How to Choose Right Project Management Methodology and Avoid Project Failure

project management methodology

While there are several causes of project failure, in this post we shall see how to choose an effective Project Management Methodology for your project and avoid project failure.

Project management is more than just completing a project. The planning, tasks, and risks that come along with a project play the largest role in a project’s successful implementation.

Great project managers learn how to predict a project’s success by looking at the project’s foundation. Being able to spot and improve upon weaknesses before the project begins is a key ingredient to success.

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Choosing a project management methodology that supports the project’s strategy is essential. Since no two projects are the same, a project manager may implement a different project methodology depending on the team, type of project, and work style.

Below, we’ll break down some of the most popular project management methodologies and how to choose the best methodology for your project.

7 Project Management Methodologies a PM must know!

1. Waterfall

The waterfall model is a breakdown of project activities into linear sequential phases, where each phase depends on the deliverables of the previous one and corresponds to a specialization of tasks. The approach is typical for certain areas of engineering design (source).

Waterfall has been a popular project management style for years, and while some people now consider it outdated because of its speed, it still finds its place for many businesses.

This style is great for projects that don’t have a speedy deadline, because the project moves along in waves. Each step of the project isn’t started until the step before it is fully completed. This method is very structured and easy to track.

It’s also the most popular method used in construction.

2. Agile

Agile software development comprises various approaches to software development under which requirements and solutions evolve through the collaborative effort of self-organizing and cross-functional teams and their customer/end user (source).

If your project requires speed, consider an agile project management structure. As a project manager, you’ll emphasize speed by breaking tasks up among numerous teams.

These teams will begin working on their specific task immediately, handling various pieces of the project at the same time.

Digital advances such as project management software and communication tools make this methodology more popular today.

Also read: Discover 17 PMP myths to increase the odds of success.

3. Scrum

Scrum project management provides a light-weight process framework that embraces iterative and incremental practices, helping organizations deliver working software more frequently.

Scrum is one way to achieve agile management, and it uses project springs to complete tasks. Dividing up the project tasks into sprints lets team members complete micro goals to reach an overall objective.

A great feature of scrum is that it allows time for pivoting. If a certain task is taking too long or unachievable, this reveals itself quickly and allows the project manager to review the hurdle and decide the best way to get around it.

This method is very popular for software builders.

4. Kanban

Kanban is a visual way to manage tasks and workflows and it utilizes a kanban board with columns and cards.

You can maximize efficiency with this project management style that streamlines project tasks.

Is every task necessary for project completion? If not, consider eliminating or replacing these tasks with a quicker option.

Kanban is popular in factory-like settings, where advances in technology can speed up output while trimming tasks.


5. Lean

Lean project management is a method of project management rooted in Lean methodology, which at its core is a business methodology that promotes the flow of value to the customer through two guiding tenets: Continuous improvement and respect for people.

A lean project management methodology is one that focuses on user experience. Speed is key but so is quality. You’ll focus on how to streamline your tasks without sacrificing customer experience. This style is popular with retail and other shopping experiences.

6. Six Sigma

The Six Sigma(1) management method philosophy focuses on better understanding of customer requirements, improving business systems throughout the organization, and enhancing the organization’s financial performance.

Focus on improving the quality of the output with the Six Sigma method. This helps improve customer retention and improve your product quality by reviewing performance once delivery is complete. You can combine this method with Lean management or Kanban.

Also read: How I sailed through PMP and how you can too!


PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a process-based method for effective project management.

To reduce errors and risk, adopt the PRINCE2 project management method. If you’ve adopted the Scrum method and seen an increase in risk and error as more tasks are juggled at once, use PRINCE2 to determine how many tasks are able to be managed at once before the project risk goes up.

Any business that has little room for error, such as government, medical, and private sectors, should consider this method to minimize overall project risks.

Choosing the right methodology for You


With so many popular project management methodology styles, it can be hard to choose the right one for you. There are pros and cons to each style and no project management style is necessarily better than the others, but different methods can be more effective for your project’s end goal.

Before deciding which method of project management to adopt, consider factors such as:

  • Strategic goals: What are the ultimate goals of the project, and what micro-tasks need to be completed in order to achieve success?
  • Core values: Does a particular project management style go against your company ethos? For example, if you are committed to quality, focusing only on project speed can negatively impact your company’s overall mission to deliver a great product.
  • Business drivers: What drives your revenue, and how will these revenue streams be impacted by your project? If you take team members off revenue projects to complete project tasks, your revenue can be impacted.
  • Constraints: What are the budgeting and time constraints on the project? Meticulous project management methods can be slow and costly.
  • Stakeholders: How will your stakeholders be impacted by your project success?
  • Risks: We recommend using the P-I score method to rate the probability of risk occurrence with the impact this risk will cause.
  • Project complexity: The more complex a project, the more oversight is needed. How can you effectively manage project steps to achieve your end goal?
  • Project size/scope: Determine how many project steps can be established to keep your project within scope and budget.
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More Resources

  • Now that you understand various project management methodologies, it is also essential to understand which factors of a PM methodology may cause project failures too. This article should help you build caution in your approach.
  • If you are someone that enjoys pouring through research articles and come up with your own lessons, here’s a dissertation (you can download) by Akash Saxena on avoiding project failures by using project management methodologies.
  • Also, as a project manager, it’s your job to anticipate project tasks, deadlines, and risks. Considering these factors, you can use this helpful animation from below to learn more about each project management style and how it’s used. (To download, right mouse click and save the image to disk).

Everything You Need to Know About Project Management Methodologies

Contributor Profile

MeredithWood-funderaThis article is a contribution of Meredith Wood.

Meredith is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera.

Specializing in financial advice for small business owners, Meredith is a current and past contributor to Yahoo!, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, SCORE, AllBusiness and more.





(1) Anbari, F. T. (2002). Six sigma method and its applications in project management. Paper presented at Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, San Antonio, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.


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