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

What We Liked - The Important Lessons

There is an important lesson that may be inferred from Jason's book. From his descriptions of project management methodologies it is clear that what Jason has in mind is the "project life cycle" or, as we prefer to call it, the "project life span". After all, the project life span is defined as: "The complete set of time periods through which a project passes sequentially in a logical and orderly manner". Further, a project may be defined as: "A process or undertaking that encompasses an entire set of activities having ... well defined objectives" and a process is defined as: "A set of partially ordered steps intended to reach a goal".[4]

Moreover, as Jason observes, a methodology can also be defined as "A process that documents a series of steps and procedures to bring about the successful completion of a project". So, broadly speaking what we have (as happens so often) is a variety of labels that essentially mean the same thing. Just that some terms are more comprehensive than others. In other words, in the project management context a methodology is another word for project life span!

To be fair, Jason advocates the following definition of a methodology:

"A methodology is a set of guidelines or principles that can be tailored and applied to a specific situation. In a project environment, these guidelines might be a list of things to do. A methodology could also be a specific approach, templates, forms, and even checklists used over the project life cycle."

And he adds:

"A formal project methodology should lead the work of all team members throughout the life cycle of a project [but i]t may be useful to think about what a project management methodology is not: A quick fix; A silver bullet; A temporary solution; [or] A cookbook approach for project success."[5]

But there is an even more important lesson to be learned from this book. In it, Jason draws a distinction between managing the project and managing the technology. As he says:

"By applying the appropriate methodology, project managers are likely to deliver the solutions the clients want. I introduce and clarify two types of methodologies. Although they go hand in hand, there is a difference.
  • Project management methodologies (this lays the high-level project framework).
  • Development methodologies (this provides the detail on system design and development)."[6]

Jason describes project management methodology as the project framework and distinguishes it from development methodology thus:

"The framework has always meant the various segments of the project and the development methodology are the means of getting from segment to segment."[7]

With our background, we would have used the expression "from phase to phase" and, indeed, in the next chapter he does. But the point is, this is a fundamental distinction. He adds that the methodology provides a means for selecting the degree of project management attention appropriate to your particular project. This is sometimes referred to as the degree of "ceremony". And because of economics and common sense, the project management techniques (and degree of ceremony) need to be tailored to the specific risks and opportunities of each project.[8]

Book Structure  Book Structure

4. Wideman Comparative Glossary of Project Management Terms,
5. Charvat, J.,Project Management Methodologies, p3-4
6. Ibid, p64
7. Ibid, p18
8. Ibid, p23
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