How should you assess project management methodologies?

Identifying available project management methodologies (PMM) is one thing; assessing which one works best for a particular project is much more complicated. While there is no “best” methodology that works for all business types, sizes, or industries, there are ways to determine which methodology to use and how to effectively apply it.

 Here’s how to go about it.

Previously I discussed how to pick a project management methodology and covered some of the well-recognized methodologies, as well as a few high-level factors that may impact selection decisions. These methodologies are repeatable, effective, and efficient processes that help organizations streamline project activities. Because these processes, once developed, can be documented and repeated, they help organizations to spend less time focusing on the way to execute the project itself and more time on the project objectives and deliverables.

The process required to fully assess, document, and finally select the right methodologies for each project is much more detailed, time-consuming, and complex initially, but it is worth it in the end (assuming that the most appropriate PMMs have been selected).

Key considerations when determining the best methodology

Even within the same company, PMMs are definitely not a one-size-fits-all project type or industry. In one situation, a specific methodology may work best, and in others, another one or a hybrid methodology might be more suitable. The same methodology is unlikely to work in the same organization on all projects; a best practice is to develop and implement a streamlined methodology assessment process (MAP) to determine the best approach for each project. Keep in mind that this process itself may require reassessment and modifications as business factors change.

What to include in the assessment

In organizational development, as well as within projects, this list below of relevant assessment criteria applies; when it comes to selecting a methodology, these same criteria should also factor in. These can be broken down into internal and external criteria, as well as subcategories of each.

Internal criteria

Organization

Organization maturity level and preparedness

  • Setup and hierarchy
  • Culture
  • Products and services
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
  • Level of flexibility and agility
  • Business drivers
  • Risks involved
  • Available resources
  • Leadership beliefs, value system, expectations, and support
  • Industry, performance, competition, costs, productivity, and so on

Project

  • Business and project requirements
  • Project nature
  • Size and complexity
  • Timelines
  • Stakeholder expectations
  • Measurable PMM effectiveness

People

  • Team members and their preparedness
  • Experience
  • Training
  • Team location

Processes

  • Internal processes, policies, and practices

Technologies

  • Available software and tools

External criteria

    • External factors impacting the project processes
    • Vendors
    • External stakeholder expectations and requirements
    • PMBOK guidelines

The assessment process

Once the assessment criteria have been factored into the decision, develop a process for identifying the best possible option for a project-management methodology for specific projects. As mentioned previously, this process will need to be revisited and modified from time to time to keep up with the overall business and stakeholder needs.

Here are some general steps:

  1. First, determine project drivers and then identify and weigh the primary goals and priorities of the project.
  2. After determining the business drivers, project requirements, and goals, identify all the criteria that a methodology will impact and vice versa.
  3. Identify all available and possible methodologies that are most relevant for the project.
  4. Spend some time comparing and contrasting each PMM in relation to the project.
  5. Consider which methodology will yield the best results and offer the least risk.
  6. Gain feedback and buy-in.
  7. Document the methodology and rationale.
  8. Implement the methodology.
  9. Monitor and modify as required.

Although the biggest risk factors are likely to fall within organizational abilities and preparedness, any other criteria mentioned previously can create significant problems if they are in breach of a key project requirement.

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