PSOhub Blog

The Best Project Management Methodology for Your Business


Updated on June 12, 2024

An effective project management strategy has always been vital for keeping deliverables on track, aka on time and under budget. 

But it’s even more important in today’s work environment. More people than ever are working remotely or in hybrid models, which makes it especially challenging to keep everyone on the same page. 

Important tasks and due dates can easily get lost in the shuffle if you don’t have a steadfast system to organize workflows. 

The same goes for team members and stakeholders who need structure in place, with clear paths forward as the project progresses.

For these reasons and more, it’s important that owners and project managers leverage the right project management methodology for their teams and their particular services or products.

Let’s go over the most popular project management philosophies and methodologies, revealing when each one works best. 

We’ll also talk about the capabilities required in project management tools to carry out those methodologies, plus how to decide which option is best for your team.

What are the most popular project management methodologies today?

1. Waterfall Project Management

The traditional approach to project management is linear: A to B, from start to finish. Traditional project management is most often called waterfall project management due to the sequential nature of tasks which flow in a single stream from top to bottom (like a waterfall).

Of all the project management approaches, the waterfall method places the most emphasis on clear processes from day one. The verticalized structure means decisions are made at the top and flow down to employees. 

Distinct processes are put in place early on in the interest of codifying success and scaling. As such, waterfall can be more rigid than agile methodologies that allowing more wiggle room.

Traditional or waterfall project management tends to work best with hands-off clients and large-scale projects. In the traditional trajectory, these projects will have clearly defined goals, deliverables, and deadlines.

The waterfall method is also extremely popular with larger organizations that need standardization out the gate in order to replicate their processes at scale. 

2. Critical Path 

The critical path method falls under the umbrella of traditional/waterfall project management. When you apply the critical path methodology, you focus on meeting deadlines as quickly and efficiently as possible while reducing costs:

“In essence, the [critical path] tool provides a means of determining (1) which jobs or activities, of the many that comprise a project, are “critical” in their effect on total project time, and (2) how best to schedule all jobs in the project in order to meet a target date at minimum cost.” - F. K. Levy et al

Leveraging the critical path method is important for very complex projects with interdependent tasks that need to be done in a particular order, like building a house.

3. Agile Project Management

Agile project management is a project management philosophy that emerged in the early 2000s as an alternative to the rigidity of traditional project management. 

The agile method is much more iterative than it is linear, allowing for adjustment and adaptation as the project progresses. 

On the whole, agile project management puts more of an emphasis on results than processes themselves. Therefore, it’s a much more flexible way of executing deliverables than the traditional, linear method.

Agile project management has gained more popularity in recent years, as more teams work from home and people need more flexibility. The agile method tends to work best with hands-on clients and for small and medium projects

Projects where goals and deliverables might evolve or the client isn’t exactly sure what they’re looking for are typical candidates for using the agile method.

4. Scrum

Scrum project management follows a methodology that falls under the umbrella of agile project management

Scrum breaks down projects into smaller pieces and shorter mini-timelines. Deliverables are then presented at the end of each delivery cycle, also known as a sprint. This allows for iterative feedback from the client throughout the project.

5. A hybrid approach to project management

5. A hybrid approach to project management

Stumped on which project management method you should go with?

Not every project fits neatly into a box in terms of which methodology works best. Some nuanced projects require a hybrid approach, where you take aspects of both traditional and agile project management to create a more customized strategy.

The hybrid model for project management uses 5 phases: planning, initial requirements and design, iterative agile sprints, quality assurance (QA), and deployment. 

Furthermore, hybrid methodologies often combine horizontal and vertical workstreams. For example, they might rely on the horizontal approach to foster collaboration and boost creativity, while falling back on a vertical model in decision making and chain of command. 

Let’s make it a bit simpler. If you go with the hybrid approach, you look at the project management process like putting a puzzle together to make a picture: 

First, you design the picture. Then, you break it into pieces and divide it into sections, so you can start putting it back together. Work together with a team to put the pieces together until you create the finished product. (Archer, S. & Kaufman, C. 2013)

The hybrid way to manage projects allows you to get linear and granular when you need to and to adapt and change with ease when it’s warranted. For this reason, all sorts of industries go about their project management this way to cover all the bases.

What factors to consider:

“There is a widespread recognition of the variability of PM practice by project type and by application area and other contextual factors”. - Fernandes et al 

In other words, there are many elements that influence which PMM works best for a particular business or a particular project. These include:

  • Internal and external changes within the organization
  • Core values and company vision
  • Project complexity
  • Expertise of the team(s)
  • Stakeholder expectations and preferences
  • Risks
  • Project complexity
  • Project scope and cost
  • Availability of resources
  • Access to key resources

Software Options For Different Project Management Methods

Some project management software solutions are designed for either traditional or agile methodologies, which isn’t great if you want to use a hybrid approach or change approaches depending on the client/project.

For more traditional project management, you need a platform that can show you the big picture in terms of timeline, budget, etc. But you’ll also need something that can get very granular and automated with areas like time and expense, invoicing, etc.

For more agile project management, you need a platform with robust task management features to give you a more drilled-down view of individual tasks, sprints, etc. 

Because the agile method allows for pivots and flexibility, that can only happen when collaboration and communication are on point. An agile project management solution should make sure the collaboration is seamless.

For a hybrid approach to project management for your organization, look for a platform that can do both. It’s even better if there are ample integrations available, so you can really tailor your methodology with various platforms.

Project Management Methodologies IN SUM: Choosing the right one

All 3 of the major project management methods offer advantages, depending on your industry, the scope of your project, the size of your team/organization, and your clients. 

Traditional project management workflows are still very popular in the realm of construction and architecture. At the same time, the agile method is extremely popular with software developers and other professional services organizations. 

The best path forward? Look for project management software that can support both agile and waterfall project management philosophies. This way, you can alter your approach when it fits the project, whenever you want to. 

PSOhub is affordable, all-in-one project management software that is smart and flexible enough to let you leverage traditional, agile, and hybrid methodology styles. 

With self-driving features and virtually everything you need to manage your projects– including integrating your favorite tools– PSOhub now has users in over 40 countries around the world.

Further Reading