This is an exciting time for project management.
Because project management methodologies are rapidly changing.
Project teams are combining the different styles, discovering new benefits and even using personal productivity styles and systems to succeed at projects.
What are the different project management methodologies out there? More importantly, which is the right methodology for your team’s needs?
In this article, we’ll cover some of the most popular project management methods. We will also show you how you can practically apply these methodologies with a project management tool.
Here’s The Project Management Methodologies We’ll Cover:
Click on the links to jump to a particular project methodology.
- Critical Path Method
- GTD (Getting Things Done)
- Lean Project Management
Let’s get started.
Top 8 Project Management Methodologies
Let’s dive into some of the most popular project management methods that have been used for a long time.
1. Waterfall Project Management
The waterfall methodology is a sequential, linear model where each piece of the project builds on the next.
While there was a time when only dedicated project managers were in charge of putting all of this together, that’s no longer the case. Once digital tools emerged, this project methodology became far more accessible.
The Waterfall Methodology was originally described by Dr. Winston Royce in 1970 as a way to think about software development and the software development life cycle (SDLC). As software systems became more complex, it was important to think about how they would be developed.
Initially, it was enough to do an analysis of the problem and start coding. However, as software became more advanced, this was no longer feasible.
Royce suggested several steps for improving that process, including gathering specs, requirements, testing and QA before implementing new software. These steps had a “cascading” effect which looked like a waterfall:
Let’s break down each step:
System/Software Requirements: This is the first phase of waterfall project management. A project manager will work with the product manager, product owner, and key stakeholders to record all of the potential requirements and specs for success. This is the requirements document. It will clearly outline what the application should do, but not necessarily the steps to do it.
Analysis: During the second stage of the life cycle, the system is analyzed in order to properly generate the models and business logic that will be used in the application. In the analysis phase, the requirements doc is reviewed by stakeholders and the project manager to ensure it fulfills the business case, meets the budget and manages risk. This is where you would formalize your project plan (if needed) for deliverables, resource, and budget.
Design: What will your software look like? This is the time to design and wireframe mockups with your design tools. It’s time to review and think about the technical design, the preferred programming language, API connectivity and more. You’re taking the requirements and making them real for how they’ll actually be implemented. You’ll probably choose which team members are working on what during this stage.
Coding: Now you’re doing the work. Each team member knows what section they’re responsible for and when they need to be finished. They’ll work on creating the mockups and implementing any new connections that need to be made.
Testing: This is the QA stage where testers will try out the product to see if it works or not and if it meets the specs and requirements. Many companies have dedicated QA analysts who look for bugs and other hiccups in the code. The QA team may send a particular feature back for more work to the coders to have something fixed or elevate it to a lead engineer.
Acceptance: Congrats! The software is deployed to a live environment for the management body – be it stakeholders, clients or customers. Finally, the application is ready for deployment to a live environment. Operations or DevOps may take over from here for any ongoing maintenance of the code once the initial work has been done.
There aren’t as many moving parts, even though each section can have its own work breakdown structure (with sub-projects and subtasks) before moving on to the next section.
As each stage is clearly defined and separated from each other, your team can organize and divide work among themselves with no difficulty. Because of the rigidity, scope creep becomes less of an issue in the waterfall model.
If project requirements change mid-way or if the initial pre-work is done improperly, you’ll have to start the process all over. There’s no way for the waterfall model to adapt and change on-the-fly.
Project management is a dynamic process where objectives change constantly. The waterfall method can’t keep up with this and it could derail your project’s progress.
The Waterfall methodology is a great method to tackle predictable and sequential projects with fixed deliverables and deadlines. It’s great if you have worked on similar projects before and you know exactly what to expect.
Don’t opt for this method if your project might require tons of flexibility and structural changes.
How To Use The Waterfall Project Management Method in ClickUp
ClickUp is a powerful and free project management tool used by teams from Google, Nike, Airbnb, and many more top brands.
ClickUp is customizable and flexible enough to use whatever methodology works best for your team. From waterfall to agile and everything in between, ClickUp can be customized to meet your needs. Take a look at the methodologies below and feel free to shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Here’s how you can implement Waterfall Project Management in ClickUp:
A. Set Up Your Folders
Start by creating a new Folders in ClickUp. Name it after what the final deliverables will be. For example, let’s say you’re constructing a building.
B. Set up lists for each stage of the waterfall method.
If you’re following the stages that are listed above, you’ll want to create a list for each stage.
With list details, you can give additional information for each stage, add important attachments and set due dates. You could also set up custom statuses for each project. This helps you establish different workflows for different parts of your project, customizing it to the needs of those teams and workers.
C. Create tasks under each list.
Create tasks under each list for all your requirements. This could include tasks for research, talking to stakeholders, budget estimates, resource allocation and more. You may create tasks for all lists at once, or ask individual project managers to own part of the list and create their own tasks.
D. Refine and customize tasks.
This is where the ClickUp benefits really kick in. For a successful project, you’ll want to create custom statuses, set start and due dates and add dependencies so that one task doesn’t start until another is finished. You can also create subtasks within tasks if you have a special focus that needs more attention.
2. Agile Methodology
Agile development is a successful project management methodology that involves the customer in the development process. Many firms are now using the agile methodology to help them with software development as it’s a flexible method. Agile helps them react within the system rather than trying to obtain fixed goals that may no longer be relevant once the project moves along.
As project goals and objectives are constantly re-evaluated, Agile teams are very flexible and adaptive in nature.
For example, Agile teams would prefer multiple software releases every one or two weeks rather than opt for one major annual release.
The Agile Manifesto describes four important values that all Agile teams swear by:
- Individuals and interactions over tools and processes. Team communication and maintaining the right relationships is more important than strictly following the process. The team has a goal in mind but could arrive there in a new or faster way.
- Working software over detailed documentation. In other words, it’s more important to have a product than to just talk about a product.
- Collaborating customers over contract negotiation. In a waterfall scenario, the customer or stakeholders are involved in the beginning and in the end, but not during the process. Demos or a potential end-user from the client could be present to ensure that business needs are met and that the product will do what the client needs.
- Respond to change over implementing a plan. Short iterations allow for more flexibility and change. New features or enhancements can be added faster if there’s room for it, even if it wasn’t in the original documentation.
As you can see, the Agile manifesto states that much of what drives agile is the work itself rather than a plan from an outside project manager or stakeholder.
Instead of a formal project manager, the Agile manifesto recommends that a product manager submits the requirements to different teams and then lets them make adjustments based on the sprints.
Many agile project management teams use kanban cards or boards as their project management system, noting work that needs to be done, work in progress and finished work.
One of Agile’s benefits is that it’s adaptable to changing objectives and allows development teams to put out an MVP before moving on to the next project. You’ll have no trouble making changes mid-way and carrying on with your project.
The Agile methodology can facilitate regular feedback from external parties like a product owner or stakeholder. This ensures that they’re involved at every stage of the process.
Lack of structure:
There’s often no clear end to an Agile project, especially if everything is iterative. Sprints can help with that, though it’s not always the perfect solution.
Cannot document stages:
Documentation is usually sparse because things are changing rapidly and the scope is always refined. This can make it difficult for new hires to get up to speed.
Too much collaboration:
Sometimes the product owner or final client has too much say in the process. This might end up slowing down your project advancements.
- Projects where you’re working on a rough idea with no real fixed end.
- Projects that require tons of flexibility to accommodate quick changes.
- Projects where communication and collaboration between different stakeholders is crucial.
How To Use The Agile Project Methodology in ClickUp
A. Set up Folders for the product you’re developing.
Folders will serve as categories for different parts of your product development. For example, at ClickUp, we have Android, iOS, Frontend, Backend, etc in our Development Space. Folders organize your Spaces and contain Lists and tasks.
B. Set up Lists as Sprints
This is where Sprints are hosted. Each List should represent an individual sprint with an additional List titled “Backlog.”
New features and aspects of a product will be developed within these Lists and archived when completed. Lists function perfectly as sprints since each List can hold as many tasks that apply to it. Also, Lists can have start/due dates, details, an entire activity thread!
In ClickUp, the Board View is the go-to vehicle for day-to-day tasks of the scrum process, which operates like a Kanban board.
However, sometimes, you’ll also need a big-picture perspective.
For ClickUp users, this need is addressed with the Box View – our way of organizing your project into stats and highlights that are easy to consume and highly informative.
C. Create tasks for each sprint
Tasks are the specific action steps that need to happen next. That is what will populate each Sprint (List). For each sprint to be pushed into production, each of its tasks should be completed. However, if you have recurring tasks that need to be pushed into the next sprint, you can easily move them.
You can also customize statuses, start dates, end dates and more for your agile workflow, and even integrate with Github.
For more details on how to set up agile within ClickUp, check out this help doc.
D. Create custom statuses for each Sprint
Custom statuses are an essential component of the Scrum methodology. However, don’t worry, we’ve already set up custom statuses for you to use. Go to settings, Spaces and then under “Custom Statuses” click “Scrum” to access our already pre-formatted statuses for this workflow.
For more details on how to set up Agile and Scrum in ClickUp, check out this help doc.
For your personal tasks in Scrum, you can use the built-in notepad to jot down your next action items.
3. Agifall or Hybrid
This approach allows you to gather all of your requirements up front (and stick with them) while also giving you the freedom to make changes. With the hybrid method, you can add user stories and ideas to the development life cycle but still keep the planning and framework.
Hybrid project management manages to nullify the Waterfall method’s inflexibility. You can tackle projects without worrying about starting over.
The Hybrid project method borrows a few structural elements from the Waterfall method to give your project a solid backbone to work around.
Team members may skew towards waterfall or agile, so elaborating on the specifics for your team is paramount.
Jack of All Trades, Master of None:
While the Agifall method tries to balance two different methodologies, it loses out on the best bits of each. You won’t get as much flexibility as Agile or as much structure as the Waterfall method. This approach may not suit most projects and could result in inefficient project management.
Medium-sized projects where you have an end goal in place but also need tons of flexibility.
How To Use The Hybrid Project Method In ClickUp
For the Hybrid method to work, you need a structured workspace that still gives you the flexibility for on-the-fly changes. Here’s how you can do that in ClickUp:
A. Creating A Structured Workspace
Creating an organized workspace for your projects in ClickUp is a breeze:
- Create a new project from your dashboard.
- Create lists within that space for different project progress stages.
- Add tasks, subtasks, and checklists to each of these lists to get things done.
With these three easy steps, you’ve created a structured project space for your team members to get things done in an organized manner.
B. Adding Some Flexibility To It
To add some flexibility to your workspace, ClickUp gives you a few features:
- Board View:
The board view resembles a Kanban board that’s ideal for Agile project management. You can easily move tasks around and restructure your project in seconds.
- Custom Statuses:
ClickUp lets you create custom statuses for each of your lists (sprints) to keep everyone informed of what’s going on. As you can customize these to suit each project’s needs, you’re not stuck with a rigid set of statuses that don’t accurately reflect a project’s stages. For example, you’ll need a different set of statuses for app development than for content writing.
- Gantt Charts:
ClickUp gives you incredibly flexible Gantt charts! Not the ancient and rigid Gannt charts that many of us hate! You can use these to create critical paths and yet make quick changes that automatically change the other dependent elements within the project.
We discuss more about how to use Gnatt charts in the following section.
Scrum is a version of agile, but often teams are self-organized with no project manager. Daily standups and short sprints are the hallmarks of scrum, even though there may be a scrum master who serves as the de-facto project manager.
Scrum project management utilizes Sprints, where work (specifically backlog development) is divided into sections–such as weeks or months. A strict scrum management approach will have 30-day sprints to finish different segments of the project.
Each Sprint contains a dedicated amount of time to finish a specific feature and all resources are dedicated to it. Each Sprint ends with a retrospective or sprint review, where teams get together and decide the next steps in a development project.
Powerful Work Breakdown:
By breaking down complex projects into smaller chunks, your team can get far more done in a 30-day Sprint.
The Scrum methodology emphasizes team collaboration as the core of creativity and problem-solving. This is a great way for your team to build chemistry and work toward project goals together.
No Clear Leadership:
While Scrum can build team chemistry, it’s also risky. The team needs to be self-motivated and disciplined to get their work done. If not, the Scrum master may end up with more responsibility than they thought they would.
There’s also a greater possibility for failure because of the uncertainty surrounding the teams. They may not have a full picture of the project scope or resources.
Scrum project management suits complex projects with flexible deliverables that need to be broken down into smaller pieces. The Scrum method only works if the team working on these projects is experienced and self-disciplined.
How To Use The Scrum Method In ClickUp
Using Scrum in ClickUp is very similar to using Agile. ClickUp Lists can function as Sprints where you neatly categorize tasks into separate sprints. With the due date feature, you can ensure that each sprint adheres to a 30-day schedule to comply with Scrum requirements.
B. Retrospective Sprint Review
Once you’re done with the tasks, you can use the comment section to conduct a retrospective sprint review. Your team can discuss how things went and what future steps they’d like to take.
C. Multiple Views
To customize these Sprints, you can toggle between Board and Box views to get a flexible look at what’s left to be done.
The Board view is great for an in-depth look at each of your Sprints. You can see each task included in each sprint and move tasks around with ease.
The Box View helps you get an overlook at everything that’s going on in your project space. As tasks are organized by assignee, a Scrum master will find it easy to oversee everything.
Learn more about setting up a Scrum workflow in ClickUp here.
5. Critical Path Method CPM
Like a good map? That’s essentially what Critical Path is.
It’s a roadmap that shows you where and how things need to get done, and how those projects potentially overlap.
Lots of successful project management software programs have a critical path built-in, showing you the fastest way forward. This method places tasks sequentially and then helps you build out a structure from there.
It can be shown in a flow chart or in a Gantt chart and helps you estimate the time it will take to finish. Don’t confuse CPM with Critical Chain project management, which is a resource-focused analysis of what is left to finish the tasks. Unlike critical chain project management, the Critical Path method focuses on the tasks themselves.
Here’s a great guide on the Critical Path Method if you’re looking for even more information.
The Critical path highlights which tasks are at most risk of falling behind. This makes it easy to make efficient changes on-the-fly and keep your project on track.
It’s also great for comparing your estimated timeline versus where you actually stand. By analyzing the critical path, you can remove irrelevant tasks and get your project back on track.
If you’re a rookie project manager without much planning experience, the Critical Path Method could derail you. If you underestimate your schedules, it may put the whole project in danger.
This method is suited to projects that contain loads of interdependent subtasks and connections. Having a critical path to show you how each of these tasks relate to each other can help speed up your progress.
How To Use Critical Paths In ClickUp
With ClickUp’s Gantt View, you can view task dependencies and calculate your critical path easily.
Here’s what you have to do:
- Open the Gantt View in ClickUp.
- Select the group of tasks you want to be analyzed.
- Click the arrow button to calculate the critical path for the tasks you’ve selected.
You can now view which tasks are integral to a project’s completion and reschedule tasks with ease.
However, that isn’t all. To help power the Critical path methodology, ClickUp’s Gantt charts can:
- Automatically adjust dependencies once you reschedule tasks.
- Calculate your progress percentage.
- Compare your estimated and current progress.
To learn more about the Critical Path Method and how you can use it in ClickUp, click here.
6. The GTD Methodology
GTD isn’t a “real” project management methodology, but tell that to the people who swear by it. Instead, it’s a personal productivity system made by famous by David Allen, the writer of Get Things Done.
It’s become a whole way of life for many people, giving them a clear method to prioritize their tasks and work. “Priority” is the keyword here because the GTD methodology is great at helping you (and your team) make decisions about what needs to be done next.
Most project management methodologies are very systematic in nature, but they don’t account for handling multiple projects at once. The GTD method helps you close these “open loops,” that have been lingering around don’t have any actionable steps to account for.
The GTD system gives you five steps to follow and a system within each of those:
The GTD methodology can help your team prioritize tasks, note them down and get down to working on them easily. You won’t face a build-up of pending tasks – everything will be sorted and accounted for.
Not Suitable As A Methodology By Itself:
The GTD method shouldn’t be looked at as a separate project management methodology. Instead, it’s an add-on that can make any of the other methodologies more productive. Getting things done quickly and in a systematic manner is something every project management methodology could use.
Nearly every project that requires workers to finish a group of subtasks while working towards a common goal.
How To Use GTD In ClickUp
ClickUp has an Inbox feature that’s perfect for GTD lovers. Just add tasks to your inbox whenever they come to mind. You can allocate these tasks to projects later on.
The List View in ClickUp can help you adhere to the GTD style of project management. You can easily set priorities and check items off your task list from your dashboard. You can also easily create new action items and processes from your dashboard and edit them in seconds.
With ClickUp’s Box view, you can see what everyone else is working on and collaborate with them to check off items together.
You can even use the Notepad to list down an idea or process you come up with before you start acting on them.
If you want to know more about using the GTD method in ClickUp, click here.
Started in the mid-90s, PRINCE2 a popular system that’s widely used in the UK. PRINCE is an acronym for “Projects IN a Controlled Environment.” It’s a waterfall method that highly regulates the inputs and outputs of a particular project. For every PRINCE2 project, these principles are followed:
- An organized and controlled start. Know what you’re getting into.
- An organized and controlled middle: Make sure everything stays on track.
- An organized and controlled end: No loose ends.
PRINCE2 delegates clear roles and responsibilities among all team members. A project manager reports to a project board that makes the final call on any issues that arise.
PRINCE2 requires documentation at every level of the project management process. This makes future project planning easier as you have a ready set of references to look to.
PRINCE2 builds on the waterfall approach with more precise processes and terminologies. While this establishes order, it makes PRINCE2 a very inflexible project management methodology.
Complex projects with fixed end dates and requirements. PRINCE2 is not suitable for projects that require flexibility and independent decision making.
How To Use The PRINCE2 Method In ClickUp
Using PRINCE2 in ClickUp is a lot like using the Waterfall method. You need clearly defined project spaces to manage your work efficiently.
A. Separate Project Spaces
Once, you create a project on your dashboard, you can create lists within that space for different project progress stages. Each of these lists can have a set of tasks, subtasks, checklists, and assignees to get things done in an organized manner.
The PRINCE2 Method requires project documentation at all stages. ClickUp makes that possible with its Docs feature.
ClickUp Docs acts as a wiki tool for your company where you can store important project information alongside each project. With ClickUp’s rich text formatting, you can customize each project doc and get as detailed as you want. ClickUp also allows you to nest pages within documents for easy organization.
All these features combine to make ClickUp Docs the perfect companion to PRINCE2 project management.
8. Lean Project Management
Lean is thought of as the forebearer to agile project management, but there are some definite differences. Lean puts an emphasis on discarding waste and emphasizing efficiency – as made famous by Kanban cards. There are 3 M’s to Lean, and it was first developed at Toyota plants in Japan:
Muda: The extras that don’t add any value
Mura: Nothing should be waiting. The right amount should be made and available.
Muri: Everyone in production should have a similar-sized workload
Project statuses in Lean project management are known across the organization because of the Kanban cards approach. As a result, everyone’s roles and duties are easily accounted for.
Lean is focused on reducing unnecessary resources and steps. It strives to streamline your workflow and improve productivity.
A high emphasis on Lean may discount individual expertise and skill-sets. It’s not suitable for unique, complex projects that require creativity.
As Lean project methodology relies on high levels of expertise and experience, the scope for error is high and you can disrupt your entire process if you’re not careful.
The core principles of lean can be applied to any project. However, to get the most out of it, you should have sufficient experience in executing lean projects in the past. It’s not easy to pick it up without prior experience.
How To Use Lean Project Management In ClickUp
Two of the core principles of Lean Project Management are value mapping and task delegation.
Here’s how ClickUp helps with both:
A. Value Mapping
Value mapping involves developing an idea of what’s to come. It’s incredibly important to the Lean method because it’s where a team can cut off anything that doesn’t provide value.
ClickUp’s mindmaps can help with this. You can visualize and strategize your future projects with this in-built tool. You can easily create detailed maps to brainstorm ideas and solutions for your future projects.
B. Task Delegation
Lean project management emphasizes efficient work delegation among your employees. The Lean principle of Muri emphasizes an equal workload share. ClickUp’s board view helps with this as it sorts out tasks by the assignee.
This allows project managers to manage what everyone has on their plate at the moment. In case someone is falling behind, managers can easily reschedule or delegate their tasks to someone else.
With ClickUp’s assigned comments feature, you can assign a comment to a team member. They’ll be notified of this and can mark the comment as resolved when they’re done. Delegating tasks to team members has never been this easy!
So, which project management methods are right for you?
It’s up to you to look at the pros and cons of each of these project management methods and decide if it’s a good fit for your workload.
While each methodology has its benefits, its effectiveness varies according to the industry your part of. Do your research, take stock of the projects and teams you have, and you’re sure to find a method that suits your workload.
Once you’ve done that, download ClickUp to implement your chosen methodology and get started on your projects right away!