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here are numerous project management methods out there, most often with single-noun names (think Scrum and Lean) that don’t really give away much about what they actually mean for a project manager. Considering this vast array of potential, choosing the right project management methodology for you, or even just the project at hand, comes down to individual preferences and circumstances.

To help you decide how to pick the best project management methodology to ensure success, we’ll break down the most popular methodologies and which situations you should use them in.

Agile

Common in software development, Agile is a customer focused project management methodology that places a large amount of emphasis on people and software rather than strict processes and documentation procedures. The goal of Agile is to be able to iterate and maneuver in line with changing client needs or project circumstances.

Critical Path Method

The Critical Path Method (CPM) has been around for more than half a century and could be considered the opposite of Agile. It delineates the pathway of important tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve project success. This allows project managers to identify and allocate necessary resources at the appropriate times to ensure punctuality of deliverables and progress of the project timeline.

Kanban

Coming from one of Japan’s most famous production innovators, Toyota, Kanban is all about visualizing work flows and processes. This can be through written materials or online project management software. Its focus is on easy and transparent recognition of team needs through simple communication.

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Lean

As the name might suggest, Lean is all about trimming the fat from projects and processes. This is through the 3 Ms, Mura, Muda and Muri, which respectively focus on:

Mura: Reducing the amount of energy and resources wasted on variation through standardizing processes and output

Muda: Delivering value to the customer by eliminating waste and anything which is not completely necessary

Muri: Finding an acceptable workload, too little and you are creating waste, too much and processes cannot be followed. Getting rid of this overload is key to smooth operation

PRINCE2

This is one of the more process-based project management methods. Created by the UK government it looks to make results easily replicable across multiple projects, understandable if you are building hundreds of similar schools or social housing projects per year. Prince2 is very useful for clearly defining all aspects of large projects, such as client needs, project justification, milestones and deliverables, all on a clear timeline. It is not always the most flexible however as project changes can need multiple sign-offs and justifications.

Scrum

With an emphasis on multi-functional teams and cross-collaboration, Scrum was another methodology designed for the world of software development. A relatively small team (less than 10 members) will work towards short term goals in “Sprints”. These are directed by a Scrum Master in accordance with predetermined client guides. They are notable for their daily, stand-up Scrum meetings for quick and regular progress updates.

Waterfall

For teams which work best with project management methods based on clearly planned outlines then Waterfall is excellent. The project lifecycle and its different phases are planned out like a waterfall, with the results of one phase flowing down to allow the next one to start and continue the process. It works well as each stage and related objectives are clear to the whole team and everyone is working in the same direction, however it can be inflexible when having to deal with major changes late on in the project.

With so many different project management methodologies to choose from it can be very difficult to find the right one for you. Though we have given you a brief run-through of the main ones here it is a good idea to explore each one that you feel might be suitable on a deeper level. Whichever one of these project management methods you choose it will be the ability to implement its requirements that will define its success.