8 project management methodologies

Top 18 Project Management Methodologies

Have you considered how a project management methodology can help you and your team achieve long-term success?

If you’re thinking, “I don’t work in industries like technology or construction, so this doesn’t apply to us,” think back to the last project you worked on. Did the team feel motivated? Productive from start to finish? Or did every day feel like this? ⬇️

it crowd moss looks at fire while typing gif
Channel 4 via GIPHY

We understand. As a project manager, it’s hard to deliver projects with often unclear direction from clients and stakeholders, let alone manage the process in between.

Project management methods establish a system of principles, standard processes, and control to manage multifaceted projects that come in all shapes and requirements—across all industries.

By the end of this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to optimize the five phases of a project lifecycle
  • The top 18 project management methodologies used across wide geographies
  • Recommended features in ClickUp for specific project management methodologies

We invite you to ditch the messy, complicated, and inflexible processes for proven methodologies to leverage project management tools and various techniques for success. ⚙️⚖️🚀

The 5 Phases of a Project Lifecycle

Whether you’re a new or seasoned project manager, let’s refresh our minds on the five fundamental project lifecycle phases you need to know to run successful projects. This will help you in your decision to choose the right project management methodology.

👾 Phase 1: Initiation

A project always begins with a conversation. When you come out of the first meeting with a client or stakeholder, you should fully understand the project purpose, SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals, communication expectations, and budget.

👾 Phase 2: Planning

The planning phase goes more in-depth than determining the project scope and schedule (which is only the beginning). If you’re using a timeline or Gantt chart tool, it’s critical also to disclose these key project details in a project charter:

  • Estimates and cost for people and software resources
  • Potential risks, assumptions, and blockers
  • Dependencies
  • Project teams (roles and workflows)
  • Change process requirements
  • Dependencies
  • Success criteria
  • Did we mention dependencies?

👾 Phase 3: Execution

Dependencies are an absolute necessity for controlled project execution. If you’re a coffee person and you skip your morning cup and head straight to work, chances are, you make your day a little more difficult than it should be.

As you’re on the path to assigning individual tasks, have an open discussion with the project team about what can or can’t be started until a specific task is completed. You’ll save time and money with transparency and set everyone up for success from start to finish.

👾 Phase 4: Monitoring

Data is your north star metric to manage people, resources, budgets, and risks during the execution phase. Make sure you’re using a powerful productivity tool like ClickUp to know what project contributors are working on and what they need to do next.

Even more, track project goals and communicate with stakeholders and clients within ClickUp.

👾 Phase 5: Closing

After you turn in the final deliverables and wrap up loose ends, it’s advantageous to assess the performance of team members and resources. This reflection period will help improve the next project.

Have all deliverables been completed, validated, and archived?

Were issues and risks effectively managed?

Which processes were easy/challenging, and what would they change?

tetris costume at work gif
via GIPHY

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate all the hard work! 🎉

Top 18 Project Management Methodologies

Welcome to your pocket encyclopedia of the top 18 project management methodologies! 📘

Adaptive Project Framework (APF)

A nod to agile project management methodology, the adaptive project framework is an iterative approach to satisfy a project’s goals and outcomes. Meaning, a project’s plan is broken into short iterations (or cycles) of tasks. This helps structure task dependencies and establishes clear deadlines.

The five steps in the adaptive project framework are:

  1. Project Scope: document the project plan with a project charter (download ClickUp’s Project Charter Template)
  2. Cycle Plan: define each task with all dependencies
  3. Cycle Completion: after one cycle completes, another begins
  4. Control Point: the client or stakeholder meets with the team to assess the quality and potential room for improvements in the next cycle
  5. Final Report: determines if results were achieved and successful

🟢 Adaptive Project Framework Pros

  • Less time is spent on the first phase (defining project scope)
  • Client and stakeholder satisfaction increases because of their involvement
  • Teams create the most value with learnings in short cycles

🟡 Adaptive Project Framework Cons

  • The project scope will potentially change throughout the lifecycle, reverting from a client or stakeholder’s original vision
  • Too much flexibility for teams accustomed to fixed schedules
  • Limited control over processes

Agifall/Hybrid

The hybrid model is the best of both Agile and Waterfall methods. Commonly used in product development companies, the planning phase uses waterfall method techniques but applies agile practices during execution.

🟢 Agifall/Hybrid Pros

  • Continous collaboration and communication amongst different teams within a project
  • A gateway to a complete transition into Agile methodology
  • Using the best techniques of both methods to create a custom approach

🟡 Agifall/Hybrid Cons

  • A good amount of time is required to plan a clear, clean, and understandable project approach

Agile

Today, one of the most popular project management methodologies, the agile methodology, is an incremental and iterative approach to managing projects in phases. Each iteration has a fixed scope (between 1-3 weeks) to maintain product release consistency, stability, and on-time delivery.

At its core, release management minimizes risks, tracks and audits requirements, and secures consistent implementation—in the least disruptive approach.

The five steps in the Agile methodology are:

  1. Defining the release plan and product roadmap
  2. Designing and building product feature(s)
  3. Testing and iterating
  4. Releasing
  5. Closing and maintenance
clickup agile kanban board
Agile planning is a flexible way to organize projects and adjust to change requirements

🟢 Agile Pros

  • Increases customer satisfaction and retention
  • Software code and testing standards are used repeatedly
  • Specific roles with multiple project drivers to meet the same goal

🟡 Agile Cons

  • Some organizations might find agile workflows to be a poor culture fit
  • Potential lack of understanding in workflow flexibility
  • An experienced agile professional might be necessary for teams new to agile

Critical Path Method

Project managers use the Critical Path Method to define the critical and non-critical tasks for timely delivery. After listing every activity and task required for completion, they will note dependencies and write a sequence of times for each.

Planning with the Critical Path Method allows teams to pinpoint opportunities to shorten task times and flag potential shifts when changes can affect critical tasks.

clickup gantt view critical path
Determine the chain of tasks crucial to a project’s completion

🟢 Critical Path Method Pros

  • Identifies the most important activities and tasks in a project
  • Displays the complexities of whether a project is small or substantial
  • Easily explained with a chart or graph

🟡 Critical Path Method Cons

  • Mid-changes could disrupt the overall stability of the project
  • Requires time and effort to build the CPM chart successfully
  • Client and stakeholders must be comfortable with estimates on progress and delivery

Note: Critical Chain Project Management, a related project management methodology, focuses on managing resources and buffer duration between task chains and improving upon the Critical Path Method.

eXtreme Programming (XP)

The eXtreme Programming methodology takes elements of traditional software engineering practices to, well, extreme levels. However, it’s familiar to the agile framework like specific planning approach, on-site customer participation, and continuous testing.

Standard software development practices found in the eXtreme Programming method are:

  • Pair Programming: two developers work together simultaneously on code
  • Refactoring: implementing a feature without changing the behavior of the system
  • Continuous Integration: integrating as soon as you identify issues decreases the number of bugs that could arise in production
  • Short Release Cycles: every day is optimized, so by the end of the cycle, tested features are deployed for customer feedback
  • The Planning Game: Customer and developers meet to discuss the upcoming release
  • 40-Hour Week: developers must work fast and efficiently to maintain product quality, so keeping to a manageable work supports a healthy work-life balance
  • Non-Complex Design: when design complications are found, it’s removed so developers can articulate product intention

🟢 eXtreme Programming Pros

  • Fixed timeline length, typically 1-2 weeks
  • Flexible to changes during the sprint cycle
  • Higher customer satisfaction

🟡 eXtreme Programming Cons

  • Requires engaged customer(s) to make informed project decisions
  • Stressful if teams don’t fully understand the demanding workflow
  • Geared towards product delivery businesses

Get Things Done (GTD)

The GTD (Get Things Done) method is a project management methodology less concerned with technical activities such as coding and testing. Instead, it emphasizes personal productivity to create the best systems for approaching life and work.

The five simple steps in the GTD method are:

  1. Capture: record your notes to make room for more headspace
  2. Clarify: review your notes and determine whether they should be converted into tasks, filed for referenced, or tossed
  3. Organize: dedicate a single place for your collection of ideas and tasks
  4. Reflect: visit your collection frequently to update for relevancy and opportunities
  5. Engage: use the system you’ve built to take action on your items

If you’re looking for a productivity tool to help gather your thoughts, tasks, schedule, and workflow in one place, learn how to use ClickUp with the GTD project management methodology. ⬇️

🟢 Get Things Done Pros

  • Large or intimidating projects are broken down into manageable tasks
  • Easily view which tasks take priority over others
  • Entirely customizable for whatever season of life and work you’re in

🟡 Get Things Done Cons

  • Requires time to set up a system for long term success
  • Recording changes with the most up to date information are necessary to prevent backtracking

Integrated Project Management (IPM)

The Integrated Project Management (IPM) project management methodology oversees the cross-functional communication and hand-off during all project phases. Since cross-functional teams have different processes and workflows, IPM helps resolve schedule conflicts, bottlenecks, and team bandwidths.

👉 Check out these project management communication resources to assist with Integrated Project Management planning:

clickup kanban board for Integrated Project Management
Identify task distribution to determine if there are any bottlenecks between cross-functional teams

🟢 Integrated Project Management Pros

  • Projects are appropriately monitored and controlled
  • Productivity accelerates to complete projects on time
  • Complex resource planning becomes simple

🟡 Integrated Project Management Cons

  • No cons to cohesive team communication and collaboration! 🤝

Lean

The Lean project management methodology focuses on tools and practices heavily centered on product value for customers. The commitment to constantly improve the reliability and quality of products helps businesses deliver faster. In addition, understanding the specific tasks and activities that need to be completed at a given time minimizes the chances of wasting time and resources.

The five principles of lean methodology are:

  • Define Value: align processes to deliver on customer needs
  • Map the Value Stream: remove barriers that disrupt the flow
  • Create Flow: manage team member workloads and production steps to maintain a smooth process
  • Establish Pull: remove overproduction of inventory by implementing a system for on-demand delivery
  • Seek Perfection: continuously improve to make steps towards eliminating all mistakes
clickup wordload view for lean project management methodology
Optimize people and resources with the Lean methodology

🟢 Lean Pros

  • Understands all aspects of customer demands
  • Promotes involving team members closest to the work
  • Removes inventory waste, process barriers, and defective products

🟡 Lean Cons

  • Not suitable for teams that don’t use a dashboard tool
  • Not a culture fit for organizations resistant towards full transparency
  • Experienced resource management professionals might be necessary for some teams

Bonus: Lean vs. Agile Project Management 💜

New Product Introduction (NPI)

The New Product Introduction methodology is used by companies that continuously release new products. NPI streamlines time and efforts to achieve desired results by carefully vetting new ideas and surveying customers.

The six phases of New Product Introduction are:

  1. Ideation: brainstorming a product concept influenced by business risk and market research
  2. Product Definition: gathering product requirements
  3. Prototyping: building a model for the hardware or software product for performance analysis
  4. Detailed Design: refining the product model and fully designing to its final form
  5. Pre-Production (Validation/Testing): validating the product to ensure high-performance results
  6. Manufacturing: all design, marketing, and sales efforts are carried out to deliver the final product

🟢 New Product Introduction Pros

  • Creates a culture of development
  • Drives higher value proposition
  • Increases opportunities for businesses to innovate and grow within their industry

🟡 New Product Introduction Cons

  • Not suitable for projects that are small in scale
  • Product ideas can fail unexpectedly

Outcome Mapping

The Outcome Mapping methodology is an approach for planning, monitoring, and evaluation developed by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), a Canadian grant-making organization. It’s distinct from all other methodologies mentioned in this list because it focuses on behavior changes of people and groups the project or program works with directly. (Organizations within policy development and research communication typically use this method.)

Outcome Mapping blends social learning, self-assessment, and adaptive management within an organization. The process allows organizations to gather data and encourage reflection about development impacts.

The three stages of Outcome Mapping are:

  1. Intentional Design: determining the vision, partners, tangible changes (outcomes), and contribution efforts
  2. Outcome and Performance Monitoring: using an Outcome Journal (tracking progress markers), Strategy Journal (testing strategy in wavering circumstances), and Performance Journal (recording practices and opportunities for improvement) to provide data
  3. Evaluation Planning: a detailed progress review to influence an evaluation plan and bring strategic benefits to the project

🟢 Outcome Mapping Pros

  • Successful results contribute to sustainable improvements
  • Incorporates being reflective about organizational and social learnings
  • Flexible model to tailor to project needs

🟡 Outcome Mapping Cons

  • Requires organizations to take a hard look at their views about development
  • Regular communication and participation is necessary for success
  • Not suitable for short software development lifecycles

Package Enabled Reengineering (PER)

The Package Enabled Reengineering methodology focuses on the original functionality of software packages as a framework for rethinking the design. It requires an analysis of challenges within the current process, management, people, and design to shape new systems.

Check out how to jumpstart your management and design workflows in ClickUp so you can organize your planning with the PER project management methodology. ⬇️

🟢 Package Enabled Reengineering Pros

  • Optimizes productivity, resources, and communication strategically

🟡 Package Enabled Reengineering Cons

  • Not suitable for organizations with already successful systems

Project Management Institute’s Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMI’s PMBOK)

Written by the Project Management Institute, a global “for-purpose” organization, the Project Management Body of Knowledge is a collection of tools, techniques, and best practices for a project manager to align with the evolving changes of project management.

🟢 PMI’s PMBOK Pros

🟡 PMI’s PMBOK Cons

  • Extensive 700+ page book not meant for reading cover to cover

Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2)

The PRINCE2 project management methodology is globally adopted because of its practical and adaptive framework to divide projects into controllable stages. It focuses on an orderly approach in a project’s lifespan from beginning to end. The PRINCE2 methodology directly impacts day-to-day routines to deliver successful projects, from construction development projects to launching social campaigns.

🟢 PRINCE2 Pros

  • PRINCE2 certification is available
  • Improves project management skills with proven best practices
  • Adapts to any project type and scale

🟡 PRINCE2 Cons

  • Documentation heavy
  • Without certification or experience, it might take longer to see results

Rational Unified Process (RUP)

The Rational Unified Process methodology is built on well-documented software processes focusing on an iterative approach throughout development. This allows for quick changes on high-risks throughout every stage. As a result, RUP’s structure lends itself to assembling high-quality software production.

The four project phases are:

  1. Inception: outlining the scope of work, impact analysis, identify key use cases, and cost estimates
  2. Elaboration: designing an architected foundation for the product
  3. Construction: completing the bulk of the work to develop all software components
  4. Transition: introducing the product to the end-users, handling bug issues, and reviewing outcome goals

🟢 Rational Unified Process Pros

  • Reduces time for initial integration as it’s built in the project stages
  • Repeatable steps to apply to future projects
  • Emphasizes documentation

🟡 Rational Unified Process Cons

  • Not suitable for teams that are unable to keep up with documentation
  • The project’s success rate is higher with experienced team members

Scrum

Scrum project management adds to the agile approach by including a prominent role called the Scrum Master. The Scrum Master conducts a sprint planning meeting with the Product Owner and Development team. Then, they select the high-priority items from the Product Backlog—a list of collected feedback from customers and stakeholders—to release in one sprint. These high-priority items become a Sprint Backlog for the development team to build, test, and release.

Throughout the sprint cycle, a daily scrum meeting is held (typically at the start of the workday) for each project contributor to share: what they did yesterday, what they will do today, and any blockers in the way.

At the end of the sprint, a Sprint Review meeting is held with the Scrum Master, Product Owner, stakeholders, and development team to walk through accomplishments and changes. This review helps improve the performance of future sprints.

clickup sprint list to view product backlog
Get actionable feedback during a Sprint Review to revise the Product Backlog

🟢 Scrum Pros

  • Flexible timeline length, typically 2-4 weeks
  • Teams are aligned around tasks and progress through daily scrum meetings
  • Short sprints support faster changes from customer and stakeholder feedback

🟡 Scrum Cons

  • Daily meetings might not be a culture fit for some teams
  • The success rate is higher with experienced agile team members
  • Adopting the Scrum framework in larger teams is difficult

Scrumban

Scrumban is the combination of Scrum and Kanban. Kanban adds metric visuals and process improvements to the Scrum methodology. For example, a distinct feature of the Scrumban method is the WIP (work in progress) board to help visualize all tasks from start to finish.

This board, divided into three sections—product backlog, work in progress, and completed—shows the collective work in a given section. With this data, the Scrum team can make adjustments to monitor workloads.

clickup scrum project list on a kanban board
Scrumban is a multipurpose approach to workflow management

🟢 Scrumban Pros

  • Adds a process improvement attribute to the Scrum methodology
  • Issues can be pinpointed and resolved quickly on a progress board
  • Promotes full transparency for all project team members

🟡 Scrumban Cons

  • Boards that are not updated in real-time cause delay and confusion
  • A fairly new methodology
  • Daily standups are optional, which can be an advantage or disadvantage to a preferred workflow

Six Sigma

Motorola introduced the Six Sigma methodology in the 1980s to bring down the defects in its manufacturing process. However, it’s suitable for all industries. It emphasizes a data-driven approach for continuous business transformation. Six means six standard deviations (a statistical benchmark), and the sigma symbol represents a standard deviation.

There are two models of the six sigma methodology:

Six Sigma DMAIC

  1. Define the current problem, goals, and deliverables
  2. Measure the current process and performance
  3. Analyze the causes of the problem
  4. Improve the process by proposing and testing solutions
  5. Control the outcome by implementing changes in place if problems arise

Six Sigma DMADV

  1. Define the current problem, goals, and deliverables
  2. Measure the current process and performance
  3. Analyze the causes of the problem
  4. Design a process that meets customer expectations and needs
  5. Verify the design meets customer needs and it’s appropriately

The DMAIC and DMADV models in the six sigma methodology ensure each step is followed to achieve the best results.

🟢 Six Sigma Pros

  • Reduces wastes and costs
  • Enhances value and improves the quality of a company’s output
  • Six Sigma certification is available

🟡 Six Sigma Cons

  • An implementation period is necessary for success
  • Complicated and requires statistical analysis
  • It can get costly in the long run

Waterfall

The Waterfall methodology is one of the traditional project management methods. It has two main attributes: thorough initial planning and fixed-end requirements. Waterfall project management is predictive, meaning each stage starts when its predecessor ends. After a project has begun, it’s nearly impossible to make changes. (This characteristic of Waterfall is off-putting for organizations that experience altering project requirements while in progress.)

On the flip side, for businesses that need predicted outcomes, such as construction and manufacturing, this rigid framework is the best approach for their needs.

The stages of the Waterfall methodology are:

  1. Requirements Gathering
  2. Analysis
  3. Design
  4. Development
  5. Testing
  6. Delivery
clickup waterfall methodology
A phase can’t begin until the previous phase is complete

🟢 Waterfall Pros

  • Easy and familiar to understand for new and seasoned teams
  • No overlap between project phases
  • Clear deadlines are determined and adhered to at the start of the project

Check out our Waterfall Management Template!

🟡 Waterfall Cons

  • Top-down communication model
  • Not suitable for software development or complex projects
  • Not best for ongoing projects

100+ Powerful Tools in ClickUp For Any Project Type

Now that you know your best project methodologies options, where can you keep your people, processes, and projects organized? 🤔

One of the best ways to add value to your work and optimize your time is to use a software tool. Our recommendation? ClickUp! ✨

clickup for any project management methodology type
Productivity-boosting features in ClickUp for any project type

ClickUp is the ultimate productivity platform allowing teams to manage projects, collaborate smarter, and bring all work under one tool. Here are a few ClickUp features among the hundreds available that can be customized to any team size for consistent collaboration:

📊 Dashboards

ClickUp Dashboards are a time-saving resource to share high-level views with project stakeholders or project progress with anyone in their Workspace! Track sprints, task progress, portfolio management, and more with customizable widgets. 


A must-have tool for these project management methodologies:

  • Agile
  • Integrated Project Management (IPM)
  • Package Enabled Reengineering (PER)
  • Rational Unified Process
  • Adaptive project framework (APF)
  • Scrumban
Create a visual representation of work for your entire team with ClickUp Dashboards

🤖 Automations

Create your custom Automations or choose from ClickUp templates

With ClickUp Automations, you’re able to set up combinations of Triggers and Actions to help automate repetitive actions—saving time and allowing you to focus on things that matter. Does your team use workflow software with external applications like GitHub? Automate your workflow within ClickUp using the GitHub integration


A must-have tool for these project management methodologies:

  • Waterfall
  • Agile
  • Integrated Project Management (IPM)
  • Package Enabled Reengineering (PER)

🗒 List view

ClickUp’s powerful and flexible List view can sort, filter, or group columns in any way. Columns can be customized to show important information—task assignees, start and due dates, project briefs, website links, task comments—it’s up to you!


A must-have tool for these project management methodologies:

  • SCRUM
  • PRINCE2
  • GTD
  • New Product Introduction (NPI)
Show additional columns and create Custom Fields from any List view

🔷 Subtasks

Expand the entire tree of nested subtasks within List, Gantt, and Mind Map views in ClickUp

Subtasks in ClickUp add a layer to your work structure, allowing you to define more detailed goals inside of your tasks. This is a perfect solution for: action items that don’t warrant a new task, objectives that need to be completed to finish an overall task, and task dependencies. 


A must-have tool for these project management methodologies:

  • Critical Path Method
  • Agifall/Hybrid
  • Outcome Mapping

🏃‍♀️ Sprint

Sprints in ClickUp are packed with additional ClickUp features to help teams better understand and manage their product roadmaps. Available on every ClickUp plan, Sprints use tasks as items of work so teams don’t have to rely on other software to get their work done. 


A must-have tool for these project management methodologies:

  • eXtreme Programming (XP)
  • Agile
  • Agifall/Hybrid
  • Adaptive project framework (APF)
Create a Sprint Folder in ClickUp to organize individual Sprints

🟫 Board view

Edit the Show settings to customize a Board view

Choose whether you want to zoom in on a single List, an entire Folder, or even all Spaces across your Workspace in Board view. For teams that prefer Kanban project management, Board’s view powerful drag-and-drop interface is perfect for visualizing tasks in progress. 


A must-have tool for these project management methodologies:

  • Lean
  • Agile
  • GTD
  • Scrumban

ClickUp: A Powerful and Friendly Tool 

Your ClickUp Workspace can be fully customized to optimize any project management methodology so you can do your best work and take it anywhere you go. Change the way you build and manage projects with ClickUp today! 🗓 🎯

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