What is Methodology?
A methodology is a set of rules, practices and techniques applied to a field of study. You may find methodologies everywhere, for example in programming, design, development and of course in project management.
Normally, project manager or organization choose (in some cases even develop) own set or rules in order to manage projects. The more project managers work in an organization, the more practices and rules they use within this organization. Methodologies allow to structure everything.
Another point is efficiency. Some approaches allow to produce better efficency. That's why some methodologies are so popular.
Methodologies in Project Management
Project management methodologies help project managers and teams to lead projects in controllable and manageable ways. They are essential when it comes to schedule, budget, time, quality and other constraints. There are many different project management approaches. Some of them are pretty clear and easy (e.g. Waterfall), others are more difficult even if they look easy (e.g. Scrum).
Here is the list of the most common methodologies:
- Extreme Programming
How to choose a methodology for a project?
There is no single formula. Project manager's choice should be based on different aspects such as area, project or budget type, duration, level of certainty, company practices, project manager's experience and others. Of course, some approaches work better and normally companies know which one to choose. If you are a project manager and company still does not have a recommended approach, it is good for you. Because in the case the company may allow you and the project team to experiment and find the best methodology for a particular project type or domain.
Do methodologies help to manage projects?
Yes, they do. However, all project managers should understand that any approach is not a magic pill; different project management practices and tools should be used in order to reach project goals. Manager's expertise plays a key role in every aspect of management, that's why you should not think about a methodology like about magic. Moreover, I see many cases when some even easy practices or approaches used incorrectly. That's why I recommending the following:
- Study as many methodologies as you can and understand them in detail
- Try to use as many methodologies as you can
- Find the best one which suits your business, team and other constraints
- Experiment with the team to make the chosen approach better