prev next

Selecting a Methodology

The PMBOK Guide isn’t a methodology; i.e., it doesn’t give you a path or flowchart you can follow in your project. Instead,

  • the principles help you understand and interpret everything more effectively (the topic of the previous chapter), and
  • the performance domains help you enrich the methodology (the subject of the next chapter).

So, to embrace the whole context, we’re going to have a brief look at a few methodologies in this chapter., PRINCE2®, DSDM®, and Scrum are examples of resources that show you the way. To avoid confusion, it will be helpful to note a few things:

  • The word “methodology” is a taboo in some Agile communities, and they prefer to use other words instead. For example, Scrum calls itself a framework. The word “framework” has a wider meaning, though, and can be used for other purposes as well.
  • Some resources such as the European Commission’s PM² call themselves methodologies, whereas they are more like guides.
  • tries to avoid unnecessary arguments and simply calls itself a system, which is probably the most general word that can be used.

Regardless of these disagreements over labels, we’ll focus on systems that show the way, and for simplicity, we’ll call them methodologies, which is the commonest word for describing this purpose.

Finally, note that these systems are not the same; for example,

  • Scrum is designed for small projects with only a few team members. If you have a bigger project, you can’t use it without heavy tailoring, which may not be worth the effort, and it would be easier to use a method designed for larger projects.
  • Scrum and DSDM are designed for IT development projects. If you have a different type of project, you would need to heavily tailor them, and again, it would be easier to use one of the other methods that are designed to be general and usable in every type of project.
  • Scrum covers a subset of project management concepts rather than the whole subject. This can be fine in simple projects, but others need to cover all concerns. Adding the remaining elements to Scrum is possible, but it may be easier to start with a system that already has all of them.

So, let’s take a look at these systems. Note that the goal of this chapter is not to learn how each of these systems works, as that’s a much lengthier topic. The goal is, rather, to gain a high-level familiarity with these methods to help you understand the role of the PMBOK Guide and especially the topics of the next chapter.