Project Management Framework Types, Key Elements & Best Practices


A project never exists in a vacuum. Rather, 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, goals and 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 maps out the methods, processes, tasks, resources and tools needed to take the project from beginning to end. It’s typically broken into three parts: project lifecycle, project control cycle and tools & templates.

One of the tools that help map the project life cycle and, in turn, helps control project execution is a Gantt chart. ProjectManager, an online work and project management software, offers Gantt charts that do more than organize tasks, link dependencies and set milestones. You can also filter for the critical path without having to configure complex calculations. Once you have a schedule, set the baseline and begin tracking the planned effort against your actual effort to stay on schedule. Get started with ProjectManager for free.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart
ProjectManager’s Gantt chart can be used in any project management framework. Learn 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 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, adopt new rules mid-framework and abandon rules as needed. Plus, a framework includes much more detail—it even has phases that might not be included in a methodology such as complex onboarding processes and post-go-live assessments.

Project Management Framework Types

There are many common types of frameworks designed for different projects, team sizes, industries and budgets. Here are some project management framework examples.

  • Scrum: An agile project management framework that was initially created for software development.
  • Kanban: A visual project management framework focuses on project tracking, task management and process improvement.
  • Scrumban: As its name suggests, this is a mix of Scrum and Kanban. Scrumban is a great example of how you can build a project management framework by using elements from other frameworks or methodologies.
  • Lean: This framework focuses on continuous process improvement, resource management and work management.
  • Waterfall: A traditional project management framework that consists of sequential project planning and execution.

Key Elements of a Project Management Framework

We’ve already briefly touched on these three elements: the project lifecycle, project control cycle and tools and templates. These three elements are not carried out in any one specific order, but when combined, they help the project function at optimal levels. Let’s take a deeper dive into these three elements.

Tools & Templates

As previously mentioned, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel considering all of the templates already available online. Popular templates include PRINCE2, CCPM (critical chain project management), scrum (primarily used in development environments) and the waterfall methodology. Many Gantt charts employ the waterfall methodology in 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—ideal for a waterfall methodology—or simultaneous, which a kanban board can support.

Project Life Cycle

The project life cycle outlines how you’ll set up your overall project management framework. You’ll start mapping out your project management framework by referencing your project lifecycle. There are typically five phases that make up the project lifecycle: initiation, planning, execution, management and 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 the key components to successfully create the project, you can start putting 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 relevant team members have the creative brief, the project will move into the production phase for designers, developers, writers and other members to produce deliverables.
  • Monitoring: This project 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 just in case, anomaly or not, and keep all notes in a repository to refer back to at a later date.
  • Closing: The project is complete and the deliverable has been successfully delivered. At the closing stage, you’ll review all notes, key successes and points that could improve with stakeholders, team members, customers and manufacturers.

This is why, arguably, the lifecycle stage is the biggest and most important component of your project management framework. The lifecycle often acts as a tool to show key stakeholders each stage against each milestone and what goals will be accomplished at each point. Each new phase and milestone reached is another measurable metric to report once the project is complete.

Project Control Cycle

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

Depending on how large your team is and how many countries and time zones in which it operates, this can be 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. In every variable, there’s a risk.

Unfortunately, as many as 57% of leadership teams surveyed said the risk was one facet they felt least prepared to deal with, and only 36% of companies have a plan in place to address risk appropriately. The project would likely fail without a project manager appropriately managing and monitoring the risks, optimizing the program throughout the process and creating channels for open communication.

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 project types without reinventing 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 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 intuitive, it’s fairly difficult for it to fail. But by using these best practices, you can ensure that it succeeds every time.

Free Project Management Templates

We offer dozens of free project management templates to help you implement any project management framework. We also offer industry-specific templates for manufacturing, product development, construction and more.

Gantt Chart Template

Gantt charts are versatile project management tools that can be used when working with any project management framework including waterfall, lean and even agile. Download our free Gantt chart template for Excel and then migrate it to ProjectManager to use our fully-featured online Gantt chart.

Work Breakdown Structure Template

One of the most important steps in the project planning process is to define your project scope. Our free work breakdown structure for Excel is the perfect tool to do that. Then you can use our online Gantt chart, which has a built-in work breakdown structure feature.

Project Budget Template

Creating a project budget can be overwhelming for many. That’s why we created our free project budget template for Excel, which can be helpful for any project you’re working on, regardless of the project management framework that you’re using.

ProjectManager Can Help With Your Framework

Creating and 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 start from scratch.

Kanban Boards for Work Management

With ProjectManager, you can cut back on 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.

ProjectManager's kanban boards are ideal for various project management frameworks

Gantt Charts Are Ideal for Any Project Management Framework

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, as soon as a task is updated, all associates will be updated accordingly.

ProjectManager's Gantt chart

Real-Time Dashboard for Better Project Management

Managing and reporting are 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.

ProjectManager’s dashboard view, which shows six key metrics on a project

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.