Methodologies in Project Management

13.06.2017 |

Episode #4 of the course Introduction to Project Management by John M. Smith


Welcome to the fourth lesson of the course. There are many methodologies regarding how to perform Project Management. They vary in theory and application, with some favored over others for particular industries, clients, and flexibility. We will discuss a few of the more popular methods.



Waterfall Project Management is considered the most basic and straightforward method. It follows the project lifecycle model and works well for industries and projects that have a very well-defined and linear throughput process. The name reflects the basic schedule appearance on the Gantt Chart (which we’ll get into later), where each subsequent task falls down one level as the project moves forward; although the actual term is more likely to be used within software development companies, many will refer to it generically as Project Management. Project Managers who can utilize Waterfall Project Management often find it easier to manage multiple simultaneous projects than when using other methodologies.



Agile is a Project Management methodology popular with software developers and engineers, as it focuses on a small scope of work at a time, essentially breaking the project down into multiple increments managed by small, cross-functional teams. The basic premise of Agile is that it is both flexible and interactive. This makes it ideal for product development projects, as opposed to more standardized order fulfillment projects. It provides a framework for management in a project environment that is subject to more frequent changes, unforeseeable challenges, and a higher amount of collaboration with stakeholders.

A popular version of Agile management is known as Scrum. Scrum is team based and focuses on completing specific blocks of work at a time toward developing a product. A Product Owner keeps a list of tasks known as the Backlog and makes assignments. These are known as sprints, and each sprint encompasses a task or goal and has an assigned team. That sprint team meets daily to discuss progress and roadblocks. An assigned Scrum Master has the role of removing roadblocks. Eventually, all the sprints should complete the backlog, with a finished version of the product as the result.



Lean management is a concept based on the Toyota method, which aims to improve business success through the removal of waste. Lean defines seven different types of waste and seeks to make improvements in quality and decrease costs by identifying and eliminating those wastes. Lean Project Management can mean two things. In a manufacturing environment, a Quality Manager will work to identify wastes in existing processes and initiate lean-specific projects as needed to eliminate those wastes. Project managers will then use analysis tools such as Kanban—a method of visualizing processes—to identify waste root causes and process bottlenecks, then recommend or make changes as needed to improve them. Lean Project Management can also mean managing projects in a way that puts a focus on avoiding wastes and bottlenecks.


Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a set of management techniques used to make improvements to business systems and quality management, effectively aimed at improving both production throughput and quality through managing defects. The basic principles are built around the establishment of strict quality stipulations, consistent measurement, improvement, and verification. Efforts to integrate Six Sigma philosophy, however, have often found it difficult to make headway into established systems and business practices. Six Sigma Project Management is a methodology aimed at utilizing the strengths of Project Management as a way to implement Six Sigma, as well as perform improvements when the need is identified. Six Sigma is often combined with Lean as a way to integrate troubleshooting with Lean concepts.



These are just a few of many different methods and theories in applying Project Management. Some may work better than others for particular projects, and businesses often have a preferred method that they use across the board.

In our next lesson, we will learn about some of the different roles in Project Management and how they work together toward achieving project success.


Recommended reading

Explaining Agile

What Is Six Sigma?


Recommended book

Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban by Andrew Stellman, Jennifer Greene


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