Exploring Alternative PM Methodologies

Project management (PM), a basic foundation for the successful accomplishment of a project's goals, is a common requirement across all industrial sectors. In order to meet strict deadlines and to make project workflows efficient, there is a huge set of project management methodologies that can be used to reduce potential risks.


In this article, I'll walk through various approaches of project management in the following order:

  • A Brief Introduction to PM Methodologies
  • Most Common PM Methodologies
    • Waterfall
    • Agile
    • Scrum
  • Alternative PM Methodologies
    • Critical Path Method (CPM)
    • Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
    • PRISM
    • PRINCE2
  • Conclusion

Introduction to PM Methodologies

In the fast-paced business world, it is necessary to make informed choices by employing best PM practices. Project Management Methodologies (PMM) are all about figuring out the best roadmap to follow for successful execution of a project. Every strategy applies diverse principles, themes, schemas, and a standard set of procedures to build a project's pipeline.

Adopting a methodology is like choosing a suitable recipe to follow while baking a brownie. One recipe might require a room-temperature butter while another suggests a milk chocolate, or another might call for melted dark chocolate in placement of crushed compound chocolate. The end product in each recipe is a delicious chocolate confection, although the method and ingredients are little different as per requirement of your taste-buds.

Choosing an appropriate methodology depends on the available resources, such as project constraints, timeline, tools, budget and labor force.

Let's dive into the essentials of most common PM methodologies and compare their must-have features.

Most Common PM Methodologies

1. Waterfall

Waterfall is the most straightforward methodology which involves a linear workflow to execute a project. It takes an "all-at-once" approach.

"Waterfall Model of System Development" by Peter Kemp / Paul Smith licensed under CC BY 3.0

Some important details to note:

  • It works out the same way as a natural waterfall; the flow of water runs from top-to-bottom towards the directed channel.
  • Similarly, client requirements for the project are gathered at an initial step.
  • Afterwards, a sequential workflow of the project is designed, which involves different phases.
  • The scope and roles for respective tasks are defined before the project's development.
  • A new phase begins only when the prior phase completes.
  • Usually, there exists a single and set timeline to reach the end goal.
  • Any change in requirements, roles, phases, tools, and goals is not tailored during the execution of the pre-defined plan.

Pros: It involves extensive and thorough planning, which often leads to more definite budgets and timelines. It stands out with a concrete structure.

Cons: It is not easy to adapt to any modifications in the project because there is no room to go back to previous phases. There can be ineffective impact on cost and timeline in case of any change.

Use Case: It works well for projects when the client's requirements and scope are clearly defined and their end goal is stable.

2. Agile

Agile methodology engages the client in the whole pipeline of the project's development by using an iterative approach. It negates the concept of "all-at-once" while executing a project; rather it supports multiple iterations (i.e. releases).

Similar to how a chef checks the taste of food at various points while cooking so he can make adjustments, Agile is an iterative process with checkpoints throughout.

  • The pipeline of planning, executing, and evaluating a project is implemented in a cyclic fashion.
  • Here, mutual collaboration is a primary aspect because tasks are re-evaluated continually.
  • Possible modifications are done after every iteration to meet client's satisfaction.
  • It is flexible in nature.

Pros: Regular feedback increases productivity towards the final goal and saves time by removing errors in each iteration, resulting in a desired deliverable.

Cons: It lacks a concrete structure of project management as timelines, scope, and budgets are not defined. In addition, the end goal keeps on varying as per modifications in client's requirements.

Use Case: It is best suited for projects where client requirements are likely to fluctuate and continuous feedback is required.

3. Scrum

Scrum comes under the umbrella of Agile methodology; it works on an iterative and incremental model. It basically refers to brief and concentrated meetings of team players on regular basis to communicate their individual progress on assigned roles.

"Schematic of the Scrum Framework process" by Dr ian mitchell licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
  • The whole pipeline of a project is partitioned into sprints. Sprints are short (2-4 weeks long) but regular cycles that ensure the success of a defined milestone.
  • It follows the principle of "do, analyze, and modify."
  • The main objective of scrum is to satisfy client needs with continuous demos of accomplished tasks and quick feedback.
  • A scrum master ensures the synchronization of activities and is responsible for releasing the deliverable on time.

Pros: Tasks and prototypes can be evaluated instantly and errors are fixed without delay. It enhances the transparency of the team.

Cons: Daily meet ups are necessary for development teams – even small disturbances in a working team (i.e. if any resource becomes unavailable) can disrupt the whole project.

Use Case: It works well for complex projects where there is room to adapt to changes efficiently. The working team should be highly collaborative and self-organized.

Alternate PM Methodologies

4. Critical Path Method (CPM)

In Critical Path Method (CPM), a set of project tasks are scheduled in the best possible way considering scope to reach a defined goal.

  • First, hierarchical decomposition of a project is done by categorizing all tasks which are necessary to accomplish a desired deliverable.
  • Then, the task dependencies are figured out.
  • Afterwards, the completion time for each step is estimated.
  • These details highlight a project's shortest timeline by adjusting tasks which can be run in simultaneous manner.

Pros: Parallel execution of tasks saves time, and resources are prioritized in a better way to meet critical deadlines.

Cons: Since extensive planning is done at an initial stage, the entire schedule becomes irrelevant if any variation in requirements arises. CPM requires a well-experienced project manager.

Use Case: CPM is best for projects with short deadlines and interdependent components.

5. Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

Critical chain project management (CCPM) is an updated version of CPM. In addition to task dependencies, it also determines resource dependencies, so that projects can be accomplished efficiently.

  • Firstly, a project schedule is generated by analyzing a “critical chain” of tasks.
  • Then, resources are reserved to complete those tasks.
  • Planning works in a reverse fashion from the completion date (i.e. focusing each task to start on the latest possible start date).
  • Resources are assigned with a single task at a time. It focuses on task completion as early as possible.
  • Time saved in each task makes the whole pipeline efficient.

Pros: By determining the resource availability, we can make more accurate decisions regarding deadlines for each tasks. This increases team productivity.

Cons: CCPM is not effective in a case where a team works on multiple projects at the same time because it is resource-constrained approach.

Use Case: It works well for complex and large scale projects which require full-time resource dedication.


Prism refers to Projects Integrating Sustainable Methods. It differs from conventional methodologies in the sense that it focuses on environmental sustainability measures, along with project's success rate in terms of time, budget, and quality.

  • It enables managers to acquire accreditation by making sure that the methodology is carried out properly and supervised in an effective way.
  • The motto of PRISM revolves around 5 significant Ps: People, Prosperity, Planet, Process, and Products.
  • It incorporates different phases, which are as follows:
    • Pre-project planning
    • Adoption and integration of product or service
    • Realization of service or product benefits
    • Associate projects with ecological development

Pros: A corporate plan of action (along with social goals) can boost an organization's reputation in global marketplace.

Cons: PRISM can't work without considering sustainability principles. The whole workflow at all levels must be processed (directly or indirectly) with a focus on environmental impact.

Use Case: It works well for large-scale or industrial projects where low energy consumption and waste management are targeted, ensuring sustainability.


PRINCE2 refers to "Projects In Controlled Environments". It is based on a waterfall methodology that highly manages the inputs and outputs of a specific project.

"PRINCE2 - Structure" by Priya Ranjan licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Every phase of PRINCE2 should be organized and controlled.
  • It is a process-based approach which defines what, when, and who via seven processes.
  • Its seven principles are as follows:
    1. A clear business justification, which involves
    • Analyzing requirements clearly
    • Identifying target customer
    • Figuring out realistic benefits
    • A careful cost assessment
    1. Constant learning from experience
    2. Well-defined roles and responsibilities
    3. Planned work in terms of stages
    4. Establishment of baseline requirements
    5. Focus on deliverable
    6. Adjustments according to project's scope

Pros: It is well organized. Comprehensive documentation is involved, which provides useful performance analysis.

Cons: It can be very challenging to make changes in the project. There are additional overheads to maintaining project logs.

Use Case: It is best for complex projects with strict deadlines.

Likewise, there exist numerous other project management methodologies – such as Six Sigma, Lean Development, Extreme Programming, Kanban, etc. – which can be used according to the scope and nature of targeted project.


Here is a brief comparison of various project management methodologies which are discussed in this article.

Comparison of PM Methodologies

Picking up the right methodology for project management is of the utmost importance for successful accomplishment of that project's goals. The selection of a well-suited PM methodology depends on project requirements and the associated benefits.

  • Waterfall Methodology should be used for the projects when the definition of the end product is stable and there is no ambiguity in requirements.
  • Agile Methodology prevails when there resides an uncertainty about the scope of end goal and continuous feedback is required to develop a product.
  • Scrum Methodology fits perfectly into complex and large projects having a broad scope, where there is a high probability of modifications during product development, as well as projects that need a high degree of self-management and collaboration.
  • Critical Path Method should be considered when there are multiple inter-dependent components in a project and the time is minimal.
  • Critical Chain Project Management works for large scale projects when a full-time resource dedication is required.
  • PRISM works well for industrial projects which are targeted towards sustainability.
  • PRINCE2 is well-suited for complex and business-case driven projects in which multi-level authorities are involved and there are strict deadlines to achieve a marked milestone.

Not sure what project management framework to use on your next build? Talk to a Crowdbotics expert to define your project today!

Originally published:

July 27, 2020

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