With over twenty years of managing projects, I have always struggled with why organizations determine the framework that a project will be managed by. Every project is different so why do organizations continue to try to fit the proverbial square peg into a round hole? Then, an organization may bring in a vendor to try to help them implement other frameworks and introduces a vendor that is focused on scrum as an example. This vendor comes in and without understanding the organizational structure, the culture, the processes that are in place, or the actual work that is being done dictates to the organization that they must stop everything they are doing and do it “their way”.
What is wrong with this picture? Simple. You are trying to hammer a square peg into a round hole.
Projects are unique. Agreed there are similarities in each. If you look at a development project it has the basics of requirements, design, build, test and deploy. Whether you use a waterfall technique, or an iterative/agile technique, the same steps must be completed. Things that an organization must consider is if the application development team runs in true agile, are the support areas such as information security or compliance also prepared to run in agile; are the teams self-sufficient; are there backend processes that need to be streamlined to fit with the agile framework; is the organizational structure set up to fit the agile team needs; have all areas been trained in agile; and a host of other questions.
So how can an organization be hurt by a framework purist? I have seen organizations bring vendors in that push a framework without any consideration for what is happening within the organization. They come in, they train, and they leave; and the organization is left struggling. A purist sees no other way to complete a task, initiative or project but only their way and we all know there is more than one way to complete a task. This author has seen purists almost have a melt-down if you even suggest going a different route, even with something as simple as going from scrum sprints to Kanban board. They may even say “you will fail” – wrong. I have also seen some vendors try to push their own methodology of framework; then later when the organization later tries to find new employees, these employees struggle with a methodology that doesn’t follow any known standards.
Making sure what you do brings value is key to anything. As an example, let’s look at an operations team that share the same basic day-to-day activities that primarily involves meetings. Having daily stand-ups just for each member to say who they are meeting with really brings no value if that team is co-located and always in constant contact. Logging these daily meetings as stories into scrum sprints also really brings no value but just adds to cost. However, a scrum purist would tell you that “it must be done – the book says so”. In the same respect a waterfall purist would say that no stage or phase can begin until the other one is ended. Wrong answer! Phases can overlap; you can do iterations; you can have flexibility.
If I was to give any advice, it would be:
- If you are a framework purist, please open your mind to understand that there are more ways than one to complete an initiative.
- If you are an organization hiring a vendor, please beware of the purists. If they do not ask you about your current environment, culture or organizational structure, you may be in for a surprise at the end.
- If you are a vendor pushing by-the-book frameworks, be conscious of the fact that one framework does not fit all. Please be conscious of the harm that you can cause to an organization that is trusting in you.
Finally, I would remind you that multiple frameworks can successfully work under one PMO structure, and we all learned at a very young age that one size does not fit all.
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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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.