Without a robust frame, a building won’t be able to support its own weight.
And the bigger the building is, the stronger its structure needs to be.
A reinforced concrete frame, when created right, is solid enough to support the world’s tallest buildings. Similarly, the right project management framework can become the foundation for successfully managing even the most complex projects.
A project management framework describes the development processes, tools, and tasks used to start and complete a project. It includes essential parts in order to plan, manage, and govern projects- the project’s end-to-end cycle.
It can help your management and team navigate problems and deadlines while withstanding the weight of unforeseen challenges.
In this article, we’ll cover what a project management framework is, the benefits of using one, and how you can find the right framework for your business and team members.
What is a project management framework?
A project management framework is a set of standardized templates, processes, activities, and tools used to plan, start, control, and finish a project.
It outlines the steps you should take to keep your project on track, helps your teams collaborate better, and increases your chances of project success.
For example, Scrum is an Agile product development framework that helps you plan out and execute your project in increments of 1–4 weeks.
There are other options, of course, for both Agile and traditional project management that structure projects in different ways.
But the similarity is that they all offer a concrete recipe of actions — not just high-level concepts and ideas.
What is the difference between a methodology and a framework?
The difference is that a methodology is focused on high-level ideas and values while a framework outlines a step-by-step process you can follow to manage your different types of projects.
Think of it like this: your methodology tells you that you want a moist, delicious devil’s food cake. The framework is the actual recipe on how to attain it (or directions to the closest bakery…)
A PM framework has several elements — like concrete artifacts and processes — that you can start using immediately to manage projects.
What are the key elements of a project management framework?
The 3 primary elements of a project management framework are the 5 life cycle processes, project outputs, and tools. They are the building blocks that help you create a reliable, repeatable method for handling your projects.
Let’s explore the individual concepts in depth…
Project life cycle processes
A framework encompasses the whole project management life cycle from start to finish. It should guide you all the way from finding and testing ideas to the finished result.
- Initiating: pre-planning, figuring out requirements, risks, and whether a project is realistic.
- Planning: identifying teams, breaking down project activities into repeatable workflows and tasks, and scheduling them.
- Executing: putting the plan to work and making the project a reality.
- Monitoring: confirming that you’re on the right track and adjusting the path according to market or internal changes.
- Closing: ending and wrapping up the project and scheduling any updates or replacements.
A framework will have different processes and guidelines structuring each of these or similar phases of a project.
Outputs or “artifacts”
Most frameworks have specific deliverables that you generate using templates or guidelines throughout different phases of the project life cycle.
These deliverables usually follow specific guidelines or a standard template. Here are 2 examples:
WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)
If you use one of the frameworks within the traditional project management methodology, one of the core outputs is the WBS.
The WBS is a tool you can use to break down your larger project deliverables into its essential parts.
For example, if your company wants to deliver a new bike, you need to manufacture or source all the individual parts.
Your WBS, in that case, may look something like this.
The product backlog is one of the core deliverables in Scrum. It outlines every requirement and user story — a feature from the user’s perspective — that your finished product needs.
Combined with a roadmap, the product backlog guides the project over the long term, rather than specific high-level plans.
Before each sprint, your team will meet with stakeholders to prioritize essential user stories and add them to a separate Sprint backlog.
Tools for visualizing the status of your project
A framework may also recommend specific visualization tools so you can better grasp the current status of your project. Let’s take a look at 3 of the more popular visualization tools:
- Gantt chart: a bar chart that shows your project schedule as it’s planned out. It looks like this in monday.com:
- Burndown chart: often included as part of Scrum, a burndown chart compares the rate of completed items to your initial estimate and the time left until the deadline.
- Critical path chart: a flowchart that helps you visualize the “critical path” of your project, more on this later.
There are other tools specific to different frameworks — like the popular Kanban board — as well as plenty of visualizations you can use across multiple frameworks.
monday.com offers 8+ views so you can find the perfect visualization tool for your project no matter what framework you’re working within.
Why is a project management framework important?
A project management framework is essential because it helps you manage your team and resources more effectively and increases the chances of project success.
And trying to navigate a project to success is anything other than a cakewalk (yeah we’re still thinking about cake — sorry).
Depending on the framework and methodology, as many as 29% of projects fail. And only 14% are successful within the original timeframe and budget.
57% of projects end up with a “challenged” result. They exceed budgets, timelines, or fail to complete the objectives. The right framework can help lower your failure rate and stick to your original budgets and schedules more effectively.
And that’s crucial because companies lose, on average, 11.4% of their investment due to poor project management.
Want to know which project framework to pick? We cover 4 options that may be right for your company in the next section.
4 project management frameworks that may be right for your company
Every company, team, and project has unique needs and workflows. With that in mind, we cover 4 unique frameworks representing different project management ideologies and use cases.
Let’s take a closer look.
Scrum is a framework for implementing the Agile methodology and principles. It outlines everything from:
- Team size and roles.
- The level of stakeholder involvement.
- Primary planning artifacts like the product backlog.
- Meetings and processes to use for both planning, monitoring, and reviewing your project.
- The project load is split into “sprints” that last for 1–4 weeks.
A Scrum project team is famously small and flexible, with a recommended size between 5 and 11 members.
But more important than the team size itself is the concept of a self-organizing and self-contained team.
The team should have all the skills to tackle and deliver a product increment (version of the product) with every sprint.
The scrum framework is ideal for…
- Complex projects with a lot of unpredictability at the beginning.
- Companies in industries and submarkets that are developing at a breakneck speed, where you need to adjust the course quickly.
It’s not the best choice for manufacturing companies or government contractors with a focus on flawless operations.
Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)
If your company is in an industry where fast movers win and you want to make Agile work, but you can’t imagine managing 100+ Scrum teams, SAFe should be right up your alley.
The latest version (5.0) includes tiers for different sizes of companies, projects, or transitions.
Though it still looks a bit outdated…
SAFe builds on concepts from Scrum: small, self-contained teams of 5–11 people, short-term iterations, and a backlog of items.
But it adds much-needed structure for controlling the larger projects and all the individual teams, resources, and moving parts.
- The continuous delivery pipeline helps large companies with tough requirements for any code or product that sees the light of day.
- There’s a framework for managing multiple teams and relationships between business, dev, ops, and support.
- High-level program backlogs and release planning give executives more control.
It also incorporates lean principles to minimize waste throughout the manufacturing and portfolio management process.
The SAFe framework is ideal for…
- Large companies that want to go Agile and move faster without giving up their control over the big picture.
Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)
Critical Chain Project Management is a more traditional framework or method. It’s all about planning out the ideal workflow and schedule for a project, maximizing your use of resources and personnel.
It takes the concept of a critical path — the longest chain of dependent project activities — and turns it into a comprehensive framework.
In CCPM, you start by mapping out dependencies, task estimations, and required resources.
Adding to that mix, you then estimate buffers for each step and the entire project until completion. You monitor the health of your project by how quickly you’re consuming the buffers for each stage.
Instead of just finding a critical path, you mix and match and juggle resources to create the ideal project plan.
The goal is to create the timeline — and budget — that is most beneficial for your business.
The CCPM framework is Ideal for…
- Contractors, construction, and other service companies with complex dependencies and an incentive for optimizing the timeline as much as possible.
Kanban is a framework for implementing Lean principles in processes or projects.
Instead of timed iterations, Kanban also focuses on continuous improvement and delivery. Once you finish and test a feature, it goes live. You don’t necessarily batch or plan them out.
You break your entire project workflow into actionable pieces on a Kanban board.
Which, in monday.com, looks like this:
The to-do column holds all the work items or features outlined in the project scope. The other columns reflect your workflow for adding new features or manufacturing a piece of the product.
It could be as simple as in progress, testing, and done. But it could also involve a lot more stages.
Kanban limits WIP (work in progress) items based on your team size and their ideal workload. A rule of thumb is to keep the WIP items to around 1–2 for every member of the team.
Kanban doesn’t specify team size or specific roles. Instead, you keep the existing structure but focus on communication, ongoing collaboration with customers, and giving everyone a voice.
The Kanban framework is ideal for…
- Rapidly-developing projects with changing priorities and a complex but predictable workflow like R&D, marketing, bug fixes, and more.
How to adapt a project management framework template for your team
What’s the best way to put a new PM framework into practice? Instead of trying to build something from scratch, why not reap the rewards of those who came before you?
Start with a ready-made template
monday.com offers a wide range of templates that suit different frameworks and companies. For example, if you want to start using Scrum, you can use our template for sprint planning.
If you want to use Kanban, you can use any of our workflow-tailored templates for design teams, or a basic team workflow template.
From there, you can create a Kanban view to start customizing your Kanban board.
But the templates are only the beginning. What really makes us the best digital workspace platform — there, we said it — is the flexibility.
With a few clicks, you can adjust these templates to mold them to your team or company’s workflow.
Adjust columns and statuses to match your workflow.
If you’re working with Kanban, you can add columns by adding a new label to the status column in the grid view.
If you use another framework and prefer a grid view, you can add multiple columns for different stages in the workflow.
monday.com makes it easy to customize and adapt each template to your workflow.
You can add multiple assignees, multi-step testing, project files, time tracking, or other elements if necessary.
You can even use our wide range of integrations and automations to make your project workflow even smoother.
Use integrations and automations to make your life easier
If you’re tired of having to manually create and update your project management platform with new information from other apps, don’t fret. monday.com has an integration for that.
For example, if you use a helpdesk service to receive bug reports, you can automatically add items to your product backlog or Kanban to-do column.
You can also automatically add notes to support requests when the item status changes on monday.com.
For example, you can automatically notify a support rep to message the customer that a bug has been fixed, and thank them for their contribution.
The options are endless, and the time-savings let your managers focus on work that matters.
One size doesn’t fit all
With the right framework, businesses can guide more projects to successful results, collaborate better, and be more productive.
But you need to choose one that suits your workflow, industry, and goals.
monday.com makes it easy to start working with the framework of your choice. You can, for example, start with our Scrum sprint planning template in just a few minutes.