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Top 7 Project Management Methods: An Overview of 2024

In the dynamic realm of software development, choosing the right project management method is key to success. This article delves into the top 7 project management methods, offering insights into their core principles and applications. Whether you’re an experienced project manager or just starting, understanding these methodologies is crucial for effective project planning and execution.

Are Project Management Methods Essential for Business?

Project management methods streamline team collaboration, optimize resource use, enhance project visibility, and increase productivity and cost efficiency. They facilitate early risk identification, ensure quality delivery, and adapt to changes swiftly, aligning closely with customer expectations. By employing these methodologies, teams can meet deadlines more effectively, making them indispensable for successful project execution.

The Waterfall Model

Project Management Method - The Waterfall Model

The waterfall model is a linear, sequential approach to project management, breaking the project into distinct phases that follow one after the other. Its structured nature simplifies project management by enforcing discipline and order, making it easy to understand and implement.

Phases of the waterfall model:

  • Requirements Gathering: This initial phase involves thoroughly understanding and documenting all project requirements, setting the foundation for all subsequent work.
  • System Design: Based on the requirements, this phase focuses on outlining the project’s architecture, including the technology stack, system interfaces, and data models.
  • Implementation: During implementation, the actual coding or development of the project takes place, translating design documents into real, functional software.
  • Testing: This critical phase involves rigorous testing of the developed software to identify and fix any bugs or issues, ensuring the product meets the initial requirements.
  • Deployment: Once tested and approved, the software is deployed to a live environment where end-users can start using the product.
  • Maintenance: After deployment, this phase covers all ongoing support, bug fixes, and updates, ensuring the software continues to function smoothly and remains relevant over time.

Who can use the waterfall model to manage their projects?

The waterfall model is particularly well-suited for projects with clear, well-defined requirements that are unlikely to change over time. It’s an ideal choice for industries and teams that deal with large-scale, complex projects where each phase needs meticulous attention to detail, such as construction, manufacturing, and certain types of software development. 

Organizations that prioritize thorough documentation, strict adherence to schedules, and a well-established vision of the final product from the outset will find the waterfall model to be an effective project management tool. This model appeals to those who value a structured approach to project planning and execution, providing a straightforward, predictable pathway to project completion.


Agile is an iterative project management method emphasizing flexibility, collaboration, and rapid adaptation to change. It breaks projects into small increments for continuous improvement and responsiveness to evolving requirements. Agile prioritizes direct communication, working software, and customer feedback over rigid planning, making it ideal for dynamic project environments. Some Agile frameworks, such as Scrum, Kanban, Extreme Programming (EP), Feature-driven development (FDD), Lean software development, and Adaptive software development.

4 key values of Agile:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools: Agile values human communication and collaboration above rigid adherence to tools and processes, emphasizing the importance of team dynamics and customer interaction.
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation: While documentation has its place, Agile prioritizes the delivery of functional software, allowing teams to respond more effectively to customer needs and changes in the market.
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation: Agile promotes ongoing engagement with customers throughout the project lifecycle, preferring direct collaboration to strict adherence to initial contract terms, ensuring the final product meets real user needs.
  • Responding to change over following a plan: Agile methodologies embrace change, allowing teams to adapt to evolving project requirements and market conditions rather than being bound by a fixed plan, fostering innovation and competitive advantage.

Phases of the Agile model

Project Management Method - Agile model
  • Plan: Agile planning sets project goals and scope, emphasizing flexibility to adapt plans based on ongoing feedback and evolving requirements.
  • Design: The design phase is iterative, focusing on creating a user-centric blueprint that evolves through stakeholder collaboration and feedback.
  • Develop: Development proceeds in short sprints, producing functional increments that allow for rapid adaptation and continuous feedback integration.
  • Test: Testing is integrated throughout, with continuous evaluation to identify and address issues early, ensuring alignment with user expectations.
  • Deploy: Agile deployment allows for incremental releases, facilitating immediate user feedback and adjustments before the final release.
  • Review: Regular review sessions involve stakeholders and users to assess progress, gather feedback, and inform future iterations.
  • Launch: The launch signifies the product’s market release but also marks the beginning of ongoing maintenance and enhancements based on user feedback and market changes.


Scrum is an Agile framework that optimizes team collaboration on complex projects through structured cycles called sprints, typically lasting two to four weeks. It defines clear roles and emphasizes regular communication, feedback, and process improvement. Scrum facilitates rapid and flexible response to change, focusing on delivering functional product increments in a predictable schedule, making it ideal for projects requiring adaptability and high team engagement.

3 Pillars: 

  • Transparency: ensures all Scrum activities and progress are openly visible to the team and stakeholders, fostering clear communication and trust.
  • Inspection: regular reviews of project progress and practices to identify any deviations or issues, promoting accountability and quality.
  • Adaptation: the ability to adjust strategies and processes based on insights gained from inspection, facilitating continuous improvement and responsiveness to change.

5 Values:

  • Commitment: Team members commit to achieving their goals and continuously improving their processes, showing dedication to the project and each other.
  • Courage: Teams dare to face complex challenges, speak up about issues, and make tough decisions to ensure project success.
  • Focus: Scrum emphasizes focused efforts on the most important tasks of the project, allowing teams to deliver value efficiently.
  • Openness: Encourages openness in communication and receptiveness to feedback among team members, fostering a transparent and collaborative environment.
  • Respect: Team members show respect for each other’s skills and contributions, creating a supportive and positive working atmosphere conducive to high performance.

3 Roles:

  • The Product Owner is responsible for defining the project vision, managing the product backlog, and ensuring that the team delivers value to the business by prioritizing work based on business and customer needs.
  • The Scrum Master facilitates Scrum processes, coaches the team in Agile practices, removes obstacles, and ensures that the team is fully functional, productive, and focused on the sprint goals.
  • The Development Team is composed of professionals who do the work of delivering the product increment. They are self-organizing, cross-functional, and responsible for producing the finished work at the end of each sprint.

Phases of Scrum (Scrum Events)

Project Management Method -  Scrum
  • Daily Scrum: A short, time-boxed meeting (max 15 mins) where the development team discusses progress towards the sprint goal, and plans for the next 24 hours, and identifies any obstacles to progress, enhancing collaboration and efficiency.
  • Sprint Planning: This event marks the start of the sprint, where the team selects work from the product backlog to commit to reaching sprint goals.
  • Sprint Review: At the end of each sprint, this meeting allows the team to demonstrate the DoD to stakeholders, gather feedback, and adjust the product backlog as necessary, ensuring alignment with user needs and project goals.
  • Sprint Retrospective: the team reflects on the past sprint to identify increments (successes, challenges, and areas) for process improvement, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

Who uses Scrum to manage their projects?

Scrum is ideal for teams across various industries tackling complex projects that demand rapid development and adaptability. While it’s especially popular in software development, its principles benefit marketing, product development, and research teams as well. Organizations aiming to improve team collaboration, accelerate product delivery, and increase responsiveness to customer feedback will find Scrum’s focus on communication, adaptability, and continuous improvement highly effective.


Kanban is a visual project management method that enhances efficiency by limiting work in progress. It uses boards and cards to track tasks from start to completion, promoting transparency and flow in team processes. Ideal for teams seeking flexibility, Kanban improves collaboration and delivery speed by allowing work to be pulled based on team capacity, rather than pushing tasks onto members.

The principles of Kanban:

  • Initiate with the Existing Workflow: Kanban starts by visualizing the current workflow to understand and manage work without disrupting existing processes, providing a foundation for incremental improvements.
  • Limit the Existing Tasks: By limiting work in progress (WIP), Kanban helps teams focus on current tasks, reducing multitasking and improving completion rates and quality.
  • Respect Existing Roles and Responsibilities: Kanban recognizes the importance of current roles and responsibilities, ensuring a smooth transition to new processes without diminishing team dynamics or expertise.
  • Encourage Leadership at All Levels: This principle fosters a culture of continuous improvement and empowerment, where every team member is encouraged to take initiative and contribute to process enhancements.

Kanban Board

Project Management Method -  Kanban

Kanban emphasizes continuous workflow through customizable stages, commonly including “To Do,” “In Progress,” and “Done.” Teams may add specific stages like “Testing” or “Review” to match their workflow. Instead of fixed phases, Kanban focuses on moving tasks from left to right on the board, adjusting the process to ensure efficiency and reduce bottlenecks, thereby enhancing productivity in a flexible, visual system.

Who uses Scrum to manage their projects?

The Kanban method is suitable for a wide range of teams and industries seeking to enhance workflow efficiency, from software development and IT to marketing and operations. Its flexible, visual approach to task management makes it ideal for environments with shifting priorities, aiming to reduce bottlenecks and improve collaboration.

The Critical Path Method (CPM)

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a project management technique that identifies the longest sequence of dependent tasks in a project, determining the shortest possible duration to complete the project. It highlights critical tasks that, if delayed, would extend the project’s timeline, enabling efficient schedule optimization and resource allocation.

Critical Path Method Steps

Project Management Method -  The Critical Path Method
  • Collect Project Activities: Begin by listing all tasks required to complete the project, ensuring a comprehensive overview of what needs to be accomplished.
  • Identify Task Dependencies: Determine which tasks must precede others, establishing a sequence of activities that reflects their interdependencies.
  • Create a Critical Path Diagram: Use the collected activities and dependencies to construct a diagram, visually mapping out the project timeline and task relationships.
  • Estimate the Timeline: Assign estimated durations to each task, taking into account resources and constraints, to forecast the project timeline accurately.
  • Use the Critical Path Formula: Apply the critical path formula to calculate the earliest and latest start and finish times for each task, identifying the longest path through the project with no slack.
  • Identify the Critical Path: Analyze the diagram and calculations to pinpoint the critical path, highlighting tasks that directly impact the project’s completion time.
  • Revise During Execution: As the project progresses, continuously review and adjust the critical path based on real-time progress and any unforeseen changes, ensuring the project remains on track.

Who uses Scrum to manage their projects?

The Critical Path Method is ideal for complex projects with interdependent tasks, widely used in construction, engineering, and software development. Its principles suit any project with numerous tasks and dependencies, offering a roadmap for task sequences and durations. CPM aids managers in optimizing schedules, managing timelines, and allocating resources, ensuring timely and budget-conscious project completion.

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a standardized guide from the Project Management Institute (PMI) detailing best practices and methodologies in project management. It covers key knowledge areas and process groups, offering a systematic approach to managing projects effectively from start to finish. PMBOK is essential for project managers aiming for project success and is a fundamental resource for professional certification.

It includes 5 process groups, 10 knowledge areas, & 49 processes. The PMBOK guides professionals in achieving consistency and efficiency in their project management efforts.

Process GroupsInitiatingPlanningExecutingMonitoring & ControllingClosing
Project Integration ManagementDevelop Project CharterDevelop Project Management PlanDirect and Manage Project WorkMonitor and Control Project WorkClose Project or Phase
Manage Project KnowledgePerform Integrated Change Control
Project Scope ManagementCollect RequirementsControl Scope
Create WBSValidate Scope
Define Scope
Plan Scope Managementv
Project Schedule ManagementDefine ActivitiesControl Schedule
Develop Schedule
Estimate Activity Durations
Plan Schedule Management
Sequence Activities
Project Cost ManagementDetermine BudgetControl Costs
Estimate Costs
Plan Cost Management
Project Quality ManagementPlan Quality ManagementManage QualityControl Quality
Project Resource ManagementEstimate Activity ResourcesAcquire ResourcesControl Resources
Plan Resource ManagementDevelop Team
Manage Team
Project Communications ManagementPlan Communications ManagementManage CommunicationsMonitor Communications
Project Risk ManagementIdentify RisksImplement Risk ResponsesMonitor Risks
Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis
Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis
Plan Risk Management
Plan Risk Responses
Project Procurement ManagementPlan Procurement ManagementConduct ProcurementsControl Procurements
Project Stakeholder ManagementIdentify StakeholdersPlan Stakeholder EngagementManage Stakeholder EngagementMonitor Stakeholder Engagement

Who uses Scrum to manage their projects?

PMBOK is ideal for project managers in diverse industries seeking to standardize and improve their project management practices. It benefits both new and experienced managers by providing best practices, enhancing skills, and supporting certification preparation. Organizations looking to adopt a consistent project management approach across teams will also find PMBOK invaluable for ensuring project success and operational efficiency.

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a data-driven project management method aimed at minimizing defects and enhancing quality across processes. It uses statistical methods to identify and eliminate variability and errors, striving for a maximum defect rate of 3.4 per million opportunities. Applicable across various industries, Six Sigma improves efficiency and customer satisfaction through two main methodologies: DMAIC for improving existing processes and DMADV for designing new ones.

DMAIC methodology

project management method - DMAIC methodology in Sigma

The DMAIC methodology is a structured, data-driven approach used in Six Sigma projects to improve existing processes. It consists of five phases:

  • Define: Identify the project goals and customer (internal and external) requirements.
  • Measure: Collect data to establish baselines and measure current performance.
  • Analyze: Examine the data to identify causes of defects and opportunities for improvement.
  • Improve: Develop and implement solutions to address the root causes of defects.
  • Control: Monitor the improvements to ensure they are sustained over time, embedding them into the process to prevent regression.

The DMAIC methodology is utilized to enhance existing processes, especially when they underperform or fail to meet customer standards. It’s applied to identify and eliminate defects, improve efficiency, and reduce waste by addressing the root causes of process inefficiencies. DMAIC is ideal for systematic, data-driven improvements across various industries, ensuring sustainable long-term enhancements.

DMADV Methodology

project management method - DMADV methodology

The DMADV methodology is a systematic approach within Six Sigma, designed for developing new processes or products at quality levels that meet or exceed customer expectations. It consists of five phases:

  • Define: Establish project goals, scope, and customer requirements.
  • Measure: Identify and measure critical to quality (CTQ) aspects that are crucial for meeting customer needs.
  • Analyze: Analyze options to develop the best approaches for achieving high-quality designs.
  • Design: Design the new process or product, planning for its implementation in a way that meets the analyzed requirements.
  • Verify: Test and verify the design to ensure it meets customer needs and performs as expected, making adjustments as necessary before full-scale deployment.

The DMADV methodology is used when creating new products or processes or when significant redesign is needed to meet or exceed customer expectations. It ensures a thorough focus on quality and efficiency, making it ideal for innovative projects and aligning closely with customer needs.


PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) is a versatile project management methodology known for its structured approach and flexibility. It emphasizes defined roles, clear objectives, continuous improvement, and adaptable processes to ensure projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to the desired quality standards. 

PRINCE2 Roles & Responsibilities

  • Project Manager: Leads project planning and execution.
  • Team Manager: Oversees specific project teams.
  • Customer: Provides requirements and feedback.
  • Project Board: Offers strategic direction and oversight.

Principles of PRINCE2

  • Continued Business Justification: Projects must have a valid reason for initiation, with benefits outweighing costs throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Learn From Experience: Project teams should continuously gather and apply lessons learned from past experiences to improve current and future projects.
  • Roles and Responsibilities Are Defined: Clear roles and responsibilities are assigned to individuals involved in the project to ensure accountability and effective communication.
  • Manage by Stages: Projects are divided into manageable stages, allowing for better control, decision-making, and risk management throughout the project lifecycle.
  • Manage by Exception: Authority levels are established, empowering project managers to make day-to-day decisions within agreed tolerances while escalating exceptions to higher management as necessary.
  • Focus on Products: Projects are driven by the desired outcomes or products, ensuring that deliverables meet quality standards and fulfill stakeholder requirements.
  • Tailor to Suit Project Environment: PRINCE2 is adaptable and can be tailored to fit the specific needs and constraints of individual projects, industries, and organizational cultures.

Components of PRINCE2

  • Scope: Clearly define the project’s objectives, deliverables, and boundaries to ensure a common understanding among stakeholders and guide project activities.
  • Costs: Establishing and managing the project budget, including resource allocations and financial planning, to ensure the project remains within budget constraints.
  • Timescales: Developing a timeline for project activities, milestones, and deadlines to monitor progress and ensure timely delivery of project outcomes.
  • Risk: Identifying, assessing, and managing potential risks and uncertainties that may impact project success, implementing strategies to mitigate or respond to risks effectively.
  • Quality: Defining quality criteria and standards for project deliverables and processes, ensuring that outputs meet stakeholder expectations and comply with relevant regulations or standards.

PRINCE2 Processes

project management method - PRINCE2
  • Start-Up: Involves defining the project’s objectives, scope, and approach, and appointing the necessary roles and responsibilities to initiate the project.
  • Initiate: Further develop the project plan, including creating a detailed project management plan, conducting risk assessments, and obtaining formal approval to proceed with the project.
  • Direct: Provides oversight and decision-making authority to the Project Board, ensuring that the project remains aligned with organizational objectives and that resources are effectively allocated.
  • Control Stages: Monitors and controls each stage of the project, ensuring that it stays on track, identifying and addressing deviations from the plan, and making adjustments as necessary to achieve project objectives.
  • Manage Product Delivery: Involves managing the creation and delivery of project deliverables, ensuring that they meet quality standards and are delivered on time and within budget.
  • Manage Stage Boundary: Facilitates the transition from one stage of the project to the next, reviewing the progress of the current stage, updating plans as needed, and obtaining approval to proceed to the next stage.
  • Close: Formalizes the project closure process, including obtaining final acceptance of deliverables, conducting a post-project review to capture lessons learned, and transitioning project outputs to operational use or maintenance.

Who uses PRINCE2 to manage their projects?

PRINCE2 methodology applies to organizations and project managers in various industries seeking structured project management. It’s beneficial for projects requiring clear governance, defined roles, and effective stage control, across sectors such as construction, IT, and healthcare. PRINCE2 standardizes practices, enhances project success rates, and aligns with business objectives, offering adaptability to diverse project environments.


In summary, effective project management methods are essential for achieving successful project outcomes. By selecting and applying the most suitable approach, project managers can navigate challenges, optimize processes, and drive projects to successful completion. With a focus on collaboration, adaptability, and continuous improvement, these methodologies play a crucial role in ensuring excellence in project execution and delivery.

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