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What Is Project Management? [5 Project Management Methodologies]

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI)®, the world’s leading association for project managers, project management is “the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.”

Projects, then, are considered to be any unique endeavor to produce a specific result with a distinctive start and end time. These criteria make projects different than programs, which are typically ongoing, strategic initiatives comprised of multiple, more specific projects.

Project Management Foundations

Ready To Get Started In Project Management?

Our Project Management Fundamentals program combines a comprehensive review of major project management processes and knowledge with hands-on learning activities to ensure participants finish with practical skills which can be applied immediately on the job.

As most things go, there are a variety of methods that can be applied to project management. and the unique method you apply will largely depend on your organization, team and the work you do. Additionally, some organizations will merge aspects of multiple project management methods in order to find the combination that works best for them. Below are the 5 most commonly used project management mythologies.

1. Agile

Agile project management focuses on an iterative approach to completing a project’s lifecycle. Some methods follow a linear path of initiating, planning, executing, and then monitoring the project outcomes; agile project management takes a winding approach that tackles several iterations of that same process throughout the project lifecycle.

The Agile approach is ideal in environments where the project requirements could potentially evolve or change completely. This is especially true in software development. By dividing the project into smaller pieces, developers can present the pieces as they are created for user testing and customer feedback. This allows them to understand quickly what works and what doesn’t, then adjust accordingly. A more linear approach to software development could result in a project manager delivering a new software solution or website to the customer only to find it doesn’t meet their exact needs and the additional time and money needed to achieve the desired results would be much higher than if they adjusted the scope earlier on in the project.

Ultimately, an agile process allows project managers to deliver a successful project faster and more closely aligned to budget.

Need Specific Agile Project Management Training? We Offer The Following Courses:

2. Lean

Lean project management uses the principles of lean manufacturing to only provide what is needed, when it is needed. Not surprisingly, the lean method applies well to the manufacturing world as it focuses on:

  • Reducing lead times
  • Reducing storage, inventory and other costs
  • Improving quality, productivity and efficiency
  • Earning high customer satisfaction

The lean methodology stresses the importance of the customer and what they want and are willing to pay for vs the business’ needs. Lean project management focuses on five core principles that are all sought to be understood from the customer’s perspective:

  1. Identify Value
  2. Map the Value Stream
  3. Create Flow
  4. Establish Pull
  5. Continuous Improvement


The PRINCE2 method is predominantly used in the UK and it stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments. It is considered a process-based method that relies heavily on the business case for the project. The PRINCE2 method also uses clearly defined roles; the project manager takes on the ownership of the project and is responsible for controlling the processes, selecting a team and assigning tasks.

The PRINCE2 method follows 7 steps:

  1. Start Up The Project
  2. Initiate The Project
  3. Direct The Project
  4. Control Stages
  5. Manage The Product Delivery
  6. Manage Stage Boundary
  7. Close The Project

4. Six Sigma

The Six Sigma method leverages data to improve business processes, reduce waste, decrease errors, and increase customer satisfaction. Project Managers can apply this method to any business process but, historically, it is leveraged most in the manufacturing world with its top proponents being Motorola and GE.

Six Sigma also offers two sub-methodologies to follow depending on whether the business process is pre-existing or in the design & development stage. DMAIC works best for existing business process, whereas the DMADV method applies best to new process development.

The DMAIC method follows these 5 steps:

  1. Define
  2. Measure
  3. Analyze
  4. Improve
  5. Control

The DMADV method follows these slightly different 5 steps:

  1. Define
  2. Measure
  3. Analyze
  4. Define
  5. Verify

5. Waterfall

The Waterfall methodology offers a linear approach to project management and can often be the simplest method to follow. However, it begins by defining the project’s goal and then designing the process toward achieving that goal into clear, sequential phases. While visualizing the entire project lifecycle start to finish can be extremely insightful, it also makes unexpected roadblocks or change orders difficult and costly to manage.

There are 6 linearly designed steps project managers follow when using the Waterfall methodology. It is important to note that this process requires the previous phase to be completed before the team moves onto the next phase.

  1. Requirements
  2. System design
  3. Implementation
  4. Testing
  5. Deployment (service) or delivery (product)
  6. Maintenance

While the inflexibility of the Waterfall Project Management process makes it less than ideal for a number of projects that require significant stakeholder input or multi-team involvement, it is the perfect method for repeatable tasks, such as coordinating a training class.

What Is A Project Manager?

Project Managers are the professionals who lead the charge in bringing projects to conclusion (hopefully successfully). Companies across every industry require skilled project managers to define project scopes, select appropriate methodologies, recruit and lead project teams, manage stakeholder input, monitor project milestones keep the project on time and within budget and achieve the project’s goals. Key industries employing project managers include:

  • Construction
  • Consulting
  • Energy
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Software Development & more

Due to the expansive nature of the role, project managers are consistently in high demand. In fact, PMI® recently reported “The global economy needs 25 million new project professionals by 2030. To close the talent gap, 2.3 million people will need to enter [project management-oriented employment] PMOE every year just to keep up with demand – this includes project managers and all changemakers.”

Key Project Management Skills

While the demand for project managers is high, there are specific skills aspiring project managers need to exhibit in order to take advantage of this opportunity and enter into a project management role for the first time.

When it comes to project management, soft skills actually tend to carry the most weight. You can be super skilled in a particular tool or methodology but if you can’t manage multiple personalities, negotiate expectations, think critically through roadblocks and more then you will never be successful. Methodologies and tools change constantly but developing a true expertise in these key project management soft skills will have a lasting impact on your career:

  • Leadership
  • Active Listening & Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Organization
  • Time Management
  • Critical Thinking & Problem Solving
  • Adaptability
  • Negotiation
  • Patience

Project Management Foundations

Ready To Get Started In Project Management?

Our Project Management Fundamentals program combines a comprehensive review of major project management processes and knowledge with hands-on learning activities to ensure participants finish with practical skills which can be applied immediately on the job.

How To Start A Career In Project Management?

Most people do not enroll in a formal degree program as an entry point for project management. Rather they start work within a particular industry and then evolve into a project management role. This evolution process is often coupled with self-study into specific techniques, certification training programs and hands-on experience.


As stated, when it comes to project management, most degree programs are aimed at the Master’s level. The reason being most people don’t start their careers in project management but rather grow their career into a project management role. This, combined with the high demand for soft skills, make it an excellent career to transition into.

However it is important to note that some project management certification programs require candidates to hold a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent on-the-job experience prior to sitting for their certification exam.

Industry-Recognized Project Management Certifications

Unlike degree programs, project management certifications are highly demanded and an ideal way to showcase technical know-how. Project management certifications can validate either broad project management knowledge or more method specific knowledge. Below are some of the top industry-recognized project management certifications:

Hands-On Project Management Experience

While hands-on experience is great for any career path, it is particularly necessary in project management. Successful project managers navigate project roadblocks gracefully but that skill only comes with practice. As a new or aspiring project manager, it is necessary to build hands-on experience however possible. Start with small projects, and keep in mind these projects do not necessarily need to be ones you are assigned at work. A project is simply an endeavor with a clearly defined start and end aimed at achieving a particular goal. This means planning a wedding, managing a home improvement project, coordinating the company holiday party and more all count as individual projects.

Project Management Tools

A key element of the project management process is keeping an eye on the project goals and tasks required to get there. As such, a tool to track all of these elements and their current status is critical to staying on time and within the project’s scope. Now the tool used can be as simple as an Excel or Google spreadsheet, but the best tool depends greatly on the project itself. When trying to determine the best tool for managing your project, consider:

  • How many people need to access it and for what purpose?
  • Do you need extensive approval processes as tasks fall into different stages?
  • What project management methodology are you using?
  • Do you need it to integrate into other software?

The 10 Best Project Management Software In 2021

Listed below are some of today’s top project management software and what projects and teams they are best for.

1. Jira

Jira is best for software development lifecycle projects utilizing an Agile methodology. The software offers a number of out-of-the-box features than can be enabled or disabled easily. Some of Jira’s most loved features include a visual project roadmap, backlog, bug tracking, sprints and reporting.

2 .Hive

Hive offers a number of great features for all types of project management teams but, due to the number of time management tools it offers, may be best for teams with a lot of members and moving parts. Hive’s time management tools from time tracking to resourcing make it easy to visualize your team’s workloads and reassign tasks as needed to achieve greater efficiency. Additionally, the tool supports a Gannt, Kanban and calendar views so each team member can visual their tasks in the way that makes the most sense to them.

3. Asana

Asana offers a similar solution to Hive but with a long list of features in its free plan version it is an ideal choice for small, budget-conscious teams. Additionally, Asana’s robust integrations list and open API allow it to fit seamlessly into the other software in your project management tool box.

4. Smartsheet

Smartsheet offers a robust platform for managing projects of all sizes making it an ideal choice for organizations with a wide range of project types supporting functions in marketing, operations, IT and more. However, Smartsheet’s extensive features list is only accessible with paid plans, making the solution better aligned to the needs of large organizations and project teams.

5. monday.com

Monday.com offers a highly customizable and flexible interface support a vast range of project types for any industry. Due to its flexibility, automation capabilities and integrations list, monday.com presents itself as a solution for not just managing projects but for managing sales teams, CRMs and more.

6. Trello

Trello follows a Kanban board approach to organizing projects and tasks. It’s simple interface makes it an easy to implement tool for nearly any size or type of project team. Additionally, automation and integration capabilities make it easy to achieve new productivity levels with this application.

7. Forecast

Forecast provides teams with a minimum of 10 users an intuitive AI-powered project management solution. This software application removes the minutia of project management so more of your time is spent on billable work.

8. Airtable

Airtable offers a highly customizable project management interface with over 20 content fields that can be integrated into your dashboard the way you want. This tool expands past traditional project management and can be leveraged to build organizational charts, manage your sales processes and more.

9. Hygger

Hygger offers a number of features similar to the other solutions in this list including task lists, Kanban boards and sprints but the one feature that stands out about the rest is their visualization of tasks. Hyyger includes an out of the box Eisenhower Matrix to help you quickly decide what tasks you need to do, schedule, delegate or delete. Additionally, it offers a Value/Effort Matrix to tell you what tasks are likely quick wins, time sinks, big bets and maybes.

10. Notion

Notion’s unique differentiator is the amount of knowledge that can be easily attached within the projects you manage. Notion connects notes and wikis to your projects so you can easily locate information pertaining to project scope, development guidelines, meeting recaps and more.

Ready To Start Your Project Management Career But Need Some Direction?

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