written by
Sean Thomas

The Definitive Guide to Project Management Methodologies

Project Management 5 min read

Project management methodologies are sets of guiding principles and processes that help us manage projects effectively. The methodology you choose guides how to manage your team, your approach, as well as how you work and communicate.

However, since there are several strategies and project managers utilize them according to situational needs, it’s difficult to choose the ideal methodology for your project. To help you through this, we have outlined all major approaches in our definitive guide to project management methodologies.

Types of Project Management Methodologies

Although most project management methodologies do not dependent on tools, the majority of project management tools are designed for a handful of methodologies. The following is a basic outline of how basic project management methodologies work.


The Waterfall methodology is one of the earliest project management methodologies in this list. Dr. Winston Royce in 1970 founded this technique to improve the increasingly difficult and complex nature of software development. After that, the technique became widely popular and it was adopted across the software industry.

The Waterfall methodology has a sequential nature, which means that the team carries out each step sequentially. Managers stress a lot on requirements in the early stage; however, as the project proceeds further, managers no longer have the option to change these requirements. Even if they do, the cost of implementing those changes is too much to bear.

This is why we divide the Waterfall method into discrete stages. Each of these stages is self-contained and the team needs to wrap up the entire stage to proceed to the next step. We begin by collecting and analyzing requirements, developing and designing the solution, and implementing the solution through detailed steps. Nearing completion, we fix all impending issues.

Agile Methodologies

Agile development teaches teams to deal with uncertain and turbulent environments during projects. It enables them to respond to, take control of changing situations, and learn how to deal with them effectively.

Photographer: Bonneval Sebastien | Source: Unsplash

To become a project manager, you must understand all the fine details regarding the agile methodology. You must be able to tell your team why traditional SDLCs (such as Waterfall) is not compatible with modern product delivery. Furthermore, you must explain which roles, documents, and events are necessary for Agile.

The pace driven project management methodologies (such as Scrum) don’t allow any room to test the quality of software. Therefore, the standard of the end product is often dubious. You can instead hire professionals that implement effective agile engineering practices to identify bugs and improve software quality.

These include Continuous Integration, Unit Testing, Acceptance Test Driven Development (or BDD), Test Driven Development, and Pair Programming. By using these methodologies, you can prevent your codebase from degrading over time.


As the name suggests, the Hybrid approach combines more than one methodology to create another unique approach. In this case, these methodologies are the Agile and Waterfall methodologies. Taking the best of both these approaches, it creates a flexible yet structured approach we can use across multiple scenarios.

In this methodology, we begin by investing heavily in gathering and analyzing requirements, just as we do in the Waterfall method. After that, we take lessons from the Agile approach and give emphasis on rapid iterations.


Scrum is a branch of the agile methodology that focuses on delivering business value in the shortest possible time. The goal of scrum is to rapidly develop and deliver working software and making improvements with the help of user feedback.

The Scrum Framework is excellent for managing projects that are highly complex and unpredictable and where requirements are rather or likely to change. Therefore, the scrum methodology is best implemented in projects where you need space for changing requirements and need value delivering software urgently.

Team actively working on a sprint to achieve the sprint goal
Photographer: Lala Azizli | Source: Unsplash

A typical scrum team has three defined roles; namely, the scrum master, the development team, and the product owner. The role of scrum masters is similar to that of project managers, but with fewer responsibilities.

A scrum master’s main job is to act as an intermediary between the product owner (a representative of the stakeholders) and the development team. On the other hand, the development team is similar to other project teams, but they need to be self-organizing and share responsibilities with the scrum master.

All of these teams have daily scrum meetings, where they set daily goals and underline what they need to achieve that day. Similarly, the teams have meetings such as sprint planning, sprint review, and sprint retrospective at different phases of the project.

In short, Scrum emphasizes the importance of teamwork, accountability, and continuous, iterative progress towards a clear goal.

If you are interested in excelling in the concepts of Scrum, starting with a certification is a good idea. Certifications such as the Certified Scrum Master (CSM) or the Professional Scrum Master (PSM-1) can provide you with a firm foundation.

(If you want to know more about the Scrum methodology, you can read about in detail in the official Scrum Guide.)


Kanban is a development methodology inspired by the car manufacturing industry. The technique uses a linear approach and emphasizes the importance of continuous delivery without overburdening the development team.

However, the method is criticized for being too flexible for the development team, and managers avoid it because it lacks a defined structure like scrum.

Therefore, a number of experts suggest using a combination of the Kanban and the agile methodology. Corey Ladas suggests that you can start with Scrum to discipline your team to an optimized workflow with the help of scrum’s time-boxed routines.

You can continue with this method until your team is streamlined and then you can then start implementing Kanban for continuous delivery. Other experts suggest using scrum as a methodology to work in a chosen way while using Kanban to review your method and improve how they deliver quality software.

This is why many organizations use different combinations of both these methodologies in different teams. For instance, teams such as maintenance teams or SysAdmin teams can implement Kanban without constraining themselves with time-boxed sprints. On the other hand, teams who are working on new feature development can implement scrum with time-boxed sprints.

As a project manager, project management methodologies guide your hand and help you develop effective strategies for unique scenarios. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses is essential to pick the ideal technique for your projects.