February 21, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

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8 Project Management Methodologies and Standards

You will find a more current article on PM Methodologies and Standards here: 7 Facts on Project Management Methodologies and Standards

I have decided to do a series of postings about Project Management methodologies and Project Management best practices.  The purpose for this is not to replicate information that is already out there, but to inform, equip and empower business owners and service professionals about the project management profession and how to put it to use to sustain and grow their business.

As an introduction to this I have 8 questions to help define what a methodology and a standard is based on a summary of the best information I could find and that I know from experience. I would then like to encourage the reader of this post to contribute in the form of comments towards more methodologies and standards that can be covered here (and I encourage you to link to sites that you recommend as worthwhile reading on these topics.)

1.   What is a methodology?

A methodology is a set of methods, processes and practices that are repeatedly carried out to deliver projects. It tells you what you have to do, to manage your projects from start to finish. It describes every step in the project life cycle in depth, so you know exactly which tasks to complete, when and how.

The key concept is that you repeat the same steps for every project you undertake, and by doing that, you will gain efficiencies in your approach.

2.   What is a standard?

A standard is “a collection of knowledge areas that are generally accepted as best practice in the industry”.

3.    What is the difference between a methodology and a standard?

Standards give you industry guidance, whereas methodologies give you practical processes for managing projects. Standards are not methodologies, and vice versa. The two most popular standards are PMBOK and Prince2.

4.   Why use a methodology?

A Project Methodology should help you by giving you a clear process for managing projects. After you have customised it to perfectly fit your environment, your methodology should tell your team what has to be completed to deliver your project, how it should be done, in which order and by when.

5.   What should be included in a project management methodology?

When you buy a project methodology, it should give you:

  • A core set of processes to follow for delivering projects
  • A set of templates to help you build deliverables quickly
  • A suite of case studies to help you learn from past projects
  • An option for customizing the methodology provided
  • The ability to import your existing processes into it

6.   What a project management methodology will not do?

A Methodology is not a silver bullet. It will not fix projects by itself or guarantee success and an efficient, effective experienced project manager is still required to deliver projects successfully. Remember that the finest carpenter’s tool-box will only be as good as the carpenter.  No methodology will be 100% applicable to every type of project. So you will need to customise any methodology you purchase to ensure that it perfectly fits your project management environment.

7.   What are the benefits of using a methodology?

By using a methodology you can:

  • Create a project roadmap
  • Monitor time, cost and quality (project triple constraint)
  • Control change and scope
  • Minimise risks and issues
  • Manage staff and suppliers

Of course, you will need to use the methodology that is most suitable to each project you undertake. For smaller projects, you will only want to apply lightweight processes and when managing large projects, you should apply the heavyweight processes to monitor and control every element of your project in depth.

But if you can manage every project you undertake in the same way, then you will gain efficiencies with your approach, work smarter and reduce your stress. You will also give your team a clear understanding of what you expect from them and boost your chances of success.

Flick - Cappellmeister

Flickr – Cappellmeister

8.  A few project management methodologies examples with short descriptions:

  • PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE) is a project management method. It covers the management, control and organisation of a project.
  • Method 123 Project Management methodology, also called MPMM (Project Management Methodology Manager) is based on the worldwide project management standards PMBOK and Prince2 and contains all of the project management templates, forms and checklists needed.
  • Ten Step Project Management Process is a methodology for managing work as a project and it’s designed to be as flexible as you need to manage your project.
  • UPMM Unified Project Management methodology based on suite of knowledge management tools.
  • AdPM – a best practices project methodology.
  • MBP- Managing by Project from X-Pert Group. Programme and Project Management methodology and services.
  • MITP – Managing Information Technology Projects. IBM’s established project management delivery method.
  • Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) is a set of principles, models, disciplines, concepts, and guidelines for delivering information technology solutions.

Please add more project management methodologies that you have used and tell us more about them.

For related Project Management articles, click here.



  1. Sally Bell says:

    Great article. You can also add Processes On Demand, by BOT International, to this fine list. Processes On Demand is a PMO grade methodology framework used by over 1,000 organizations, mainly PMOs. Processes On Demand is fully rebrandable to the customer’s own environment, interfaces to PPM tools and collaboration platforms like Project Server and SharePoint, and extends upon project management methodology to provide PMO policies, guidance, PMP learning resources, and PMO executive dashboards. Like you mention in your point #7, there are many benefits and reasons to use a project management methodology. However, most PMOs and project performing organizations have a methodology document and a set of templates and some even have multiples of these things. While a project management methodology on its own has some degree of value, for most PMOs the real value in terms of increased capabilities and better, more predictable outcomes are achieved through an effective, PMO grade, content framework of not just the project management methodology but all of the other complementary and supporting policies, practices, and information that make the methodology useful and usable. The PMO grade methodology framework also rationalizes where and how different methodologies fit within an organization. For example, a PMO may have a project management methodology aligned to the PMBOK for generical projects, a traditional SDLC for COTS projects, and an Agile Scrum approach for software development, enhancements to existing applications, and bug fixes, etc. Any one project management methodology like those you mentioned is of only partial ot the PMO. But the PMO grade methodology framework not only houses the multiple methodologies but provides the PMO project type and size policies and context for understanding, usage, and continuous improvement. In additional to Processes On Demand, other PMO grade project management methodologies are the gantthead PMO Management Package and PM Solutions PMCoP. Great article. Thanks.

  2. Sally, thanks for your contribution of telling us more about Processes on Demand, the Gantthead PMO Management Package and PM Solutions PMCoP. I will definitely have a look at those as well.

    Your Virtualpm

  3. Great article I must say thank you Linky for such a nice post. The thing which is captured is the Processes on Demand by the PMO management. The PMO grade methodology framework also rationalizes where and how different methodologies fit within an organization.

  4. Linky,

    The problem right now is that some Project Managers care more about the methodology rather than managing the project, this is highlighted in this article When Project Management methodology matters more than project success, methodology should be only means to an end.

  5. Thanks for your comment. I agree that project management processes used in a project should be fit for purpose. A project management methodology is a tool to ensure that different project managers follow a standardized approach to projects with the emphasis on project delivery and not adherence to the methodology.


  1. 8 Project Management Methodologies and Standards | Virtual Project … IM Consultant says:

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  2. […] See the rest here: 8 Project Management Methodologies and Standards | Virtual Project … […]

  3. […] would also like to refer you to an article that I did in December 2009 about project management methodologies and standards. There you will find a short description of a number of project management methodologies which you […]