Although managers can manage projects without a formal methodology, having one can be a big help. This section explains what project management methodologies are and why they are important, and gives a brief history of project management methodologies. It also defines life cycles, describes some common IS life cycles, and explains how life cycles relate to methodologies.
Project management methodologies have been around for decades, but first started to become popular in IS in the early 1970s. These methodologies usually have two components. The first is an overall process for doing things, while the second consists of templates or forms required at specific portions of that process. While the process itself is the true methodology, most project managers consider the templates and forms to be part and parcel of the methodology. However, most project managers also agree that templates alone do not a methodology make.
Project management methodologies are important for two reasons. First, they standardize the way in which an organization manages its projects. This allows people from anywhere in the organization to talk with one another using the same terms and the same definitions for those terms. Presenting a consistent approach to project management via standards also allows project managers to cover for one another when the need arises. The second reason that methodologies are important is that they provide novice project managers with the tools to manage projects, without requiring a long learning curve.
Project life cycles generally go hand in hand with project methodologies. Such life cycles break a project's life into a series of phases or stages. The end of each phase provides a convenient project review point for senior management to institute go or no-go decisions, and also allows project managers to plan the next phases in more detail. While project life cycles can have many phases, the majority have three to five. They include some type of project start-up or initiation, a project construction or implementation stage, and, finally, a project evaluation or post-implementation review.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.