How Effective and Known Are Process Frameworks?

In January, 2008, Dr. Dobb's ran a survey which explored the adoption rate and effectiveness of various process frameworks, in particular COBIT, CMMI, ITIL, PMI PMBoK, Prince2, TOGAF, and Zachman Framework. The survey ran for a week and it was promoted in Jon Erickson's blog and in a mailing which went out to Dr. Dobb's readers. The response rate was unusual for us, probably because of the topic: only 339 started the survey, the lowest survey response rate that we've ever gotten, and only 219 completed it -- many people were turned off by the second of five pages which explored the adoption rate and effectiveness of frameworks listed above. Anyway, the results are interesting and arguably contradict some of the marketing rhetoric that we've heard over the years concerning some of these frameworks…

It is indeed surprising to see the lack of market recognition that many of these frameworks have, even though all have been around for many years. The Prince2 numbers were understandably low because the majority of respondents, 61 percent, were from North America where the PMBoK overshadows Prince2. However, that doesn't explain the low recognition rate of the other frameworks. For example, IT managers should have at least heard about both COBIT and ITIL, yet respectively 52 percent and 32 percent hadn't. Similarly, architects should have heard about TOGAF and the Zachman Framework, yet respectively 54 percent and 38 percent hadn't. Everyone should have heard about CMMI, yet 23 percent hadn't.

The implications are that the groups behind these frameworks still have significant outreach to do, and that any claims by some of the promoters behind these frameworks that they're offering "industry standards" are questionable at best.