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Classical Project Management Methods

Classic project management methods are traditional approaches to planning and controlling projects that have proven effective in practice. They offer a clear structure and fixed guidelines to successfully carry out projects. In this glossary entry, you will learn more about the various classic project management methods, their advantages and application areas, as well as possible alternatives.


Project management deals with the planning, controlling, and completion of projects. Classic project management methods are based on clear structures, fixed guidelines, and a hierarchical organization. They are particularly suitable for projects with low complexity and predictable requirements. Below, the most well-known classic project management methods are introduced and explained.

Waterfall Model

The waterfall model is one of the oldest and most well-known classic project management methods. It is based on a linear sequence of project phases that are completed one after the other. Each phase must be completed before the next one begins. Typical phases include requirement analysis, planning, design, implementation, testing, and commissioning. Advantages of the waterfall model are its simple structure and clear separation of tasks. Disadvantages include low flexibility and difficulty in responding to changes during the project.


The V-Model is an extension of the waterfall model and divides the project into two phases: The left side of the "V" represents the planning and specification phases, while the right side depicts the implementation, integration, and testing phases. Each phase on the left side is connected by a verification with a corresponding phase on the right side. The V-Model is characterized by a strong emphasis on quality assurance and documentation and is particularly suitable for safety-critical projects.


PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is a process-oriented and scalable method for project management that was developed in the 1980s in the United Kingdom. It is based on seven principles, themes, and processes that can be applied to varying degrees to each project. PRINCE2 places great importance on clear role distribution, regular progress checks, and continuous adjustment of the project plan. This method is widely used and recognized in many industries.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

The Critical Path Method (CPM) is a technique for determining the critical path in a project, i.e., the sequence of tasks that determines the project duration. By identifying the critical path, bottlenecks can be uncovered and resources can be targeted effectively. CPM is particularly suitable for projects with many interdependent tasks and is often used in combination with other project management methods.

Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)

The Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) is a method for planning and controlling projects, particularly used in research and development. PERT is based on the determination of time and resource expenditures for individual tasks and the identification of critical paths. Unlike CPM, PERT also takes into account uncertainties in the estimates, thus allowing for more realistic planning.

Advantages of Classic Project Management Methods

Classic project management methods offer a number of advantages, such as:

  • Clear structures and guidelines that enable systematic planning and controlling
  • Defined roles and responsibilities that promote efficient collaboration
  • Comprehensive documentation that ensures good traceability and quality assurance
  • Scalability and applicability in different industries and project sizes

Disadvantages and Alternatives

However, classic project management methods also have disadvantages, especially in terms of flexibility and adaptability. They are less suited for projects with a high degree of innovation, unclear requirements, or frequent changes. In such cases, agile project management methods, like Scrum or Kanban, can be a sensible alternative. These methods focus on iterative approaches, continuous improvement, and close collaboration with the customer.


Classic project management methods provide proven approaches to planning and controlling projects and are particularly suitable for projects with clearly defined requirements and low complexity. They offer clear structures, fixed guidelines, and a hierarchical organization that supports project success. However, they can be less flexible and adaptable than agile methods in certain situations. Therefore, when selecting the appropriate project management method, the specific situation and requirements of the project should always be taken into account.