This topic usually will prompt a debate.  What is a methodology and what makes it a reality?  In my opinion, a methodology does not occur until a project framework is infused with the cultural aspects and environmental factors of the organization.  Many times, I have seen this conversation come up within organizations and professionals alike on which methodology to use:  waterfall, iterative, agile scrum, agile extreme programming, hybrid.

What I have learned over the years is that these are merely frameworks, templates so to speak.  What really makes them a reality is when the cultural and environment of the organization is infused into the framework.  So how does an organization do this?

Let’s consider an organization that has extensive processes in place, resources are not co-located, and teams do not consist of resources to fill all the needs of a project.  In this respect, it would not be feasible to consider that you can implement scrum overnight due to several reasons.  If a development team begins operating in a scrum mode but the infrastructure teams are not aligned to agile, the external processes and dependencies quickly become apparent and can cause the project to fail.  An organization may also need to consider other things such as complexity of the project, whether compliance factors are applicable and need to be considered, whether the development team has been trained in agile, and a host of other factors.

Consider another example of a simple enhancement to an existing application.  You would not want to run it based on the strictest of PMO practices, but scrum or extreme programming would probably fit best.  Especially if there are no procurement needs such as having to purchase hardware or software.  If you were to put in the full PMO practice, an organization can add additional cost and headache where it is not necessary.

Many may disagree with this last statement, but not every project can run in scrum or extreme programming.  This is usually where the debate begins.  Here is why I say this:  projects, just like frameworks, are unique.  Each has unique needs, and much like a dress or a pair of pants, one size does not fit all.  I am a firm believer in the practice of what I have started calling tiered life cycles.  With tiered life cycles that are based on the culture and environment of the organization infused into frameworks, these life cycles can not only determine the PMO processes, practices and templates that should be followed, but can also determine the framework in with they should be run.  By leveraging the strengths of each framework, the organizational processes and the people, multiple frameworks can work collaboratively under one PMO, and methodologies can become a reality.

For more information on this topic, consider reading the article by our Co-Founder – Don Clarke on “SUCCESSFUL PROJECT DELIVERY IS DRIVEN BY ALIGNING TO THE CULTURE” – CLICK HERE


Tell me your thoughts in the comments and let’s open a dialog. I would be excited to hear other opinions on this topic.

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Alyce Reopelle

Alyce Reopelle

Contributing Author

Over 20 years project management experience with a passion for helping organizations grow their PMO, their project managers, and their teams.  My passion has taken me to the pursuit of a Doctor of Education, as I enjoy seeing the proverbial light bulb come on.  I am a believer in continuous growth and improvement, and believe that an organizations culture and environment is what drives the growth of PMOs and all areas, and not the other way around.

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