7 Types of Project Management and How to Use Them

Meredith Wood

Meredith WoodEditor-in-Chief at Fundera

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Planning a project can be as daunting as completing the project itself. This guide from Fundera can help you pick the right project methodology for the job.

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To an outsider, the hardest part about a project is actually completing it. While seeing any project through is a great accomplishment, the planning behind it plays a larger role than many realize.

Even the greatest project ideas can fall apart with the wrong foundation. Much like building a house in mud, a sturdy foundation is key to ensuring a project gets off the ground. This is where project management methodologies come into play.

The primary types of project management methodologies

No two projects or project teams are the same. Applying the same approach to every project and every team would be foolish. Fortunately, there are several primary types of project management, each one suitable for a different type of project, team, and work style.

1. Waterfall

Waterfall is considered a relic by many project managers. While it can be outdated in many regards, this style still has its place.

Waterfall project management involves working in stages or waves, each one dependent on the stage before it. This means certain team members may have to focus on other projects or tasks while waiting on the previous step to complete, making this method slow and rigid. That being said, it’s great if you crave structure and there’s no hurry to get something done. (Rarely the case in project management!)

2. Agile

Unlike waterfall, agile is all about moving quickly. Agile project management is more of a guiding ethos that emphasizes speed. Oftentimes, agile involves breaking into numerous teams that each handle various pieces of a project at the same time, frequently reconvening to see how things are going.

3. Scrum

Scrum is a popular form of agile management that uses sprints to accomplish goals. These sprints can last anywhere from a few days to a month, during which time the teams set out to complete micro goals. These goals all work toward a larger objective, but allow the teams to pivot if needed. Unlike waterfall, scrum projects are broken up in a way that doesn’t leave teams waiting on other teams to move forward. Because of its maneuverability, Scrum is often used by those building software.

4. Kanban

While Scrum focuses on time-based sprints, Kanban is all about maximum efficiency. To do this, Kanban involves examining any task and determining how it can be streamlined, or if it’s necessary at all. This method is commonly used in factory-like settings, as the output is always the same, while the process itself can be streamlined and trimmed down.

5. Lean

Lean takes a similar approach to Kanban, but puts the customer first while streamlining processes. Where Kanban might be looking at how a process can be done faster, a Lean project would emphasize delivering the best experience to the customer in as little time as possible. This makes it great for streamlining retail and shopping experiences.

6. Six Sigma

The Six Sigma method is often supplementary to other management styles, as it’s all about improving the quality of the output. This makes it a natural follow up to Lean management or Kanban, as those two methods can sometimes result in an output that’s less than satisfactory.

7. PRINCE2

The PRINCE2 method focuses on reducing errors and risk, while maximizing efficiency. This is accomplished by looking at how many tasks can be handled at once before the risk of an error goes up. Because of its emphasis on risk and efficiency, the PRINCE2 method is often used in governments and private sectors, as both areas have little room for error.

The right project management method for you

Knowing which method to pick can be difficult. Each one offers something drastically different from the other, none of them necessarily better than the rest. To help streamline the process and make it as easy as possible, Fundera has created this helpful animation that breaks down each project management style and how it’s used.

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