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Methodology, method, process and technique – what they are and their differences

To evolve professionally with excellence in any area of activity, it is extremely important to study the fundamental concepts in your profession. For this, it is necessary to understand what they are and what are the differences between: methodology, method, process and technique.

These concepts are present in every kind of work. Very well defined by professionals in the academic research area, they are not always well understood by other areas, for example by programming and software development professionals.

Methodology, method, process and technique according to the dictionary

I'll start by presenting a quick conceptual summary, found in dictionaries, for each of these terminologies:

  • Methodology
    • branch of logic that deals with the methods of the different sciences
    • part of a science that studies the methods to which it resorts to
    • it is a set of methods, techniques and tools that determine how a process should be performed.
  • Method:
    • procedure, technique or means of doing something, especially according to a plan
    • organized process, logical and systematic research, instruction, investigation, presentation
    • is a systematic way of performing a task
    • any technical, scientific procedure
  • Process:
    • it is a continuous action, continuous and prolonged performance of some activity; follow-up, course, course
    • continuous sequence of facts or operations that have a certain unity or that are reproduced with a certain regularity; progress, development, march
    • way of doing something; method, way, procedure
  • technique:
    • is a way, unsystematic, to perform a task
    • way of handling technical details (as a writer does) or using body movements (as a dancer does)
    • dexterity, abiliity special to handle these details or use these moves

What is Methodology

Methodology is related to the broad study, research and presentation of methods, processes and techniques.

When studying a methodology you will not be presented with an “execution roadmap”.

Let's compare the methodology to the study of a language, for example, Portuguese. By studying this language you learn all its rules, forms of use, grammatical compositions, objectives and applicability for the language in everyday, formal, professional, business contexts and situations.

Profissionais estudando uma metodologia para método, processo e técnicas visuais
Professionals studying a methodology

This scope of methodology study is the same when you are studying, for example: Methodologies for software development.

You will be introduced to a wide variety of rules, syntaxes, symbols, tools, methods, which you can use at appropriate times in your software projects.

Therefore, when studying a methodology you will be, firstly, being inserted in a philosophical context of study related to software development.

Philosophical yes, because no methodology is unrelated to the behavioral issues of those involved in this complex activity that is the construction of computer systems.

What you really need to understand is that the study of a methodology - or several, otherwise how to compare their differences and choose the most appropriate one - brings a large volume of information and options that should not be used in their fullness for each and every project. of software.

For example: you learn all the syntactical and grammatical rules of Portuguese to know when to use them, because, of course, you won't need them all when writing a personal email, they will be a little different when the email is professional, and you still need to know how to break these rules if you're typing in a chat app with friends.

The objective in the previous examples is to communicate in Portuguese, the methodology is the same, however, the process, techniques and tools you will use must be in accordance with the context.

To learn about methodologies in the field of software development I recommend reading books on Software Engineering.

It would not be a direct relationship with methodology, but the following two suggestions present broad views on the complexity involved and also discuss methodologies.

Methodology - study material

I always suggest the classics as mandatory reading:

But you can search for options as good as and perhaps at more affordable costs in this list of software engineering books.

Even though the Software Engineering literature broadly describes methodologies, we could mention the two most present in studies in this field of knowledge: Classical or Cascade Methodologies and Agile Methodologies.

See below the evolution of the study and the beginning of its applicability with the understanding and difference of methodology for processes and methods.

What is Method and Process

Perhaps in contexts unrelated to Software Engineering, method and process can have very different connotations. However, by the very definitions that you can read in the dictionary, in short, both define a systematic and sometimes orderly and continuous way of carrying out an activity.

One of the definitions of method incorporate “process” as their meaning:

-> process organized, logical and systematic research, instruction, investigation, presentation

Or same process which defines “method” as one of its meanings:

-> way of doing something; method; manner; procedure
Etapas de um processo Ágil de Desenvolvimento de Software
Stages of an Agile Software Development Process

This means that a method or process defines, or can define, sequences, steps or steps to be performed in different activities.

Methods in Project Management

If we are going to apply the concepts to Project Management, it is a way to execute one (or more) of the steps of your project.

For example, you can use the Critical Path Method (CPM) which uses a diagram to help manage project processes that have tight deadlines with a high risk of delay.

Another example is the GTD method (Getting Things Done – “Doing Things”), which helps personal projects that need more productivity, organizing the execution of a more effective routine.

Software Development Processes

In the context of Software Engineering, for example: software development methods can define sets of tools and steps that must or can be performed in a software project.

Software development processes, in general, describe the steps to be performed in the same way.

PDS or Software Development Processes can exist as guides to be followed within certain methodologies – did you understand the relationship?

I'll explain it another way: methodology is philosophical, it defines guidelines, premises, values – methods and processes are practical, they define steps, ordered sequences, application of rules and tools.

The most common is you, after studying and defining the use of a methodology, studying and defining a method that is totally or partially based on it.

Although not common, there may be methods that mix guidelines from more than one methodology, however, depending on the area of knowledge where they are applied, this is not possible because there are conflicts mainly between the values preached by each methodology.

If we contextualize in Software Engineering, I claim from experience that it is possible to “adapt” processes based on methods for your development team or company, which merges some tools or steps, but as long as the “junctions” do not conflict with the values as I mentioned above.

What is Technique

Technique I consider the easiest concept to understand or explain: technique is a skill, the application of a tool.

Considering the relationship with the other concepts, technique is how to do, or how to execute, defined by the steps or steps in processes and methods.

For example, consider adopting a Kanban for tracking tasks in a traditional or software development project.

Creating a Mockup of a screen (prototype) is the application of a technique in a Software Prototyping defined in a possible method or software process that you are following, this one created based on some methodology, for example, the agile methodology.


Final considerations

Knowing the conceptual differences between methodology, methods, processes and techniques will bring you greater understanding and better practical application when studying them in your area of expertise, or, within our context, in Software Engineering.

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1 thought on “Metodologia, método, processo e técnica – o que são e suas diferenças”

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