How to differentiate between PM method and PM methodology?

Project Management Terminology

Here is another post related to project management terminology and the terms that are often confusing, or practitioners use out of context. In this post, we will discuss project management method and project management methodology. We will also offer suggestions on how to differentiate between a project management method and project management methodology. Our hypothesis is that it is quite common for professionals in project management to use ‘method’ and ‘methodology’ interchangeably. In this post, we will also touch on the CAMMP Model.

Is this use of term method and methodology correct?

If not what are the differences?

It is common that some practitioners confuse the meaning of these two terms, project management method, and project management methodology and use them interchangeably.

Project Management Method & Project Management Methodology

In general, a method is “a particular procedure for accomplishing or approaching something[1], whereas a methodology is “a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity.[2] In other words, a method is a specific way that is set or fixed, whereas a methodology is a wider term, “a system of methods”.

Further, a method is different from a framework since a method means there is a certain way of doing something; like systematic process, a step by step approach. Whereas a framework is a general guideline as defined earlier.

A common project management method may follow a project life cycle or a similar approach. For example, Waterfall is a project management method with a project life cycle consisting of a few phases in sequence. SDLC refers to a Software Development Life Cycle with its own phases. Some practitioners refer to ‘Agile’ as a method but it is an approach, more a framework, whereas scrum might offer a specific method for software development.

How to differentiate between PM Method and PM Methodology?

To differentiate between method and methodology, please reflect on the following:

  • PRINCE2®is a method; “PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured project management method” (What is PRINCE2®, 2015). Notice the use of the terms ‘structured’ and ‘method.’
  • PRiSM™ (from GPM) is a method; Projects integrating Sustainable Methods and have specific deliverables and steps that one should apply to the project life cycle.
  • SUKAD developed a methodological approach that is based on a project life cycle, which is The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™ (CAMMP™[3]). Notice the use of the term ‘methodology’ and not ‘method,’ which is not an error. The reason for the use of the term methodology is because CAMMP™ offers an approach that is not rigid or fixed. The CAMMP™ project life cycle has to be customized and adapted to the organizational and project context. The customized and adapted version, for a specific project’s type, become a method.

The Customizable and Adaptable Methodology for Managing Projects™ (CAMMP™) | A Project Management Methodology
More on the CAMMP Model

For example, managing a ‘small’ real estate development project can follow a certain tailored project management method. Whereas managing a large and complex real estate development project may follow another project management method. These two methods could have similar features but organizations have to tailor each to a different level of size and complexity.

In other words, CAMMP is “a system of methods.” The Organizational Project Management System for an entity can and should have a set of methods, one for each project type[4].

It is important to mention that it is not common to hear or read, about specific project management methods in the professional community. This is due to the fact that methods are often custom-built[5] for an organization; they are internal resources making them proprietary information.

How do you differentiate between PM Method and PM Methodology?

[1] Oxford Online Dictionaries (http://oxforddictionaries.com/)

[2] Same reference

[3] Before this book, the author and SUKAD (the company he leads) had been using CAM2P™ to refer to this model, however, as this book is offering the third generation of the model, and due to various feedbacks, it was decided to stop using CAM2P™ and use CAMMP™ instead.

[4] In this context, “type” represents domain, sector or industry, and project classification.

[5] Tailored is another common term.

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