Are You Applying Right Project Management Methodology? - PM 360 Consulting
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Are You Applying Right Project Management Methodology?

Are You Applying Right Project Management Methodology?

Project management methodologies are systematic approaches that impart structure and efficiency to a project manager’s task list. However, one must choose the correct methodology that can give the best outcome for their business. Moreover, in a world facing crises beyond comprehension, companies need to evolve and evaluate their project management methodologies that help prioritize key aspects while keeping risks and negative consequences to the minimum.

Confidently adopting and sticking to a project management approach can help your project  team meet — or exceed — your clients’ expectations.

Project Management Methodologies: Which one is better???

Your biggest decision in choosing a strategy is between waterfall and agile, or a hybrid approach. Within each approach, you can choose a methodology that provides the features your project or team needs. To choose the project management methodology that’s right for any team or project, consider:

  • Which methods are typical in your industry?
  • How complex is the project?
  • How large is the team?
  • How many stakeholders are involved?
  • Which methods align with the company’s competencies?
  • Which methods align with the team’s competencies?
  • Which metrics and documentation do the project, team, company or industry require for success and compliance?

( Miranda, Adam Hardy)


I don’t believe we need to compare methodologies. It like comparing a hammer and a saw. These are just different tools and techniques for different tasks. But before that, I want you to be precise with terminology.

A Project Life Cycle is a series of phases that a project passes from beginning to the end. We usually divide a project into phases to meet our control needs. In other words to make a project more manageable. Nature of a project and the industry also influence the life cycle.

A Project Management Framework is a set of concepts that are used to achieve a project goal. Each framework is based on a set of principles that give some advantages to a client, a project team, or both. These principles also introduce limitations.

All frameworks share common concepts like planning, executing work and delivering results. On the other hand, frameworks designate a particular set of values. For example, an ability to adapt to changes or ability to predict scope, cost and time needed to deliver a result.

Project life cycle can dictate specifics of a framework. Does a life cycle or a framework take precedence? It depends on the nature of a project and an organization.

Project Management Methodology is merely a set of strict processes, roles, and artefacts. A methodology is aimed at implementing a project within a given framework. There might be several methodologies that work under one framework.

PMBOK® Guide does not describe a project management methodology. It is a set of good practices and processes. In most cases, they cover way more than any project would need.

Most methodologies introduce a specific life cycle. There is no universal standard here as both a project management methodology and a company can modify it.

Selecting  a project management methodology?

  1. You need to understand how different methodologies work and their prerequisites. You should be clear about strong and weak sides of each one.
  2. You need to analyze how your organization works. Does it have a suitable environment, skills and technical aids to implement any specific methodology? Identify what methodologies already in use. Make a short list.
  3. You need to analyze the nature of a project, specifics of industry, regulations and constraints. Additionally, you may consider the type of a contract you work with.
  4. You need to analyze your ability adequately define requirements for an end result of a project. It also includes the capacity to reach project objectives and stakeholders expectations. They may change during project lifetime. So, you need to define the optimal way to manage changes.
  5. Define the most suitable methodology that complies with needs identified in point 1-4.

(Padraig Friel)

Underlaying Values

Waterfall or Predictive approach focuses on identifying project scope, costs and duration early on. Changes are actively avoided and closely managed. Project team follows the central principle – plan before you act.

The predictive approach helps to develop a project in a systematic way. Moving from project inception to planning, then, to execution and closure. This method is preferred when the product to be delivered is clearly understood. Also, when a product only have value when delivered in full.

Perfect for critical and high-value projects. Plan-driven approaches require you to perform comprehensive planning upfront. It includes collection of requirements, defining scope, developing budgets, and identification of risks. At each stage of a project, you will have a better understanding of your chances for success.

Good practices cover all aspects of a project. Depending on nature, complexity, and size you can choose an appropriate set of processes, tools, and techniques.

Waterfall or predictive methodologies are scalable. With the same set of the processes, you can manage small, medium, large projects, programs and portfolios of projects. The concepts and principle are the same.

Adaptive, change driven, or Agile approach is based on principles described in Agile Manifesto. This approach is based on ongoing collaboration with stakeholders. It is intended to accept a high level of changes.

Agile is preferred when it ‘s hard to define requirements and scope in advance, when environment rapidly changes and when the value can be delivered in small increments.

Adaptivity. It is much easier to introduce changes to the product. Well, it is the nature of this project management methodology and it goes for both product requirements and project processes. Though changes can happen between iterations. Changes to the current sprint are not accepted.

Iterations are time-boxed. You need to plan in details for 2-4 weeks of work. It is much, much easier than a planning a year long project.

Relative complexity estimation. In Scrum, development team estimates the complexity of a task.

Number of roles and responsibilities is small. There just a few roles in Scrum. It is easy to control work.

Short feedback loop. Product Owner provides feedback on the progress and current state of a product every iteration. Change Requests are obsolete in general. Therefore, you will have less amount of conflicts with a customer. His expectations can be closely managed.


Hybrid Aka Structured Agile

Hybrid methodologies take the best of both waterfall and agile philosophies to create a structured yet flexible workflow.

Hybrid methodologies typically include documenting requirements and potentially stating constraints upfront, similar to waterfall. Then they take the agile approach to the workflow, including quick implementation, feedback and iteration.

Advantages: Documenting a plan upfront prevents scope creep—aka never-ending changes or additions to a project—and keeps all developers and stakeholders on the same page. Allowing for quick iteration prevents wasted time and resources.

Disadvantages: Like with waterfall, documenting requirements upfront could be challenging for clients who can’t articulate what a product should do until they see it in action. However, incorporating iteration into the workflow should make room for new requirements down the line.

Best for: Larger teams that require clear documentation and communication but need the flexibility for projects to change throughout their life cycle.

( Miranda, Adam Hardy)

Which One is Better?
None of them are better or worse. Project management methodologies have particular implication where they perform best. It depends on circumstances, nature of a project and environment of a performing organization.


Article written 7th August 2023 by Padraig Friel MBA MScPM IPMA C® CMC

Dana Miranda and Adam Hardy 12th July 2023