In the present world of project management, pioneering leaders don’t cling to a single methodology. In essence, they become skilled in many of them and learn how to mesh different practices in order to suit whatever the project calls for.
There are numerous types of project management methodologies that can be applied to various projects, but understanding the differences between them and how to choose the right methodology for your project can be tricky.
However, before delving into the various Project Management Methodologies available, let us understand what a Project Management Methodology means. According to PMI, “A methodology is a system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.” In the end, the methodology you choose will be important for how you work and communicate.
Here are the top Project Management Methodologies that Project Managers widely prefer.
1. Waterfall Methodology
The waterfall method is one of the oldest Project Management Methodologies. Many organizations use this method as it is the easiest approach to plan a project.
It consists of various individual phases. The main thing to remember when working with this methodology is that each phase begins only after the previous phase is completed, which means that you are not allowed to go back to the previous phase. The only way to return to a phase is if you start over. Generally, the phases in the Waterfall methodology include:
- Gathering Requirements
- System Design
- Design Implementation
- Verification and Testing
2. Agile Methodology
Agile methodology is a process by which a project can be managed by dividing it up into various steps for which it is required to constantly collaborate with the customers or stakeholders. It is also necessary to have a continuous improvement and iteration at every step. The core of the methodology was developed in 2001 by 17 people known as the Agile Manifesto for Software Development. The four main aspects are:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Agile has been expanded into various implementation frameworks overtime, which include:
- Extreme Programming (XP)
- Adaptive Project Framework (APF)
The Agile Project Management methodology suits organizations that aim to promptly and consistently provide results to customers.
3. Hybrid Methodology
As the name indicates, Hybrid methodology is a blend of Agile and Waterfall methodologies. It uses the best of both and merges them in a flexible yet ordered method that can be used across various projects.
Initially, it focuses on collecting and interpreting requirements, and from thereon, it takes the flexibility of the Agile approach with importance on rapid repetitions.
By connecting the characteristics of both Agile and Waterfall methods, the Hybrid method (also called "Structured Agile") presents the best of both worlds.
4. Critical Path Method (CPM)
The above-mentioned methodologies rose from software development. They can be used for non-software projects, but better alternatives are available as well, one of them being the Critical Path Method (CPM). This is a project modeling technique that consists of a string of activities scheduled depending on the time taken to finish each activity. The critical path can be measured by identifying the longest range of dependent activities and measure the time from start to end and predict the timing of the project’s completion. The main advantages of this method include prioritizing tasks, assessing risks, and helping the team members focus on their main goal.
Projects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) is a process-based method for managing projects. Prominently used by the government of the UK, it is also common in the private sector and has much to offer such as clear and structured allocation of responsibilities, greater resource control, increased project risk management, etc. The PRINCE2 methodology is used for answering the most essential project management questions, like:
- What is being built?
- When does the project start?
- What is required to execute it?
- Is any help needed?
- How long will it take?
- How much will it cost?
The PRINCE2 process comprises steps that drive to the main objective of the project. There are seven processes, each with a collection of interrelated activities to help direct, manage, and deliver the project. This methodology is best suited for large and complicated projects with settled requirements.
6. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
Critical Chain Project Management methodology was developed as an alternative to the CPM focusing on resource management. While the Critical Path Method uses Float i.e., the longest range, Critical Chain Project Management uses buffers as decisive details that remove ambiguity around projects. These buffers are of four types:
- Project Buffer - Keeps the completion date of the project unchanged by protecting it from missing schedules.
- Feeding Buffer - These buffers are generally attached to a non-critical chain so that any setbacks on a non-critical chain do not influence the critical chain.
- Resource Buffer - These are established on the Critical Chain to assure appropriate resources are accessible during the project when required.
- Capacity Buffer - It sets on-call resources essential in case unexpected budget issues emerge.
CCPM is one of the most effective and practical project management techniques as it allows the team to focus on their tasks, which in turn increases productivity, considers the minimum time required to finish the project, and much more. CCPM can be a powerful methodology for resource-strapped project teams.
In conclusion, each methodology has its own advantages and disadvantages, and different projects call for a different methodology. To choose a methodology that suits you the best, evaluate the project, team, organization, customers, and the tools that align perfectly with your requirements. Performing this in-depth analysis defines how you, as a Project Manager, work and communicate.