Stacey matrix as a model to select the right project management methodology

Stacey matrix as a model to select the right project management methodology


Stacey matrix, a project management tool that was designed after the project management methodology was developed. The comparison between the two forms the basis of Stacey matrix. The Stacey matrix is a simple but powerful tool that helps to correctly assess the strengths and weaknesses of projects, as well as a method to determine the right methodology for a project. Many organizations struggle with selecting the right methodology for their projects, an issue that can be addressed using this framework.  Before heading next, we should know that, what actually Stacey matrix is, and who developed it? 

Stacey matrix is a simple, 2 by 2 grid first developed by Alan R. Stacey in 1959 to identify and select the right project management methodology for an organization. It compares the level of uncertainty and risk in a project with the level of standardization versus customization required from the project-management method.

Before going more in depth of this topic, first, I feel it very important to tell you, about the project management methodology, what is meant by this term. 

What is project management methodology

A project management methodology is a set of different practices, structures, and principles that help project managers to accomplish and ensure project success. There are a lot of methodologies used by project managers. Some of them are listed below.

  • Agile methodology
  • Scrum methodology
  • Kanban methodology 
  • Adaptive project framework methodology
  • Lean methodology
  • Waterfall methodology 

This methodology is a more general project management methodology used these days.

How to select the right project management methodology 

Agile project management is a very broad concept. You have many methodologies in front of you,  but how can you know that, which methodology fit your project and, for your team. To choose the best methodology for your team and, project, Stacey matrix model can help you in this regard. 

Steps to use Stacey matrix to choose right project management methodology

Stacey matrix is one of the most popular tools and techniques for selecting the right project management methodology for a project. Here we will see the description of Stacey matrix and the steps to use Stacey matrix to decide right project management methodology for a project.

Stacey Matrix is based on two dimensions:

  • The complexity of a project
  • The uncertainty (or risk) in a project

 The four quadrants formed by these two dimensions represent different methodologies which should be applied for their respective projects. These are as follows:

Quadrant 1: Simple and predictable

This quadrant represents projects which are simple and predictable. The focus of these projects should be on efficiency i.e. getting things done quickly at minimum costs with maximum quality. Project managers should use traditional methods such as Gantt charts, PERT charts, milestones etc. to manage such projects.

Quadrant 2: Complicated and predictable

This quadrant represents the situation, where the effect and cause of issue is clear, but stakeholders disagree on the importance of the concerns and how can stakeholders move ahead mutually. For example, who would be the next president, and wages of different participating entities etc.

Quadrant 3: Complex and non-predictable

In this quadrant, stakeholders and their relationships  are unclear, and they are far from being attached to a single decision. Solution to this, can only be found by creativity, indicative ideas and experiments. Agility and adaptability are the core skills here for managers, team and, stakeholders.

Quadrant 4: Chaotic and non-predictable

This type of quadrant represents a very unstable situation, where cause and effect relationships are not known, and, possible solution is just a guess. Managers and organizations do their best to avoid chaotic phase, but it is sometimes inevitable. 

Keeping the situation in your mind, you can choose the desired methodology that fits in your project.  

Final verdict

Choosing the right method for your project will have a big impact on its success. If you can look at all aspects of your business, and figure out which matrix cell you are in, there is a good chance you will be able to select the correct method that fits your needs.


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