Part 1 published here September 2014.


Musings Index

Implementing a Standard Project Management Methodology: Part 1
Thoughts on an Interesting Discussion

Back in 2013, there was an interesting discussion on LinkedIn on the subject of the merits of establishing a "standard" or uniform PM methodology for all projects in a portfolio of projects. One of the more thoughtful contributors was Larry Moore, and as the discussion appeared to be winding down, I sent him an Email as follows.

On 12/14/13 8:55 AM, Max Wideman wrote:

Larry — What do you think you have you learned from this interesting discussion?

Max Wideman

To this Larry replied:/p>

"Max: Thanks for asking. I think I have learned quite a bit about the overall knowledge and understanding levels of many well qualified PMs (and others not so well qualified). For example:

There is a great tendency of many PMs to focus almost entirely on the details of managing an individual project. That is rather than expanding this focus to include how their project fits into the portfolio of current projects and how these projects fit into the goals, objectives, strategies of the organization.

My reasons for utilizing a custom-built, standardized methodology for all projects in a given organization have as much to do with the whole portfolio of projects as they do with each individual project. I believe that the methodology used must be fitted to the organization and the way it conducts its business. The processes built into one organization's methodology certainly might not fit another organization.

It seems that many of the discussion participants have a great deal of difficulty understanding this; many of them seem to think that this is a "one size fits all" philosophy when it really is not. Such a methodology can be designed to allow quite a bit of flexibility in the way individual projects are planned and conducted.

I think it is difficult to adequately explain why using standardized processes and project artifacts during the initiation and planning part of a project is so important. I probably haven't done a good job of this. I have learned that people generally do a better job and are more productive if they know what to anticipate and what will be expected of them. Implementing a well-governed set of processes so people can anticipate what they will need to do and/or provide helps greatly with this.

My PM environments have primarily been in situations where there are literally dozens of needed projects competing for resources, budgets, and time. In this environment, priorities and productivity are critical. Standardized processes help to save time and improve productivity. Methodologies can be designed and implemented that will significantly shortcut the time required to produce the project artifacts needed and get approvals needed to proceed with project efforts. Such a methodology can also force quick responses from project sponsors and other executives when those responses are needed (in my experience, the issue of getting quick responses from executives has proven to be a real problem).

From this discussion, I have gotten the feeling that a lot of PMs just don't like any kind of regulated methodology. They seem to prefer having a free reign in how they approach each project and how they choose to manage their projects. Having been an IT tech person, I understand this attitude, but I don't endorse it.

I apologize if I am being too "wordy" in my response. I hope this gives you at least some answers to your question."

Of course, I couldn't help adding to Larry's list, but let's leave that until next month's Musings.


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