Project management standards provide an inventory of commonly accepted processes and tools which claim to be applicable in most cases. Project success largely depends on the suitability of the project management method and thus requires an adaptation of these standards for specific project types and contextual factors. This can be supported through the development of detailed, re-usable guidelines on how to “customize” standards. The goal of this paper is to analyse the potential offered by the field of reference modelling for this purpose. Here, design principles support the transfer and extension of knowledge from a reference model into an application model and can in principle all be transferred into project management. However, this paper shows that limitations occur due to the current design of project management standards. This topic is of utmost importance for IT projects, as they are differ from more conventional project types and thus call for larger alterations.