When it comes to managing a business, there is no sense in reinventing the wheel. Organizations are complex organisms with several complex functions being managed, aligned, and improved simultaneously as part of an ongoing process. It is extremely wasteful, not to mention arrogant, to believe a business can be optimized simply by learning through experience (assuming you’d even have the time to do so before being overtaken by competitors).
Luckily, there is no shortage of help out there. Business leaders have always worked to develop and champion tools and methodologies for optimizing efficiency, expenditure, employee morale, and so on. This has certainly continued into the modern business environment, where elements like project and program management, IT service management, change management, and others all compete for attention.
To equip themselves to survive and thrive, businesses will usually adopt one or several management frameworks. By studying and implementing a framework, businesses can learn to maintain a high-level perspective of their strategic direction while also optimizing projects and day-to-day operations. Employees can learn demonstrably effective practices and can even earn qualifications to enhance their own careers.
So, what exactly is a ‘framework’, and how can they benefit businesses?
What is a framework?
A framework is, essentially, a collection of tools, insight, and best practices on one or multiple areas of business management. They are usually backed up by international organizations and driven by feedback not only from leading experts but also practitioners dealing with new and exciting challenges within their day-to-day roles.
The term ‘framework’ is used somewhat loosely alongside others, such as ‘methodology’ and ‘approach’. While they all have the same goal of optimizing certain elements of a business, there are some distinct differences that are worth keeping in mind.
- Approach – A loose way of doing things based on distinct but adaptable pillars. Approaches offer little prescriptive advice and may require experienced practitioners for implementation. Examples include DevOps and DevSecOps.
- Methodology – A far more detailed and prescriptive way of managing business elements. Methodologies will offer principles, practices, and tools, as well as details on how to apply them, but may also be less flexible. PRINCE2 is a popular example.
- Framework – More basic than a methodology but more well-defined than an approach. Frameworks offer loose structures alongside tools and best practices. Frameworks are more likely to work well with alternatives than methodologies. Examples include ITIL 4 and COBIT 2019.
What they all have in common is their focus on key elements within a business. For example, many IT frameworks cover IT service management, day-to-day operations, support, software pipelines, and so on, or may only focus on a specific area. A company will typically utilize several complementary frameworks at once, and certain options like IT4IT can even be used to manage several under a single umbrella.
Benefits of adopting a management framework
There are several perks to studying and implementing frameworks within a business. The most well-known frameworks achieve recognition because they are based on proven insight, years of experience, and feedback from practitioners who apply their skills to new challenges constantly.
Some of the most significant short and long term benefits include:
- Speed – Frameworks offer practices covering different stages in management pipelines, including planning, implementation, and conflict resolution. They also offer practices that cover daily operations and challenges. Being able to fall back on demonstrably effective ways of doing things can greatly speed things up for practitioners and their teams. Tasks can be completed more quickly, and users can even prepare for roadblocks in advance.
- Consistency – Framework practitioners adopt uniform standards for what tools to use, what practices to follow, and how to measure success. This accelerates collaboration between practitioners, and with several communicating within a single team, businesses will find they can enjoy the benefits of individual frameworks far more easily and reliably. With shared terms and practices, framework practitioners can also collaborate between businesses. Certain options like TOGAF even help practitioners create reusable artifacts that can be reused in the future.
- ROIs – The world’s most popular frameworks offer optimization within their specific fields. Projects, programs, and pipelines that utilize frameworks are more likely to offer far greater returns along with reduced time, expenditure, and wastage. This will continue as practitioners get more used to utilizing and adapting their chosen frameworks.
Challenges of adopting a framework
Unfortunately, adopting a framework is not like simply flipping a switch. Businesses need to take an active and nurturing approach with framework implementation, making sure that they are properly utilized and receive adequate support. Even frameworks designed to be flexible and adaptive require guidance if a user expects to enjoy the full benefits.
Some of the most common challenges include:
- Implementation – An organization must be prepared to dedicate time and resources to actively implementing a framework. If new practices are not being followed, a manager can intervene by organizing team training, holding users accountable, and so on. There may be growing pains at first, but continued reuse will see employees getting used to the new framework soon enough.
- Change management – Adopting a new framework may create resistance. Some employees may have a vested interest in current practices, while others may not appreciate why they suddenly need to make so much effort. It is important for managers to communicate the benefits of adopting a particular framework, not only for the business itself but also for career-minded individuals. This can effectively turn resistance into support, greatly easing the process of framework implementation.
- Compatibility – For certain ‘frameworks’ like DevOps and ITIL 4, companies can focus too much on success stories without checking that the option in question actually suits their needs. What does the framework actually do? Does it mesh with your business’s structure and overall strategy? Is it adaptable enough to suit your company just as well as whatever famous case study you’ve been hearing about? Most frameworks are designed to be flexible enough to suit any business, but there can still be conflicts, such as between Agile and traditional project management.
- Continuous improvement – Frameworks are designed not for single but long-term use. They instill permanent improvements and will often establish ‘cultural shifts’ that affect the wider business. Providers like AXELOS and APMG International also actively work on updating their frameworks on a regular basis, and practitioners will offer their own insight and ideas in webinars, whitepapers, forum discussions, and so on. In other words, not only can frameworks continually improve a business but they can also be improved themselves – so make sure your own practitioners are constantly looking out for new opportunities!
- Practitioners – To guarantee the success of a new framework, you may not be able to rely solely on your current workforce. It may be that, initially, you will need to hire experienced and certified practitioners. They will be able to implement the framework and shape it to your own requirements, though they may also demand high salaries in return. You can also invest in training to make practitioners of your own employees. This can be doubly advantageous when they learn to apply the framework within a context unique to your company.
- Employee training – It’s easy to describe what a framework does and even how it works, but actually getting certified to the point you can confidently implement a framework can take months or even years. Employees need to know how their current practices will change, as well as how their work contributes towards larger goals, all within the context of the new framework. The best way to facilitate this is by investing in certification training with a provider that can upskill your workforce and prepare them for certification exams. Over time, this will also decrease your reliance on external contractors and subject matter experts.
Online training in management frameworks
Over the years, online training has evolved to the point that more and more businesses are eschewing traditional training altogether. Studying with an e-learning provider can allow companies to:
- Trade strict schedules for flexible access periods, during which candidates can return to studying whenever it is convenient for them.
- Avoid costs relating to travel, accommodation, physical materials, and hiring teachers.
- Offer students an efficient way to cover the basics in their own time. This ensures that when candidates actually have time with trainers and practitioners, they can immediately start discussing practical and advanced elements of the syllabus.
- Manage candidates via a Learning Management System (LMS). This can facilitate communication while also making it easier for managers to enroll students in courses, assign work, judge the success of individual candidates, and so on. Providers like Good e-Learning can even take on management responsibilities for a company.
- Access a wider variety of training materials, such as free videos, downloadable resources, webinars, and so on.
- Access support from course providers. This includes help for technical queries but can extend to questions regarding course content.
Good e-Learning is an award-winning online training provider with a diverse portfolio of fully accredited framework certification courses. We design each of our courses with help from leading subject matter experts, allowing us to fully equip candidates for both certification exams and what comes afterward.
Students can access our courses for between six and 24 months from any web-enabled device thanks to the free Go.Learn app. Our LMS, The Learning Ecosystem, also facilitates this, making it easier for companies to upskill several candidates within a single program.
Each of our courses comes with a variety of online training assets. These include practice tests, knowledge checks, and instructor-led videos, as well as free downloadable resources, blogs, and webinars. Our support team is fully qualified to answer questions on course content, and once a student is ready for an exam, they can also contact us to receive a FREE exam voucher. We also offer free resits via Exam Pledge.