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PM Methodologies

So many project management methodologies to choose from ­ which one’s right for me?

Defining the approach you will take to a project is as important as selecting the project manager to run it. With such a myriad of methodologies in play, how do you navigate the minefield and agree on the best approach for your project ­ in the context of the scope, time, quality, budget, available resources and clarity of the defined outcome.

The truth is no single model will ever be a 100% fit for any project. It is for this reason that Asq advocates and practices a flexible methodology agnostic approach where we pick the best parts of the models we know well and integrate them to drive the best outcome for the client.


Agile began life as a model specifically for software development, further to the publication of the  Agile Manifesto in 2001 Agile is based on iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing, cross-functional teams. It promotes adaptive planning, evolutionary development and delivery, a time-boxed iterative approach, and encourages rapid and flexible response to change. It is a conceptual framework that promotes foreseen interactions throughout the project development cycle.


Scrum is an iterative and incremental Agile framework for managing projects and product or application development. Its focus is on "a flexible, holistic product development strategy where a team works as a unit to reach a common goal" as opposed to a "traditional, sequential approach" (Waterfall) ­ where the product is a conventional product or the meaningful outcome required by the client.

Scrum acknowledges that the client can change its mind during a project (requirements churn), and that unpredicted challenges cannot be easily addressed in a traditional predictive or planned manner. As such, Scrum adopts an empirical approach¯accepting that the problem cannot be fully understood or defined, focusing instead on maximizing the team's ability to deliver quickly and respond to emerging requirements.

Many practitioners use universally available tools (e.g. MS Excel) to build and maintain artefacts, such as the sprint (time-boxed effort) backlog. There are also open-source and proprietary packages dedicated to management of products under the Scrum process. It is possible (and quite popular in some circles) to implement Scrum without the use of any tools, and maintain artefacts in hard-copy forms such as paper, whiteboards, and sticky notes.


An acronym for projects in controlled environments version 2, this methodology was developed by the UK government Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and was initially only used within the UK government as the de facto project management standard for its public projects. It has now become a global standard. The methodology encompasses the management, control and organisation of a project and today PRINCE2 is used to refer to the training and accreditation of authorised practitioners of the methodology who must undertake rigorous accredited qualifications to obtain certification.
PRINCE2 is process-driven which contrasts with reactive/adaptive methods such as Scrum. It is based on seven principles, seven themes and seven processes. The principles and themes come into play in the seven processes.

7 Principles

  1. continued business justification
  2. learn from experience
  3. defined roles and responsibilities
  4. manage by stages
  5. manage by exception
  6. focus on products
  7. tailored to suit the project environment

7 Themes

  1. business case
  2. organisation
  3. quality
  4. plans
  5. risk
  6. change
  7. progress

7 Processes

  1. Starting up a project (SU)
  2. Initiating a project (IP)
  3. Directing a project (DP)
  4. Controlling a stage (CS)
  5. Managing stage boundaries(SB)
  6. Managing product delivery (MP)
  7. Closing a project (CP)

Waterfall Model (traditional)

The Waterfall, or traditional phased, approach identifies a sequence of steps to be completed. Typically five developmental components of a project can be distinguished (four stages plus control):

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning and design
  3. Execution and delivery
  4. Monitoring and controlling systems
  5. Completion

Not all projects will have every stage, as projects can be terminated before they reach completion. Some projects do not follow a structured planning and/or monitoring process. And some projects will go through steps 2, 3 and 4 multiple times.
In our industry many organisations have adapted the Rational Unified Process (RUP) to fit this methodology. The Waterfall model works well for small, well defined projects, but often fails in larger projects of undefined and ambiguous nature.


P3O is the guidance published by the UK Government Office of Government Commerce (more from these guys ­ what would we do without these super-organised Pomes?), to help organisations implement Portfolio, Programme and Project Management Offices (P3O).

The P3O manual states 'P3O provides universally applicable guidance that will enable individuals and organisations to establish, develop and maintain appropriate business-support structures'. The P3O manual has supporting accreditation standards in place for foundation and practitioners that can be met via an examination ­ accreditations that Asq holds.

As you would expect, the guidance aligns itself to other OGC guidance such as, PRINCE2, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP), and also Management of Portfolios (MoP).


The PMBOK Guide is process-based, meaning it describes work as being accomplished by processes. This approach is consistent with other management standards such as ISO 9000 and the Software Engineering Institute's CMMI. Processes overlap and interact throughout a project or its various phases. Processes are described in terms of:

  • Inputs (documents, plans, designs, etc.)
  • Tools and Techniques (mechanisms applied to inputs)
  • Outputs (documents, products, etc.)

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge ¯ provides guidelines for managing individual projects and defines project management related concepts. It also describes the project management life cycle and its related processes, as well as the project life cycle.

The Guide recognizes 47 processes that fall into five basic process groups and ten knowledge areas that are typical of almost all projects.

The five process groups are:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Executing
  4. Monitoring and Controlling
  5. Closing

The ten knowledge areas are:

  1. Project Integration Management
  2. Project Scope Management
  3. Project Time Management
  4. Project Cost Management
  5. Project Quality Management
  6. Project Human Resource Management
  7. Project Communications Management
  8. Project Risk Management
  9. Project Procurement Management
  10. Project Stakeholders Management (added in 5th edition)

Each of the ten knowledge areas contains the processes that need to be accomplished within its discipline in order to achieve an effective project management program. Each of these processes also falls into one of the five basic process groups, creating a matrix structure such that every process can be related to one knowledge area and one process group.

The PMBOK Guide is meant to offer a general guide to manage most projects most of the time. There are currently two extensions to the PMBOK Guide: the Construction Extension to the PMBOK Guide applies to construction projects, while the Government Extension to the PMBOK Guide applies to government projects.


Not a methodology, as such, but a standard and framework against which Business Analysts measure themselves. The International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA) is the professional association with the purpose of supporting and promoting the discipline of Business Analysis, or BA. IIBA has created A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK), a collection of knowledge within the BA profession, reflecting the current generally accepted practices.

IIBA is dedicated to the development and maintenance of standards for the practice of business analysis, and for the certification and recognition of practitioners. Certification includes the Certification of Competency in Business Analysis (CCBA) Designation, and the Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP) Designation.

The IIBA is a member of the Federation of Enterprise Architecture Professional Organisations (FEAPO). FEAPO is the worldwide body for professional organisations that have come together to provide a forum to standardise, make more professional, and otherwise advance the discipline of Enterprise Architecture.

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