Project Management Methodologies

Project management methodologies are the various ways in which projects are initiated, planned, and executed unto completion. For different industries and different types of projects, there are specific methodologies that can be used. In the sections below, these project management methodologies are discussed in greater detail.

Project Management Methodologies, Processes, and Frameworks: Clarification

Free project manager toolkitThe word “methodologies” is sometimes confused with other terms like “processes” and “frameworks.” However, there are important distinctions between the three.  A framework is a state of mind for approaching a project, whereas a methodology is a prescriptive form of approaching a project. A process is a specific function in which the stages of a methodology are carried out. It is generally agreed that within the management hierarchical structure, the frameworks precede the methodologies, and the methodologies precede above the processes.

Even with this clarification of terminology, the differences between project management methodologies, processes, and frameworks continue to undergo constant discussion. The intent of this article, however, is not to argue the categorization of these terms, but rather, it is to provide a basic understanding of what practices are available in project management. Below is a list of common methodologies, processes, and frameworks. Because project management methodologies have been developed for literally thousands of years, this list is in no way inclusive.

Project Management Methodologies, Processes, and Frameworks: Basic List

  • Traditional project management is a step-by-step approach through each of the project’s five stages – initiation, planning, execution, monitoring, and completion. Each stage is broken down and begins only when the previous stage has been completed (though it is not uncommon for traditional projects to cycle back to a previous stage). This methodology is most common in construction projects where the work is very linear and rarely subject to significant change.
  • The Critical Path Method (CPM) associates each task with a time duration then determines the resources necessary to carry out the project within that time. As one project management professional puts it, “The critical path is simply all the tasks that determine the end date in your project schedule. If one of those tasks is late by one day, then your project end date will be extended by one day.” In other words, the critical path method aligns all tasks to bring about the greatest possible time-efficiency.
  • Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is in contrast to the critical path method in the way that it focuses on resources rather than time constraints. The critical chain is essentially the sequence of tasks that the team members are able to efficiently handle. When a project has limited resources and its time schedules are less strict, CCPM is used to distribute work in a flexible, collaborative way.
  • Event Chain Methodology (ECM) is used for projects with tasks that initiate chains of events. Each task, upon completion, causes a new event in which a new task must be worked on. Because these events can be either anticipated or unanticipated, risky or safe, they must be managed very carefully in order to achieve the desired results. ECM is very different from traditional project management where each stage of the project is predetermined and executed in a linear fashion.

Below are a few other project management methodologies, processes, and frameworks more specific to the IT industry. As these tend to be much more complicated, their names are only listed:

  • Agile
  • Six Sigma
  • Scrum
  • XP (Extreme Programming)
  • Crystal
  • FDD (Feature Driven Development)
  • DSDM (Dynamic Systems Development)
  • Adaptive Software Development
  • RUP (Rational Unified Process)

Once again, for clarification, the exact definitions for these project management practices are not always agreed upon among project managers. For example, some may insist that a methodology is a process while others insist that a process is a framework. Some may even use the three synonymously. However, the list is intended only to demonstrate what most project managers consider to be the best practices associated with project management methodologies.

Wikipedia: project management methodologies

See Also, AtTask Project Management Software