Organizations that implement a shared project management methodology to guide planning and execution see a number of benefits. But it isn’t enough to have everyone come together around a common methodology for a single project. Teams that jump between strategies as they wrap up one initiative and begin another often encounter challenges when it comes to achieving good results. In the long run, businesses that don’t have a stable methodology in place aren’t able to get good value from their project management efforts.
Some of the advantages of a consistent project methodology are well known—standardization across metrics and reporting formats, similar measures used to gauge progress, etc.—but those are just the beginning. If your company uses a mix of project management methodologies or doesn’t seem to stay with any one methodology for long, consider where you may be creating your own roadblocks.
When a project team transitions from one methodology to another, waste and inefficiency are unfortunate byproducts. Historical data, such as budget estimates and task durations, may no longer be useful in their original state. The techniques and standards used to generate or measure metrics could vary from the previous methodology to the next one. Forecasts and estimates based on this data may be flawed, creating the potential for further problems. Your group might need to either translate previous metrics so they can be used in the current project or recreate the necessary data. Both consume time that should be focused on higher-value activities.
Without a consistent project management methodology in place, you may find that technology tools don’t function effectively or aren’t able to align with your changing workflows. Optimizing your technology investments will be a moving target and you could experience gaps between your needs and your software solutions’ capabilities. Challenges could come in the form of incompatible file types, poorly integrated systems, proprietary hardware that doesn’t work with newer or different platforms, or a constant need for retraining and reconfiguring. This problem is compounded in an environment where the organization itself is undergoing a digital transformation and parts of the infrastructure are in flux for other reasons.
Whether you routinely jump between project methodologies or you swap out specific workflows and techniques, the lack of stability can cause big problems in your career development efforts. Junior-level team members who are still learning the ropes will not only be confused by the lack of consistency, they’re at risk of also establishing bad habits that will be difficult to unlearn. And the challenges are intensified in today’s global marketplace, where team members are increasingly exposed to new project management thinking, new recommendations, and new regulatory requirements from a wide range of industry leaders.
You’re more likely to fall short of meeting the expectations of sponsors and stakeholders when you don’t have a stable project management methodology in place. The techniques used to gather input, establish the scope of your projects, develop targets and deliverables, assess risks, and even communicate with key supporters and influencers might not persist if you switch methodologies. In this scenario, achieving consistently good results is likely to prove extremely challenging. The issue gains prominence when your stakeholder base includes people from different backgrounds—perhaps located in disparate regions, coming from different industries, or having perspectives that are based in the community rather than within a single business entity. If your team is already struggling to implement a new methodology and now there isn’t any common knowledge or too few shared practices to help link everyone to the effort, you may be challenged to push through project conflicts and issues to achieve success.