The Most Popular Project Management Methodologies (part 1): The Best Fit for Your Project

When you start your project or need to optimize existing, you face a choice of project management methodologies. What are those among 8,462 methodologies that are the best for your project and will make your teamwork effective and smooth? The answer is hidden in the details of your requirements, as each methodology has its own pros and cons. 

This wealth of options makes it difficult to know what you want out of your business, but the basics will help keep your sanity.

The most well-known and most used methodologies for software development projects are Waterfall and Agile. While the first one is more traditional, the second is increasingly popular by software development teams. But remember there is no best project management methodology, there is only one that suits your team, your requirements, your industry, and your company. Chosen 

For the last 60 years, many methodologies have tried to define exactly how teams can optimize their software development, but the one that reigns supreme is agile methodology. But we will start with the traditional methodology for you to see the contrast. 


Waterfall is the oldest (and now considered traditional) project management methodology and has been a mainstay for many years. It was created in the way we know it now because of the increasingly complex nature of software development at the end of the previous century. 

The waterfall methodology follows a sequential, linear process. It’s simple to understand because you just make a good plan and execute it. 

With the Waterfall method, you have discrete stages of development: start by collecting and analyzing requirements, designing your solution (and approach), implementing the solution, fixing any issues if necessary.

Each stage in this process is self-contained. You can’t move to the next before you fully finish the previous. There is no possible way to correct the project once it has been underway.

Project teams using the single-cycle approach are limited to reflecting, revising and adapting on completion. You have nothing to show to a client as you go along. You complete the project with a big fanfare and pray for the client to like it. That, unfortunately, is potentially very risky.

Suitable most for: 

  • the technology is mature and understood
  • the project is short and simple
  • it is required to have a predictable end result for budget, timeline, and scope.
  • you’re in a regulated industry that needs extensive project tracking and documentation.

Agile Project Management

Agile is what you do when the restaurant that you went to turned out to be closed. If you aren’t agile, you go home because your plan has failed. If you are agile, you figure out something equally fun to do instead.

The ideology of Agile is opposite to the waterfall method, as it relies on a fast and flexible approach. With its speed, adaptability, and user-centric design, the agile methodology has made the backbone of modern software development. With Trello and Jira also being based on agile principles, most of the tools you’ve likely used in recent years have been agile.

To be exact, agile is a set of principles for building software products. Teams can create their own frameworks and methodologies based on the 12 principles from the Agile manifesto

  1. Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software.
  2. Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  3. Deliver working software frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with preference for the shorter timescale.
  4. Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.
  5. Build projects around motivated individuals. Give them the environment, support their need and trust them to get the job done.
  6. The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.
  7. Working software is the primary measure of progress.
  8. Agile processes promote sustainable development. The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  9. Continuous attention to technical excellence and good design enhances agility.
  10. Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  11. The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.
  12. At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly. 

When people are talking about an Agile project management methodology, what they usually describe is an iterative design and build process, cross-functional teams and built-in quality controls. 

Being Agile helps teams respond to the unpredictable fast-changing technology world through incremental, iterative work processes. 

Advantages of building products based on agile principles:

  • create responsive and transparent workplace cultures
  • keep teams motivated by working on series of small, fast projects (such as software updates) and tracking their progress
  • increase companies’ responsiveness to customer demands and changes in the marketplace

Despite everyone is telling how perfect the project management framework is, you should be ready for the following pitfalls or disadvantages:

  • the level of flexibility is expensive. Yes, it may take time for you to change your mind—but if you do so, it will cost money.
  • teams need to make themselves available and empowered to make decisions (which is rare in hierarchical organizations). To keep the project moving, they also have to provide ongoing feedback and prioritization on the fly, which is often turns out to be very tricky.

Suitable most for:

  • you don’t have a particular goal in mind but have a general idea of a product
  • the project needs to accommodate quick changes
  • your product is in the ever-changing environment where there’s potential to adjust and adapt estimates such as software and game development
  • businesses that seek to provide products to consumers quickly and consistently . 

Agile tends to be used as an umbrella term used for ways of Agile including Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban, eXtreme Programming (XP).

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Scrum definition: an iterative project management model used to manage complex software product development. 

The scrum method of product development implies dividing the whole development process into 2-4 weeks chunks, called «sprints». During them, daily «scrums» take place where the team report on progress and bottlenecks. At the end of each sprint, teams review their work and re-prioritize their efforts to meet consumer demand.

 A typical sprint looks something like this: 

Stage 1 – Sprint planning. The team, including engineers and other key stakeholders like designers, marketers, or product managers, determines what new features are the highest priority for the next sprint to deliver.

Stage 2 – Sprint. Each team member works on their portion of tasks for the delivery, checking in regularly to update on the progress and request help if needed.

Stage 3 – Retrospective. At the end of each sprint, team members present their progress and reflect on their experience in the sprint. New needs are surfaced, and changes are made to strategy and roadmap.

Scrum helps team members untangle complex development cycles, redefine end goals during a project cycle, and deliver quality digital products to market very quickly.

Suitable most for: large projects developing complex software have an experienced team who can be self-organizing.

Hybrid Project Management Methodology: Scrum and Kanban

Kanban is the project management methodology that represents a visual framework for implementing Agile, which shows what needs to be produced, when it should be produced, and how much of it should be produced. The team pulls work from the predefined backlog continuously, as they have the capacity and each column on the board represents a stage of the process. 

Kanban is a great way of managing work, which helps all stakeholders keep an eye on where the work stands at any given time.

The project management method is rarely employed in software development as an independent methodology. It is mostly known for marketing and recruitment use cases. So here we will talk about how it is useful in combination with Scrum project management methodology. 


Today’s project management world is evolving, and no one can afford to stick with a single methodology; rather, managers are well-versed in many of them, learning how to mix various practices together according to what the project calls for. One of the examples of hybrid project management methodology is Scrumban. As you may suspect, it combines Scrum and Kanban methodologies. 

Scrumban uses a planning on-demand principle to fill the backlog and tasks are assigned by the team pulling in tasks as they can accommodate them, which is like Kanban. With the limitation on work in progress, the development team is able to stay focused on what they’re currently doing, rather than feeling pressured by the review meeting and the commitment.

Scrumban adds flexibility to Scrum by removing sprints and allowing an adaptive approach to planning. Or you could see it as adding some much-needed structure to Kanban with meetings that can help with collaboration and optimizing the process.

Scrumban retains the daily Scrum with reviews and retrospectives to improve the process only used when needed, which potentially saves time.

Suitable most for:

  • product development where there is an unclear vision
  • where there are evolving requirements
  • there is no clear roadmap
  • the process that needs to include support and maintenance work during product development.

Bottom line

1. Chosen and organized well, the methodologies will make software development faster, more adaptable, and ultimately more enjoyable for the people who are behind it.

2. Despite the fact project management is a big part of project success, do not rely only on them. Skilled people and communication should not be overlooked. 

3. Since there are about 10 popular project management methodologies, we divided the material into two parts. So stay tuned!

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