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Project management methodologies

Project management methodology is a catch-all phrase to describe a system or framework used to make something happen.

Adopting the right project management methodology to execute a task is one of the first decisions the project manager needs to make. What methodology chosen and used by the project manager will have a profound and ongoing impact on how you and your team work?

What are the different types of project management methodologies and how can you adopt them? We will explore a few in detail, below.

Critical Path Method

Critical Path Method (CPM) allows project managers to classify all activities required to complete the project within a work breakdown structure. The project manager maps the projected duration of each activity and the dependencies between them. This helps the project manager steer activities that can be executed at the same time, and identify those that should be completed before others can start.

CPM is suitable for projects with interdependent parts, ie if the project manager requires different tasks to be completed at the same time, or for one task to end before another can begin, they will need to adopt this method.

Critical Chain Project Management

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) is an alternative to the CPM, with a focus on the management of resources. This methodology allows project managers to work backwards from the end goal. The deliverables are identified and then used by the project manager and the project team to map out the tasks required to complete the project. The project manager will also map out the interdependencies between resources and allocate them accordingly to each task.

This methodology is suitable in environments where resources are devoted to a single project. If you have a dedicated team for a project, this is fine. If your team is spread across several projects, there may be a struggle with resource planning.


PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is largely considered the official project management methodology, which is most commonly adopted in UK government projects. It is also considered the world’s most widely-adopted project management method, used by people and organisations from wide-ranging industries and sectors. It is a flexible method that guides project managers through the essentials for managing successful projects, regardless of type or scale. PRINCE2 is built upon seven principles, themes and processes and can be tailored to meet specific requirements. This methodology is suitable for large and complex projects with fixed requirements.

Waterfall methodology

This is sequential and also heavily requirements-focused. The project manager is required to have a clear idea of what the project demands before proceeding further. There is little scope for correction once the project is underway. This methodology is commonly adopted in the development of software. It works best for short, simple projects with understandable and fixed requirements, and projects with changing resources that depend on in-depth documentation.


PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is considered the oldest methodology in project management, as published by The Project Management Institute (PMI). PMBOK collects the processes, best practices, terminologies and guidelines that are the accepted norm in the industry. PMBOK breaks a project into five process groups: initiating, planning, executing, controlling and closing. So, is it a methodology or an agreed-upon structure for projects? That’s the debate. What’s clear, though, is that by creating these phases of a project, one can begin to manage an unruly plan into a clear and effective pathway to success.

There are several other project management methodologies besides the aforementioned, such as Six Sigma, Crystal, Feature- Driven Development (FDD), Dynamic Systems Development (DSDM), Rational Unified Process (RUP), Kanban, and Lean Development (LD). We discuss the most popular ones adopted in the global construction industry.

Your task

Have you had any experience of the methodologies discussed, or indeed, any others that weren’t mentioned?

Did they help to manage any challenges that arose?

Share your thoughts about the challenges encountered using the methodology with your fellow learners.

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This article is from the free online course:

The Importance of Project Management in the Global Construction Industry

Coventry University