Different Project Management Methodologies Visualized

Does your team use any of these project management methodologies? Parts of each methodology can be applied to different teams and functions.

Take a look at the picture first before we talk; about each methodology.

What is Project Management, and why is it important?

Project management helps business leaders and managers utilize all available resources to complete a project. It does so by creating structures and processes.

Effective teams not only work well as a result of each team member’s skills but as a direct result of the environment, they work in. Project management directly impacts the work environment and shapes how team members work with each other by defining the objectives and methods used to complete the project.

Different Project Management Methodologies


The waterfall methodology is the most common and easiest to understand out of the other methodologies in this post. In a Waterfall project, everything is linear and everything is in sequential order. One must complete A before B. B must be completed before C. D must be completed before E, and so on.

In short, a manager can create a list of all the steps required to achieve a goal. Afterward, the manager can direct the team to start working from the top of the list and work their way down.

Waterfall works really well in situations where there is not a lot of change. It works especially well when a team can copy the task list from previous projects and use them on current projects with little changes. This can occur in the construction or manufacturing industry.

However, when situations or goals change constantly the Waterfall methodology becomes more difficult to implement and follow. The initial task list might need to be revised. Tasks might need to be inserted, removed, updated, or split. What used to be in order might now be out of order, and some tasks need to be redone as the goals have changed.

This is a good time to take a look at some other methodologies.


Agile project management puts great weight on continuous improvement. Since the end goal is not static or not 100% set in stone, it is possible for goals to change as time progresses. This is not to say that the project start without goals, but rather, the goals are made knowing that improvement is continuous. The end goal might look different a few weeks from now.


A Toyota engineer came up with the idea of Kanban. The general idea is that instead of hustling to get everything completed all at once so it can be shipped, a certain portion of the project can remain unfinished and completed until they are needed; just-in-time.

The team must have defined the workflow and the tasks necessary to complete the project. In the workflow, there must be clear stages so that tasks can move from one stage to the other. One stage can be: No Action, In Progress, Final Touches, and Finished.

Tasks can be visualized as cards. In addition, groups of cards in each stage can be visualized as a stack of cards. Trello is a good tool to get a Kanban board started.


Lean aims to reduce waster and redundant work by standardizing output and ensuring the entire process is operating efficiently.

With Lean, work is broken up into small portions that can be completed individually. Each task also has a process or flow. For example, the processes can be planning, design, production, testing, and shipping.

By specifying the processes, a team can follow the processes, complete each portion of the project properly, and finish on time. One should note that Kanban is technically a scheduling aspect of Lean, but it can be helpful for teams to implement as a stand-alone methodology so small scale projects.


Scrum is one of the most structured methodologies. It goes further than Agile and Lean and defines different roles and meetings. The project first starts with a clear vision and a list of features in order of importance. The team picks features out of that list that it believes that it can complete during a sprint. A sprint lasts between two to four weeks.

During the sprint, the scrum master protects the team from interruptions and blockers so the team can focus. There are also daily check-ins in the form of a 15-minute meeting. During the meeting, each team member talks about what he or she did yesterday, what they are going to do today, and what is blocking them.

At the end of the sprint, the team holds a meeting to reflect on what to improve, so the next sprint can be more productive. This is a very simplified description of Scrum, and if this is interesting, there are many more resources out there to dive into!


Teams must complete projects. With finite time and resources, how one works is as important as how the team works. These project management methodologies all serve the purpose of helping us work smarter. At the same time, a misapplied or a poorly implemented project management methodology might drastically reduce overall productivity and effectiveness. Do you have any stories to share? Let us know!

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