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How to pick a project management methodology

Moira Alexander | July 23, 2015
There’s an overwhelming choice of different project management methodologies. Knowing which ones will work best for you can be as challenging as the project itself.

Good, better, best?
While there is no "best" methodology that works for all business types, sizes or industries, there are ways to determine which methodology to use and how to effectively apply it. When evaluating methodologies, these are only a few of the many factors that should be carefully considered:

  • Organizational strategic goals and core values
  • Key business drivers
  • Constraints
  • Stakeholders
  • Risks
  • Complexity
  • Project size & cost

To assist in this regard, the Project Management Institute (PMI) developed the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) -- now a globally recognized standard -- to enable organizations to identify, measure and improve PM capabilities, standardize processes, help solidify successful project outcomes and ultimately determine best practices and strengthen the connection between strategic planning and execution. OPM3 focuses on overall organizational strategic effectiveness and incorporates project, program and portfolio management. This standard was updated in 2008 and again in 2013 and is recognized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as an American National Standard.

In their Implementing Organizational Project Management Practice Guide, the PMI discusses some high-level processes for tailoring PM methodologies. Organizations should carefully evaluate which methodologies work for various projects based on factors in the PMI Methodology Tailoring Process in order to maximize strategic benefits.

Benefits of Organizational Project Management (OPM)
OPM3 is aimed at achieving successful strategic alignment. And since successful project outcomes depend heavily on such alignment, it may make sense for your business to adopt OPM3. Organizations will need include EPMOs (Enterprise Program Management Offices) in high-level planning sessions in order to ensure the right methodologies are deployed for specific projects to increase productivity and customer satisfaction, gain a competitive advantage, improve cost control and communications and predict performance. Ultimately, this will improve and expedite decision making as well as support alignment with company-wide goals.

Different PM methodologies have their strengths and weaknesses; organizations may want to consider selecting multiple project management methodologies based on the project and other factors previously mentioned (among others)...and also develop some standardized best practices that can be tweaked as various factors change.

The key is to figure out how specific projects align with the over-all organization objectives, and, once you determine what factors impact the success or failure of those goals, find the most suitable methodologies that will enable your organization to effectively and efficiently reach the desired business result.


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