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Last modified date

Jan 11, 2024

Project Management Methodologies and Frameworks (A Guide for 2024)

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Alexandra Cote

Blog average read time

23 min

Last modified date

January 11, 2024


The best and most popular project management methodologies are constantly changing. New concepts appear all the time. A string of methods, tools, and techniques lies behind all successful projects. In fact, as a project management practitioner, you’ll probably get to use more than just one of these during your life.

However, project management methodologies, methods, and frameworks are not just for management roles, such as product or project manager. Not only can’t beginners distinguish between product management vs. project management, but the entire project team must understand their usage, purpose, and basic terms.

Remember that no project or team is the same. A methodology or framework that worked for someone else might not suit you. That’s why it’s best to test how to use them for your projects so that the whole process will go smoothly regardless of your choice.

If you run one or more small teams and are looking for the most used project management tool for web projects, we wrote this article reviewing easy project management tools. Also, if you’re looking to be more efficient in your business, opt for a holistic work management system—the learning curve is especially short if you have experience in project management.

If you are looking for time-tracking software for billing or easy online invoicing tools, in my experience, you should check out the best invoicing software for freelancers in 2022. In case you need an invoice generator online that you can customize for various languages, there are some excellent examples. The article features a comparison table to help you decide whether you’re self-employed or own a business.

We created this extensive guide for beginners to help you pick the project management methodologies, methods, and frameworks that fit all your needs according to your industry and project objectives. In the last part of the article, we mentioned some project management methods, methodologies, frameworks, guides, and other approaches that are sometimes debated in a project management context but are incorrectly labeled as project management methodologies.

We also contacted a couple of project management experts to offer you a practitioner’s opinion on them.

We’ve divided the article into three distinct sections. You can click on each one to skip directly to it:

Definitions

Project Management Methods, Methodologies, and Frameworks

What about Agile, Scrum, and the others?

Definitions

The difference between methodologies, frameworks, and methods has always been highly debated, even in fields like research or architecture. To help you understand these terms, let’s first have a look at the following definitions:

What is a Project Management Method?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘method’ as “a procedure or process for attaining an object: a systematic procedure, technique, or mode of inquiry employed by or proper to a particular discipline or a systematic plan followed in presenting material for instruction.”

Therefore, a project management method can be described as a procedure, process, or systematic plan for achieving an objective within a project. In other words, a pm method is an approach or technique specific to project management to accomplish a particular goal or task, often following a systematic or orderly process.

What is a Project Management Methodology?

A methodology is a collection of methods, practices, processes, techniques, procedures, and rules. In project management, methodologies are specific and strict and usually contain a series of steps and activities for each phase of the project’s life cycle. They have defined approaches showing us precisely what steps to take next, the motivation behind each step, and how a project stage should be performed.

What is a Project Management Framework?

A framework is “a body of methods, rules, and postulates employed by a discipline: a particular procedure or set of procedures” or “the analysis of the principles or procedures of inquiry in a particular field.”

Similarly, the Business Dictionary defines a framework as a “broad overview, outline, or skeleton of interlinked items which supports a particular approach to a specific objective, and serves as a guide that can be modified as required by adding or deleting items.”

A project management framework is a set of processes, tasks, and tools that provide guidance and structure for the execution of a project. It encompasses all the critical components required for planning, managing, and governing projects and helps organizations map out the progression of individual project steps from beginning to completion.

The framework typically includes the project lifecycle, required resources, tools, specific processes, and tasks. Successful implementation of a project management framework demands cross-team coordination of tasks, and organizations can benefit from creating and using templates across similar types of projects.

A framework is an overview of how its guidelines should be implemented. While methodologies offer strict principles and practices for completing a project, frameworks are more flexible because they can adapt to changing situations or a company’s needs, leaving room for the person in charge to find the best way to complete a project.

You can also bring new methods or practices to the framework you’re working with.

Project Management Methods, Methodologies, and Frameworks

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments)

PRINCE2 is a project management method that enforces the need to split project accountability between a board and a project manager. While the board is responsible for bringing in the required resources and focusing on business justification, the project manager handles all tasks and manages the team daily.

If you’re planning to try a career in project management, this step-by-step guide will show you how to become a project manager.

PRINCE2 offers better control over your resources, increased risk management, defined team roles and responsibilities, an emphasis on the end-user and the final product, a consistent approach to reviewing cycles, organized plans, and controllable project management phases. This project management method contains all the tools, practices, and procedures that will favorably take a project from start to finish.

Best for construction, architecture, and marketing but also works for other industries.

Tools to use: Microsoft Project, in-STEP BLUE, P2ware

Resources:

PRINCE2 Certification Information

Key Benefits of PRINCE2

Managing successful projects with PRINCE2

PRINCE2 in 100 Seconds

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

The Critical Chain Project Management method focuses on a project’s timing, reducing duration estimates, calculating buffers, notifying activity completion, measuring progress, and setting priorities. Any project team using CCPM starts by creating an initial project schedule. Then, based on resource availability, they establish the task dependencies and activities that must be completed so that the rest of the project can be finished successfully without delay. This is the “Critical Chain.” It’s the longest path until the project’s end after you’ve done resource-leveling.

All of the tasks that are part of it require special resource reserves and backup plans to ensure that nothing will be postponed. The schedule made using this method allows free time slots (known as project buffers) between these important (critical) tasks so that deadlines are met effectively.

“CCPM encompasses much good practice, but the seminal development concerns managing variability using aggregated buffers and a management signaling tool (buffer management). This project management development is a natural extension to flow-based systems management developments in manufacturing such as Kanban and Drum-Buffer-Rope.”, according to Roy Stratton, the author of Critical Chain Project Management Theory and Practice.

Best for manufacturing construction.

Tools to use: Aurora CCPM, A-dato, ProChain

Resources:

Critical Chain Project Management Theory and Practice, by Roy Stratton

Video Summary – Critical Chain Project Management

Critical Path Method (CPM)

A Web Design Project showing dependencies and the critical path in Paymo

The Critical Path Method can establish the priority of a project’s activities, reassign team roles, evaluate risks, and distribute resources accordingly. This method helps teams quickly identify milestones, task dependencies, and deadlines. To begin with, create a model of the project and add four elements:

  • A list of the tasks that need to be completed
  • The duration of each task
  • The dependencies between activities
  • The endpoint of a task

A Critical Path refers to a sequence of critical activities (dependent or floating) in a project that determines the most extended succession of tasks that must be completed on time for the project to meet the deadline. Critical activities aren’t always the most important, difficult, or costly ones in a project. A task is considered “critical” if, when delayed, it influences the project’s completion time.

The Critical Path Method is based on the notion that working on a new task can’t start unless you finish your previous tasks. The system will automatically calculate and indicate which activities are “critical” and which aren’t based on their duration and how this changes over time. This way, CPM supports the team in completing work faster, distributing resources correctly and evenly, and spotting bottlenecks to avoid further problems.

Note: The critical path is usually part of a Gantt tool. Compare the best ones and how timelines stack up with each other in our latest listicle.

Best for manufacturing, science, construction and architecture, and engineering, but it can be adapted to other industries as well.

Tools to use: Lucidchart, Microsoft Project, Smartsheet

Resources:

What Is a Critical Path in Project Management

Critical Path Method (CPM) – Instructional Video

Learn PMP Critical Path In 17 Minutes Flat

Adaptive Project Framework (APF)

The Adaptive Project Framework (APF) borrows several elements and processes from other project management methodologies, methods, and frameworks. You can use these for your projects in a personalized way. What distinguishes APF is how you create a project. A decision is taken to pick the most suitable existing approach and adapt it to your project.

Projects are then divided into smaller task groups and handled by different teams. The latter is in charge of evaluating the outcomes of each project group and identifying possible ways to improve performance. The client is also involved in the project development process to ensure that they are fully aware of the changes that go into it.

No project is the same. This is why this framework makes it easier to adapt a project to an approach and balance it against your objectives, identified risks, and changing client demands.

Best for
information technology environmental protection.

Tools to use: Paymo

Resources:

Introduction to the Adaptive Project Framework: Managing Complexity in the Face of Uncertainty, by Robert K. Wysocki

Adaptive Project Framework: A new level of agile development

Extreme Project Management (XPM)

“Importantly, eXtreme Project Management is not a methodology. Rather, it is a flexible project management framework and set of leadership practices for delivering value in the face of volatility,” says Doug DeCarlo, author of eXtreme Project Management: Using Leadership, Principles, and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility.

Work through XPM is done quickly and with several twists and turns. Projects with unpredictable development require Extreme Project Management or face considerably more changes than traditional projects. Doug makes the case for how XPM is applied in complex project environments when:

  • Failure is not an option
  • Speed, innovation, and profitability count
  • Quality of life is essential.

In XPM, plans are no longer reliable. Situations can change every second. Project team members are free to bring their touch to a project or task for which they hold complete accountability. A radical shift in how your team thinks and regards a project will happen.

Chaotic client needs and tasks, spontaneity, uncertainty, and less control over projects are now regular daily occurrences they will have to adapt to. That’s because at the base of  XPM lies the belief that work on more challenging projects can only be done through trial and error. Thus, any unpredicted mistake or bug will be fixed on the go.

Best for software development.

Resources:

eXtreme Project Management: Using Leadership, Principles, and Tools to Deliver Value in the Face of Volatility, by Douglas DeCarlo

XPM – from idea to realization

PRiSM (Projects integrating Sustainable Methods)

Prism

A project management methodology that considers all environmental factors as well as human rights, work values, and corruption prevention

How does green project management sound to you? If you’re looking for a sustainable way to manage your projects, try PRiSM.

This project management methodology was built around environmental factors and how they can influence the development of the project management process. It helps project teams eliminate pollution or waste and save energy. Since PRiSM also deals with human rights, labor values, and corruption prevention, it’s so much more than just an approach to how you handle nature.

Best for
construction, architecture, landscape, and any other work that can impact the environment.

Resources:

The GPM® Reference Guide to Sustainability in Project Management

Green/Sustainability Project Management Overview

Note: implement PriSM with your pm tool. Read this list of dedicated project management software for engineers.

Benefits Realization Management (BRM)

Benefits Realization Management is a framework that ensures stakeholders that a project has achieved the desired benefits. Projects are finished when all benefits have been met.

“Robust benefits management is a critical activity in any program. Many programs deliver great capability but fail to realize benefits due to insufficient arrangements to ensure that benefits are realized. Benefits Realization Management refers to the practices, tools, and mindset that ensure business initiatives deliver expected benefits. The discipline aims to ensure that desired business change or policy outcomes are clearly defined and measurable and provide a compelling investment case. Ultimately, it ensures that change or policy outcomes are achieved,” says Alex Antar, Author of The Essential Guide to Benefits Realization Management: The Art of BRM.

BRM imposes the need to find all benefits at the beginning of a project and ensure all tasks are conducted and evaluated to help a business reach them. A Business Change Manager helps the Benefits Owner with this. While the latter has to identify the business benefits and establish methods for handling them, the Business Change Manager is responsible for evaluating the project’s progress toward reaching those goals.

The ultimate goal remains to increase the return on investment based on the organization’s strategy.

There are three steps BRM takes a project through:

  • Identify benefits: determining and categorizing a business’s or project’s benefits and the people who will be in charge of handling them
  • Execute benefits management: overseeing the management of benefits to avoid risks and find new opportunities
  • Sustain benefits realization: monitoring the performance of a project’s benefits and ensuring they’re valuable even after implementation.

Best for information technology, but it works for any other type of work that focuses on benefits.

Resources:

Benefits realization management framework explained by PMI

Benefits Realization Management: Strategic Value from Portfolios, Programs, and Projects, by Carlos Eduardo Martins Serra

The Essential Guide to Benefits Realization Management: The Art of BRM, by Alex Antar

Crystal

We reached out to Dr. Alistair Cockburn, the developer of the Crystal methodology and one of the initiators of the Agile Movement, to have him summarize this methodology in a few words: “Crystal is a family of related agile methodologies based on the ideas that:

  • No one methodology can fit all projects
  • The project participants should tune them to fit themselves
  • They should be light and communication-centric

The three elements common to all Crystal family members are frequent delivery, close communication, and reflective improvement. Crystal Clear, Yellow, and Orange have been used on projects from three to 50 people in size, informal projects, and ISO 9001 projects.”

With this flexible methodology, people are an essential part of a project. All processes must be adapted to their needs. While the books describing Crystal provide resources for tuning the details of your team’s method, there are no specifically required techniques or tools. How you use Crystal depends entirely on your project and team.

For example, Crystal Clear is commonly used for projects handled by small teams and those who work from a single location. On the other hand, Crystal Sapphire is preferred for large projects that pose a risk to human life. This ability to adapt to different project types is why Crystal focuses on six main elements: people, interaction, community, communication, skills, and talents.

The method family members are color-coded according to how many people are being coordinated (Clear, Yellow, Orange, Red, and so on). Several versions of Crystal Clear, Yellow, and Orange are described in the reference book.

Best for software development.

Resources:

Crystal Clear: A Human-Powered Methodology for Small Teams: A Human-Powered Methodology for Small Teams, by Alistair Cockburn

What about Agile, Scrum, and the others?

Other popular methods, methodologies, frameworks, approaches, guides, etc., are no project management methodologies, methods, or frameworks.

The main issue comes from people not understanding the difference between a project and a product. They are often used interchangeably, but it’s essential to understand precisely what they are in project work.

A project is a one-at-a-time endeavor to create a product or service. It has a start and end date and a clearly defined outcome. It usually goes through five stages – initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure.

A product can be anything from a physical product to software or a service that satisfies the needs of a group of users. It goes through a life cycle, being developed and introduced on the market, growing in acceptance until it matures, and retired once it’s no longer needed.

Unlike a project, a product is not a temporary endeavor. It evolves and adapts to the current user’s needs to prove its utility and avoid being retired. Hence, it can include several projects that aim to maintain, improve, or diversify it.

Briefly put, a project is a temporary initiative to create a product, while a product is something that delivers value as a result of a project.

We’ve previously debated the difference between project and product managers if you’d like to have a look at their primary duties.

Agile

Agile

A series of short delivery cycles (known as sprints), team feedback, and client reviews to deliver results as part of Agile development.

“Just like its name, Agile means being adaptable – the ability to gracefully adapt to rapidly changing customer needs,” says Kamlesh Ravlani, Agile Coach and Scrum Trainer at Agile For Growth.

We must first distinguish between the concepts of “agility” and Agile. While “agility” refers to the ability to respond to change quickly, Agile is a mindset or set of principles and practices initially mentioned in the Agile Manifesto. It’s best suited for products and initiatives that face various changes during their progress.

Agile development is based on short delivery cycles (sprints) tightly coupled with regular feedback sessions. Strong communication facilitates regular feedback that lets you evolve the product during every sprint. Stakeholders will then go over each step and propose improvements accordingly. For a process to be Agile, the work environment should assist the continuous and intense collaboration with co-workers and clients.

Using these principles, the team becomes accountable for a product’s development and success. This is why each person is responsible for tasks contributing to planning, developing, and delivering a project. Agile teams don’t use established roadmaps or focus on monitoring because the planning phase is iterative and flexible. All goals are defined before starting work, but you can always change the deliverables or final results.

Best for software development.

Tools to use: Jira, Agile Manager, Planning Poker

Resources:

Scaled Agile Framework

Manifesto for Agile Software Development

Mike Cohn’s Agile and Scrum blog for the software industry

Agile Glossary

Scrum

Scrum

A framework that divides software development into small cycles that usually span across two weeks and are used to review work and fix problems during daily stand-up meetings

“The Scrum framework is used mainly for product or software development. The good thing about this methodology is that you can use Scrum to design better software and run a media company’s marketing division or build a better mobile phone.

Scrum can even be helpful when writing a book. This framework is more than just highly effective. It’s a productive and creative way to deliver high-value end products. It’s suitable for complex environments where teams must quickly react and adapt to new situations within a system. It‘s not a suitable framework for a simple, obvious, easy, and predictable environment, ” Luis Gonçalves, Management Consultant and Founder at Evolution4All.

Small, cross-functional, and self-organizing teams work closely with the Product Owner through the Scrum framework. The latter is responsible for the product’s development and success. There’s also a Scrum Master who serves the team by eliminating any issues during the project’s progress, holding meetings, and preparing the product backlog for the next sprints.

This framework is divided into smaller cycles (known as sprints) – commonly a timebox of 2 weeks. During daily stand-ups, the team reviews what they’ve done and what they will work on for the rest of the day during a daily stand-up meeting while also exposing the difficulties they encountered or which they could come across in the future. Sometimes, teams prefer to have this meeting weekly instead.

Best for software development.

Tools to use: OrangeScrum, Scrumwise, Axosoft

Resources:

Scrum Certifications

Natalie Warnert’s blog: Confessions of a ScrumMaster

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time, by Jeff Sutherland

Kanban

Kanban-method

The structure of a Kanban board

IT teams have adopted Kanban, a pull-based manufacturing method, in recent years. When applied to project management, it’s a method and visual tool that gives you a quick glimpse of all project activities and their evolution.

Besides Kanban, there are other methods for individuals to keep track of their projects. We’ve compiled a list of the best free project management tools.

The typical approach uses a physical or virtual board with three default columns (To Do, In progress, Done). Tasks in the form of cards then move from one column to another whenever work is done or until they are officially completed and approved.

Kanban focuses on continuous delivery and the whole group’s ability to collaborate efficiently. It can also help you better organize your workflow and spot bottlenecks before issues arise.

Best for software development, but it works just as well for other industries like digital marketing, architecture and construction, law, education, support, design, and even for personal purposes.

Tools to use: Kanban Tool, Kanbanery

Resources:

12 Kanban Board Examples for Beginners

Instructional video for building a physical and personal Kanban

Scrumban

If you want the best of Scrum and Kanban simultaneously, try Scrumban. It’s a hybrid alternative solution for teams switching from Scrum to Kanban. It blends Scrum’s daily stand-up meetings and demos with Kanban’s WIP (Work in Progress) limits and continuous workflow.

Scrumban is used for software and product development that are often interrupted or face regular changes or updates regarding activities and their priority. Planning is done only when demanded, while estimates are optional. Like Kanban, it’s a visual method that relies on a board and pulls a system to manage tasks. The use of sprints with Scrumban remains a highly debated topic. When sprints aren’t used during a project, changes can occur anytime as long as resources are available.

Best for software development, marketing, operations, production support, and maintenance.

Tools to use: GetScrumban, Kanban Tool, SwiftKanban

Resources:

The Scrumban [R]Evolution: Getting the Most Out of Agile, Scrum, and Lean Kanban, by Ajay Reddy

Scrumban – Essays on Kanban Systems for Lean Software Development, by Corey Ladas

Introduction to Scrumban – Instructional Video

Extreme Programming (XP)

This Agile framework was created to help you improve the overall quality of agile software development. Being developed for software engineering work, XP comes with a set of engineering principles that you can impose to improve your product’s quality, such as test-driven development, unit and automated testing, continuous integration, pair programming, refactoring, and many more. “Every agile team should consider using the technical practices that form a part of Extreme Programming,” says Mike Cohn from Mountain Goat Software.

XP can help you avoid employee burnout and increase your delivery quality. Like Scrum, it relies on quick sprints, stable releases, and frequent stakeholder collaboration to boost productivity. Usually, Extreme Programming teams work in iterations that span over one or two weeks (depending on the project’s specifications). Outcomes are delivered only when needed and aren’t dependent on a due date, helping you efficiently meet your client’s requirements and increase their satisfaction.

Best for software development.

Tools to use: Targetprocess

Resources:

A Gentle Introduction to Extreme Programming

Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change, 2nd Edition (The XP Series), by Kent Beck with Cynthia Andres

Extreme Programming (XP) – Instructional Video from Udacity

PMI’s PMBOK® Guide

PMI’s PMBOK® Guide differs from the other ways of managing projects mentioned in this list. It’s a set of standards or, simply put, a body of knowledge, a guide that contains structured information on managing projects. Created by the Project Management Institute (PMI), it divides your project work into five distinct but related process groups:

  • Initiation: holding the first meetings with the client and obtaining the authorization to start work
  • Planning: setting the objectives, establishing a scope, and creating the project’s plan
  • Execution: completing work on tasks and preparing deliverables
  • Monitoring: overseeing the evolution of the project and reviewing its performance
  • Closure: ending all contracts and delivering the final results

PMI’s PMBOK® Guide is used mainly in the USA, Canada, and the Middle East. It sets the baseline for project management’s processes and techniques. Its status as a methodology is debatable because it’s genuinely a reference guide establishing the universal project management benchmarks and not an actual methodology.

On this debate, Dmitriy Nizhebetskiy from PM Basics observes, “The approach described in PMI’s PMBOK® Guide is not a methodology. In real life, it would be inefficient to implement such an approach to a full extent. The real value is in the PMI’s vision of the project management scope and the project manager’s responsibilities. It explains what you may need to do to lead a project. It teaches you to select appropriate tools and techniques for the current project. Moreover, it shows what it takes to integrate all processes.”

Best for construction and architecture, finance, consulting, governance, quality assurance, and more.

Tools to use: Easy Project, OpenProject, Microsoft Project

Resources:

The PMBOK® Guide and Standards

What is PMI®? – Paymo Academy

Lean

Lean was originally a product manufacturing method and is still used today for product development. Try Lean to lower your project’s waste rates and eliminate them. It delivers precious products by using fewer people and resources in less time. An emphasis on the customer’s desires, removing problems and possible risks or hazards, and frequently improving systems can cut out the waste of time and costs.

Using Lean helps small teams progress and create more significant outcomes in a short period without having to overspend on materials. When using this method, the main focus is to deliver valuable products and increase the organization’s profits with fewer resources. Lean also guides companies to quickly adapt to constantly changing client standards, needs, and actions.

Best for manufacturing, construction, and other situations where the focal point is eliminating waste.

Tools to use: LeanKit, Kanban Tool, Businessmap

Resources:

The Lean Construction Institute

How To Implement Lean Manufacturing, by Lonnie Wilson

The Toyota Way: 14 Management Principles From the World’s Greatest Manufacturer, by Jeffrey Liker

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is an approach and methodology for eliminating defects and improving the quality of your processes and results. Its principles can also be applied to project management and product development. Using quality control, Six Sigma (6σ) emphasizes minimizing bugs, defects, and errors until they no longer affect a project or its outcomes. Before further problems occur, existing data and error reports need to be evaluated. This helps you find project nonconformities that don’t match the approved initial product requirements.

Thomas Pyzdek, the author of The Six Sigma Handbook, states, “Unlike most project management methodologies taught in management classes at universities, Six Sigma does not focus on the bottom line. Rather, it considers the bottom line as the result of the work done within the organization to add value. This approach teaches people how to analyze and improve processes to do a better job of adding value. Six Sigma projects are a primary way of achieving process analysis and improvement.”

With Six Sigma, any decision starts from existing data and statistics. The goal is to deliver efficient, uniform, and defect-free final products. To do this, Six Sigma employs the use of six distinct steps:

  • Define: establishing the client’s requirements and project objectives, appointing team members and leaders, and setting project guidelines and team rules
  • Measure: gathering performance data, identifying process and output indicators, and setting up a series of causes and their outcomes
  • Analyze: evaluate and compare the existing data and identify the relationship between causes and effects.
  • Improve: Constantly optimize processes and find new solutions to existing or possible problems.
  • Control: creating a long-term control plan to keep all processes under check
  • Synergize: sharing the team’s results and acquired knowledge with the organization to use for future projects.

Best for manufacturing, engineering, healthcare, market research, and any other situation where the main goal is delivering a high-quality product.

Tools to use: KPI Fire, XMind, Microsoft Project

Resources:

The Six Sigma Way: How GE, Motorola, and Other Top Companies are Honing Their Performance, by Peter S. Pande, Robert P. Neuman, Roland R. Cavanagh

The Six Sigma Handbook, by Thomas Pyzdek

The Easy Guide to Solving Problems with Six Sigma DMAIC Method – Creately

Lean Six Sigma

Lean Six Sigma is a combination of Lean and Six Sigma in an attempt to reduce waste and defects at the same time. Teams collaborate to eliminate waste regarding defects, wait time, inventory, overproduction, non-utilized talent, transportation, motion, and extra processing. This hybrid result creates more efficient projects that meet client requirements with fewer resources and a lower budget.

Consequently, using Lean Six Sigma supports the simultaneous development of your business, products, and people. Implementing this integration can change how your company handles projects, sees defects, and treats quality.

Best for manufacturing, transportation and logistics, service, and any other situation where the target eliminates waste while creating more value.

Tools to use: KPI Fire, TRACtion, XMind

Resources:

What is Lean Six Sigma, by Michael L. George, David Rowlands, Bill Kastle

The Lean Six Sigma Institute

Waterfall

Waterfall

The structure of the Waterfall approach is that each series of tasks must be completed before work on the following one can start.

Waterfall is a traditional approach that separates the product development process into groups of related tasks that must be completed before moving on to the next group or phase. Hence, it requires extensive planning. Establishing all steps before developing the product helps minimize hazards and other errors. This ensures your team always knows what they should work on next and what to expect in the future.

The five core phases commonly used with Waterfall are:

  • Requirements: finding out and analyzing what the client’s needs are and what the final product should do
  • Design: choosing the right technology and creating the product’s mockups and detailed architecture
  • Implementation: solving problems, implementing solutions, and completing tasks
  • Verification (Testing): finding out if the product matches the established performance requirements and conducting quality assurance
  • Maintenance: fixing errors and bugs to ensure the product can be used easily without interruptions

Waterfall practitioners believe that putting more time and effort into the first stages of product development can prevent risks from happening and save you hours of maintenance time. Waterfall also provides clear and detailed timelines and costs. These will guide your team toward becoming more productive.

The downside of Waterfall is that it’s somewhat outdated for the requirements of modern software engineering. Writing code and simultaneously performing quality assurance is tricky since each stage of this methodology depends on the previous one, and no activities overlap. With Waterfall, teams must wait for those in charge of the preceding steps to finish their work. If the latter is late, all other tasks could be postponed.

Best for construction, manufacturing, and media production.

Resources:

Understanding the pros and cons of the Waterfall Model of software development

Waterfall Process – Instructional Video by Udacity

Rapid Applications Development (RAD)

The rapidly changing markets prompt organizations to improve their product-delivery processes to keep up with their competition. The Rapid Applications Development iterative process was created to do just that: speed up the development and delivery of high-quality products.

RAD was the first software development process to solve what previous processes couldn’t. Apps require long lengths of time to be fully developed. Their requirements changed so often before completion that they were sometimes unstable and unusable. With the RAD approach, apps could be developed on time and within budget.

Despite its fast pace, the RAD method ensures all essential features work correctly. It helps you build products around object-oriented programming and the users’ needs in terms of UI. Prototypes are used in place of any documented design specifications. Very little (sometimes none) planning is done before the start of product development, emphasizing the actual development and prototyping process.

Best for software development.

Tools to use: OutSystems, FileMaker, Mendix, Nintex, Salesforce Lightning, Mockplus, InVision

Resources:

Rapid Development: Taming Wild Software Schedules, by Steve McConnell

Rapid Application Development, by James Martin

Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM)

The Dynamic Systems Development Method was first used as a software development method. It was created in 1994 (before the official Agile Manifesto) after project managers using the costly Rapid Application Development approach wanted a better way of structuring their work.

DSDM brought them more organization, responsiveness, reliability, proactivity, and iterative handling of tasks and projects. The method also prioritized schedule and quality over functionality through the MoSCoW method (Must have, Should have, Could have, and Won’t have). This technique uses stakeholder communication to identify the order and importance of their requirements.

DSDM defines all team members’ roles, responsibilities, and communication techniques. This method also guides you through establishing strategic goals and delivering valuable benefits in less time without exceeding your budget. This philosophy allows teams to maintain their focus and achieve project goals once they follow the eight core principles:

  • Focus on business needs
  • Timely delivery
  • Collaboration
  • Don’t compromise quality
  • Build incrementally from solid foundations
  • Iterative development
  • Continuous and clear communication
  • Demonstrate control

Best for software development.

Resources:

DSDM: Dynamic Systems Development Method: The Method in Practice, by Jennifer Stapleton, Peter Constable

DSDM: Business Focused Development, by DSDM Consortium, Jennifer Stapleton

Rational Unified Process (RUP)

The Rational Unified Process is a process framework that, similarly to Extreme Programming, gives the appropriate best practices, standards, templates, and samples for software development. It also offers a more organized manner of assigning activities and roles. This process aims to develop high-quality software that fulfills clients’ and future users’ needs on time and within budget.

The RUP supports team productivity by offering all group members access to a knowledge area that contains all the information and tools needed to help them conduct development tasks.

The Rational Unified Process doesn’t have a fixed set of processes you must follow at all costs. It can be adapted and customized to match the requirements of any project. Each stage of this process is divided into distinct iterations that must be completed before moving on to the next stage. The four stages the RUP takes a project through are:

  • Inception: creating the idea behind the project and seeing if you have the right resources to pursue it and if it matches your organization’s needs
  • Elaboration: modeling the software’s architecture based on the available budget and resources and evaluating hazards and opportunities to see how changes or new technologies could be added to a project as it progresses
  • Construction: undertaking software development from its design through coding and testing
  • Transition: delivering the final software and making changes to improve deliverables or fix any issues

Best for software development.

Resources:

Rational Unified Process – Best Practices for Software Development Teams

Rational Unified Process – Instructional Video by Udacity

Feature Driven Development (FDD)

Feature Driven Development is an iterative and incremental software development and delivery process. FDD aims to create product features based on a client’s needs and requirements. Teams commonly use FDD for long-term product development that faces regular and repeated changes.

To help you reach this goal, the FDD process brings a series of software and product development best practices. The team will now work on developing the features that hold the most value for a client and meet the expectations of the product’s end-users.

Using Feature-driven Development, software engineers usually develop functional features every two weeks and monitor their performance using industry-standard procedures such as domain object modeling, individual code ownership, regular builds, configuration management, and more.

Through this process, teams dedicate the start of a project to clearly understanding what they will be working on. This is done without spending extra time evaluating the project or brainstorming its design.

Five main activities are part of the Feature Driven Development process:

  • Developing an overall model: proposing domain models that will be added to the overall model to outline the project as a whole better
  • Building a features list: identifying the most valuable features for clients using the following functions: “action – result – object.”
  • Planning by feature: organizing the features and their application procedures and assigning the people who’ll be in charge of them
  • Designing by feature: prioritizing the features, finding design solutions for them, and assessing the results
  • Building by feature: starting to build and test code based on the inspected feature

Best for software development.

Tools to use: SpiraTeam

Resources:

A Practical Guide to Feature-Driven Development, by Stephen R. Palmer, John M. Felsing

Jeff DeLuca on Feature Driven Development – Podcast

Summary

A project management methodology is a set of principles, tools, and techniques to effectively plan, execute, and manage projects. It serves as a framework that guides project managers and their teams in organizing and completing projects, ensuring consistency, risk management, resource allocation, and quality assurance. There are various project management methodologies, each with its own focus and use cases, such as Agile, Waterfall, Scrum, PRINCE2, and others.

Key aspects of project management methodologies include:

  • Providing a structured approach to managing projects, ensuring consistency and efficiency
  • Facilitating effective risk management, resource allocation, and quality assurance
  • Guiding project managers and their teams in organizing and completing projects
  • Offering a set of principles, tools, and techniques to help plan, execute, and manage projects

Popular project management methodologies are:

  1. Waterfall Methodology: A linear, sequential approach to project management, where each phase must be completed before the next begins
  2. Agile Methodology: A flexible, iterative approach that focuses on collaboration, fast and effective iteration, and data-backed decision-making
  3. Scrum Methodology: An agile framework that emphasizes teamwork, accountability, and iterative progress
  4. Kanban Methodology: A visual approach to project management that focuses on continuous improvement and minimizing work in progress

Project managers should choose the methodology that best suits their team’s needs, considering factors such as the complexity of projects, the specialization of roles, and the industry or discipline.

So, what’s next?

This article gives you just a basic introduction to project management methodologies, methods, and frameworks.

First, it’s essential to identify what type of projects you are involved in, then choose the appropriate method, methodology, or framework to study and try to understand it thoroughly.

Since they are more strict and have clearly defined processes and principles, methodologies could be more suited for larger projects and beginner project managers. Meanwhile, frameworks are better for those who have already gained experience working on several projects and have tried different methods.

To learn more about the project management field, check out these lists of the best PMP certification courses and training resources available regardless of your experience.

Suppose you’d like to read up on invoicing for project managers. In that case, this invoicing guide provides step-by-step processes or maybe delves into project profitability (e.g., what are profit margins, what’s an excellent example of profitable projects) first.

If you found this article helpful, spread the knowledge and share it with your teammates and followers.

First published on November 27, 2019.

Alexandra Cote

Author

Alexandra Cote is a SaaS content writer and strategist with a passion for workplace productivity, social media marketing wonders, conversion rate optimization, artificial intelligence, and keyword research. Reach out to her via LinkedIn.

Laurențiu Bancu

Editor

Laurențiu started his marketing journey over 18 years ago and now leads a marketing team. He has extensive experience in work and project management, and content strategy. When not working, he’s probably playing board games or binge-watching mini-series.

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