A team talks about useful project management methods.

The 10 most popular project management methods at a glance

Why are project management methods useful? With the help of a project management method you can structure and manage a project in such a way that the lowest possible expenditure of costs, resources and time takes place.

Take a look at the top 10 with us to determine the right approach for your business.

What is the difference between classic and agile project management methods?

The classification between classic and agile project methods can help you make an informed choice among the available methods more quickly.

Classic project management methods emerged to manage large-scale projects of longer duration. The goals are clearly defined and set in advance. Furthermore, the project manager determines persons responsible for the individual task packages. The focus is on achieving the goal; changes are not envisaged.

Agile project management methods came along via the software development sector. They place customer benefit above the achievement of a fixed goal. Changes are explicitly desired. The distribution of tasks is done through self-organisation of the project participants.

A team discusses different project management methods.

Project management methods © insta_photos / adobe stock

In addition to the classic and agile methods, you will find the hybrid methods of project management. On the one hand, a hybrid project method is a model that can be used for both types of project management. On the other hand, you can combine different classic and agile methods into a new, hybrid approach.

Read here how to choose exactly the right one for your project from all of them:

How to find the right method for your project

Which project management method is best suited to your project depends on the complexity of the project, your available resources, timeframe and flexibility to change and risk.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Which project management method offers the greatest benefit to the client?
  • Are the needs of the stakeholders taken into account?
  • How well does the project management method fit with your corporate values?
  • How does the method harmonise with your key business drivers such as pricing strategy?
  • How big is the project?
  • What project complexity can you expect?
  • What are the costs associated with the project?
  • What risks must the project management method be able to deal with?

Once you have an answer to all the questions, it's time to choose the right project management method:

These are the 10 most popular project management methods

Let's now talk about the ten most commonly used project management methods. We start with three classic models.

1. waterfall model

The "waterfall model" is a classic project management method that involves working on sequential tasks. The name waterfall comes from the graphic representation of the task packages (slightly offset one below the other).

This project management model is suitable for projects with tasks that are interdependent. Since errors only become apparent at the end of the project, you should use the waterfall model mainly for predictable and short projects.

2. Prince2

If you choose Prince2 from the project management models, you get a classic model based on the waterfall. It was developed by the British government for IT projects and stands for "Projects In Controlled Environments".

Prince2 is suitable for large, predictable projects. It is a controlled project management that leaves nothing to chance. The project is divided into phases. Each of the phases has its own plans and processes.

3. six sigma

Six Sigma is also one of the top 3 classic project management methods and has proven itself especially for large companies. Each process is mapped here using mathematical methods under the DMAIC cycle:

  • Define: Which problem in the process should be improved?
  • Measure: How does the process meet the requirements?
  • Analyze: What are the causes of the problem?
  • Improve: How can you fix the problem?
  • Control: How can the new process exist sustainably and be monitored with statistical methods?

Agile project management

Let's now move on to the three most popular agile project management methods. Agile project management is particularly suitable for large, unpredictable and complex projects. The method works with flat hierarchies, ownership by the participants, regular feedback processes and implementation cycles that allow for change.

Agile project management as one of the most popular project management methods.

Project management methods © Uwe / adobe stock

Two other project methods were developed out of agile project management - Kanaban and Scrum.

5. kanban

Kanban is one of the agile methods of project management. At the centre of this project management method is the so-called Kanban board with the three columns "To-Do", "Doing" and "Done". Tasks start in the To-Do column and move from there to the right until they reach "Done". You can prioritise the task cards to influence the flow of processing.

In short meetings, the team members exchange information about progress, obstacles and successes on a daily basis. The Kanban method is therefore suitable for projects that benefit from many, regular feedback processes and improvement loops.

6. scrum

Scrum is currently the number one most popular agile project method. It builds on a long-term but flexible project plan, the "product backlog". Tasks are divided into "sprints". In each of the sprints, you develop a completed intermediate product. Just as with Kanban, feedback meetings ("daily scrums") also take place every day. Scrum also defines roles such as the "Product Owner", developers and the "Scrum Master".

The long-term project plan with defined roles gives structure to a complex project. The project model additionally leaves room for agile action, which is why it is a perfect fit for projects with unpredictable factors and risks.

Next, let's look at the methods that cannot be clearly categorised as classic or agile.

7. milestone trend analysis (MTA)

Milestone trend analysis, for example, can be used in both classic and agile project management.

Of all the project management methods, milestone trend analysis is particularly suitable for the sequential reduction of tasks. MTA is often used for projects with plannable processes and low complexity.

It monitors the progress of a project in terms of time by requiring predefined milestones to be completed by set dates. A graph can be used to see a trend in time management - are milestones being reached earlier than planned or are there delays? This way you can minimise the risk of deviating from the schedule.

8. lean project management

The Lean project management method helps you to implement company values and identify weaknesses in a project. As an analytical method, this model is also free from the paradigm of classic vs. agile.

Lean project management distinguishes between three resource wastes that need to be identified and analysed:

  • Muda identifies processes that do not create value.
  • Mura focuses on unbalanced processes with irregularities, uncoordinated process steps and disruptions.
  • Muri refers to the loading and unloading of team members and machines. No excessive demands or bottlenecks should arise. At the same time, Muri ensures that monotonous activities are reduced.

Next are two project management methods that emphasise graphic illustration: The work breakdown structure and the network technique.

9. project structure planning

In the work breakdown structure, all project tasks are recorded in a graphic. Subsequently, tasks can be distributed and further plans such as the schedule can be created.

The work breakdown structure is suitable for keeping track of large projects. It originates from classic project management and is sometimes difficult to adapt to agile methods. However, in projects where such an overview is important and desired, it is tried. As a result, the plan is streamlined so that changes can be made easily and quickly.

10. network planning technique

Finally, you can opt for the network planning method (in classic or agile form). This method of project management presents partial steps graphically or in tabular form in a plan. From this plan you can

  • Dependencies,
  • Earliest and latest start and end point,
  • Buffer times,
  • and the Critical Path (tasks that are important from a time perspective).

The plan is used especially in procurement and production. Its focus is on optimal time management of the project.


Decide which structure your project needs: a hybrid, classic or agile approach? The ten project management methods presented give you an insight into how you can successfully realise your project.

We would be happy to help you implement your project management method with SeaTable. Register today for free and take a look at our templates.

Image source Cover image: © sitthiphong/Adobe Stock

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Ralf Dyllick-Brenzinger
Ralf Dyllick-Brenzinger is the founder and managing director of SeaTable. He is the strategic mastermind of SeaTable and the master of numbers. He loves his fiancée's cookies and a good bike ride.