7 minutes

“Trying to manage a project without project management is like trying to play football without a game plan.” —Karen Tate

Project management is no easy task, especially for a startup. Most project management techniques recommend highly specific and often rigid processes for starting, monitoring, and concluding projects. While these techniques can work, they may feel inflexible and hindering at times.

Still, businesses of all sizes, including startups, need a robust project management framework to guide their teams and allocate resources in an optimal way. There is a wide range of different methodologies when it comes to building your own project management framework. Plus, there’s software that’s custom-built for this purpose depending on your specific industry, sector, and project type.

Additionally, newer and more flexible methodologies are regularly introduced to further enhance project management framework creation strategies. In this guide, we’ll explain how to build a flexible, customized project management framework that works for your startup or small business.

Project Management Framework

What is a Project Management Framework?

A project management framework is a collection of tools, processes, and tasks that help to clearly define the structure of execution of a business-related project. When you create your own framework, it can help your startup to lay out a roadmap for the progression of individual steps, goals, and achievements within a project, from its inception to its end. 

The ideal project management framework should include every aspect of a given project. This includes:

  • Team resources and team members allocated to specific tasks
  • Resources to complete the project;
  • Tools, tasks, and processes you need to implement to produce successful results

How Are Project Management Frameworks Organized?

The typical project management framework is organized into three key components: 

  1. The life cycle of a project
  2. The control cycle of a project
  3. Templates and tools 

The project life cycle supplies a specific timeline with milestones and goals for the different stages of each project. 

The control cycle focuses on monitoring your team’s progress and managing processes to optimize results. Last, templates and tools provide your startup with pre-established, effective frameworks to further structure your projects.

Here is a summary of the three essential components of a good project management framework:

  1. Project life cycle: provides timelines of goals, milestones and various stages of a project
  2. Project control cycle: provides frameworks for monitoring progress and managing processes
  3. Tools and templates: provide pre-established project management frameworks and best practices to guide your efforts

Project Management Framework

Which Project Management Frameworks Are Most Popular?

There are dozens of different project management frameworks available for businesses today. And many are designed for specific industries, sectors, and niches. Generally speaking, however, there are some widely used and popular methodologies that produce optimal results, even for startups.

Some of these frameworks include Scrum, Agile, Integrated Project Management, Lean, Waterfall, and PRINCE2. Certain frameworks are designed for more general project management purposes, and others are better suited to specialized industries like distributing or software development. The best way to find the right existing framework for your startup is to research the frameworks that work best for your industry and sector—and for startups as well. 

Kanban and Scrum frameworks are often recommended for startups due to their highly flexible structures.

The Best Project Management Framework for a Startup

According to McKinsey, the best project management methodologies for startups are both agile and lean in nature. The global management and consulting firm notes that communication must be consistent and efficient throughout the framework, and that ideally, in-person meetings should get saved for high level, data-focused discussions.

Startups that opt for a Lean or Agile project management framework can create flexible workflows and processes in line with their primary needs. For instance, overview meetings are often more vital for startups than for larger businesses, as more adjustments and pivots are needed in a business’s early stages. Agile processes which move rapidly through group channels can aid in giving you a clear picture of a project’s long-term trajectory, which you will need to carefully monitor as a young organization.

The more agile your project management practices are, the more easily and efficiently your team can steer away from discarded ideas and tasks. In turn, they can allocate their resources towards working on tasks with an improved ROI. Agile practices also allow teams to prioritize tasks according to their available resources and tackle critical tasks first.

McKinsey also notes that project documentation for startups needs to be lean, concise, and easy to access for all team members. This is easily simplified by using shared folders and storage in the cloud and cloud-based project management software, which is often available for free use for smaller projects and businesses. 

cadre de gestion de projet

How to Build Your Own Project Management Framework

Follow these steps to create your own project management framework that’s aligned with the needs and goals of your startup.

1: Establish Your Vision

The first step to mastering project management for startups is to start each project with a clear vision. This is a concise, detailed goal or idea that your team can focus on and work towards collectively. Think of your goal or vision as your ultimate destination. Your project management framework is the roadmap you’ll use to reach this destination.

Your vision needs to be specific, detailed and focused on your greater long-term goals. Instead of simply wanting to grow your business, for instance, you can set a goal of increasing revenues by 12% over the next financial quarter by improving your customer service experience. Once you identify your startup’s vision, build on it until you have a specific array of goals in place.

2: Build a Project Management Plan

You can create a project management plan using your startup’s vision and goals and any framework of your choice, including PM software designed for your industry. It’s important to adhere to this plan once you have created it. But flexibility is also vital, as we will explain in the next step.

Methodologies like Agile are often well-suited to startups as they break down tasks into many short, iterative ‘sprints’ or cycles. The team will work on a specific goal or task during each sprint, while collaborating with managers and stakeholders during each sprint to ensure that the resulting project meets their needs.

Agile frameworks are intended to power startup teams to solve challenges and make important decisions independently, instead of relying exclusively on guidance and instruction from executives and managers. Even if your industry is not optimally suited to Agile methodologies, you can still incorporate some Agile methods into your workflows to streamline and structure your team’s progress.

3: Remain Flexible

Startup owners and managers are generally comfortable with the concept of change. Changes can happen rapidly in the context of a young business. You need to be able to pivot quickly to adapt to these changes and ensure your ongoing success. Your project management framework and individual project plans need frequent revisions according to changing client goals and expectations, economic conditions, resource availability, and other factors that can impact your workflows.

Allowing your team to remain flexible is also a boon for their processes. When you allow team members to reach milestones and goals in a flexible way, they gain the opportunity to brew up innovative ideas, apply them in new ways, and grow their skills and abilities as they gain experience.

4: Include Project Execution Plans

Your project management framework should also include project execution plans. These plans will focus heavily on your team’s performance and monitoring your progress as you work. Include information on when, where, and how you plan to execute your project, along with incremental micro-goals and milestones that you need to achieve in order to successfully complete the project.

Remember, your project execution plans should always revolve around your project’s ultimate goals to ensure that your team can achieve predictable results in line with specific requirements.

5: Optimize Resource Use

Inefficient startups can spend vast amounts of time and money on tasks that don’t produce a viable return on investment. This is why knowing how to calculate profit margin is essential, as it allows you to maximize every project’s ROI. Your project management framework can help you to boost your profit margin and maximize your resources’ potential by helping you to establish the vision, goals, milestones, and metrics of a project before you start work.

Your framework should enable you to create a thorough, comprehensive plan with specific deadlines, schedules, goals and tasks lists. When you have all of this data in a single place, you can proceed according to schedule using the optimal tools, methodologies, and approaches for the job. Your framework should also specify the metrics and KPIs that you will use to monitor and report on the progress of each project. 

These metrics will help to ensure that you reach all of your benchmarks and help you to identify any processes that are under-performing.

cadre de gestion de projet

Essential Project Management KPIs for Startups

Project management key performance indicators, or KPIs, are metrics you can use to measure the progress and performance of a project against your goals and milestones. KPIs help you to determine how your team is progressing in the context of your project schedule. Additionally, they help to highlight weaknesses in your processes, helping you to improve the efficiency of your strategies.

Project management KPIs provide quantitative data; measurable values that you can compare directly to your project goals. These metrics can also get categorized into a few different groups, including:

  • Project budget KPIs like cost variance, cost performance index, planned value, number of budget iterations, budget creation cycle times, and more
  • Time efficiency KPIs such as schedule variance, schedule performance index, on-time completion percentages, and resource capacity
  • Project quality KPIs like net promoter score and employee churn rate
  • Efficiency KPIs such as average cost per hour and billable utilization rate

There are a few different ways to use these KPIs to track the performance of your projects. Many startups create a simple KPI dashboard on Excel or Sheets. But this is not a suitable solution for larger budget projects, complex workflows, and multiple task dependencies.

If your team is working with more complex project requirements, you can use a project management framework software that provides you with a KPI reporting module. Most of these platforms allow you to view all of your project management KPIs in real time using a single dashboard. Additionally, many of them offer robust project management framework templates to streamline the process of creating a framework that works for you.

In Summary

A project management framework is, in essence, a valuable resource that helps you to simplify the launch of future projects, streamline workflows, and set tangible goals and deadlines that advance you towards successful completion. Depending on your startup and industry, your framework may be highly specialized or more flexible to meet your needs. 

It’s important to revise your project management framework regularly and ensure that it’s structuring your projects in a way that maximizes efficiency and ROI while minimizing resource use. Using an advanced solution like the Nutcache platform allows you to track work hours accurately across your projects and measure your team’s productivity in real time to give you complete control over your projects and your results.