Project Management Methodology

Project Management Methodology

Read a project management methodology manual and you might conclude that project management is a complicated, arcane and tediously administrative occupation. You might even conclude that you need a degree in mathematics when you reach the chapters on CPA, EMV or SQC. And you'll certainly conclude you're going to need an interpreter to explain what CPA, EMV and SQC are. Reading a project management methodology manual can give the impression that project management requires bureaucracy of labyrinthine complexity.

Project Management Methodology - Bureaucracy, Paperwork, Administration

"My partner is a project manager but I've always seen it as an awful job. He's forever moving things from risk logs to issue logs or issue logs to change logs - updating this form, updating that form - completely lost in his own little world. It's a job I never wanted to do. But I now see that project management isn't like that and I'm inspired to be a project manager." What had lead to this awakening? Attending a Project management course that showed how to manage projects. Her partner had been on a project management methodology course (as opposed to a project management course) which had taught how to administer project documentation in accordance with a particular project management methodology.

And boy, don't some people who've been on a methodology course have the fervour of the religious zealot? For them any deviation from the way is tantamount to heresy and stoning too lenient a punishment. You want to raise a Change Request without first raising it as an Issue? End of the World! Armageddon! Apocalypse!

Methodology Madness

The methodology becomes a tyranny, the process a straightjacket with which to constrain thought, the manual a thing with which to beat the deviant.

Methodologies aren't meant to be like that. They are meant to inform and advise. But in the hands of the zealot they obscure and mislead: obscure the fundamental point about project management - that it is about managing; mislead by (apparently) mandating ways of doing things that may not be appropriate. And because a way is laid down no thought is given to better ways or, even worse, the better way is forbidden because the zealots say it is not in accordance with The Way.

Common Sense

In the hands of the wise and the experienced a methodology offers advice, provides structure, encourages consistency. But they have learned to use the methodology, not be used by it. And they know you can't manage a project by simply following the instructions in a manual.

A Project Management Methodology is like the Highway Code. If you learn the Highway Code parrot-fashion and then pass the Highway Code theory test would you agree that you now know how to drive a car? I don't think so. But learn that SU4 is Preparing a Project Brief (and memorising the other 399 pages of the manual) and pass the exam and you know how to manage projects, yes? I don't think so either.

Go on a Highway Code course, pass the theory test then jump into your car with a copy of the Highway Code on your lap and drive by following the instructions. The consequences will be similar to going on a PM methodology course and trying to run your project by following the instructions in the project management methodology manual.

One could devise a classroom course that teaches how to drive (which would of course include the tenets enshrined in the Highway Code) and this would perhaps be more help to you when you jumped into that new car of yours. Though when it comes to driving, or managing projects, there is no substitute for experience.

Are Project Management Methodologies like Prince 2 a Bad Thing?

Definitely not! They are very useful. One can argue that the popular ones are cumbersome even burdensome and that you'd be better off writing your own set of appropriate project management procedures tailored to your own environment. But something that guides how your organisation runs projects will be of great value.

Does going on a methodology course teach the novice how to run projects? No, only how to administer the bureaucracy.

Project Management - Just Common Sense

Are there courses that teach how to manage projects? Yes, there are. And "project management is just common sense" will tend to be the reaction of participants who attend such courses. Project Management Course.

This course is now available free online here: Project Management Book.


Articles on Project Management:

Project Management in the Public Sector

Risk Management

Quality Management in Software Development Projects

The Tale of Three Project Managers

Towards a Project-Centric World

Project Management Proverbs, Saying, Laws and Jokes

So You Want To Be A Project Manager?

Free Online Project Management Book



Project Management Methodology

"Project management is just common sense - the trouble is common sense isn't very common in our organisation."
Make common sense common in your organisation - send your people on this course: How To Manage Projects.

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