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Methodology: Definition, Types, Examples

Project Management
Methodology: Definition, Types,
Eric McConnell
July 22, 2010

Principles and Practic es of PM

Without a doubt, a properly defined and strictly followed
methodology for managing a project provides a firm
guarantee that the job will be done on time, under
budget and as per client specification. What is a project
management methodology? How can it be defined? In
simple terms, it is a must-have to avoid failure and
reduce risks because it is one of the critical success
factors as well as the core competency of the management team. It is the
straightforward way to guide the team through the development and
execution of the phases, processes and tasks throughout the project
management life-cycle.

What is a Methodology? The

Definition in Project Management
The term project management methodology was first defined in the early
1960s when various business organizations began to look for effective ways
that could simplify the realization of business benefits and organize the work

into a structured and unique entity (which was called project later on).
Communication and collaboration were the key criteria for establishing
productive work relationships between the teams and departments within one
and the same organization.
Since that time, the term has been changed and modified many times, new
definitions have been created, new elements and functions have been added.
Today we consider a project management methodology as a set of broad
principles and rules to manage a specific project that has a definite beginning
and end. Below is the current definition of methodology.
Project Management Methodology is a strictly defined combination
of logically related practices, methods and processes that determine
how best to plan, develop, control and deliver a project throughout
the continuous implementation process until successful completion
and termination. It is a scientifically-proven, systematic and
disciplined approach to project design, execution and completion.
The purpose of project methodology is to allow for controlling the entire
management process through effective decision making and problem solving,
while ensuring the success of specific processes, approaches, techniques,
methods and technologies. Typically, a methodology provides a skeleton for
describing every step in depth, so that a project manager will know what to do
in order to deliver and implement the work according to the schedule, budget
and client specification.
Referring to the mentioned definition, an appropriately chosen project
management methodology paves the way for gaining the following
The needs of stakeholders are defined
A common language is established and understood by the team, so they
know whats expected of them
Cost estimates are complete, accurate and credible
Every task is done using a common methodological approach
Most conflicts are spotted and resolved early
Expected deliverables are produced and handed over
Lessons are learned and solutions are quickly implemented

Methodology in PM Framework

Project management (the acronym PM) provides the framework of planning,

doing and delivering projects of any kind, size, nature and type. PM
framework focuses on the realization of desired change in line with a chosen
methodological approach. Actually, change is the core aspect that should be
managed. PM framework identifies and defines how to best manage change.
And methodology serves as the way to systematically realize change in
terms of time, cost and quality.
Managing projects means describing and performing the activities required to
meet the specific objectives of making change. For example, writing a book is
a kind of project in which the objective is to write a book. This objective can
be fulfilled by a series of activities, including defining the topic, collecting
material, creating a draft, typing, proofreading, others. So in terms of project
management, the author needs to define and then complete all the necessary
activities in order to write a book (which means make change).
PM framework is a structured collection of all relevant knowledge on how to
make change methodologically. It doesnt describe an exact algorithm of how
to manage a specific project but it provides a broad overview of various and
different methods, rules, processes and standards. In this regard, project
management methodology can be defined as a level of PM framework.
Heres a simplified example of how a project methodology can be presented in
the management hierarchical structure:
PM Framework precedes
Methodology which in
turn precedes Lifecycle
Stages and determines the
project management
Processes, Tasks and

Methodology Types
In project management there are a variety of approaches and methods that can
be employed in managing different kinds of project. All the types of project
methodology can be conditionally divided into traditional and modern

Traditional Approach
A traditional approach involves a series of consecutive stages in the project
management process. It is a step-by-step sequence to design, develop and
deliver a product or service. It entails achieving the succession in the
implementation process and provides the benefits of milestone-based
planning and team building. In IT and software development, this
methodology type is called Waterfall one portion of work follows after
another in linear sequence.
The following stages are included the traditional project management
Initiation (requirements specification)
Planning and design
Execution (construction and coding)
Control and integration
Validation (testing and debugging)
Closure (installation and maintenance)

Modern Approaches
Modern methodologies do not focus on linear processes but they provide an
alternative look at project management. Some of the methods are best for IT
and software development, while others can be implemented in production,
process improvement, product engineering, and so on. Modern PM
approaches use different models of the management process.

Methodology Examples
It is the matter of a projects type, size and nature to select the right
methodology. Here are the most popular PM methodologies:


Although A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge IS NOT a

PM methodology in its pure state, many people regard it as the
methodological approach to planning, executing, controlling and terminating
various projects. Meanwhile, the PMBOK Guide is a broad inventory of best
practices and ideas on planning and implementing projects. Please note that it
is just a guide but not a project management methodology.

PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2 (PRINCE2) presents a suite of
process-driven methods and documentation-oriented approaches that allow
driving various projects in the private sector. It was developed the UK
Government, and today this great example of project management
methodology is used both in the UK and internationally.

Critical path method (CPM) explores the most important or critical tasks of a
project by defining possible activity sequences and estimating the longest
duration of each sequence. It helps figure out how long it will take to
complete the work and what tasks will compose the scope.

Lean PM methodology intends to maximize customer value and minimize
resource waste. Lean project management lets organizations create higher
value for their customers with fewer resources. This approach achieves
perfection in customer satisfaction and value generation through
implementing an optimized process flow that eliminates waste in products,
services, transportation, inventories, etc.

Six Sigma
The method of Six Sigma was originally developed by Motorola to improve its
production processes by eliminating defects (defined as non-conformity of a
product or service to its specifications). Today Six Sigma is one of the most
popular and worldwide trusted examples of project management methodology
for ensuring the accuracy and speed of a processs implementation through
eliminating or minimizing waste.

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is the way to plan, implement
and review various kinds of work in single- and multi-project environments.
This management methodology uses Theory of Constraints (TOC) and the

concept of buffers to establish improved task durations and manage resourcedependent tasks and activities.

SCRUM is an example of Agile PM methodology that involves teams in
producing a software product in 30-day sprints and monthly scrum
sessions. In a SCRUM-driven project, the deliverables are broken down into
30-day intervals. This methodology example is specific and applicable mainly
to collaborative, 100%-dedicated teams, with no heavily constrained time and
materials budget.