Light Methodologies Seem to Be Best for E-Business Projects

Traditional (heavy) methodologies "Fall short in this new e-business environment," according to a recent Council Opinion from Cutter Consortium's Business Technology Trends and Impacts Advisory Service. The Council fellows maintain that businesses are "unable to keep up with the fast-paced, ever-changing e-business projects."

Fellows Ed Yourdon, Tom DeMarco, Jim Highsmith, Ken Orr, and James Bach assert that in today's e-business world, it's virtually impossible to define and document a stable set of requirements at the beginning of a project, as heavy methodologies require.

A light methodology is less structured. It provides guidance and boundaries, whereas a heavy methodology dictates every activity and documentation.

"Lighter methodology serves more as a framework or reference guide for skilled people than as a foolproof recipe for success," explains James Bach. "Light methods leave people free to do things as differently and inconsistently as required to solve the right problems at the right time."

The Council recommends organizations take the following actions before moving to a lighter methodology:

* Assess your real needs, strengths, and challenges.

* Assess the willingness and ability of your current IT culture to relax its insistence on heavy methodologies.

* Investigate light methodologies and determine how one or more may fit within your organization.

* Act. Pick a project and test one or more of the light methodologies.

Ken Orr concludes, "The great advantage of the light-method strategy is that it forces people to think very clearly about the end products that they are developing. Light methods work amazingly well, but they require a different kind of management and a different kind of mindset."