A methodology or system of project management helps those in the organization involved with projects to know what to expect. The definition of best practices and templates will normally speed up a project and improve its overall quality.
A project management methodology is created by an organization to establish a pattern for a type of projects. The key to whether the methodology is a helpful guide or bureaucratic nonsense is whether your project fits the pattern type. If it does, you should follow the pattern or methodology. If your project does not fit the pattern type, you should use the correct methodology or create a custom one for your project. In my experience, a “one size fits all” methodology turns into a “one size fits none” impact.
So here are some suggestions for how to decide if a methodology is right for your project:
· When assigned to lead a project, meet with stakeholders to understand the goals, objectives, and constraints on the project.
· Based upon those meetings, determine if your project fits the criteria of an established project management methodology in your organization.
· If so, follow the methodology.
· If not, determine if you project fits the criteria for a well-documented industry-standard approach.
· If you have access to that approach, follow it.
· If your project does not fit an established methodology, you will need to spend additional time and effort in the project planning and project control aspects of project management since there will likely be confusion about what should be done and how to do it.
If you have been tasked with developing your organization’s methodology, here are some suggestions:
· To develop a methodology, consider industry best practices for the type of project and examples of that type of project in your organization that went well.
· Do not automatically adopt the best practice written about in books or on blogs. There is a culture that must accompany any methodology for it to be successful. If your organization is a “hero-based” culture, don’t adopt a methodology that requires strict process discipline. If your culture is data driven, rely on analytical project management approaches, not one that require extensive team meetings and integration activities.
· For a methodology to succeed, senior management must understand the methodology and how they are to interact with projects. Senior managers who routinely direct the project teams to do things that violate the methodology will ensure that the methodology is not followed. If senior management wants to change the methodology, change it. It is better to have an imperfect methodology that is followed than no methodology at all.
· A Project Management Office (PMO) is often needed to ensure that the methodology is both kept current and that it is followed. Many methodologies require elements of program or portfolio management and a PMO is almost always needed to for that level of project management planning and control.