The near future of Project Management Methodologies: Open and Blended.

Work conditions change fast and continuously. The environment in which we carry out our activities also changes. Project-oriented management is a validated approach that improves success, effectiveness and efficiency of our daily performance.

In order to achieve this success, Project Management Methodologies (PMMs) are essential as they allow us to know the activities and processes to be carried out, when activities have to be carried out, how we have to focus etc. Most of the PMMs include monitoring and control processes that allow us to know the degree of compliance with the objectives and fix milestones, making easier the decision making process that corrects deviations and prevents us from overrun and over budgets.

It is important to remember that PPMs are not bodies of knowledge, frameworks, etc. PMM must be practical and guide the project manager throughout the entire project life cycle. PMM have to ensure that all the activities are carried out within the golden triangle of project management (timeframe, benchmarking, scope plus quality).

Furthermore, PMM should be light and adaptable to different types of projects and different working environments (activity areas, cultural contexts, etc.)

The documents linked to the management of the project must be as few as possible, simple and it has to allow:

  • A simple audit (both internal and external)
  • To extract, through the lessons learned, the best practices and the mistakes made that allow and ensure a continuous improvement.

It cannot be forgotten that the PMM is just a guess to a play in which the main actor is the project, its outputs, its outcomes and benefits (in the short, medium and long term). If the PMM becomes a protagonist, it is a sign that we are mismanaging the project.

Current PMMs can be classified into the following groups:

  • Predictive (linked to the traditional «waterfall» approach)
  • Adaptive (aware that there are many changing elements in the project environment and that they must be able to adapt and consolidate work in a precise way).
  • Blended, which combine the advantages of both.

On many occasions the choice of an exclusively predictive methodology does not fit the changing and dynamic needs of the project.

In other cases, the choice of an adaptive methodology (such as Agile, Scrum …) means that nts objectives, outputs and outcomes of the project are not well formulated from the beginning of the project (final cost, delivery times, operational constraints, etc.)

For this reason, the possibility of using a methodology that is predictive but whose formulation allows it to engage directly and immediately in an adaptive framework (such as Agile) is a head start in the field of project management methodologies.

This is the case of the PM² methodology developed by the European Commission and in open format – OpenPM², since 2016.

I have analysed OpenPM² deeply and it is blended because two dimensions:

  • OpenPM² developes a predictive approach compatible with an Agile extension (when necessary).
  • OpenPM² incorporates approaches, concepts, good practices and elements from other bodies of knowledge, standards, methodologies  and even competency-based approaches to project management.

Others OpenPM² characteristics make possible to face the future with many possibilities:

  1. The incorporation of artefacts (templates) that help and guide the project manager throughout the whole process, facilitating the customisation and adaptation of the methodology and its documents to any kind of project.
  2. The open nature of the methodology. Making the decision to open a methodology to the general public immediately:
    • The developer loses prominence by giving it to the community of users of the methodology, who will be able to adapt, reduce and improve the methodology.
    • The workforce is too much bigger. A well organised community of users shares experiences, lessons learned, documentation. It allows an asymptotic improvement of the methodology in different contexts.
  3. Define a governance model that can be adapted to the project in each case. This governance model makes possible to know the roles and responsibilities of all the agents involved in project management. Therefore, the response to the person who has to undertake a certain activity throughout the life cycle of the project is always known.
  4. Define a clear and strong mindsets. The Mindsets crystallise the philosophy of PM² as a methodology and make it both more effective and complete. Mindsets is a unique feature in the PMMs area and it is extreme useful when we talk about agility.

The OpenPM² methodology is presented with a simple structure that is compatible with the use of all the tools and techniques commonly used in project management. OpenPM² adopts a position of approach and synergy with other standards and methodologies, thus avoiding exclusion in project management.

For all these reasons, I really believe that OpenPM² is a winner bet in the short and medium term future of project management methodologies. I also think that the rest of the well-known international PMMs are going to have to make decisions towards open and blended approach.