The following Guest article was initially published at and and is republished here with permission, © Stacy Goff, 2007.
Published here August 2008.

Introduction | Background and PM Methods Experience | What is a PM Methodology? 
Moving Target or Consistent Characteristics? | Consistent Characteristics in Detail
Is Methods Benefit Realization Important? | Conclusions | Appendix A

Moving Target or Consistent Characteristics?

Moving Target

Most people today cannot agree about the components and structure of a useful project management methodology. In the 1970's we saw forms-driven methodologies: Just fill out all the forms, and the project would produce itself. Then in the 1980's most were process-oriented: just follow all the steps of the recipe, and everything should come out ok.

With the lean movements of the early 1990's, many started calling them PM Methods, to distinguish them from the forms-driven monoliths of the past. In the 1990's some of the best were blended versions that were product-oriented, while retaining useful and supportive forms and processes.

In the new Millennium we have seen the daring Agilistas who toss out all the process and forms and rely on the working results to drive the process - and they are right, much of the time. But now we have a conflicting need for rigor, resulting from those increasing Regulatory and Governance requirements.

Ironically, little has changed over 30 years in the basic critical success factors of projects. Many of the "New Age" methods require (or even assume) the same factors needed 30 years ago. Typical Critical Success Factors, then and now include:

  • Competent project management throughout the team,
  • Technical performers who are effective in performing their assignments and in communicating with the team,
  • Effective upper management, who prioritize work so teams can focus on the most important projects,
  • Constant customer involvement.

Some things never change!

Consistent Characteristics

A Project Management Methodology does not produce project success. It merely provides the platform for competent Project Managers and key Stakeholders and Team Members to succeed. Yet there are a handful of characteristics that consistently differentiate effective and efficient methods from ineffective and weak or bloated ones. Those characteristics include:

  1. Contains guiding processes for those who are new to project work
  2. Identifies Key Roles and Responsibilities of all Stakeholders, including Customers or Clients
  3. Cites Skills or Competences needed, by Role, by Process
  4. Provides useful templates and examples
  5. Supplies model project Life Cycles for projects of different types, with more detailed WBS examples
  6. Offers audit checklists to assure proper process, Governance and results
  7. Is customizable by Enterprises and project teams
  8. Is tool-neutral
  9. Offers a range of rigor for different project needs
  10. Saves more effort and time than it costs.

We expand upon these characteristics below. After reviewing the list, you might compare your current PM Methods to this list, and evaluate how well they demonstrate these characteristics. Is your Method a Dust-sucker? We are also interested in your suggestions for additions to the list. After all, most long-life methods are designed for tomorrow's needs, not just to correct the sins of the past.

If you have suggestions (or disagreements) contact us at And now, the more detailed explanations for the list of characteristics.

What is a PM Methodology?  What is a PM Methodology?

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