Internationally Recognised Project Management Methods – an Overview

Using an internationally recognised project management method or an approach based on one is one of the most important prerequisites for successfully implementing projects nationally or internationally. We would therefore like to provide a brief overview at this point of the most important traditional, so-called waterfall project management methods that you can choose from when it comes to your Europeanisation.

IPMA Competence Baseline

The IPMA Competence Baseline is a project management framework developed by the International Project Management Association (IPMA). It acts as a reference model for describing and assessing the competences and skills of project managers.

The IPMA Competence Baseline describes various elements of competence, divided into three groups:
  • Personal and social competences (People): these are skills that a project manager needs to communicate effectively with others, resolve conflicts, motivate and lead a project team.
  • Technical competences (Practice): this includes the knowledge and skills required to plan, carry out and monitor projects. Aspects such as risk management, resource management, quality management, time management, cost management, etc. belong in this category.
  • Context competences (Perspective): this is particularly concerned with the project environment, for example taking stakeholders’ needs into account.


PMBOK stands for ‘Project Management Body of Knowledge’. It is a handbook detailing best practice in project management, developed by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMBOK Guide is a recognised standard used by project managers and organisations around the globe.

Although the PMBOK Guide provides comprehensive guidance, it is not linked to a specific project management methodology. This means that it can be combined with different approaches such as PRINCE2 or agile methods such as Scrum.


PRINCE2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) is a widely used project management method. It is a structured approach that helps with planning, overseeing and monitoring projects efficiently. PRINCE2 certification is divided into two qualification levels: foundation and practitioner.

An important principle of PRINCE2 is to be adaptable to a project’s individual needs. This means that the method is flexible enough to be tailored to projects of different size, complexity and type.

ISO 21500

ISO 21500 is an international norm for project management developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO). Entitled ‘Guidance on Project Management’, it provides general guidelines and principles for the effective management of projects.

ISO 21500 contains a comprehensive collection of principles and recommendations that apply to project management. It provides a general framework, which focusses on the planning, execution and monitoring of projects.

Bear in mind that ISO 21500 is a general framework. This norm is not as detailed as specific project management methods such as PRINCE2 or PMBOK. It can, however, serve as a useful counterpart to other project management approaches and act as guidance regarding good practice in project management.


PM² (pronounced ‘P-M squared’) is a project management method developed by the European Commission. PM² is particularly widespread in public administration and in other public sector organisations across Europe. The method was developed to meet the specific needs and requirements of this sector.

You should, however, know that PM² is not limited to the public sector. Many organisations, both from the private and the non-profit sector, have found PM² to be a useful tool for successfully implementing their projects.

Useful Links and Further Information

We hope that this information will inspire you to look more closely at the most well-known international project management methods.

You can find further helpful articles and tips in this upgrade2europe learning tool, in our learning videos and in our upgrade2europe handbook . This handbook also provides you with an introduction to the project management method, which picks up on the most important components of the project management standards presented here, albeit in a much easier and more practice-oriented way. is a particularly good way to get started with professional project management. In the handbook you will also find a method that is particularly important for the development of complex and innovative projects and is considered standard for developing EU-funded projects: the Logical Framework Approach. If you wish, you can use our self-analysis tool to find out immediately online to what extent your organisation is ready for Europe.