Published here August, 2005.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked - The Important Lessons
The Importance of the Right Methodology 
Development Methodologies, Managing the Technology | Downside | Summary

The Importance of the Right Methodology

Referring to project [management] methodologies, Jason observes that:

"Over the years, even those involved in managing projects have observed that projects have common characteristics that can be formalized into a structural process, which allows them to manage projects more effectively. Each phase can typically be brought to closure in some logical way before the next project phase begins; and each phase results in discrete milestones or deliverables, which provide the starting point for the next phase. [And c]ost and schedule estimates, plans, requirements, and specifications should be updated and evaluated at the end of each phase, sometimes before deciding whether to continue with the project."[9]

Moreover, Jason emphasizes that:

"Adopting an incorrect methodology or having no project framework in place can very easily cause you to have:
  • Schedule and cost slippages
  • Miscommunication within the team
  • Wasting [of] time on administrative tasks that have no purpose
  • [Reliance] on technical wizardry to get projects done [and]
  • Project management burnout"[10]

This is an important lesson that many managements seem to fail to understand. Or is it that the project management community has failed to get the message across to senior management?

In the same context, Jason briefly explains the capability maturity model (CMM) and its five levels, not as a methodology in itself but as sets of strategies for improvement. The CMM levels from 1 (low) to 5 (high) are: Initial, Repeatable, Defined, Managed and Optimized. He observes that if project management is to take a leading role in a company, it needs to be good in a few areas:[11]

  • Project management philosophy is firmly entrenched
  • Project management is a core competency
  • The company is focused on making projects succeed
  • Processes and infrastructure are in place
  • Effective reporting is established
  • Both project methodology and development methodologies are well documented
  • Project staff is provided continuous training
  • Project information is communicated continuously
  • Projects are monitored against performance
  • Quality and delivery excellence are built in
  • Projects are routinely audited

That's a substantial list. Even so, he might have added:

  • A cost collection, reporting and forecasting system is in place, and
  • A project deliverables benefits measuring system is also in place

Chapter 3 is titled "Project Management Frameworks". By this, Jason means the project management methodologies referred to earlier. Interestingly, he finds only four, namely: the Rational Unified Process (arguably an IT/software development methodology); PRINCE2, a true framework developed and instituted in the UK under the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) a government agency; System Development Life Cycle (SDLC), the classic "waterfall" approach (also arguably a software development methodology); and Solutions-based Project Methodology, a simplified approach for consultants to work with their clients. Possibly there may be hybrid combinations of these.

To this list, Jason could have added the TenStep methodology, at least that would have made five. Nevertheless, when it comes to project management frameworks, there appear to be only two or three that are generally applicable. This confirms our contention that there really are very few truly generic project management methodologies out there. And this should come as no surprise, because correctly executed the management of a project should follow a well-established and well-worn path.

What We Liked - The Important Lessons  What We Liked - The Important Lessons

9. Ibid p33
10. Ibid, pp18-20
11. Ibid, abstracted from pp54-55
Home | Issacons | PM Glossary | Papers & Books | Max's Musings
Guest Articles | Contact Info | Search My Site | Site Map | Top of Page