Last edited:
May 29, 2024

Project Management Methodologies: 10 Must-Known Processes

An overview of the most popular project management methodologies any project manager should know about.
Table of content

Project management is a field that is constantly changing and evolving, and in order to deliver the best projects in the best way possible, project managers need to know which project management methodology is best for each project and team.

Before we actually dive into the most popular project management frameworks, we need to know more about project management methodologies.

What is a Project management methodology

Project management methodologies are structured approaches or systems that help project managers effectively plan, execute, and complete projects. They provide a set of guidelines, processes, and techniques to organize tasks, resources, and timelines to achieve project goals efficiently.

How to choose the best project management methodologies

In order to choose the best project management methodology for your business and team, a number of factors need to be taken into consideration, including project requirements, project team, flexibility, stakeholder engagement, and of course, resource availability.

Top 10 Project Management methodologies


The Waterfall framework is a sequential, linear project management methodology.

First developed by Dr Winston W. Royce in the 70’s, it’s one of the most used project management methodologies, even though its original creator viewed its application with reservations.

The Waterfall project management methodology has at least five to seven phases, with each phase relying on the deliverables of the previous one, meaning the second phase cannot start until the first one is completed.

Some key aspects of the waterfall project management methodology are:

- Requirements
- Design
- Coding
- Testing
- Maintenance

Illustration of the waterfall project management methodology.


Arguably the most commonly used project management principle (along with the Waterfall and Lean project management frameworks) Agile, just like it sounds, is based on speed, agility, collaboration and iteration.

It was created in 2001 by a group of industry leaders in the Agile Manifesto.

It’s not really a project management methodology but a principle that can be applied in other methodologies such as Kanban, Scrum or Extreme Programming.

One of the key aspects of the Agile methodology is that it only can be effective in a flat hierarchy where each member acts on their own responsibility, and the ‘leader’ must be able to delegate tasks and have complete trust in their employees.


Lean is a methodology popularized by Toyota, and originally focusing on eliminating ‘waste’ – waste being physical materials in the industry of automobile –.

Today, Lean still focuses on bringing value without waste, but waste refers here to resources in general, including human resources.

In other words, the Lean project management methodology focuses on delivering value with minimal resource waste to save costs and other resources in the long term.


The Scrum project management methodology is part of the Agile framework. It is based on the fact that huge and complex projects are too hard to plan precisely in advance.

Therefore, the project is divided into time-boxed iterations called sprints, typically lasting 2-4 weeks, where teams deliver potentially shippable increments of the product.

Teams using the Scrum project management methodology usually do a sprint planning at the beginning of the sprint to agree on deliverables to complete. They then have 15-min daily calls called Stand-ups where each collaborator shares progress, concerns and potential blockers.


The Kanban (a Japanese word meaning signboard) project management methodology was developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer and businessman working for Toyota back in the 1940’s.

It was David J. Anderson, an innovator in management thinking who has previously worked for giants like IBM, Sprint, Motorola, and Microsoft, who first applied it to IT and software development industries in 2004.

The Kanban project management methodology focuses on visualizing work, limiting work in progress (WIP), and optimizing flow.

Tasks are represented on a Kanban board, which can be pictured as a virtual board with columns. Each column represents a stage of the project from ‘To Do’ to ‘Done’, where everyone can see what needs to be done and who is working on what.

When someone has a task, they write it and put it in the "To Do" column. As they start working on it, they move it to the "In Progress" column. When it's finished, they move it to the "Done" column.

The stages in the Kanban project management methodology can obviously be more granular and each team can create as many stages as needed, such as ‘Backlog’, ‘In Review’, or ‘Canceled’, to give a few examples. The granularity depends on many factors such as the project complexity or the team size.

Illustration of the Kanban project management methodology.


PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) project management methodology was created by the United Kingdom government in 1996 as a version of the waterfall project management methodology and designed to make IT projects more manageable.

The PRINCE2 project management methodology went through many revisions since it was first developed, with the major one being the revision of 2009 which introduced the seven processes of PRINCE2:

1. Starting Up a Project (SU)

2. Initiating a Project (IP)

3. Directing a Project (DP)

4. Controlling a Stage (CS)

5. Managing Product Delivery (MP)

6. Managing Stage Boundaries (SB)

7. Closing a Project (CP)

The PRINCE2 project management methodology is a well-structured and proven methodology that is used by many teams. However it is considered a rigid method that can be time-consuming with a lot of processes. It’s best for large companies with complex projects where quality standards are high.

Six Sigma

The Six Sigma project management methodology was developed in 1987 by Motorola. It is a data-driven approach focused on improving the quality of processes by reducing defects and variations.

Two of the most popular frameworks within the Six Sigma project management methodology are DMAIC and DMADV.

DMAIC is an acronym that stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control. It represents the five phases that make up the process:

Define: Clearly articulate the problem and project goals.
Measure: Gather data to understand the current state of the process.
Analyze: Identify root causes of issues and inefficiencies.
Improve: Implement solutions to address identified problems.
Control: Establish measures to sustain improvements and prevent regression.

DMADV, which stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Verify, follows the same process as DMAIC, apart from the 2 last phases that include Design and Verify and is often used when implementing new strategies.

Extreme Programming

Extreme programming (XP) project management methodology was developed by software engineer Kent Beck in 1996 as an Agile project management framework. It focuses on the software development and is based on 12 principles:

Planning game : Collaboratively plan project details with the customer.
Small releases : Deliver frequent, incremental updates to the software.
Metaphor: Maintain a shared analogy guiding software design.
Simple design : Create straightforward designs without unnecessary complexity.
Testing: Write automated tests before coding and test frequently.
Refactoring: Restructure code to improve readability and maintainability.
Pair programming: Work in pairs to code collaboratively.
Collective ownership: All team members share responsibility for the codebase.
Continuous integration: Integrate code changes frequently into the main repository.
40-hour week: Maintain a sustainable work pace of 40 hours per week to avoid burnouts.
Onsite customer: Have a customer representative available to the team.
Coding standard: Adhere to coding conventions for consistency and clarity.

The Extreme Programming project management methodology is also based on 5 core values:

- Communication
- Simplicity
- Feedback
- Courage
- Respect

Illustration of the Extreme Programming project management methodology

Critical Path Method

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a project management methodology that focuses on identifying the critical tasks within a project, all the dependencies and the time required to complete each task.

The Critical Path Method (CPM) typically involves the following steps:

  • Identify tasks: List all the tasks needed to complete the project.
  • Define dependencies: Determine which tasks rely on others to start or finish.
  • Estimate durations: Estimate the time it takes to complete each task.
  • Create a network diagram: Map out the tasks and their dependencies visually.
  • Calculate the critical path: Find the longest sequence of tasks that determines the project's shortest possible duration.
  • Determine slack or float: Identify tasks that can be delayed without affecting the project's overall timeline.
  • Schedule and manage: Use the critical path to schedule tasks and manage resources efficiently throughout the project.

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

Similar to the CPM project management methodology, the CCPM takes CPM a step further by focusing on the resources required to complete a project rather than solely on time.

CCPM was designed by Dr. Eliyahu M. Goldratt in 1997 and has its roots in his Theory of Constraints.

In CCPM project management methodology, the critical chain, which is the sequence of tasks that determines the overall project duration, is identified with careful consideration of resource availability.

Time buffers are strategically added at various points: a project buffer at the end of the project, feeding buffers where non-critical tasks intersect with the critical chain, and resource buffers before tasks requiring the same resources.

This approach ensures that resources are not over-allocated and are focused on one task at a time, reducing the inefficiencies caused by multitasking.

Regular monitoring of the project's progress is essential, with adjustments made based on the consumption of these buffers, which serve as indicators of the project's health and help to keep it on track despite potential delays.

Clearly understanding the main project management methodologies helps you choose the best option for your projects and team. Each method has its own style, perfect for different kinds of projects and teams. From the structured waterfall model to the agile and iterative approaches of Scrum and Extreme Programming, there's a project management methodology suited for every project.

In order to effectively apply project management methodologies, using project management tools is a must. They help teams work together better and keep everything organized. Iteration X is an AI-native project management app that fits with many of the methodologies discussed above, making teamwork smoother and projects easier to handle.

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