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Out of the Box Forum: Designing Project Management Methodologies is a Waste of Time

The project landscape is becoming more complex and uncertain.

The frequency of unknown unknowns is increasing. Risks are high in such a landscape.

These are undeniable facts. The likelihood that a predefined methodology will be robust enough to successfully manage these projects is rare. Flexibility and creativity must characterize every methodology to have any chance of it being useful. The same must be true of those who would manage such projects. If all you can do is use a recipe created by someone else to manage your projects, you will certainly fail.

This is a problem, and fortunately, it has a solution. My approach is founded upon the fact that complex and uncertain projects are unique, and the best way to manage them will also be unique.

Let me pose a management approach. My approach is based on first assessing and describing these three factors:

  • the characteristics of the project
  • the organizational environment in which the project will be executed
  • the stability of the market into which the project deliverables will be deployed

With this assessment in hand, the second step is to define the management approach that will accommodate this project situation. That assumes a vetted portfolio of tools, templates, and processes from which a “recipe” can be created to manage such a project situation. If all you have is Scrum in your vetted portfolio, you are in harm’s way and will almost surely fail. Scrum is excellent, but it cannot work for every project that might arise. If you add DSDM and FTP to your portfolio, you will have a better chance of success, and if you allow the project team to modify either Scrum or DSDM of FTP for this project, you will have an even better chance of success. You see where this is going?

The richer the vetted portfolio from which the recipe can be created, the better will be your chance of succeeding. The vetted portfolio that I use to help my clients design their own portfolios includes:

  • bodies of knowledge (PMBOK, IIBA, IPMA, etc.)
  • a specific set of methodologies (Scrum, FTP, etc.)
  • customized reports
  • business process models
  • Earned Value Analysis
  • process improvement programs
  • professional development program
  • problem-solving models
  • decision-making models
  • conflict resolution models
  • prioritization models
  • RASCI Matrix
  • Risk Management Matrix
  • other proprietary tools, templates, and processes

The project team uses the project assessment and this vetted portfolio and designs the best fit approach for managing their project. Every project will have its own approach, and every organization will have its own vetted portfolio.

This is only the start. We are talking about a very different type of project manager here. So a position family is needed and the support processes for it. An organizational infrastructure is required that includes a new type of PMO. The business model must also be aligned. But these are topics for future postings.

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