How to choose the PM methodology that best suits you

[fa icon="calendar"] July 2/2018 / by Juanita Moreno

Project management methodologies are the tools that allow project managers to guide their team members through a project from initiation to completion effectively and efficiently. They are designed to maximize the use of resources and time.

While there are numerous project management strategies and methodologies out there, all of them have advantages and disadvantages.

Each project management methodology comes with its own set of principles and rules, as well as processes and practices derived from those rules. A mistake many project managers make when implementing a methodology that is currently in vogue, is that it is often done without any thought of whether it's suitable for the project at hand.

While there is no 'wrong' methodology per se, some methodologies work better for smaller projects, while others are great for tackling larger, more complex ones. Having a comprehensive grasp of each can help a project manager understand which is most suitable for a current project. Here are three of the most popular:

3 popular project management methodologies

  1. Agile
  2. Waterfall
  3. Six sigma

PM methodologies (agile, waterfall, six sigma)

One of the most commonly-used and recognized PM methodologies is Agile. It was created for software development as a response to more traditional PM methodologies that were struggling to respond to the rapid and constant changes in the software industry. As such, it is best used for projects that need iterative and incremental development.

By keeping in mind six main deliverables, Agile places a heavy emphasis on flexibility, continuous improvements and fostering team collaboration to produce high-quality results. Projects that benefit most from an Agile methodology are those that are highly complex and have a certain degree of uncertainty, as they benefit most from the methodology's focus on flexibility and iterative design.

Agile project management also has some methodologies within itself, such as Kanban and Scrum. These are more frameworks than true PM methodologies and are well-suited to smaller teams where a flexible approach is essential for project completion.

 Learn more about Agile Methodology and how it compares with traditional Methodologies!


A well-established methodology, Waterfall focuses on linear, sequential design where progress moves in one direction. The main principle of Waterfall is that you only move onto the next phase of development once the current phase is satisfactorily completed.

The six phases are all clearly defined and move from identifying system requirements to finally ending up with an operational plan. Waterfall places a high emphasis on documentation so that any person can easily pick up and track progress within the project. Waterfall is best applied to large-scale projects with fixed deadlines or projects that don't require much flexibility.



The concept behind Six Sigma is to identify aspects of a process that aren't working and then remove those aspects, thereby improving quality. The methodology is based around empirical and statistical management methods but does also rely on the expertise of Six Sigma specialists. There are two main methodologies within Six Sigma, one that focuses on improving existing processes and one that focuses on creating new products, services or processes.

This methodology may not be particularly useful for one specific project but is often used in large companies looking to improve quality and efficiency company-wide through the use of data- driven strategies.


IN CONCLUSION: these three PM methodologies are only the tip of the iceberg, and there are many other smaller (and larger) strategies that can be considered. Before embarking on your next project, explore your options carefully and select a project management methodology that is going to maximize your chances of success. 

Topics: Project management

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