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Introducing a project management framework: Why it helps and how to do it

Introduction

Organisations who are new to running projects might want to begin using a project management framework, but they may not know where to start. They might not have the experience to introduce a framework themselves and may decide to bring in a project manager with experience of frameworks to help them design one that will be tailored to their organisation.

As the project manager, you’ll need to explain to them how to use a project management framework, why it’s important and how it will help them successfully deliver their projects. This might sound like a challenge, but this can help make the difference to an organisation’s project capability and allows you to apply your project management knowledge to practical, real-world project work.

Purpose of a project management framework

The main aim of any good project management framework should be to guide an organisation on how to run their projects. The framework should introduce a method of project management that can be applied throughout the organisation. It will provide governance, structure and accountability for each step of a project. A project management framework can help an organisation to better govern its projects and ultimately lead to more effective and efficient project delivery.

How to implement a project management framework

So how do we implement a project management framework? Below are five steps that you can take to make sure the project management framework will be suitable for the organisation.

1. Find out what the organisation wants

What does the organisation actually want? Do they need a 15-step process with review gates at the end of each step? Or do they want a very simple process for their small-scale projects?

The first step is to talk to the organisation – do some stakeholder management. Determine what the organisation wants to achieve with this framework. By working with the organisation, you’ll be able to tailor the framework to their needs and they will end up with a useful framework that they will want to put into practice. Establishing requirements will also ensure that the framework will help the organisation achieve its project goals.

2. Work with what’s already there

As part of your initial research and discussion with the organisation about what they want, find out what processes are already in place. Massive, sweeping changes can be hard to absorb. If the organisation is already running projects in some capacity, you are likely to find that there will already be some processes in place. Building upon things that are already being done will enable you to introduce additional processes more effectively and blend them with existing ones. You reduce the potential for resistance and make the change seem less intimidating.

3. Keep it simple

Very rarely are you going to need to reinvent the project management wheel. Don’t overcomplicate the framework. Keeping things simple means the new framework is more likely to stick. It won’t feel onerous and unnecessarily bureaucratic and avoids paralysis for the users of the framework if they need to make too many decisions or get approval from too many people.

Keeping it simple will also challenge you as the project manager. You’ll need to distil down the theory you’ve learnt and your practical experience into something usable for the organisation. You will need to determine what information is most useful and understand how project management theory translates into a practical project environment.

4. Provide guidance and instructions

As part of the framework, it’s useful to provide guidance and instructions on how it’s going to be implemented. The organisation might not know what a risk register is, or how to do stakeholder management. Break these things down for them into simple instructions. As part of your initial discussions, you’ll have established how they want the framework delivered. It might be as simple as a wall chart, or something more complex requiring documents with explanations and checklists.

5. Demonstrate how to implement the framework

Taking the time to walk the organisation through how to put the framework into practice is a useful exercise for both you and them. It will allow you to ensure that you’ve met their requirements and determine that you’re conveying the information effectively. For the organisation, it will help them to see how to use the framework in practice and will give them the opportunity to ask questions or request changes to anything that isn’t going to work for them.

This demonstration and review element is valuable. It gives the organisation confidence that you’ve listened to them and their aims and given them a usable framework. It also gives you the opportunity to clearly demonstrate the value of having a good project management framework in place.

Summary

Implementing a project management framework can be a significant undertaking, but its value to an organisation should not be underestimated. Having a structure in place helps to control project work and changes and ensure that projects are being completed to a suitable standard.

As a project manager implementing a framework, it’s important to understand what the organisation needs and what they are already doing. You are then better able to implement an effective framework that will be useful for and usable by the organisation. Keeping it simple helps to smooth the introduction and avoid overcomplicating processes. It is also useful to provide instruction on the different aspects of the framework and, if possible, demonstrate how to use the framework with practical examples.

The introduction of a project management framework can make a significant difference to an organisation. It has the ability to help them deliver projects and manage their workload more effectively. As a project manager introducing a framework, you can help them make the change and demonstrate the importance of project management frameworks as a tool for better project management.

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