What Is A Methodology By Mark Walker


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What Is A Methodology By Mark Walker

  1. 1. What is Methodology? - Written by Mark Walker (MetaPM Advisory and Delivery Practice Leader) Choosing a Methodology We hear a lot of questions about methodologies in our business. What methodology should we be using? Should we adopt an established methodology or are we better to build our own customised framework? Do we even need a methodology? How can we use PRINCE2 or PMBoK if we want to adopt Agile development techniques? To answer these questions we first need to understand what a methodology is and therefore what value it can deliver to our own organisation. In this paper we will look at methodologies appropriate to a corporate IT department, as this is a very common situation we see here in Melbourne. The same basic principles discussed here will obviously do apply to other industries as well. What is a Methodology? An IT methodology refers to the framework that is used to structure, plan, and control the process of developing or maintaining an information system. A good methodology is process based, derived from experience, structured, repeatable, scalable and able to be tailored. It would include processes, techniques, tools (e.g. templates or role descriptions) and standards. As we know an organisation’s IT department is commonly organised into a projects division and a support division. The projects division will be responsible for on-time, on-budget delivery of new capability through functions such as: • Business Case; • Governance; • Planning; and • Procurement and/or Construction Typically this division will be organized into project teams that wax and wane over time, and often there is a PMO function that is constant. The support division will be responsible for the every day running of the IT systems through functions such as: • Service Level Management . Le v e l 2 , 410 L o nsd a le Str e et , M e lb o urn e , V I C 30 00 www.metapm.com.au T: +61 3 9017 6700 en q u ir ie s @ m et ap m . co m . au www.rational.com.au
  2. 2. o Performance o Availability • Defect Management; and • Configuration Management. This division will typically be organized into a permanent structure along functional lines. There are industry proven methodologies to support each of these disciplines, and often an IT department will develop their own operating framework. With the prevalence of robust methodologies in this domain today it makes sense for organizations to adopt an industry standard and then customize it for their particular needs. Classes of Methodology There are many different methodologies that have been developed. In the typical IT department we see in Melbourne the following classifications have evolved: Projects Division Project Management Examples include: • PRINCE2® • PMBoK Systems Integration and Software Development Examples include: • Waterfall (linear) • Prototyping (iterative) • Incremental (combination linear and iterative) • Spiral (combination linear and iterative) • Rapid Application Development (Iterative) • Other s/w development methods: o Unified Process o Object Oriented o Agile There are also specialist methodologies that have evolved for other IT disciplines, such as business analysis, data modelling and testing. Certainly, there is not a one size fits all methodology that can be applied, and the most successful IT departments will draw on a number of good practice methodologies to support the professional disciplines practiced, as is appropriate. Support Division Examples include: Le v e l 2 , 410 L o nsd a le Str e et , M e lb o urn e , V I C 30 00 www.metapm.com.au T: +61 3 9017 6700 en q u ir ie s @ m et ap m . co m . au www.rational.com.au
  3. 3. • ITIL • COBIT Methodologies in the MetaPM Delivery Practice As a Project Management consultancy, MetaPM draws on OGC’s PRINCE2 and PMI’s PMBoK as our primary source for good practice methods in project governance, planning and delivery. All of our consultants are formally trained in PRINCE2 or PMBoK. It is our belief that PRINCE2 provides a suitable process framework for the majority of projects we deliver, and we use PRINCE2 as our foundation methodology to supplement our clients’ in-house methodologies as needed. On top of this we reference PMBoK for additional techniques and tools. We use this approach for the project management of all our projects; iterative web development, linear legacy system development, packaged software implementations, or even policy or new product development projects. In our practice the project management method is distinct from the BA, development, testing and other methodologies used by other professionals to perform their functions. Interestingly, one of the important functional areas in the project management domain that is not called out specifically in PRINCE2 or PMBoK is Procurement and Vendor Management. Clearly this is an important function in the delivery of projects, particularly for Government organisations. Both methodologies cater for this function to occur but the practitioner needs to draw on other sources for the detail. Also, PRINCE2 and PMBoK focus on the project planning and delivery. In our experience there are other ‘supporting organisation’ functions that need to be addressed to make projects successful, and this becomes more so with the larger and more strategic initiatives. These functions would include strategic alignment, organisational change management, and project methods and benefits management. At MetaPM we have supplemented our foundation delivery method with these functions. Of course there is some level of inter dependency between the disciplines. For example the PM processes would need to be tailored to suit an Agile development environment. However, in our experience, a project management methodology such as PRINCE2 is still extremely relevant in an Agile development environment, and the trick is to bring the two disciplines together to compliment one another in the particular situation. It is important to maintain the PM discipline framework around whatever development approach is used. Conclusion In summary MetaPM believes that Project Management is an essential discipline in any project environment, and this discipline is supported by bespoke PM methodologies such as PRINCE2 and PMBoK. These PM methodologies compliment other methodologies in the systems integration world. However we don’t believe methodologies from other disciplines, such as the Agile methodology, can be used in place of a PM Methodology. Le v e l 2 , 410 L o nsd a le Str e et , M e lb o urn e , V I C 30 00 www.metapm.com.au T: +61 3 9017 6700 en q u ir ie s @ m et ap m . co m . au www.rational.com.au
  4. 4. An experienced PM practitioner will understand the practice behind the methodology, and will be able to adapt the local framework using a foundational methodology model to deliver successfully. Further, they will understand the supporting organisation functions that are required for a successful project environment. Therefore, in general, we would advise that the most cost effective approach is to adopt an industry standard method that is appropriate to your discipline. The only time when this might not be the case is when your organisation derives some competitive advantage through use of an unique framework, and even then an industry standard method can often be tailored to suit. An industry standard method can also be scaled up or down to accommodate various situations. It will also probably come with available training and experienced practitioners in the market. Please contact MetaPM to discuss how you could make better use of Project Management methodologies in your IT department. * PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries. Le v e l 2 , 410 L o nsd a le Str e et , M e lb o urn e , V I C 30 00 www.metapm.com.au T: +61 3 9017 6700 en q u ir ie s @ m et ap m . co m . au www.rational.com.au