The methodology balancing act

Methodology: A body of practices, procedures and rules used by those who work in a discipline.

In the business world, the word methodology is often interchanged with the word process, and process draws groans, from the software developers’ dark room to the executive’s corner office.

And why is that?

Because many believe that project processes are too rigid or are all bureaucratic red tape. To some, too much step-by-step methodology means an organization can’t deliver results fast enough, and in some cases this can certainly be true. Just over 10 years ago, there was enough evidence of bloated process in traditional software development to give rise to The Agile Manifesto and a new way of thinking about software delivery.

I was brought to Imaginuity to lead the charge in developing and implementing the methodology by which we will execute our projects, and I have a vested interest in colleagues accepting and adopting a structured methodology (I really like being gainfully employed).

As we bring on new employees, we have a standard operating procedure for them to follow, so, no matter whom they work with or where in a project they begin, they will know what’s already happened and where they are headed. Additionally, we can leverage our employees’ diverse skill sets across multiple projects because we know where and when specific skills are needed.

But does any of this matter to our customers? Should it? I don’t think so.

One of our core values is Customer Advocacy. “We at Imaginuity will guide our customers.”

Guiding customers doesn’t include imposing our process upon them. We get paid to understand our customers’ businesses, understand their customers and provide top-of-the-line digital expertise. We shouldn’t force customers to digest the details of our methodology; they’ve got their own methodologies and businesses to run.

Therein lies the rub: how do we as leaders of a service company serve the needs of our customers with a methodology that must be transparent to them? In a word: balance.

We have to be adaptive, or agile (maybe those guys knew what they were doing after all), enough to recognize when our methods need adjustment. A good methodology is not a decree from on high; it’s a living, evolving part of an organization. As leaders, we need to be stewards of our methodology, reviewing it with each project we undertake and striking the right balance of internal structure and customer responsiveness.

It won’t be easy. There will likely be push from the organization to grow and scale, and that needs to be balanced with the pull from customers for faster delivery with minimal impact on them.

The good news: if we lose our balance, we have the opportunity to regain it, unlike this guy.

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