Have I Got A Methodology For You!

A Multiplayer Game

Many of our customers are employing a multi-supplier strategy when looking for IT consultants and  each consulting supplier brings their own methodology into the picture as the way to run the project.

While multiple sourcing is fine as a strategy for managing one element of your project costs, it can lead to a situation where you are managing your project portfolio with a patchwork quilt of supplier-specific project frameworks and methodologies.  Is this a bad thing? What can you do about it?

For a while multiple methodologies might pay off as you find out what really works well for your organization in given software implementation scenarios.

Beyond this point, however, the returns diminish and you can just end up with a bunch of different different documentation styles and variable results in your projects.

We recently reviewed this problem with one of our customers, a global player in the pharmaceuticals industry.  They are rolling out Oracle E-Business Suite in North America, South America and Europe using different system integrators in each region.

We concluded that the key to success was having a strong methodology of their own for the various consulting suppliers to plug into and integrate with using their own specific frameworks. So how do you get your very own methodology? To quote our our customer’s Global Program Manager: “Steal (or at least borrow – Ed.) with pride.” Adopt a methodology from one of your suppliers and adapt it to meet your needs.

Adoption & Adaptation

You need to choose and  adopt a method fully, rather than just go through the motions of using the method framework as a source of nice deliverable templates. This means diving in and using the method as a foundation for all common project practice in your organization.

Secondly you need to adapt the method to make the method really work in your organizational setting. Own it, and 0wn it (using hacker slang). This means pruning out unneeded or over-engineered elements, combining or simplifying deliverables or WBS’s or grafting in new elements that may be specific to your situation. Methods are always designed to cover all sorts of eventualities that may have cropped up in past projects so they often contain a lot of material that may not be needed. The key is to treat a method as a point of departure for your project, something that you adapt to needs as the project unfolds.  A skilled PM should be well versed in separating the useful and non-useful elements from a raw method framework in each new project setting. Slavish and non-critical adherence to the framework is usually a recipe for problems.

This customizing process drives ownership of the method, which increases the actual use of the method which drives the overall effectiveness of the method in your project.

Utility

Utility means usefulness (in fewer letters). With methods, utility is king. Snazzy technology is great (for the IT folks) but project processes, tasks and deliverable templates that are easy for project participants from the business (the Users!) to understand and use still trump everything.

Long live homely deliverables.

Play Nice Together!

Once you have adopted and adapted a methodology to meet your basic needs you can have a different kind of discussion with your consulting suppliers. You are in a better to position to require that their project frameworks or methodologies meet the basic requirements dictated by your methodology and you can drive an increased level of consistency across your project portfolio.

While it does not guarantee immediate consistency of results, an improved project management process eventually will lead to improved project outcomes.

Oracle Methods

I could not write this article without putting in a plug for the Oracle Methods.

Oracle is putting a lot of effort into revitalizing our Oracle Methods with the knowledge added by our new colleagues coming on board via acquisition. The Oracle Unified Method (OUM for short) really is being given an extreme makeover. Have a look at what OUM can do for you here. It is a great start to base your adopt/adapt process on.

Comments:

This is very much the situation we have here - it's nice to see that we're not alone in this boat.

Note: the UOM page you link doesn't appear to be available for general audiences.

Posted by EJ on October 24, 2008 at 08:42 AM CEST #

Am checking the link for the OUM brief as everything I see tells me it should be available for the general public.

Posted by Andrew Sparks on October 27, 2008 at 08:03 AM CET #

See the problem these days is that methodologies are becoming more important than success ( http://www.pmhut.com/when-project-management-methodology-matters-more-than-project-success ), people are missing the whole point, which is getting the project done.

While I agree that adopting a methodology may enhance the chance of project success, a PM methodology, in and for itself, should not be the main focus when managing any project.

Posted by PM Hut on January 11, 2010 at 02:13 PM CET #

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