Earlier this week, I was reviewing proposed abstracts for the PMOZ project management conference in Australia. One paper proposed comparing the PRINCE2 Methodology with the PMBOK Methodology.
The paper did not get accepted because its basic premise is completely wrong! The PMBOK® Guide is not and never has been a methodology.
Methodologies define the processes, responsibilities and workflows needed to achieve an objective. PRINCE2 is a good project methodology for managing projects with a large internal component. Agile and Waterfall are two different software development methodologies that incorporate elements of project management.
The PMBOK® Guide is an international standard. To give it its full name, it is A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. The processes described in the PMBOK® Guide are generally accepted good practice that apply to most project most of the time. This is the foundation for a good project management methodology but the PMBOK® Guide is not, and cannot ever be a methodology without adaptation.
The step between the PMBOK® Guide and a methodology is determining what, who and how:
- What of the processes should be applied in you organisation, to what extent and with how much rigour?
- Who is responsible for the implementation of the processes, including; generic roles and responsibilities, project org. structures and governance committees
- How the processes will be applied, templates, guidelines and workflows.
These are critically important issues.
- If a PMO sets out to ‘implement the PMBOK’ you are heading for disaster.
- If the same PMO sets out to develop a tailored methodology based on the good practices described in the PMBOK you are potentially on the right road.
Certainly in my business, if someone does not know the difference between a standard and a methodology, I tend to start asking a lot more questions about their competence. Having been involved in the last two upgrades of the PMBOK® Guide I consider it to be a very valuable resource to underpin the development of any project management methodology but you still need to do the hard work of determining the what, who, how and ‘how much’ for yourself to build the methodology and optimise the outcomes for your organisation.