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What is a Project Management Framework (or Method)?

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 12th October 2021

A project Management Framework consists of three parts a project lifecycle, a project control cycle and tool and templates to facilitate the execution of the project

Standardised Roles

With is a framework you will often see standardised roles. They often go beyond the typical project manager and sponsor roles and can include organisation specific roles such as project engineer or clerk of works. In this way the standard off the shelf approaches are adapted to the needs of a specific organisation.

Project Lifecycle

The project lifecycle, as shown below, provides guidance on the common stages and steps which apply to all projects. The aim is to establish a common framework for the management of projects. They vary in detail from organisation to organisations but critical to the success is the freedom given to those projects managers and senior managers to adapt the stages to suit the size and complexity of the project they are managing. This is because not all stages and steps will be relevant to every project, for example those awarded under a framework contract.

Guidance notes are provides to support each stage in the project lifecycle; typically these include references to key templates and management tools.

Project Control Cycle

The project lifecycle describes what needs to be done at each stage and the project control cycle describes how each stage in planned and managed. Bases on a simple plan, do, check act process the control cycle ensures that each stage has the appropriate plan, controls and corrective actions in place. The project control cycle acts as a navigation system for the project through the roadmap defined by the lifecycle.

Templates for Key Documents

Simple tools and templates support the implementation of project management within an organisation. Making these relevant to the size, risk and scope of the project is essential to ensure they are effective in supporting the project managers. Using standardised templates can support a common language and processes.

Software Tools

A project management framework will also often mandate corporate project management tools. These can range from planning software such as Microsoft Project to complex ERP system for tracking orders and invoices. The aim of these tools it to support the consistent application of the method across the organisation. They also make reporting and project control much more effective.

 

Commonly used frameworks

As we have already mentioned, there are a number of different frameworks available to a project manager. With these and all of the acronyms and jargon that surround them it is understandable that a project manager may often feel overwhelmed. There is PRINCE2, WBS, RAM and many more and during your training for project managers you are likely to have heard of at least a few of them.

Don’t be put off by all of these different names and the jargon. In essence, project management is all about being able to coordinate the resources that you are provided with – money, location, team members and tools – in order to see your project through to a successful conclusion. Of course you’ll need to do this whilst trying to keep as close as possible to your budget and timeframes.

Let’s look at a couple of the more commonly used frameworks, how you can use them and also the skills that you might need in order to better understand them. That way you could decide which one may be best for your project.

A guide to...Project Management Qualifications

Waterfall project management

Sometimes called traditional project management, Waterfall focuses on what is referred to as “perfect planning”. This means that before your project even starts, you need to break down the project into smaller “bite sized” chunks. You should create a schedule that outlines the work needed for the entire project from start to finish. Whilst this approach is seen by many, particularly those who have recently gained their project management qualifications, as old fashioned, sometimes the old approach can still be the best one.

For those project managers who are working with a physical product, one where that may be a number of dependencies, or a service where perfection is demanded by the SLA, where consistency and perhaps most importantly rigid deadlines are in place, then this can be the best option.

Because this framework is a little more rigid in nature the project manager needs to be incredibly organised and methodical. The key to making this framework work as it should for any project is all in the planning stage. This means it is vital to break the project down completely and pull it apart in order to plan for all eventualities. This is certainly not the framework for every project, or indeed for every project manager, but it is one that has its uses.

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Kanban project management

Kanban is completely unlike the waterfall framework; its focus is instead based on the idea of continuous improvement. A Kanban board is just a simple board that uses columns ranging from a “to do” list to one for “done”. The board is used to plan how processes, products and campaigns may be improved. Kanban is Japanese for “visual signal”, and this is exactly what the framework is all about. The board is used so that at any given time any member of the team can take a look at it and see exactly where every element of the project is up to quickly and easily.

The method is based on an idea that was originally thought up in the Japanese car manufacturing industry. It is quite often utilised as a way of implementing some of the principles associated with lean management.

In order to use a Kanban board to its full potential it is vital that communication within the team is kept on top of. All communication should be carried out in real time and full transparency is necessary if this is to be used properly. The board itself can be either a physical thing, best suited to situations where all members of the teamwork in the same place, or digital, which is ideal when members of the team work in different buildings, from home, or are located in different countries.

Obviously, communication is a key skill here as every member of the team needs to be fully on board if the framework is to be successful.

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Scrum

The scrum framework is one that many project teams choose and is also the most popular way in which Agile project management can be implemented. This framework takes a look at all of the work that in involved in a much larger project and breaks it down into much smaller mini projects which are referred to as sprints. Typically these “mini projects” will last between 1 to 4 weeks. This makes it easier for the project manager and their team to adapt their workflow to the demands of the entire project as the project itself develops.

The scrum framework also lays out a number of rules in terms of roles within the team, team size, meetings, planning and deliverables to name just a few.

This is, in fact, the perfect framework for those teams who are looking to have the ability to deliver increments of their work that function at different stages of the project. Whilst it is often used for software projects this is not the only field that it will work in. Scrum can also be used very effectively in product design, marketing campaigns and a range of other creative fields.

In order to be able to use scrum most effectively it is important for the team to work together on the plan. This is in order to break the project down into realistic chunks. This means looking at who is available and when and working out exactly how long to allow for each segment of the broken down project. If the timing is off on any part of the project and the mini deadline is missed, then this can have a major implication for the outcome of the project as a whole.

Communication and the ability to be very organised are essential as each individual member of the team will need to be ready to alert the rest of the team promptly to any issues, they have come across that might jeopardise their ability to meet a deadline. However when the team work together effectively on these smaller goals it can be very effective as it is always possible to see the end of each element, rather than focusing on the long term goal which is of course the final completion of the full project.

Summary

A Project Management Framework supports the implementation of project management within an organisation because:

  1. It supports the development and replication of accepted practice.
  2. Helps communication within the team because of a common language.
  3. Streamlines the use of tools and techniques for key project management processes.
  4. Establishes a consistent approach which aid customers understand the project management processes.
  5. Ensure that focus is maintained on the early stage of the project lifecycle.

Parallel Project Training works with organisations such as The National Trust to implementation of project management frameworks.If you need to create a project management framework then you can follow our 12 easy steps to creating and deploying a project management framework alternatively get in touch as we can guide you through the process.
Another example is the use of the Logical Framework for development projects. This links the overall strategic objective to the project purpose, results and activities, using a clear decision process and assumptions. You can learn read out post on the logical framework approach to project management .
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you develop a project management framework for your organisation.
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  1. Marco says:

    Hi Paul,
    regarding your article – for sure interesting – I’d like to add that I’ve bee using a software named ProjectFramework for some time (http://www.projectframework.com) to cover what usual PM Softwares don’t, meaning IT Methodology workflow and Project Documents/Deliverable automatic generation (which is the 80% of a Project effort).
    This software enables Project Scope definition, Functional Requirements gathering, Application and Technology Architecture, Data Model, Integration Architecture and Commercial Proposals – Service and Software – definition.
    Every single step may produce automatically a document in MS Word or Excel to be handed out directly to the Customer. Teamworking is available either.
    Have a look at it if you have some time…

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