Process & Methodology Design

Methodology – clear roles and responsibilities, defined deliverables, predictable results

Every project has a product (end deliverable) and a customer for the product.  Experience shows that customer satisfaction depends on more than a completed, delivered product.  A large part of customer satisfaction depends on the people and processes involved in the creation and delivery of the product.

Some basic things have to be in place for a project to be successful regardless of the methodology used.  There must be a clear vision and goal for the project.  This vision must be passionately embraced by the project team and a strong leader in the organization, someone willing to back the project manager and team through all the tough issues.  Enough skilled, hard working people are needed on the project team and these people have to be treated with care and respect.  Technology might be a component needed for a project’s success, but it is not the critical component.  Another critical component is having the right processes in place to effectively and efficiently get work done.

A methodology is defined as the processes, techniques, or approaches employed in the solution of a problem or in doing a project; a particular procedure or set of proceduresWhat kind of processes are we talking about?  The approach, techniques, and procedures that let us know what has to be done, who has to do it, when it is needed, how it will be done, what the end results needs to be, and who needs to know.  These processes do not have to be complex.  They have to be understood and shared with all people involved in the project.

It is useful to define the overall approach to a project.  Does your organization use an agile methodology or a more traditional approach?  What steps or phases do you go through for every project in your organization?  The names of project phases may vary, but every project has a startup or initiation phase, a planning phase which may include more or less analysis work, execution of the plan which may include “waterfall” phases such as analysis, design, construction, testing/QA, and a closeout phase.  Through it all there needs to be control.

Regardless of the methodology being used (agile or waterfall or hybrid), when deciding on the processes you need, consider a basic set including:

  • Project Initiation – how will a project get started?  Define the process for start-up of a project, formal authorization to proceed with the project based on basic information about the scope and benefits, and selection of the project manager or agile team members.
  • Project Planning – planning looks at what has to be done for the entire project, who has to do it, in what order it has to be done, what the schedule for delivering results is, who needs to know, what issues or things can go wrong or impede the plan and how will these be handled.  This is an iterative process in any chosen methodology.
  • Project Execution – the actual work of the project will involve specific tasks that have to be done in specific ways.  For example, the QA steps that a product must go through, or migration of systems into production vary in different methodologies, but they need to be defined and understood by the team.
  • Project Control – control is on-going though a project and is needed to ensure that the right work is getting done as planned, and risks to successful completion are managed and mitigated.
  • Project Closeout – at the very least, the project or phases (e.g., sprints) need to be formally closed out.  A lot happened in the course of the project, and it is extremely valuable to capture the lessons learned and improve the way in which the project was done for the next time.  This is an integral part of an agile methodology and needs to be included with any approach.  The processes to accomplish this closeout need to be defined and understood.


ConxMindMap1 Example of mind map

“Some basic things have to be in place for a project to be successful regardless of the methodology used. There must be a clear vision and goal for the project.”

A Mind Map is a way of graphically, pictorially representing information.  It organizes thinking and uses visual and colorful notation to enhance creativity and memory.