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7 Project Management Types and When to Use Them

~ By Meredith Wood

Abstract background to the project management planning process

So many people think actually seeing a new project through is the most stressful part. What they don't realise, is one of the most stressful parts of any project is ensuring you've chosen the right project management type.

Without the right project management methodology, a project can slow to a crawl, run into numerous roadblocks, or go off the rails completely and never see the finish line. Picking the wrong project management methodology is a lot like putting the wrong fuel in a car — even if the engine starts, you're not going to get very far.

Different Project Management Methodologies

Project management methodologies all ultimately accomplish the same thing — a completed project — but with very different approaches and journeys there. While there are numerous project management types, there are seven primary ones that get used the most often.

1. Waterfall Project Management

Waterfall project management is easily one of the oldest methods, but still used by many development teams. This style involves working in waves, with each step being heavily dependent on the one before it.

While waterfall style is much slower than its counterparts, it can be useful for those looking to have a lot of structure or predictability. Unfortunately, it can result in numerous hangups, especially if bugs are detected during a later step in the process and previous steps must be revisited.

2. Agile Project Management

Agile is a faster and more versatile solution to the dated waterfall model. Agile isn't a precise project management methodology, but a mindset or ethos that is applied to other versions of project management. It involves working in smaller chunks, or sprints, that allow projects to pivot when needed.

3. Scrum Project Management

Scrum is the epitome of agile. It's fast, very small in scope, and able to turn on a dime. Scrum is all about using sprints to accomplish projects in small pieces, often based on a one-month timetable. Scrum is great for smaller teams that are looking to iterate quickly.

4. Kanban Project Management

Kanban is another variant of agile project management. Unlike Scrum, which is focused on time-based pieces, Kanban is all about organisation. To accomplish this, Kanban looks primarily at the number of tasks that go into any process and how they can be streamlined, reduced, and so on. This is an especially great model for those with a factory-like output that doesn't vary.

5. Lean Project Management

Lean management is similar to Kanban in that it's all about process, but it has an even higher emphasis on trimming the fat. Lean is all about focusing on a customer-first mindset and how processes can be stripped away to deliver the best, most affordable, timely experience for customers.

6. Six Sigma Project Management

The Six Sigma method focuses on improving the quality of a project's output. This is especially helpful if you've undergone a lean management style and found the end result less than satisfactory, as Six Sigma emphasises creating a better end result for the customer. This method can be tacked onto other management styles, and is a great way to refine.

7. PRINCE2 Project Management

The PRINCE2 method is often used by private sectors in the government, and is focused on efficiency and minimising risks and errors. This detail-focused method is all about chunking projects up into product-based steps that can be tackled one at a time, ensuring no stone is unturned anywhere in the process.

Picking the Right Project Management Methodology

With so many project management methodologies available, knowing which one to pick can be overwhelming. To give you a better idea of when to use each one and what each method brings to the table, Fundera has created this helpful animation on project management methodologies

7 Project Management Methodologies Infographic

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