What the difference is between a methodology and a framework? And where does the process come into that story?

And perhaps, it would be good to have this comparison explained by using methodologies like Prince2, Framework like Scrum, ...

up vote 13 down vote accepted

A methodology is a set of principles, tools and practices which can be used to guide processes to achieve a particular goal.

A framework is a loose but incomplete structure which leaves room for other practices and tools to be included but provides much of the process required.

If we look at the software equivalents, for instance, where applications are analogous to methodologies: Rails and Spring are two code-based frameworks which work with custom code to produce an application. GMail is an application.

In the same way, Scrum could be considered a framework, as it leaves room for teams to choose their own technical processes, development roles, etc. XP might be considered a methodology, as it provides guidelines for all the same things that Scrum does, along with relevant technical practices. I'm not familiar enough with Prince2 to comment, but you get the picture.

PMBoK 4th Edition, glossary, page 437:

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

The term "framework" is used over 20 times in the PMBoK but is not in the glossary. I find that somewhat odd...

Since we don't have a PMBoK authority reference, I prefer the defintion from WhatIs.com:

In general, a framework is a real or conceptual structure intended to serve as a support or guide for the building of something that expands the structure into something useful.

I like the part about "expands the structure into something useful

I would agree with Lunivore and SBWorks - their inputs are from both an academic and from a professional industry-based perspective - seasoned with common sense and an understanding of the English langauge

(which is pretty LOW in the UK, Australia, Canada, NZ and the USA - I constantly see immigrants who have a good laugh at the local's language disasters)

I’d go with dictionary definitions, and apply those definitions to a situation.

The problem is, if you try and look at the ‘industry’, essentially you have a bunch of self-propagating trash - in that each corporate publishes its version of life.

E.g. IBM calls it's framework based on the Unified Process a 'process' - the Rational Unified Process - which is actually a framework when you look at it. Coming from a big player in the industry, this is misinformation and bad terminology at its best.

As for enterprise terminology re: frameworks and methodologies, most corporates and government agencies are run by morons who have their own definitions of these terms - probably inspired by IBM.

(pardon my French!)

I’ve seen at least one top level official (CIO/CEO/CFO/CTO) look at a process flow diagram and call it a ‘framework’.

BoKs are bodies of knowledge that describe elements and knowledge areas that may be used as a framework, and approaches to building models/methodologies based on that framework.

Academic definitions of a framework suggest that unless you bundle standards, procedures and processes together at an enterprise level, you don’t have a framework.

Until you distill a framework into tools, methodologies governing processes, and standards that act as gateways in a procedure within those methodologies, you don’t have a methodology.

Very broadly, the Framework is ‘what’ the enterprise is aiming for, or the 'where' for that matter- in the broadest sense, and the Methodology is the ‘how’ that includes methods, tools etc.

I’m sure every corporate worth its shares would be out there molesting that definition till it is no more sensible than the US Dollar as a reserve currency.

A framework is a structure, a logical way to classify, segment, categorize, or maintain something. I think of it as a noun.

A method is an action, a way of doing something. It would describe a process or set of procedures, activities, and a series of outputs along the way. This is more of a verb.

A framework might be something to which you aspire. The method will get you there.

  • 2
    I don't know why you got a downvote, it seems to me your answer is pretty sensible and easy to understand. And inline with @Undercover Brother's answer. – Hendy Irawan Nov 20 '17 at 12:39

here are some suggestions to getting use to framework and methodology: ( I have been thinking about the same thing these days too)

  1. by observation, determine the state of being the person, company, country likes, its doesnt have to make sense usually what we see are not "truth" just someone's manifest of their own version of life ( like undercover bother said )

  2. decide if you like it, if you can accept it

  3. if you cant just leave, life is too short to struggle
  4. if you can than start thinking how to make that phenomenon happen, chances are you will find a lot of already developed ways and makes sense, and just go along with it

the ideal might not be as you think but as long as you can accept, than you are at a good place.

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