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IT Methodology: A Long and Winding Road

~ By Cameron Watson

A long winding road in Australia

The ancient Greeks first coined the term "methodos" - its definition meaning "path." They applied this term in various contexts, as a noun "a path that could be followed to reach a destination" and a verb "the journey to be taken along a path." Though several millennia have passed since the ancient Greeks first used the term, it is still applicable in today's world of Information Technology (IT) - its called "IT Methodology."

As simple as the term IT Methodology may appear, it is intriguing to see how it can be applied in such a variety of contexts, by such a wide array of experts, to such a diversified set of audiences, it can be applied to project management, software development, and software testing lifecycles. Suffice it to say, this lack of clarity and context has introduced its own share of confusion, misunderstanding, miscommunication and misadventure.

Let's provide a context around the term "IT Methodology."

IT Methodology: The Road You Take

As a noun, "methodos" can be equated to a road on a map. For example, the highway that connects Boston to New York. It has a beginning and an end. It is tangible. It has a predefined set of destinations that must be passed along the way, such as a city, a town, a river, a crossroads, etc. The road is constant and indifferent to how many vehicles use it, what vehicle is to be used, how many people are in each vehicle, how fast each vehicle travels or how many times the vehicle starts and stops during its journey.

As a noun, "IT methodology" is much the same as the road. It has a beginning and an end. It has a pre-defined set of criteria that must be passed along the way: lifecycles, phases, deliverables, work products, etc. It is consistent and indifferent to how many projects utilise it, the scope of each of the projects, the size of the project team, the speed at which a project team completes it, the number of iterations a project team employs. Examples include ITIL, Rational Unified Process (RUP), CoBit, and QAIassist Integrated Methodology.

IT Methodology: How You Travel That Road

As a verb, "methodos" describes how the road will be used. Travellers using the road between Boston and New York have the option to travel in the vehicle of their choice at the speed they wish, and to make as many stops as they wish along the way.

As a verb, "IT Methodology" is the delivery approach a project team takes to get to its destination, a completed project. Examples of delivery approaches include Waterfall, Spiral, Rapid Application Development (RAD), Agile, Joint Application Development (JAD), and Scrum.

IT's Not All Greek

Though the effort to understand the term "IT methodology" may appear to be long, winding and Greek to many, there is a difference between the "road" used to get to the destination and the "activities" that will be performed while on the road and heading to the destination.

While most people will agree that it's important to agree on the goal of a project, we tend to forget that agreeing on how we will achieve that goal is just as important.


Cameron Watson is the President of QAIassist. QAIassist helps organisations increase and optimise their IT delivery and support efficiency. QAIassist's Integrated Methodology incorporates the disciplines and deliverables required for organisations to consistently deliver quality applications on time and within budget. Visit QAIassist's website or email Cameron for more information.


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