A woman in a yellow blouse examines a whiteboard covered in post-it notes. The whiteboard is split into four sections by lines drawn with a marker and the post-it notes are grouped under "To Do," "In Progress," "Testing," and "Done."
There is no one-size-fits-all methodology for project management, so it's best to match your strategy to your business's needs. — Getty Images/AndreyPopov

There are more than 8,000 different project management methodologies from which to choose. With this many frameworks at your disposal, how can you discern the best approach for your organization?

Different project management methodologies offer variations in KPIs, goals, production methods and approaches for completing a project successfully. What works for one team may cause headaches for another. To select the right project management methodology for your business, consider factors such as budget, team size, timeline and flexibility and the impact your project may have on other areas of the business. Here are some of the more common project management methodologies that you may wish to utilize at your company.

Agile methodology

The Agile methodology is commonly used by software development teams, though it could be applied in other team settings too. The core philosophy of Agile is to work in small, consumable increments to deliver faster and with fewer headaches. It’s a flexible approach that allows teams to course-correct during the process: Agile is collaborative, quick and informed by data along the way so teams can pivot as needed.

Agile is a good approach for projects that are liable to evolve along the way. If you’re embarking on solving a problem with no sure solution at the outset, this is a good approach. But if you have a predictable deliverable, Agile can be more effort than it’s worth.

Scrum framework

Scrum is a framework that’s inspired by Agile, rather than an individual, discrete methodology. The goal of the Scrum framework is to help teams structure and manage their work

“With Scrum, work is split into short cycles known as ‘sprints’, which usually last about 1–2 weeks,” explained the experts at Teamwork. “Small teams are led by a Scrum Master (who is not the same as the project manager) for the duration of the sprint, after which they review their performance in a ‘sprint retrospective’ and make any necessary changes before starting the next sprint.”

Scrum helps teams that are seeking to continuously improve, providing a feedback loop in the process that can reduce errors and bring more efficiency to project management. But this framework requires some commitment from your team members in order to work successfully.

[Read more: 10 Fleet Management Tools for Small Businesses]

What works for one team may cause headaches for another.

Waterfall methodology

The Waterfall methodology is the most traditional approach to project management. It’s a linear process that starts with identifying project requirements and ends with releasing a completed product and performing maintenance as needed. There are five phases defined in the Waterfall methodology:

  1. Requirements.
  2. Design.
  3. Implementation.
  4. Verification.
  5. Maintenance.

The process flows in one direction, which leaves little room for course correction. This methodology is a good fit for projects in which the final outcome is clearly defined with no room for change, for projects that are consistent and predictable and for heavily regulated industries in which compliance is a concern. If your team doesn’t have a clear picture of the project requirements from the beginning, this methodology can be difficult.

Kanban framework

Kanban is similar to Scrum in that both frameworks are related to the Agile approach to project management. The goal of Kanban is to provide a visual representation of where the project stands. “Work items are represented visually on a kanban board, allowing team members to see the state of every piece of work at any time,” wrote Atlassian.

Kanban is a great way to see (literally) where bottlenecks may be forming in your project management and to quickly see the project’s status. However, for more complex projects, the Kanban framework might be too confusing or complicated.

Lean methodology

Lean methodology originated from Toyota in the 1980s. This approach seeks to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. For 1980s Toyota, this originally meant reducing physical waste from manufacturing. It has since evolved to incorporate other wasteful practices known as the 3Ms: muda, mura and muri.

  1. Muda: Resources that are consumed without adding value for the consumer.
  2. Mura: Unevenness, such as when a company overproduces in one area and has too much inventory or has inefficient processes.
  3. Muri: Overburden, such as when there is too much strain on equipment or employees, leading to breakdowns in the production or supply chain.

The Lean methodology is great for organizations trying to run as cost-effectively as possible. For companies that can’t afford the risk of inventory shortages, Lean may not be the best option.

[Read more: 5 Ways to Simplify Your Inventory Management]

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published June 11, 2021