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Why is having a project management framework important?

As your organisation grows and evolves, the projects you deliver can become more numerous and more complex. As the number of projects that you have to deliver grows, managing this complexity often requires a more structured approach than the organisation has used in the past. The realisation that you need a tool, or more accurately a  “framework”. usually happens when projects are going off track or are recognised as being at a high risk of going off track, but it makes more sense to be proactive about it if you can.

So what exactly is a project management framework, and why is having one important for your organisation? The term “project management framework” is generally applied to a body of artefacts and processes  used by the project manager to optimise project success. This is usually the result of a formalised project structure — with a clearly defined list of roles and responsibilities as well as a means of sharing information and coordinating resources — which defines how project management principles and practices apply to the project. It can be comprehensive and mandatory or ‘light touch’ and recommended. Most successful frameworks fall somewhere in the middle.

What are the key elements of a framework or methodology

The concept of a project management framework is not a new one. Methodologies like PRINCE2 have and PRAXIS have been around for a couple of decades now and while it can be tempting and in many cases quite effective to use an ‘off the shelf’ methodology, for most organisations their needs are better catered for when they build their own tailored approach to project management. 

So, what are the key features of a project management framework, and should you be using one?

Some of the following elements are usually addressed in a project management framework: 

  • Definition and management
  • Tracking, reporting and data collection
  • Planning and scheduling
  • Execution/Delivery
  • Budgeting and resource planning
  • Post project review and close out

Some of the most effective frameworks are scaled, so for a smaller project the list of documents and deliverables would be much less that for a large or complex project. One of the benefits of developing your own project management framework is that you set the parameters around what a small, medium, or large project is. 

Our advice to clients that ask if they should be using a framework is simple. If you manage projects as part of your daily business, if you are running multiple projects and have multiple project managers, then you would likely benefit from having everyone working to the same standard through the use of a framework. 

How to build your own framework or methodology

To start with, let’s start small.

A framework is a set of rules applied to the way projects are initiated, managed and closed out. A framework doesn’t have to be complicated to be useful, so start with the basics. Do you have a set of standard templates for projects? If yes, make sure everyone knows where they are and that they should be used.

Does the organisation have processes around managing changes to time, cost and scope? If so great, put them out to the team. Collaboration tools like Teams or Confluence are great places to provide a centralised repository for your framework artefacts. If you are finding there are gaps and you don’t have standard templates or processes, then you can put together a working group to help fill the gaps or bring in some specialist consultants to help out.

The important thing to remember, is that a framework should make things easier in the long run. You may need to do some change management with the team in order for it to be fully adopted, but over time we see our clients look back and wonder how they ever successfully managed projects without it.