Why You're Confusing Frameworks with Methodologies

Michael R. Wood is a Business Process Improvement & IT Strategist Independent Consultant. He is creator of the business process-improvement methodology called HELIX and founder of The Natural Intelligence Group, a strategy, process improvement and technology consulting company. He is also a CPA, has served as an Adjunct Professor in Pepperdine's Management MBA program, an Associate Professor at California Lutheran University, and on the boards of numerous professional organizations. Mr. Wood is a sought after presenter of HELIX workshops and seminars in both the U.S. and Europe.

“It is shocking that intelligent, well educated people don't know the difference between a framework and a methodology. It's also shocking that prominent and respected organizations display this same ignorance. Who cares? Is this a semantic argument? No, this isn't a semantic argument and the difference between the two is an important distinction. It's important because a framework allows you to be loose and flexible; to have 'poetic license'. A methodology is much more prescriptive. Both can be handy at different times.”
-- Anthony Draffin, “Methodology vs. Framework – why waterfall and agile are not methodologies”

Anthony Draffin’s shock does not go unshared. Of course the lack of understanding shouldn’t be all that astounding given that seasoned IT project professionals still confuse application development approaches with project management. So, let’s clear the air and clarify the differences between frameworks and methodologies. To keep things manageable, the following areas will be covered in context to frameworks and methodologies:

  • Project Management
  • Application Development
  • IT Governance
  • Business Process Improvement

To begin with, a definition of a framework and a methodology is in order, just to make sure we are all on the same page. According to pm.…

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