Performance Measurement
December 29, 2014

Project Management Methodology: Make it both off-the-rack…and bespoke

When you purchase clothes, do you like off-the-rack, or do you prefer your garments custom-made? Each has its advantages, of course.

Fortunately, in the realm of managing your projects, you can take advantage of the benefits of both. Research has shown that organizations using standardized project management practices, yet fitted to the organization’s specific context and situation, have more successful projects and are more likely to achieve their intended outcomes.

A methodology is a standardized, organization- or situation-specific approach that encourages efficient use of resources to enable the organization to focus on its most important tasks. Even if an organization has embraced organizational project management (OPM) as a critical driver for business success, thus tying projects to the organization’s strategy and needs, an organization needs a strong project management methodology to make its OPM strategy work.

An effective methodology is one that can align organizational goals across the portfolio of projects, all the while supporting consistent application of proven OPM practices.

While many organizations, including government agencies, recognize the importance of project management, some continue to execute projects without a methodology or with a methodology that hasn’t been fitted to the organization – almost like having no clothes.

Consistent Application
For government agencies, a project management methodology integrates globally accepted best practices with agency-specific processes and techniques. This creates custom-fit approaches that are best for consistent management of all of its projects.

An effective methodology also aligns project management practices across the organization’s portfolio of projects. After project completion, the organization’s project leadership uses lessons learned to capture organizational knowledge and learning and then make regular updates and refinements to the methodology.

Most importantly, the methodology supports consistent application of project management practices within the organization, and the methodology fits the organizational context and situation.

A methodology usually incorporates and integrates three important elements:

1. How an organization conducts its business, including its requirements and processes.
2. Key aspects of the organization’s culture and capabilities, as well as the environment, industry sector and context within which the organization operates.
3. Proven, recognized best practices or techniques for accomplishing intended results.

For practitioners, a methodology provides consistency for both project managers and project team members; it provides common tools, templates and other resources to help the project manager successfully guide the project. It also supports a common language and a framework in which individual team members can gain an understanding of their roles and expected contributions to the project.

A Living, Evolving Resource
More than just a static list of practices, a methodology is a living, evolving resource. As agencies and practitioners implement the methodology, they must evaluate how well defined the intended practices are and how well the organization is executing the intended practices across projects. Those assessments lead to constant improvements in the methodology as organizations move closer to being “best in class” performers.

A methodology is based on a standard. Many organizations choose a consensus-based global standard such as A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) as their foundation framework.

 

PMI has resources to help you in developing a methodology, including a resource library with a public-sector case study, as well as Implementing Organizational Project Management: A Practice Guide. Visit www.PMI.org/methodology and start on your path toward consistency.
SIDEBAR
Research Supports Use of Standardized Practices 

Some key research findings supporting the use of standardized practices include:

  • Nearly six out of 10 organizations use standardized project management practices throughout most or all of their organization. 
  • PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: Organizational Agility finds that when organizations standardize their project management practices throughout all departments, they are three times more likely to report high levels of organizational agility than their counterparts who did not. Organizations reporting higher agility also report being more successful with new initiatives over the past two to three years. Furthermore, over half of organizations (57 percent) that use standardized project management practices across the enterprise report increased success in meeting the original goals and business intent of their projects.
  • PMI’s 2014 Pulse of the Profession study finds that organizations having high project management maturity, using standardized practices throughout the organization and reporting high level of organizational agility:
    • average significantly more projects that meet original goals and business intent;
    • average significantly more projects completed within budget and on schedule; and
    • average significantly fewer projects experiencing scope creep or deemed failures.

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