Choosing the Best Project Management Methodology (& Types)

Choosing the correct project management type and project management methodology is an important aspect of managing a projects lifecycle efficiently.  Picture it like a GPS system when your are selecting the best route to head on to reach your destination. And much like a GPS-led road trip, you’ve got options on the different ways you can go.

Project management is a dynamic approach to ensuring your work gets done effectively and efficiently. Gone are the rigid and time-consuming processes of days of old. We’ve moved to more flexible and customizable approaches customized to fit a team’s individual qualifications.

Choosing the right management methodology is just as essential to your project’s success as having the right team in place. It means the difference between clear communication and meeting deadlines. Think of the right project management methodology as Google Maps when you’re on a road trip. Sure, you can listen to a random person’s directions at the gas station, but isn’t it better to have a dynamic platform to help you get from A to B as smoothly as possible?

That being said, it’s always a good idea to have an arsenal of project management methodologies in your back pocket. You might be familiar with some of the methodologies and management types below, having used them, while others might seem more unfamiliar but will be just as helpful on a future endeavor. Think of these as the alternate routes that a GPS might offer you. Let’s take a look at each of these styles to better understand how and when to use them.

1. Agile Project Management (Most Commonly Used Project Management Methodology)

Agile project management is probably one of the most popular project management methodologies and for a good reason in this new era of agile workflow. It’s an iterative process that allows for adjustments as needed, which means that it’s very responsive to any changes that might come up based on new information and client feedback. Agile project management requires accountability, organization, and teamwork from each team member.

Agile project management breaks tasks down into circuits, or ‘sprints’ to align development to project needs. Agile projects usually have faster release cycles, and this continual collaboration leads to an end result with less defects and less of a need to rework things. On the other hand, progress with this methodology might be harder to track and documentation might get left behind in the rush to iterate.

Agile Project Management
Nifty’s automated Kanban board takes care of assigning tasks based on status which facilitates rapid iteration and testing workflows.

2. Waterfall

The Waterfall project management method is based on the traditional project management structure. It’s often used in projects with defined sequences and minimal expected changes. Since it’s a more linear approach to project management, it’s not as responsive to changes like we see in Agile. Waterfall project management follows specific stages, including requirements, analysis, design, coding, testing, and operation.

This methodology works best in a project with a clear vision of the end goal and minimal dependencies. Since the work product is reviewed as a whole at the end of the process, it’s not as useful if you expect multiple changes along the way. If changes are required, the process will start over from the beginning. This style is ideal for projects with long term deadlines as opposed to more aggressive deadlines.

Waterfall
Timeline View allows for project members to align around milestone deadlines while easily accessing the tasks that are required within each phase.

3. Critical Path

Critical path methodology works well with projects with multiple dependencies. It focuses on using resources efficiently to complete project tasks. The critical path here is the longest stretch of dependent activities based on a particular resource (a team member, resource, budget, time window, etc.) and measuring them from start to finish. The project manager then implements safety buffers to ensure that members have enough time to complete their work.

This methodology helps project managers minimize risk and increase the likelihood of completing projects on schedule. It requires substantial background planning to manage dependencies, but the final result is often that projects are completed with resources still available.

Critical Path
Milestone and Task dependencies ensure that the Critical Path is followed and that resources are focused on the necessary items of a project.

4. Scrum (Simple Project Management Methodology)

Scrum is a derivative of Agile project management. While Scrum is Agile, it’s important to note that Agile is not Scrum. Scrum utilizes the ideas behind the agile framework to complete projects through collaboration and iteration. This methodology is run by a Scrum Master, a servant-leader who takes on a servant-leader’s role to help provide team resources or minimize distractions or delays.

Scrum also uses sprints and sprint planning, and it also utilizes retrospectives (a sprint review before the next round of sprint planning). During this time, the Scrum Master and team reflect on the sprint and strategize to improve in the next sprint. This method allows the team to formally adopt any changes that might streamline their work moving forward and codifies continuous improvement. It enables a high level of communication and coordination between team members and is usually best in projects where teams have well-defined roles and responsibilities.

Scrum
Nifty’s Swimlane View is popular amongst Scrum teams as it presents task lists on the X axis and Milestones on the Y axis, which makes it easy to plan tasks for (or rearrange them to) future sprints.

5. Six Sigma

Six Sigma methodology aims to streamline business processes while reducing errors and improving customer satisfaction. Six Sigma prioritizes data and statistical analysis to remove any chance of operating based on gut assumptions — this methodology helps teams make objective decisions, which in turn leads to more efficiency and less waste.

The goal of this methodology is continuous improvement, which is especially helpful if you notice customer retention dropping or have data readily available about the project. Six Sigma is popular in large companies, including Ford, Boeing, Amazon, and Samsung.

Six Sigma
Resource tracking through the form of Time and Story Points ensure that workloads are balanced amongst team members and that productivity is measured objectively.

6. Joint Application Development

Joint Application Development (JAD) focuses on including the client in the early stages and getting user participation in project design. This method is designed to improve communication by allowing the client to provide feedback and ideas as early as possible in collaborative settings. Clients are included in meetings throughout the project lifecycle to develop a greater sense of partnership and consensus, leading to an increased commitment to the project.

Joint Application Development
External project collaborators known as Guests will have access Project Discussions as well as Task Comments to close the gap between feedback and iteration.

7. Extreme Program Management

Another offshoot of Agile, Extreme Program Management (XPM) tries to create organization out of chaos while embracing the uncertainty. This method usually applies to complex and unpredictable projects with a focus on stakeholder management rather than scheduling. It’s related to extreme programming, a type of software development framework that emphasizes client satisfaction while responding to frequently changing requirements.

So which management methodology and type should you choose?

Nifty Project Management

Choosing the right project management methodology depends on a number of factors, including the following:

  • Strategic goals
  • Core values
  • Business drivers
  • Constraints
  • Stakeholders
  • Risks
  • Project complexity
  • Project size/scope
  • Flexibility

Once you have identified the key factors of your project goals, you can start to develop a plan for choosing your project management methodology. It might look something like this:

  1. Identify the goals and priorities of the project
  2. Determine which project management methodology is most relevant to your team and the above factors while offering the least risk for the best results.
  3. Identify and communicate with key stakeholders.
  4. Implement the project management methodology.
  5. Monitor the project and adjust as needed.
  6. Review the completed project.

Regardless of which methodology and type you choose, Nifty acts as your single source of truth for all project communication and documentation.

Final Thoughts on Project Management Methodology Types

Knowing where you want to go is a fundamental necessity in a project, otherwise you’ll end up just _anywhere_. That said, knowing how you want to get there, which includes understanding all of the options at your disposal, ensures your trip goes smoothly and avoids the pitfalls that “winging it” can create. If you’re someone that likes to just get in your car and drive–great! Just don’t go managing your projects that way.

Try Nifty for free today and maximize your project management organization while delivering stellar results to your clients. 🚀