Project Methodology: Help or Hindrance?

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Categories: Methodology, PMOs

​By Ramiro Rodrigues

I have heard arguments both for and against the effectiveness of corporations using standardized project management methodologies.


In general, a project management methodology should clarify which methods — steps, activities, gadgets and tools — can be used to reach a goal. And since a project is made up of a set of processes, each with their suggested methods or best practices, they are usually given the name of methodology.


The Arguments For

The fervent proponents of project management methodologies contend that there is a need for the implementing organization to establish an identity, which its clients will see. They believe that the methodology enhances the standardization of the particular strengths of the services offered.


According to them, a project originating from a corporation with a specific work methodology tends to have more predictable services and products, which decreases the interference of human factors associated with the individuals who lead the project. It also allows for greater clarity and understanding for the stakeholders with regard to what is to be expected at each moment.


Finally, they maintain, that a methodology enables a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement and development with regard to project management in an organization.


The Arguments Against

Opponents assert that methodologies often require disproportionate documentation efforts that do not add value. For them, methodologies are bureaucratic "machines" that increase their costs and stress levels, thus taking the focus away from the expected results.


There is no single solution to this issue. It is common knowledge that each organization must develop its own project management methodology in order to find the best set of methods.


Therefore, it is suggested that organizations wishing to improve should always consider whether the proposed methodology:

  • Makes the project management processes more effective
  • Brings clarity and transparency to the various phases of the enterprise
  • Minimizes rework and helps reduce the stress levels of those involved
  • Benefits the stakeholders
  • Helps speed up project deliveries without compromising quality


This latter issue, together with the need for resource optimization and a drop in the learning curve, has led corporations to search for alternatives — such as agile methods and using Canvas in project management.


However, this objectivity "line" should not be stretched too far. There’s a risk that while searching for leaner processes some aspects related to the optimal handling of a project may become too superficial. That could ultimately compromise the quality of project deliveries and the image of the implementing organization.


Therefore, there is no one perfect solution. Each market segment, project size and organizational culture should be carefully considered in order to find the best way to implement a project management methodology.

Posted by Ramiro Rodrigues on: January 10, 2018 11:52 AM | Permalink

Comments (21)

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Sometimes you just have to get creative and reach into your PM tool box of experience and customize an approach to make the project work. There are difficult teams to manage and a methodology will not work.

Dear Drake Settsu thanks for your comment!

Informative and thanks for sharing.

Project methodologies helps organizations follow a structured approach to project delivery, with clearly defined roles/ responsibilities, a structured lifecycle and supporting processes. There can not be one fits all and each organization has to tailor the processes to suite, which works best for them.
Thank you Ramiro for a great article.

Sometime it becomes or is used as a KRUTCH

Good Post Ramiro ... I like the picture too, great one.

Hard to pick a side on this one; they both have good arguments depending on the project.

This is a good post, and a battle we've fought in our organization in the past. Luckily we've found a great hybrid methodology that works in our segment, and we're going to focus on continuing developing this hybrid model in the years to come.

Adapt or die, as they say!

Great comments Ramiro. I suppose with a turnover in personnel, having a structure to fall back upon will provide at least a minimal result or expectation for management. Should a capable PM be in place, a management waiver should be allowed to use an agreed upon alternate approach by a capable PM. Perhaps a "Methodology Lite" version to a project approach. This would require a flexible management style based on knowing their PM's capabilities.

On the flip side, how many of us have come into an organization or project where there aren't any methodologies in place? I find it much more difficult to implement methodologies than it is to take existing methods and adapt.

Very true! Organizational culture of belief in Project Management as a methodology is key to make this a success.Else, no matter how you do and even show the value of PM, it still will be seen as an obstacle and not as an enabler.

A methodology can be a hinderance, especially with multiple stakeholders from a variety of organisations. Communications is the key. The conveying of information is critical to the success of any project. So when determining what is the best methodology for a project and / or organisation, I look to how best to communicate.
Never let the methodology become a hinderance to effective and efficient communications. Of course this post relates more to the tools used, but the choice of tools is often determined by the methodology used.

Thank you for the valued information!

Project management methodology is a help and requires organizational discipline to implement. Those organizations with weak accountability will find it the most difficult to implement methodology.

Project methodology that Commonly understood by team members and fit with the process of the work process is essential for effective management of project that lead eventually project success.

And also, chosen project methodlogy and it's IT system can create synergy effect through unique culture for project managrment.

Of course project management "methodology" is a key point to success. The most important thing is to adapt the situation with the context, and especially with the culture of the company and the stakeholders. Communication, communication and à little bit of.... Communication !

Often the battlers claim to focus on "method or not". In reality, the fight boils down to the accountability of the PM and team. 'Non-methodical' pm equals semi-controlled chaos. Most opponents to 'methodology' object to PMI's unstated or understated assumption: "Use the appropriate tools appropriately!" - don't just use the quick tools and ignore the value of the time-consuming tools that add value (when used appropriately)!

Great Post. Thanks for Sharing!

This is an interesting and thought-provoking post.

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