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5 Effective Project Management Methodologies and How to Apply Them

It’s no secret that in the project management industry, project failure is a recurrent problem.

Complex in origin, prevalent project failure can be attributed to many different sources, from companies enforcing overly optimistic project deadlines to inadequate project management.

As a project manager, there isn’t much you can do to change the outside factors affecting your project, but you can mitigate their effects on your project, and give your project the best chance of success through proper project management.

An effective method to streamline and structure your project management processes is by following a formal project management methodology. A Project Management methodology is essentially a model that Project Managers follow for the design, planning, and implementation of their projects. There isn’t one ‘best’ project management methodology to use as each of them comes with their advantages and disadvantages.

The worst thing any Project Manager can do is become too complacent in a single project management methodology and try to apply that same methodology to every project. Often project management methodologies are as idiosyncratic as each project and trying to force your favorite methodology onto every project, just because you’ve had a row of successes with it, can be as much of a recipe for disaster as not using a methodology at all.

It’s wise that in the planning stages of your project, to thoroughly assess the relative merits of each methodology against the requirements and objectives your project. Adaptability is a core competency for any project manager, even if a methodology doesn’t suit your project exactly, many are flexible enough to adapt to a specific project and project team.

Following is the list of the five most popular project management methodologies used today, and when they are most effective.

Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall project management is one of the more traditional project management methodologies. Utilizing a structure that fits its name, waterfall project management follows things through sequentially, beginning with the concept all the way from project inception to completion and conservation. As such, the project requirements defined at the outset often bear little or no alteration.

Waterfall methodology is most often applied to large software development projects as thorough planning and predictability are paramount to the project process and success.

Agile Project Management

Agile and Waterfall are at the opposite ends of the project management methodology spectrum. Whereas waterfall is sequential and predictable, agile project management works on the premise of adaptability and reacting to regular feedback whether from a client or team member.

Agile project management is best utilized when a project requires constant input from the client or management, as this often results in flexible requirements and role responsibilities. It’s most popular with smaller projects or projects with fast paced development schedules.

Critical Chain Project Management

In opposition to both Waterfall and Agile Project Management, Critical Chain Project Management focuses more on rectifying resource problems. As part of Critical Chain Project Management, each project is deconstructed into a core set of elements that create a project timeline. Within this timeline, it is made sure that enough resources are allocated to the critical chain, as well as simultaneously splitting the remaining resources to other tasks to ensure they can operate parallel, and ensuring that there are still enough resources left over in case reassignment is necessary.

Critical chain is useful for teams that either has plenty of resources or enough flexibility within their team’s skill sets to allow a resource driven project plan.


Project management is never one to shy away from a good acronym, and PRiSM is one of the most well-known. Meaning, when broken down, Projects integrating Sustainable Methods, PRiSM was developed by GPM Global to create a sustainably driven methodology that could adequately consider environmental factors, as well as act as an efficient, large-scale, project structure.

Unique, as it is one of the only project management methodologies that requires accreditations, PRiSM is largely used within real estate development or construction projects that may be problematic for the environment it is situated within.


PRINCE2 is touted as a government endorsed project management methodology and is used as the industry standard across much of the private and public sector in the UK and beyond. PRINCE2, is one of the only other methodologies, alongside PriSM, which requires certification. However, PRINCE2 offers a multitude of courses that are scalable to both your experience and the level of organization the project requires.

Extremely process oriented, requiring each stage of the project to follow its plan and system of processes, PRINCE2 is one of the most complex, yet thorough, methodologies. Due to its vast approach, and its focus on building a range of strong project management skills and applications, PRINCE2 is workable in the majority of project situations.

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