Delivering an IT solution is still a very complicated activity(becoming actively complex if it takes too long), and will likely be sofor some time to come; so, it makes sense to simplify it whenever andas much as you can. This is where slavish adherence to a methodologycan be counterproductive. Since IT projects are complicated, the ideaof a defined process to carry them out emerged early on in IT history,giving us the “Methodology” as the cure for complication and the chaosit can cause.

First, having a common methodology for IT projects at your companyis much better than not having one; CMMI statistics have made thatclear. However, a methodology is a tool, not a religion to be practiceddogmatically. So, let us consider what a methodology offers as a tooland how best to use one.

There are different IT methodologies to choose from; the most commonone is for developing new software, starting from nothing all the wayto an implemented system. The number of different methodology productsavailable, along with in-house variants, is beyond my counting,especially if you include the ones that have come and gone over thedecades. Developing new software has always been the preferred/premierIT project, what most IT professionals will say they want to work on,many of whom were successful went on to offer their own methodology forsale(!).

I believe why we have so many to choose from is that developing newsoftware is the most “blue-sky” of IT projects where, beyondconversion/transition from old to new, the methodology can purport howto do development with no attention to the specific environment orcurrent systems being used at your company.

This is why I have virtually never seen a methodology formaintenance projects, beyond “find out what changes are needed” and“then make the changes.” So, if you are doing IT maintenance projects,be aware that your New Software Methodology may not be a big help foryou.

The other major methodology you will see is the Project ManagementMethodology; IT is not the only discipline that uses a projectstructure to carry out work and produce a desired result, but there areso many IT projects in the ‘world’, using a PM methodology has emergedas a common approach in IT, driving the creation of the PMI and its PMPcertification.

The key thing to note here is that you will use both yourdevelopment/maintenance methodology and your project managementmethodology on one project. The former provides what (and sometimeshow) to do the project, while the latter ensures it gets done, frominception to planning to execution to closing.

It is the planning of the project where the two intersect.

Next time: planning your project to deliver. ..

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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