We love a top 10 list. Top 10 fitness trends? You’re on it. Top 10 books? Already on your nightstand.

This year, we were inspired to create a top 10 list of our own.

We’ll share the top 10 project management techniques for 2021, what they are, and how and why they work.

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1. Work breakdown structure (WBS)

What it is: instead of dealing with a behemoth of a project that feels overwhelming, smart project managers break the work into more manageable tasks, a strategy called work breakdown structure.

How it works: this isn’t just about taking something complicated and breaking it down into smaller parts so you can sleep at night. Using the WBS technique, it’s easier to organize smaller tasks into a workflow than larger ones.

Why it works: when breaking down a project into smaller bites, teams can see which tasks depend on others and when to complete them. It’s also significantly easier to estimate how much time and money to spend on each task.

This makes resource planning and managing stakeholder’s expectations smoother.

To get started, check out monday.com’s robust Work Breakdown Structure template.

screenshot showing work breakdown structure in monday.com

You can list all your tasks and estimate duration, budget, and effort, plus, easily assign resources and identify dependencies in monday.com.

With the Work OS’s drag-and-drop functionality, it’s easy to play around until you’ve got it perfect.

2. Critical Path Method (CPM)

What it is: a technique used in estimating and monitoring a project’s overall duration. When a project is broken down into tasks, each has an estimated duration.

How it works: those tasks are organized by delivery based on logic and any dependencies. When adding up the duration of the longest sequence of tasks, you’ll get an estimate of the overall project duration.

If any tasks are delayed, the project duration increases.

Why it works: monitoring and controlling tasks on the critical path help teams deliver projects on time.

For more information, check out our no-nonsense guide to critical paths. 

3. Scrum

What it is: Scrum is the most common framework within the Agile methodology. It defines the project goal over a series of short development cycles known as “sprints.”

How it works: teams refine the high-level scope through iterations. At the start of the sprint, teams figure out how many items they can commit to and create a sprint backlog ( a list of the tasks to perform during the sprint).

Why it works: these iterations improve the likelihood of delivering a product that fully satisfies customer requirements. Plus they can deliver a viable product earlier than in more traditional methodologies, which is important for businesses where speed-to-market is crucial.

monday.com’s Work OS offers a range of in-platform collaboration tools that support this. Users can share, view, and update in real-time project documentation, so everyone stays on the same page.

screenshot of conversation between the business and project team in-platform using monday.com

With monday.com’s integrations — such as with Jira or Gitlab for bug tracking and issue management — if you change something in one platform, it’ll change in the others. So you’re always looking at the most up-to-date information.

4. SAFe

What it is: the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) implements Agile project management at scale.

There are 4 levels for organizations of different sizes and requirements — Essential, Large Solution, Portfolio, and Full.

How it works: As a business grows, SAFe’s agile practices support business with a framework that enables teams to develop products and deliver to market in three months.

Why it works: in a 2020 study, the main benefits of SAFe were improved collaboration with teams and increased efficiency.

screenshot showing evaluation of the SAFe framework by users

(Image Source)

5. Kanban

What it is: in Kanban, a project’s workflow is broken down into smaller tasks. These tasks are then organized and displayed, so everyone on the team is aware of project progress.

How it works: often, tasks on a Kanban software are separated into columns. A classic Kanban board shows 3 columns assigning tasks a status of

  • To-do
  • Doing
  • Done

One popular addition is a ‘Stuck’ column, to show tasks that are in-progress but not progressing for some reason.

Why it works: Kanban is great for projects with sequential workflows and limited dependencies that allow team members to concentrate on their own tasks.

screenshot of a Kanban board in monday.com showing 'working on it', 'done', and 'stuck' columns

monday.com’s colorful, intuitive interface makes setting up a Kanban board simple.

Plus, the additional transparency improves focus and motivation as each person can focus on their own work. However, it’s clear to all involved how everyone contributes to the overall goal.

 

6. Gantt

What is it: a Gantt chart allows you to visualize project activities over time.

monday.com Gantt

How it works: Gantt charts allow project managers to determine — at a glance — current project progress and take any action to bring the project back on schedule.

Why it works: Gantt charts show both individual task duration and the expected duration of the entire project. They can also show dependencies between tasks.

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7. PERT

What is is: PERT isn’t just focused on the critical path’s duration, but also the relationships between project tasks.

PERT shows project tasks arranged more like a flowchart than sequential events.

image of a PERT chart showing the relationships between project tasks

How it works: this method improves the accuracy of task duration estimates by using 3 possible inputs for the calculation:

  1. Optimistic time
  2. Pessimistic time
  3. Most-likely time

Why it works: This can get pretty detailed so for more information, check out our guide to PERT.

 

8. Waterfall

What it is: Waterfall is a structured and linear approach to organizing and controlling projects.

How it works: teams divide a project into distinct phases, with each new phase beginning only when competing the previous one.

Why it works: the distinct phases make project planning simple. It’s also easy to monitor if the project is on track.

That makes it good for projects that need a commitment to a fixed timeline or budget, such as large infrastructure projects.

Not sure whether a Waterfall or Agile methodology might suit you and your team? We’ve got the perfect article to help you choose.

 

9. PRINCE2

What is is: Prince2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2. The Prince2 framework is based on 7 principles, 7 themes, and 7 processes. It is the most widely-used project management framework in the world.

image showing the Prince2 ecosystem of processes, themes, and principles

(Image Source)

Prince2 is typically used in complicated, high-risk projects, such as government procurement and construction.

How it works: The 7 principles define the why of Prince2. There should be a clear business justification for continuing the project at every stage.

The 7 themes are the what of Prince2 and explain how to govern and manage a project on a daily basis. Clear documentation outlines the project approach and the responsibilities of different team members.

The 7 processes define how each stage of the project life cycle is managed.

Why it works: It’s easy to understand why you’re working on a project and how to manage it.

On monday.com, we help you articulate that in our customizable project proposal template. This isn’t a ‘one-and-done document. Teams should continuously check that the project is delivering value.

screenshot of a project proposal template in monday.com aligning the project with business goals

 

10. Extreme programming

What it is: Extreme programming (XP) is an Agile framework used in software development.

How it works: XP ensures the development of high-quality software while enabling a positive environment for the development team.

XP is supported by 5 core values, including simplicity. This is about producing the simplest product viable, reducing waste and making maintenance and support easier.

The most appropriate use of XP is within a project that has a small, co-located development team and system software requirements that change frequently.

Why it works: XP focuses on customer satisfaction. Instead of delivering everything far in the future, teams create software as needed.

Improve your projects this year with our recommended techniques

We’ve explored our top 10 project management techniques for 2021. Whichever one you decide to go for, monday.com has your back.

Our Work OS has all the building blocks to manage your project the way you want it. Let monday.com flex and grow right alongside you. Get started now with our project proposal template.

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