Project management requires a delicate balance of planning, executing, and evaluating. And with the rise of hybrid and remote work environments, it’s more critical than ever. But today, there are numerous project management frameworks and methodologies to choose from. With recent advancements in AI, project managers are also navigating an array of new tools and software to streamline productivity. With so many options available, it can be challenging to know where to start. In this article, we will discuss the best project manager tools and techniques for 2023. We’ll also look at a few AI-powered tools that can help project managers work more efficiently.
10 common project management frameworks and methodologies
Today, there are a wide variety of approaches to project management. Methodologies differ in values and structure. An organization’s size, industry, project requirements, and stakeholders influence its chosen framework.
Here are the ten most common project management frameworks.
Waterfall is a traditional approach to project management. The framework follows a linear path. With a Waterfall system, project managers document the process, resources, and timelines in advance and cannot alter them. Teams complete tasks in sequential order. For example, teams will not begin testing an application until the implementation phase is complete.
The Waterfall method makes it easier to measure progress since everything has a clear step and timeline. However, its rigidity can lead to a longer delivery time. If one stage is delayed, it’ll affect the entire project schedule.
2. Projects in Controlled Environments (PRINCE2)
PRINCE2 is a highly-structured project management framework. Similar to Waterfall, the methodology relies on a rigid process to manage a project—providing a step-by-step roadmap to complete an initiative. Enterprise organizations with large-scale projects benefit the most from PRINCE2.
In 2001, seventeen software developers developed a set of project management principles. Known as The Agile Manifesto, these principles encouraged a more flexible approach to project management.
Agile is not a framework or methodology. Instead, it’s a philosophy rooted in four values:
- Prioritize individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Prioritize working software over documentation
- Prioritize customers and collaboration over contract negotiations
- Prioritize adapting to change instead of following a plan
Agile project management is one of the most common approaches today. But many companies combine the principles of Agile with other frameworks to structure their processes.
Scrum is a project management framework based on the Agile philosophy. The methodology has gained popularity in recent years. Today, 87% of project managers use Scrum techniques. Scrum organizes initiatives into short-term projects called “Sprints.” Each Sprint lasts two to three weeks. Teams are small, cross-functional, and meet frequently. And work is done concurrently to speed up production time.
Kanban is a visual workflow that uses boards to organize projects. Although it originated in the manufacturing industry, it has recently gained popularity among software developers. In fact, 56% of project managers now use Kanban boards as part of their workflow.
Image source: Trello
Boards use columns to show the status of tasks (e.g., not started, in progress, complete, etc.). Each step has a card that outlines its sub-tasks. Teams move the card across columns to track project progress. Kanban also prioritizes Work in Process (WIP) limits—which specify how many projects can simultaneously be in progress. This helps reduce multitasking and frequent context switching.
Scrumban is a project management framework that combines elements of Scrum and Kanban. The methodology uses the structure of Scrum with the visual workflow of Kanban. Scrumban also implements WIP limits to streamline processes and improve productivity.
7. Extreme Programming (XP)
XP is one of the most detailed project management frameworks. Based on the Agile philosophy, XP values communication, simplicity, feedback, courage, and respect. Organizations often combine the principles of XP with Scrum or Kanban. XP structures projects based on weekly iterations. The framework encourages cross-functional project teams to sit together and minimize distractions. It also promotes Pair Programming, where developers sit together to write code.
Lean is a project management philosophy that focuses on reducing waste. Toyota developed the methodology in the 1950s as a set of manufacturing principles. Today, many software organizations employ Lean to simplify project management.
The fundamental principles of Lean include:
- Value: How do organizations maximize value for the customer?
- Flow: Processes should be as efficient as possible.
- Pull: Customer demand should drive development.
- Perfection: Organizations should continuously review and refine processes.
9. Critical Path Method (CPM)
CPM is a project management technique that facilitates better scheduling. With CPM, project managers identify all required tasks and their relationships (e.g., Task C cannot start until Task B is completed). Project managers use these defined dependencies to create a network diagram—a flow chart depicting tasks chronologically.
10. Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
PERT is a project management technique that helps project managers calculate risk based on the expected duration of each task. Project managers assign each task three possibilities:
- M: Project teams will most likely complete the task on time.
- O: It is optimistic that teams will complete the task on time.
- P: It is pessimistic that teams will complete the task on time.
Project managers typically use PERT charts and CPM together to establish project timelines and understand risk management.
5 tips for effective project management
Regardless of the complexity of an initiative or the methodology selected, effective project management is critical. Here are five tips on how to manage project tasks successfully.
- Set realistic project goals: Project managers must establish achievable objectives. Unrealistic goals can cause confusion, frustration, and missed deadlines. Project managers should involve stakeholders throughout the goal-setting and planning process to ensure targets align with project requirements.
- Develop a clear project plan: A project plan outlines the project scope, objectives, necessary resources, timelines, and critical milestones. A well-defined project plan will keep teams organized and ensure deliverables are on track. It will also help prioritize tasks and identify risks before the project starts.
- Make communication a priority: Project managers should optimize meetings to ensure collaboration and communication. They should also send out regular status updates and reports and address any issues as they arise.
- Use the right tools: Today, 54% of organizations do not have the tools to track key performance indicators (KPIs) in real time. Many companies still use spreadsheets or legacy tools to monitor complex projects. The right tools can help increase collaboration, accountability, and efficiency.
- Foster teamwork: Effective project management relies on cooperation—especially when leading cross-functional teams. For project managers, creating a culture of collaboration is critical.
Project managers should set aside time for team-building, like a quick icebreaker at the start of a meeting. At the same time, project managers should set aside time regularly to celebrate success and ask for feedback.
Essential types of tools for project managers
According to a study by RGPM, 60% of project managers oversee two to five projects at once. As a result, investing in the right tools is critical for organization, collaboration, and efficiency. Here are the best project management tools to add to your toolkit.
- Project management software: Project management platforms can help track task lists and deadlines. Most project management tools provide a centralized place to share files and communicate in real time. And project managers can use reporting and analytic features to measure progress and results.
- Gantt charts: Gantt charts visually represent a project’s schedule. Gantt charts can help teams better understand the sequence of project activities and deadlines.
Image source: Monday.com
- Time tracking tools: Monitoring the time needed to complete each task is essential. Project managers can use this data to develop realistic time estimates and better allocate resources.
- Communication tools: Project management teams can use communication tools like Slack to share progress updates, manage files, and discuss potential issues.
- Budgeting tools: Staying on budget is critical for a successful project. Cost management tools can help project managers generate budgets and track expenses.
Five project management tools that use AI
Today, thousands of tools are available for project managers—including AI-powered applications. These tools can help project managers drive efficiency, increase transparency, and eliminate bottlenecks. Here are five AI-powered project management tools to consider in 2023.
Image description: Supernormal’s platform makes it easy to find all your team’s meetings, notes, and screen recordings in one place.
Supernormal is an AI-powered note-taking platform designed to maximize your project management meetings.
- Video and audio recording: Supernormal joins any meeting, records video meetings, and generates an audio transcription.
- Note-taking: Supernormal will generate and send meeting notes and action items after the meeting.
- Templates: Send meeting notes in the best format for your team with meeting note templates.
- Supernormal automatically joins meetings with calendar integrations.
- Users can generate notes in multiple languages.
- The platform is compatible with Teams, Zoom, and Google Meet.
Pricing: The Starter plan is free. The Pro plan starts at $24 per month.
Image source: Hive
Hive is a cloud-based project management platform that helps teams execute projects faster. Powered by AI, Hive can automate routine tasks and streamline the planning process.
- AI assist: Users can craft emails, meeting agendas, or brainstorm ideas in seconds.
- Project Management: Hivemind (Hive’s AI assistant) will automatically suggest a list of steps and tasks to kick off a project.
- Time tracking: Team members can track task time and send timesheets to project managers.
- Users can coordinate meetings and track bandwidth with team scheduling tools.
- Companies can customize dashboards with logos and colors.
- Users can choose from over 1,000 external apps and integrations for enhanced functionality.
- Hive was built with the Agile framework in mind. It may not be well-suited for more rigid approaches.
Pricing: Free for up to ten users. The Teams plan is $18 per user per month. Enterprise plans are available.
Image source: Forecast
Forecast is an AI-powered platform that helps project managers organize and execute projects.
- Integrated intelligence: Forecast will learn from previous projects and provide recommendations when planning new ones.
- Advanced warnings: Forecast will warn project managers when a project is at risk.
- Timesheets: Project managers can monitor and refine timelines with timesheets.
- Users can set permissions for each team member depending on their roles.
- Project managers can create and prioritize task lists for individual team members
- There are over 40 integrations available.
- Forecast’s subscription requires a minimum of 20 seats. It may not be appropriate for startups or smaller teams.
Pricing: The Lite plan is $29 per seat per month. The plan requires a minimum of 20 seats and is billed annually. Enterprise plans are available.
Image source: Wrike
Wrike is a cloud-based project management application powered by machine learning and natural language processing.
- Work intelligence: Use suggestions from Wrike’s AI assistant to create to-do lists and identify risks.
- Notes: Wrike can take notes from a meeting and generate action items in seconds.
- Automation engine: Streamline repetitive tasks with rules and automation.
- Use timesheets to track and manage the workload of each team member.
- Reporting and analytics features make it easy to share progress and results with teams.
- There are over 400 integrations for functionality with your existing toolkit.
Pricing: Free. The Team plan is $9.80 per user per month. The Business plan is $24.80 per user per month. Enterprise plans are available. All plans are billed annually.
5. Project Insight
Image description: Project Insight
Project Insight is a project management software designed to work with various project management methodologies.
- Timeline prediction: Reviews past completion times to provide intelligent estimates.
- Intelligent scheduling: Project Insight will automatically shift timing and deadlines for task dependencies if a task is rescheduled or delayed.
- Project requests: Standardize requests and assign tasks to team members.
- Create and reuse unlimited templates.
- A mobile app makes it easy to manage projects on the go.
- Automatically convert messages to tasks with Slack, Gmail, and Microsoft team integrations.
- Pricing can be confusing.
Pricing: Free. Add additional features for $3 per feature. The Enterprise plan starts at $45 per user.
Boost your project management strategy with Supernormal
Effective project management requires extensive coordination. No matter the framework, size, or type of project, organization, collaboration, and communication with stakeholders is critical.
Supernormal enables project managers to communicate more effectively with their teams. Powered by AI, Supernormal automatically takes notes and generates action items. This way, project managers can maximize engagement during meetings, and participants can feel comfortable knowing meeting notes are available.
Start for free today to see how project managers ship better products with Supernormal.