Project Management Framework Types, Key Elements & Best Practices

A project never exists in a vacuum. A project is executed by a team within an organization that has some sort of a project management framework established to enable the process. This framework, whether deliberately designed or not, acts as a loose guide for how the project should function for teams across multiple channels.

This framework should be designed to suit the needs of your projects, your goals and your team. Read on to learn how to make a trustworthy project management framework that can help guide your projects to successful conclusions.

What is a Project Management Framework?

A project management framework is a framework that maps out the methods, processes, tasks, resources and tools needed to take the project from beginning to end. It is typically broken into three parts: project lifecycle, project control cycle and tools & templates.

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There are many common types of frameworks that can be used for different projects, depending on how small or large your team is, the type of work they’re doing, the industry they’re in, how much time the project has and how much budget the project has. Some common ones include scrum, the waterfall methodology, PRINCE2 and more.

Project Framework vs. Project Methodology

This can be a common source of confusion. But it’s simple to untangle. A project methodology acts as a set of processes or principles that best help manage a project. Methodologies are usually pretty strictly defined and reinforced—they’re formal for a reason. Without a strict code in place for your methodology, the project can fall apart.

Meanwhile, you have more freedom and flexibility within a framework. Change rules, adapt new rules mid-framework and abandon rules as needed. Plus, a framework includes so much more detail—even phases that might not be included in a methodology such as complex onboarding processes and post-go-live assessments.

The Key Elements of a Project Management Framework

We’ve already briefly touched on these three elements: they are project lifecycle, project control cycle and tools and templates. These three elements are not carried out in any one specific order, but in combination with each other to make the project function at optimal levels. But let’s take a deeper dive at these three.

Tools & Templates

As previously mentioned, there’s really no need to reinvent the wheel with all the templates already available online at your disposal. Popular ones include PRINCE2, CCPM (critical chain project management), scrum (primarily used in development environments) and the waterfall methodology. Many Gantt charts employ the waterfall methodology into their makeup, so it’s an easy transition to make should you migrate from software to software.

The actions in a framework can either be sequential—which a waterfall methodology would be a great fit for—or simultaneous, which a kanban board would work well for.

Project Lifecycle

The project lifecycle is essentially how you’ll set up your project management framework overall. You’ll start mapping out your project management framework by taking a look at your project lifecycle.

There are typically five phases that make up the project lifecycle. They are initiation, planning, execution, management, review.

  • Initiation: Initiation consists of research, planning, coordinating with both stakeholders, brainstorming ideas and interviewing customers/stakeholders/partners/manufacturers for input.
  • Planning: Now that you’ve identified all the key components you’ll need to successfully make the project happen, you can start putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. Where does each milestone go? How many teams will be involved? What are the risks for each team, and who will manage them? All these questions and more will be answered and signed off on by the stakeholder team during this phase.
  • Execution: The project kicks-off! Now that all creative briefs have been dispersed to relevant team members, the project will move into the production phase for designers, developers, writers and other members to create the actual deliverable.
  • Management: The management phase is where you’ll monitor, review and report all updates—particularly at each milestone—to key stakeholders. Additionally, you’ll want to make a note of everything, anomaly or not, just in case, and keep all notes in a repository to refer back to at a later date.
  • Review: The project is complete, and the deliverable has been successfully, well, delivered. At this stage, you’ll review all notes, key successes and points that could be improved upon with stakeholders, team members, customers and manufacturers.

That’s why, arguably, the lifecycle stage is the biggest and most important component to your project management framework. There are a ton of moving parts where the lifecycle often acts as a tool to show key stakeholders each stage against each milestone, and what goals will be set to accomplish at each point. Each new phase and each new milestone reached is another metric to report back once the project is complete.

Project Control Cycle

This is essentially the monitoring and management portion of your project. At this phase, you’ll use software to combine communication across all channels into one area. Different project management metrics help you record the progress of all your team members, monitor for possible risks that you’ve already identified prior to kick-off and manage expectations of key stakeholders.

Depending on how large your team is and how many countries and time zones it operates in, this can be just as long of a process as the project lifecycle portion of the project. That’s because when you’re dealing with people, you’re dealing with variables. And in every variable, there’s risk.

Unfortunately, as many as 57% of leadership teams surveyed said risk was one of the things they felt least prepared to deal with. And only 36% of companies have a plan in place to address risk appropriately.

Without a project manager appropriately managing and monitoring the risks, optimizing the program throughout the project process and creating channels for open communication across multiple projects, the project would likely fail.

Project Management Framework Best Practices

  1. Keep a controlled method of communication. Without a method where communication is open across multiple channels and teams, the framework could easily collapse.
  2. Create templates to use across similar project types. Because a framework is so flexible, you can use a framework for multiple types of projects without having to reinvent the wheel, so-to-speak. This can help improve efficiency across all teams involved.
  3. Create a repository for all notes, documents, comments on the project and milestones reached. This can be useful for the review phase, as well as when you go to create a new project framework. You can use the lessons learned from the previous project to modify the new framework for more efficiency.

Since a framework is so flexible and easy-to-use, it’s luckily fairly difficult for it to fail. But by using these best practices, you can ensure that it succeeds every time.

ProjectManager Can Help With Your Framework

Creating an implementing a project management framework across multiple teams is never easy. But with a software solution with a framework template built in, you won’t have to reinvent the wheel.

With ProjectManager, you can cut back on the emails by implementing our kanban board tool. Visualize your workflow for maximum efficiency, easily update task progress, set priorities, and give team members the autonomy to comment and report updates to you.

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Create an agile PM framework with our kanban boards.

With our cloud-based Gantt charts, you can plan projects, assign tasks, manage deadlines, and link assignments with their dependencies. No matter where your team is, when one task is updated, all associates will be updated on the status, too.

Gantt chart mapping out tasks in a framework
Create a waterfall framework where tasks are sequential with our Gantt charts.

Managing and reporting is easier than ever with our real-time dashboard. Our reports are fully customizable to get you the data you need. Plus, with the data all in one view, you can see the status of each task instantly.

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Monitor and control your projects with our real-time dashboards.

Project Management Frameworks don’t have to be rigid, they just have to be successful. With ProjectManager, guide your team members toward new milestones, updated tasks, and new deadlines with the software they need to collaborate effectively no matter where they’re located. Sign up for our free 30-day trial today.

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