A model in project management refers to a way of looking at things. It is a simplified view of how things work. It can be used to give you a general overview as well as a direction for your own work.
Project Management Models in PMBOK(r), Guide
The PMBOK(r), Seventh Edition discusses models to help project managers understand what is already available that they can use in the course of their own work.
Models can be thought of as shortcuts. They are approaches that have been proven to work and are 99% likely to apply to your organization. They provide a framework to help you deal with a situation or a project scenario.
While some models are specifically for project management, others are more applicable to the world of work.
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Where are they?
The PMBOK(r), Guide discusses methods, models, and artifacts. As part of the framework to manage a project, PM models are included alongside methods and artifacts.
You will need to choose the right artifacts, the right methods, and the best models to guide your actions during your project. It’s easier than you might think to get the right combination, especially if your project management experience is extensive.
Models in different categories
A variety of models are used in project management. These are the most common project management models that you will encounter in your Project Management Professional (PMP)(r) studies or in your job as a project manager:
Situational leadership
Change management
Project team development models (e.g. Tuckman)
Process groups
Stakeholder salience.

Some of these models are proprietary, such as ADKAR (from Prosci), and Situational Leadership (which was taught to me as a graduate student and has shaped my interactions with people at different levels within the organization – also very useful for delegating).
Process groups
Did you see the project management process groups listed in the list? These are the Seventh Edition’s project management process groups.
How to use project management models
There are many ways you can use some models. Models of project complexity, for example, can be used at the portfolio, program, and project levels. They can also be used to explain to sponsors why additional resources or budget are needed to address complexity factors.
There might be multiple options within a model category. There are many models that can be used for team development. However, the one that you and your team choose to use is the Tuckman (he of Forming Storming, Norming. Performing. Adjourning fame).
Different project performance domains will require different models. In the team performance domain, you might use conflict models (like Thomas Kilmann).
Example: Using ADKAR
Let’s suppose you deliver a project that involves process change. That means that 10 users will have to do their work differently.
To help you plan and think through the implications of your project, you could use the ADKAR model for change management.