Have you ever wondered why you use a project management methodology? It’s possible that you haven’t given it much thought, as your department may mandate it, and you follow the processes because they are generally effective and required.
Nonetheless, this is the type of inquiry that researchers find fascinating. Dr. Hany Wells of the University of Hertfordshire Business School has studied the advantages of various project management methodologies. Since methodologies are frequently proprietary, the research does not provide much information on the specific approaches being examined (except for PRINCE2, which is mentioned), but the findings are still applicable.
According to Dr. Wells’ research, there are four significant advantages to utilizing a project management methodology. If you are currently not using one, her research may encourage you to try it and consider what you may be overlooking.
1. Control and monitoring
Project management methodologies aid managers in monitoring their projects and provide a control system to assess what is effective and what is not. Various checks and balances are implemented to make it apparent what is happening and to simplify governance decisions. Governance and monitoring are significant components of methodologies, facilitating structured and comprehensible progress.
When everyone in an organization employs the same methodology, it promotes language standardization, facilitating comprehension among project managers, simplifying team member and stakeholder transitions between projects, and enabling sponsors to make informed decisions based on shared data points. Consistency is crucial since businesses often have numerous ongoing projects. If sponsors must interpret project reports differently from one project to the next because the same term means something else, it can be challenging to manage.
3. Hygiene factor
Adhering to a standard methodology can assist your company in winning external contracts or, at the very least, remaining competitive. Many bids necessitate the use of specific tools, and in the UK, multiple bids require PRINCE2. Even if you are not submitting bids, utilizing a methodology (of any type) is commonly regarded as a fundamental hygiene factor for a large company. It protects against project mishaps and establishes “how we do business.”
4. Helping deal with the unknown
Methodologies provide project managers with tools to handle unknown and inevitable uncertainties during project management. Processes like end-of-phase reviews or gate reviews facilitate project-controlled movement from one stage to the next. Without this guidance, many managers would struggle to navigate the project journey.
The research also revealed that methodologies benefit project managers with limited experience. They assist in ensuring that novice project managers follow the correct process, obtain approvals at the appropriate time, and adhere to standard procedures. New project managers would require more management guidance and coaching without a guide to assist them.
Despite the advantages, the research identified that 47% of individuals believe methodologies do not benefit projects. Dr. Wells’ research further indicates that methodologies are beneficial because they “replace and compensate” project managers lacking the experience and knowledge to manage without them. She concludes that there is a mismatch between what project managers perceive as beneficial about methodologies (i.e., not much) and what organizations believe about methodologies at a strategic level (i.e., significant benefits for governance).
Mid-level project managers with average experience and responsibility have limited benefits from methodologies. Below this level, individuals appreciate the extra assistance provided by the methodology. In contrast, they view it from a strategic perspective above this level and appreciate the control and standardization it provides. Unfortunately, I suspect that most individuals who use the method daily fall into the category of experienced practitioners who view it as a control mechanism.