time and resources better.

No single methodology will be a perfect fit for each and every one of your projects. Just as your projects will vary, the methodologies will change, as well, in order to accommodate the differing requirements each project presents.

To provide you with an idea of what you should be looking for in a project management methodology, let’s explore some of the more popular methodologies regularly implemented:

1. Agile

To start, let’s discuss Agile. It is one of the better-known methodologies, predominately used for incremental and iterative software development projects. Agile’s approach ensures that responses are acted upon most efficiently, and whatever potential changes can be made at any point in the sprint or product cycle. This is made possible through a collaboration of self-organizing, cross-functional teams and their clients. This particular methodology was a reaction to the pitfalls of the Waterfall method, which will be discussed in detail later on.

Agile project management originates from the Agile Manifesto’s initial values and principles. The manifesto, created in 2001 by experts in the industry, exposes superior methods of developing software through a simple system that promotes iterative development, change recognition, and overall team collaboration. The collection of values and principles that make up this manifesto provide the foundation for the Agile methodology.

The 4 core values include:

1. Responding to change over following a plan
2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
3. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
4. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

The 12 key principles include:

  • Customer satisfaction through early and continuous software delivery
  • Accommodate changing requirements throughout the development process
  • Frequent delivery of working software
  • Collaboration between the business stakeholders and developers throughout the project
  • Support, trust and motivate the people involved
  • Enable face-to-face interactions
  • Working software is the primary measure of progress
  • Agile processes to support a consistent development pace
  • Attention to technical detail and design enhances agility
  • Simplicity
  • Self-organizing teams encourage great architectures, requirements, and designs
  • Regular reflections on how to become more effective

Agile methodology is frequently used for intricate projects due to its ability to adapt. The features used to create a product and track progress are the product release plan, product backlog, product roadmap, product vision statement, increment, and Sprint backlog.

2. Waterfall

Waterfall had many issues pertaining to its inability to be flexible since its progress design only flows downwards in a single direction. You are only able to move onto the next development phase once the prior one is completed. This leaves limited room for versatility.

The phases include:

  • System and Software Requirements
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Coding
  • Testing
  • Operations

This specific methodology is best suited for larger projects that rely on uniform development and deadlines, as well as consistent projects that won’t offer up any surprises or challenges. Documentation is also heavily stressed throughout this method, making it easy for team members to pick up where a previous worker left off. That makes this methodology beneficial for any project that has frequent turnover.
Use for: Larger projects with strict stages and deadlines, or projects that have been done multiple times, where chances of surprises are relatively low.

3. Scrum

Scrum, a methodology born out of the Agile methodology, is made up of five different values:

  • Focus
  • Respect
  • Courage
  • Commitment
  • Openness

The goal of Scrum is to grow and maintain elaborate products through iterative progress, accountability, and collaboration. This methodology differs from others due to its usage of roles, events and artifacts.

Scrum Team Roles
Product Owner: An expert on the product who is a representative of the stakeholders and consumers.
Scrum Master: A leader who oversees the development and maintenance of Scrum.
Development Team: Professionals who create the product (designers, programmers and developers).

Scrum Events
Sprint: Iterative time boxes where goals are accomplished.
Sprint Planning: Scrum teams assemble in order to plan the impending Sprint.
Daily Scrum: A 15-minute time-boxed meeting held daily to discuss the previous day’s accomplishments, as well as the following day’s goals.
Sprint Review: End of day meeting where team members discuss their progress and receive feedback from stakeholders.
Sprint Retrospective: Scrum team meeting that discusses the previous Sprint and creates expectations for the next Sprint.

Scrum Artifacts
Sprint Backlog: A list of goals for the next Sprint. Scrum task boards are often included, which are used to manage tasks.
Product Backlog: The product owner manages this list of requirements that are necessary for the success of a product.

Use for: Projects composed of small teams(<7) who require an adaptable and flexible method of delivery for a product or service.

4. Kanban

Kanban, part of the Agile framework,, is similar to Scrum in that it puts an emphasis on collaborative, self-managing teams. The development of this methodology was created on the production line of Toyota factories in the 1940s. This visual management system showcases projects, tasks, and items as cards, which are then organized on a board used to oversee the workflow.
Kanban’s six general practices include:

  • Collaborative or Experimental Evolution
  • Flow Management
  • Limiting Work in Progress
  • Using Feedback Loops
  • Making Policies Explicit
  • Visualization

These features perfect its visual-based development process with the use of a Kanban board, Kanban cards and Kanban swimlanes. The board can be physical or digital, the cards depict work items/tasks, and the swimlanes are horizontally flowing visual elements that express the work tasks/items further. Made up of three columns labeled as ‘To-Do, Doing, and Done,’ this management tool is well-suited for a wide variety of projects.
Use for: Projects made up of smaller teams that require flexibility with their products or services, as well as for personal productivity.

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