A Guide to Project Management Frameworks For Your Team And How to Choose The Right One

2022-05-11 10:16:04
Sam O’ Brien
Original 166
Summary : In this guide, we explore what a project management framework is and how you can choose the right one for your team.

Project Management Frameworks and How to Choose One

If your organization carries out projects, effective project management is essential for your its success. Failed projects can be a colossal waste of time and money, as well as being hugely damaging to your company’s reputation.

Unfortunately, many projects fail—and this problem spans many fields and industries. In fact, a 2020 report by the Standish Group found that only around a third of projects succeed at meeting all of the requirements, and around a fifth fail entirely.

Image Source: Data

Why is this?

Projects are often subject to the following common issues:

Delays: when progress is slower than expected (or even than promised to your client!).

Scope creep / mission creep: when extra features and work become expected, but were not defined when agreeing upon the original scope of the project.

Budget issues: when funds run out or expectations exceed the project’s budget.

The three main constraints of projects—time, cost, and scope—make up the project management triangle. Each of these affects the other, and can cause real problems for projects.

Following an effective project management framework can help avoid these issues and increase the chances of your projects being successful. Here, we will explore some of the frameworks available and how you can choose the best one for you and your team.

What is a project management framework?

The term “project management framework” refers to the collection of different “parts”—e.g., processes, activities, templates, and tools used to plan and carry out a project. Templates are often standardized.

Project management frameworks are used to plan an entire project management life cycle from the planning stage through to completion.

Project management frameworks are often confused with project management methodologies. However, there are key distinctions between the two. A methodology is a specific series of steps needed to carry out a project, while a framework is a looser, more flexible and versatile template.

A project management framework gives direction to a project while allowing room for adaptation. Projects can sometimes use both frameworks and methodologies simultaneously.

Project management frameworks are designed to help project managers plan and oversee projects more efficiently and successfully and have become extremely popular across many industries. There are many project management frameworks that have been developed, with most being versatile enough for use across various industries.

Image Source: Unsplash

How can project management frameworks help you?

A successful project management framework enables clarity and consistency of approach and improves communication and collaboration among the project team. This can help you to navigate and overcome common or unexpected challenges that could otherwise derail a project, particularly a large one with many potential pitfalls.

Let’s use the example of a marketing company carrying out a wide-ranging digital marketing project for a client: This project is made up of multiple components, such as online ads, content marketing, email affiliate marketing, social media marketing, and video marketing—and each component must deliver a consistent message and be ready for launch at the same time.

Not only does this project itself have multiple components, but each component also entails numerous tasks and internal communication.

Content marketers must meet writing and editing deadlines, social media marketers must collaborate with influences, video marketers must storyboard and plan filming locations, etc.

There are many smaller projects within this larger marketing project, and any aspect going wrong or being delayed could cause a bottleneck for the whole thing!

The project manager decides to use a project management framework, as past projects have become disorganized. The team follows a defined planning stage and sets clear, measurable goals (e.g, “purchase ad exchanges”). Each team member knows exactly what personal responsibilities and deliverables are, and the deadlines for each stage.

Each team member also knows who to report to and ask questions to if needed. This improves communication and reduces the chances of “crossed wires”. It is decided that questions will be asked and feedback on tasks provided using a virtual management platform. If more urgent communication is needed, they will use their business phone system.

It is also determined that one aspect of the project—the video marketing component—requires the most time. The marketing team is less experienced in video creation than in content writing, niche affiliate marketing, and other disciplines.

The framework allows the team to plan around this. Time is allocated for members of the team to carry out the research needed to help them avoid video marketing mistakes. Members with less time-intensive tasks are set additional tasks that reduce the video marketer’s workload, such as writing a video script and hiring equipment.

With the whole project management life cycle planned out, each team member’s tasks clearly defined, and communication channels defined, the project runs smoothly, meets the deadline, and is able to overcome any difficulties.

What project management frameworks are there?

There are many project management frameworks that exist, but here are three of the most popular.


Image Source: ZenTao

The Scrum framework outlines the size of a project team, the roles of each member, planning artifacts, and processes for planning, overseeing, and reviewing. Project management tools like ZenTao are based on Scrum.

Scrum-based projects are divided into short bursts of work called “sprints”, which typically last between one week and one month. Teams typically involve between five and ten members, each of which can deliver their own version of a product at each sprint.

Scrum is a particularly useful framework for organizations in fast-moving markets and industries, as it is able to change direction quickly in reaction to events. Scrum is also suited to complex projects with many moving parts.


Image Source: ZenTao

The Kanban framework is based on the principles of the Lean methodology, which aims to maximize the efficiency of all work and resources.

Rather than having time-based sections such as in Scrum, Kanban documents separate actionable pieces or features that can “go live” individually and in the order of completion.

A Kanban board is typically divided into columns such as “to-do”, “doing”, and “done”, although extra columns can also be included—for example, columns for testing, editing, and reviewing. The aim is typically to keep projects in the “doing” stage for as little time as possible (without rushing and sacrificing quality, of course) and avoid crowding this stage with too many projects.

Kanban is a flexible framework in terms of team size and roles. It is particularly useful for identifying bottlenecks, and for fast-moving projects with simpler workflows.


Image Source: ZenTao

Agile, or to give it its full title, Scaled Agile Framework (or SAFe), expands on features found in Scrum, such as small teams, multiple stages each with a shorter time period, and backlogs of tasks.

Agile includes a tiered structure to suit organizations and projects of varying sizes. Within each project, Agile’s structure encourages continuous delivery, incorporates principles of the Lean methodology, and includes frameworks for managing relationships between multiple teams.

Agile is especially useful for larger organizations and fast-paced projects with many moving parts. If you want to manage many project teams at the same time without losing control, Agile is an effective choice. Agile benefits companies in manufacturing and technology particularly.

How to choose the best project management framework for your team

Choosing the best framework for your project involves considering a number of factors, and the choice can be difficult to make. Taking the following steps can help you to come to a decision.

1. Determine the project’s size, scope, and duration

Different frameworks excel at projects of different sizes, scopes, and durations. For example, a smaller, quicker project may work best with the Kanban framework, while a larger project may be more suited to Scrum or Agile. Projects with a large scope and more moving parts may also be suited to these frameworks.

However, organizations have found success incorporating simpler frameworks like Kanban for smaller projects within larger projects that use a different framework.

2. Research the different frameworks available

Understanding your options is essential for choosing the right one. It can be useful to get feedback from other people and organizations in your network (ideally not competitors, though!) about frameworks that they have used and how well they worked.

You can even make a list of pros and cons of each framework and compare them. Treat it as if you were doing research for procurement of a new piece of software or equipment.

3. Consider what technology is available

The right project management software can make a huge difference to the success of your projects and the experience of carrying them out. Different pieces of software are based on different frameworks, and also have their own pros and cons. As well as project management software, tools for communication, collaboration, and other operational processes should also be considered in terms of how useful they are for your project.

4. Discuss with your team

Image Source: Unsplash

Even if you are a project manager in charge of running the whole project, you won’t be the only person carrying it out! Make sure to get opinions from your team—after all, they will be using the framework day-in, day-out. The more the framework suits your team, the better the results of the project will be.

5. Audit success and get feedback

Once you have chosen a framework, that does not mean you never have to think about it again. The success of the framework should be continually monitored, during and between projects. To do this, you can compare client feedback and statistics (e.g., time and money spent) to those of past projects.

Feedback from your team is also highly useful. Don’t assume that team members will automatically come to you if they have problems—they may struggle in silence.

Take your projects to the next level

Choosing the right project management framework can help you and your team carry out projects more quickly, easily, and successfully. This can have hugely beneficial impacts on your organization as a whole.

Need more help? Check out the Zentao blog. They have more articles on project management tools, software management, building cross-functional teams, and so much more.


Author bio :

Sam O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer for Affise—a Global SaaS Partner Marketing Solution. He is a growth affiliate network expert with a product management and design background. Sam has a passion for innovation, growth, and marketing technology. Sam O'Brien also published articles for domains such as Crunchbase and Debutify. 

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