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Project management ABC – P for PM²

Project management ABC - P for PM²

Choosing the right project management methodology can have a significant impact on the success of a project. Project managers should therefore be familiar with different approaches and understand how and when they can be used effectively. One methodology that has gained prominence in recent years is PM² (Project Management Squared), which was developed by the European Commission to provide a common approach to project management across different organisations and sectors.

What is PM²?

PM² was not developed as an isolated method, but as a response to the specific requirements and challenges of the European Commission. In the early 2000s, the Commission recognised the need to create a standardised framework for project management to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of its projects. The aim was to integrate best practices from different sources.
The development of PM² therefore began as an internal process in which experts from various departments and projects of the European Commission contributed their experience and knowledge. The aim was to create a method that is flexible enough to be applied in different contexts, but at the same time provides clear structures and guidelines to ensure project success. A key feature of PM² is therefore its adaptability to the culture and structure of different organisations. Thus, the method is not only intended for public administration, but can also be successfully applied in private companies and non-profit organisations. This integrative approach helps to promote co-operation in projects and facilitate the exchange of best practices.

Basic principles and values of PM²

PM² is characterised by a number of clear basic principles and values that serve as the foundation for successful project management. These principles were developed to promote flexibility, transparency and efficiency in projects.

  • Holistic approach: PM² takes a holistic view of projects and recognises the interactions between different aspects of the project. This promotes a comprehensive view that includes all dimensions of a project, from planning to implementation.
  • Adaptability and flexibility: PM² is not a rigid method, but focuses on adaptability to different project contexts. This enables project managers to adapt the method to the specific requirements of their project and organisation without neglecting the basic principles.
  • Results-orientation: PM² focuses on the results. By setting clear objectives and performance criteria, the method helps to ensure that projects deliver the desired results and fulfil stakeholder expectations.
  • Transparency and communication: PM² also attaches great importance to transparency in all phases of the project. Open communication between all stakeholders is encouraged. This ensures that information is shared effectively and that everyone involved is on the same page.
  • Responsibility and accountability: Clearly defined roles and responsibilities are a central principle of PM². This ensures that team members understand exactly which areas they are responsible for and promotes effective collaboration.
  • Continuous improvement: PM² also promotes continuous improvement. By regularly evaluating and adapting processes, experience from past projects is utilised to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of future projects.
  • Risk management: The systematic management of risks is also a central principle of PM². The method recognises that uncertainties and risks are a natural part of projects and therefore offers tools for identifying, assessing and managing risks.
  • Culture of collaboration: PM² also promotes a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing. Teamwork is encouraged and the method includes mechanisms to utilise the collective knowledge and experience of all participants.
    These core principles and values form the framework of PM² and enable organisations to improve their project management practices and face the challenges of complex projects with confidence.

Differences to PMI, PRINCE2 and Scrum

PM² (Project Management Squared) PMI (Project Management Institute) PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) Scrum
Flexibility and adaptability Adaptable to a wide range of projects and organisations Standardised and process-oriented Structured and process-orientated Highly customisable thanks to iterative development
Process Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring, Completion Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring, Completion Start, Initiation, Control, Execution, Closure Sprints, Scrum Events (Sprint Planning, Review, Retrospective)
Roles and responsibilities Emphasises clear roles, but customisable Standardised roles, e.g. project manager, sponsor, etc. Defined roles such as project manager, senior supplier, senior user Clearly defined roles such as Scrum Master, Product Owner, Development Team
Areas of application Can be used in various industries and organisations Generally applicable, especially in industry Often used in IT projects, but can be customised Originally for software development, but can be used flexibly in other areas
Classic or agile? Can be adapted to agile, but not primarily agile Not primarily agile, but there is a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) for agile project management Emphasises structured waterfall model, but can be adapted to agile if required Agile, emphasises iterative development, collaboration and flexibility



The process of PM²

The PM² method is based on five main process groups that cover the entire life cycle of a project:

1. Initiation:

In this phase, the foundations of the project are defined, including the purpose, objectives, stakeholders and framework conditions.
Activities: Define the project idea, identify stakeholders, carry out feasibility studies, draw up a project charter.

2. Planning:

The planning phase aims to identify all the necessary steps and resources to achieve the project objectives.
Activities: Create schedule, resource planning, risk management, budgeting, communication planning.

3. Execution:

In this phase, the tasks defined in the project plan are actually carried out.
Activities: team management, task allocation, monitoring project progress, communication with stakeholders, quality management.

4. Monitoring:

The monitoring phase deals with the continuous monitoring of the project to ensure that it stays on track.
Activities: Progress monitoring, risk assessment and management, adjusting the project plan, communicating with stakeholders.

5. Closing:

In this final phase, all activities are completed and the project is formally closed.
Activities: Documentation of results, exchange of experiences, conclusion of contracts, release of resources, final report.


Roles and responsibilities

In PM², there are various roles with clearly defined responsibilities. These roles are intended to ensure that the project is managed effectively and the requirements of the stakeholders are met.

1. Project Manager:

  • Overall responsibility for project management
    Planning, execution and monitoring of the project
  • Communication with stakeholders and reporting on project progress
  • Risk management and problem solving

2. Project Sponsor:

  • Has primary responsibility for the success of the project
  • Enables the provision of resources and approves the project plan
  • Acts as contact person for strategic decisions

3. Project team members:

  • Carry out specific tasks according to the project plan
  • Communicate regularly with the project manager about progress
  • Contribute to risk assessments and problem solving
  • Share their expertise and perspectives within the team

4. Quality Manager:

  • Monitors compliance with quality standards throughout the project
  • Develops quality checks and measures
  • Assists in the identification and resolution of quality issues
  • Reports regularly to the project manager

5. Risk Manager:

  • Identifies potential risks for the project
  • Assesses the impact and likelihood of risks
  • Develops and implements strategies to avoid or minimise risks
  • Keeps the risk register up to date and reports on it

6. Change Manager:

  • Monitors changes to the project scope or requirements
  • Assesses the impact of changes on the project
  • Ensures that changes are appropriately documented and communicated
  • Coordinates the approval of changes with the relevant stakeholders

PM² and agile project management

At first glance, PM² and agile project management appear to pursue different approaches. However, a closer look reveals numerous similarities and possible combinations.

1. Commonalities:

  • Flexibility and adaptability: Both approaches recognise that projects take place in a constantly changing environment. Both PM² and agile project management therefore enable adaptation to new requirements and circumstances to promote project success.
  • Stakeholder engagement: Both PM² and agile encourage open communication and transparent collaboration with stakeholders to ensure their needs are understood and met.
  • Continuous improvement: Continuous improvement is a central principle of both methods. Both approaches encourage learning from experience, optimising processes and increasing project success with each run.

2. Combination of PM² and agile project management:

The combination of PM² and agile principles makes it possible to utilise the advantages of both methods while creating a comprehensive approach to project management. Here are some ways in which this synergy can be created:

  • Agile customisation of PM²: PM² can be adapted in an agile way to incorporate the flexibility and iteration of agile methods. This can mean, for example, that backlogs, sprints or user stories are utilised within the PM² structure.
  • Hybrid approaches: In complex projects, a hybrid approach can be adopted where PM² structures are used for overall planning and monitoring, for example, while agile practices are used in individual phases where iterative development and flexibility are particularly important.
  • Agile teams in PM² contexts: Another way to combine both methods is to use agile teams in PM² contexts. This allows the benefits of agile collaboration to be utilised while maintaining the overall structure of PM².

Advantages of PM²

  • Holistic approach: The holistic approach enables a comprehensive view and planning of projects.
  • Adaptability: The method is flexible so that it can be adapted to different projects, organisations and industries.
  • Integration of best practices: The method utilises best practices from various project management methodologies and standards, providing a solid foundation for effective project management.
  • Transparency and communication: Clear communication channels and transparent processes promote effective collaboration and help to ensure that all stakeholders are well informed.
  • Risk management: The method emphasises systematic risk management, which helps to identify potential problems at an early stage and take appropriate measures.
  • Continuous improvement: The focus on continuous improvement makes it possible to learn from experience and increase the efficiency of projects over time.

Disadvantages of PM²

  • Too complex for small projects: The structure and processes of PM² can be considered excessive for smaller projects.
  • Learning curve: Adopting PM² requires a learning curve for team members and project managers, especially if they are not yet familiar with the method.
  • Agility: Although PM² is adaptable, it may be too rigidly structured for organisations that rely heavily on agile practices.
  • Limited adoption: Compared to established project management methodologies such as PMI or PRINCE2, PM² is less well known. It is therefore likely that the majority of team members on a project are not familiar with the method.



PM² is a versatile method with a holistic approach that promotes flexibility, transparency and results-orientation. The basic principles and values of PM², such as adaptability, goal-orientation and continuous improvement, form a solid foundation for project success. The method is characterised by its applicability in different industries and organisations, which leads to effective collaboration and the use of best practices.

The myPARM project management software can map all aspects of PM², from initiation through planning and execution to completion. The software enables efficient collaboration and transparent communication. Risk management is simplified by risk catalogues and the software-supported recording of lessons learned helps with continuous improvement. With myPARM, project teams and project managers can fully utilise the advantages of PM² and successfully manage their projects.

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