Top 20 project management methodologies

Choosing the right project management methodology is essential. Here are the 20 most popular project management methodologies (PMMs) in practice today.

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This methodology is intended to improve the quality and functionality of software as stakeholder needs change. XP uses short development cycles and requires constant collaboration, due to frequent releases. Advantages: XP can do wonders for productivity for a project team that needs a high production level. Teams are kept on their toes and find XP less focused and structured.


As an agile approach, Crystal was designed by IBM as a way to improve project results by focusing efforts on the people-side of projects. Specifically the focus is placed on the skills, abilities, and collaboration of team members. Crystal is based on two core beliefs.

  • Teams are likely to identify and develop workflow improvements
  • Projects are unique, making it more likely that project teams are the most suited for determining how to do the work more effectively.

Crystal might not be suitable for some remote teams due to the need for close and frequent communication and brainstorming.

Feature-driven development (FDD)

Developed for larger-scale projects but applicable to projects of any size, FDD helps to address some of the complexities that larger projects might pose by developing fast, repeatable processes that can be accomplished in smaller spans of time by various teams throughout an organization. This approach follows some key processes that include developing an overall model, compiling a list of features, planning based on each of the identified features, designing the features, and building the features. FDD may not work best for smaller teams, and limited written stakeholder documentation may become an issue.

Dynamic systems development method (DSDM)

Developed as a way to align with companywide strategic goals, DSDM focuses on the delivery of proven business benefits. This approach focuses on eight key principles:

  • The need to stay focused on business requirements
  • On-time delivery
  • Collaboration is essential
  • Quality as a top priority
  • Building incrementally based on solid pillars
  • Using an iterative development approach
  • Using clear and ongoing communication
  • Maintaining control

Costly implementations using DSDM makes it less suited to smaller businesses.

Adaptive software development (ASD)

This approach works to help teams become more agile when dealing with change. Teams are encouraged to remain in a state of continuous learning in order to improve development. ASD is built on a three-phases, speculation, collaboration, and learning. ASD requires a significant amount of resourcing and higher costs making it more suitable for larger organizations.

Rapid application development (RAD)

RAD focuses on the user’s input based on testing, and how well a product is working compared to its intended goals. RAD first identifies the requirements, quickly builds prototypes and garners user input. Then based on the input, identifies requirements and builds prototypes again. User testing is then conducted and the final product is delivered. RAD is more complex and requires experienced and skilled team members seeking to deliver in shorter time frames.

Rational unified process (RUP)

RUP helps teams simplify product development and helps reduce risks. It works well in software development projects. It is similar to Waterfall, but RUP has four iterative phases: inception, elaboration, construction, and transition. Each stage involves regular and frequent stakeholder feedback while exploring ideas and defining requirements. One potential issue is, RUP is process-dependent and relies heavily on stakeholder feedback.


Combines waterfall and an iterative mode to make it easier for teams to adapt. Spiral is divided into four stages: analysis, risk evaluation, execution, and planning. It works best for long-term and higher-risk projects. Within every stage there are multiple risk assessments and review processes. Spiral is costly and is less suitable for smaller projects.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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