More Process and less Methodology

The key to having a useful and usable approach for managing projects is to think process, not methodology. For many people methodology is a good thing. It presents a formalized way to manage projects and it demonstrates a level of project management capability and skill that is an order of magnitude better than the skill associated with managing projects informally and by ad hoc best efforts. For other people, however, methodology is not normally viewed positively. It represents everything that is wrong with organization and bureaucracy and, rather than being a help to project management, it is a hindrance.

Methodology-oriented can have a negative impact on the PMO and all those involved in projects. Some of the many differences between a methodology-oriented and process-oriented mindset are shown below

In methodology-oriented PMO. The focus is placed on the methods as an end rather than as a means. In a process-oriented mindset, on the other hand, the core basis of thinking is always centered on the outcome.

Those with a process-oriented mindset put the achievement of the outcome first and construct the requisite processes to ensure the outcome.

Traditionally, methodologies do not address the complete end-to-end work effort that an organization such as a PMO must undertake to select a project, deliver the product of the project, and to perform the post-project activities required to ensure continued improvement.

Methodologies typically address the project work, starting with the project charter document and ending with some kind of end-of-project document such as lessons learned. Depending upon the phases of the methodology, this starting point takes place in the first phase of the project methodology and the ending point occurs in the last phase of the project methodology such as the initiating and closing phases of the PMBOK® initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing processes.

Hence, methodologies are like a cookbook that tells you how to make eggs. Processes, on the other hand, are focused on the outcome; they tell you how to make breakfast.

Project management approaches created with a methodology-oriented focus primarily on aligning to standards. However, approaches for project management that are created from a process-oriented mindset do answer these questions. By design, they focus on the needs of the business and seek to employ, optimize, and streamline available standards.

It is understood that methodology is not a series of templates. It is a process that needs to be adapted to suit each situation. Feedback is also important. The methodology will not stand still. It will evolve and become more applicable to the organization.

Besides project management process is not a set of static, unchanging documents; rather it is a living and managed process resource, a best practice framework, which requires as well as enables constant care-taking and improvement.

Methodology-oriented offer an initial value and are short-lived, whereas process-oriented approaches evolve with usage and offer lasting value.

Process-oriented frameworks for project management, on the other hand, do not become outdated, are collaborative and frequently updated.

Building a best set of processes and methodologies also involves taking advantage of the lessons project managers learn while engaged in projects.” Lessons learned documents do not get filed away and forgotten rather they get acted upon and applied to the process framework.

Although methodology-oriented thinking stops at the production documents that are rarely updated, process-oriented thinking only begins its journey at that point with frequent updating points along the way.

Continuous improvement is perhaps one of the most significant differences between the methodology-oriented mindset that produces static documents and the process-oriented mindset that provides a managed framework and it offers a compelling reason for PMOs to adopt a process-oriented mindset in the form of longevity of use and value.

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