9.4 Classifications of project management methodologies

Project management methodologies can be classified in several ways.

Time based classification

  • Sequential (traditional) methodologies:
    • the steps are executed once, in sequence
    • the unique result is delivered in one big piece to the customers and users
    • examples: PRINCE2, PMBok
  • Iterative methodologies:
    • the steps are iterated and results are delivered from time to time
    • the unique result is delivered in multiple pieces (increments) to the customers and users
    • the number of delivered increments and the elapsed time between the increments vary significantly between iterative methodologies
    • examples: Agile, Lean

Aspect based classification

  • Principle oriented methodologies: for example Lean and Agile give principles not concrete steps and processes. These methodologies concentrate on what principles to follow, what should be the driving forces for the teams, groups and the organization.
  • Frameworks: PMBok gives frameworks and guidelines for project management that should be adapted to specific needs. Such kinds of methodologies concentrate on what to manage but not on how to manage it.
  • Operational methodologies: for example Scrum gives concrete steps and vocabulary for managing projects on a daily basis. Such kind of methodologies concentrate on how to manage but not deal with too much detail on what to manage. 
  • Mixed methodologies: PRINCE2 gives principles and concrete operational processes in an adaptable framework, therefore it is a mixed methodology.

Most of the projects need some mixed methodology customized to the participating stakeholders, to the organization and to the project itself. Usually, it is not trivial to figure out what would be a good choice, what is worth to include and what is not. Because different methodologies have different advantages and disadvantages, the proper combination of them can deliver fast results and success.