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3 Jul 2011

PRINCE2 Canada

Posted by Paul Atkin. No Comments

prince2 canadaPRINCE2 Canada


Welcome to the PRINCE2 Canada blog.  The PRINCE2 methodology is entering Canada fast and PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certifications are becoming must-have certifications for many Canadian organizations.

Use the PRINCE2 Canada blog to learn how PRINCE2 can benefit you and your organisation, how to gain certification and the essential features of the PRINCE2 methodology.

PRINCE2 Certification start here:

Get information on how you can achieve PRINCE2 certification in Canada and compare Instructor Led vs Online Training.  Use the Exams and Certification categories on your right to find recent posts relevant to the PRINCE2 qualifications.

PRINCE2 Methodology Information:PRINCE2 - 101

The PRINCE2 methodology is composed of 7 Principles, 7 Themes and 7 Processes which provide a clear road map through the project.

Start with the 101 Category (right, again 😉 ) and then read the posts in the Principles, Themes and Processes Categories

Ask a Question:

Although PRINCE2 is new to Canada, early adopters already have significant experience with the method and can answer your questions.  Use the Ask a Question page, above, to get the information you need.

1 Mar 2013

The PRINCE2 Project Board

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The PRINCE2 Project Board

Having trained thousands of people on project management courses there is one topic that comes up regularly – the buy in and involvement of senior management (or lack 0f)!  This is where the Project Board comes in.

All organizations want to deliver projects successfully.  One of the ways to do this is to get the right people involved in the decision making.  To do this you need to consider:

· Accountability

· Stakeholder representation

This is where PRINCE2 offers an organization structure so they can be considered fully.


PRINCE2 identifies the role of the Project Executive.  This is the person accountable for the delivery of the project.

Appointing a project manager is simply not enough to turn a project into a success.  Appointing an effective Project Executive can make the difference between success and failure for a project.

The Executive is responsible for directing the project.  The ‘Executive’ is the ultimate decision maker and owner of the Business Case.  As such they will be responsible for ensuring that the project meets its objectives and delivers the means by which the expected benefits can be achieved.  Five key aspects that the Executive should focus on:

· The Business Case drives the project – the projects standard for success

· Involving stakeholders in project direction – well focused stakeholder involvement helps to secure support for the project

· Breaking the project into manageable chunks – tuning the selection of project stages to meet the need for decision making

· Management by Exception – Optimum control with limited effort

· Focus on products – know what you are going to get – start at the end

Stakeholder Representation

PRINCE2 also recognizes that there are three key Stakeholder groups which need to be represented – The Business, User and Supplier.  It is important that these roles are represented at Project Board level to ensure that the right decisions are made and the correct direction is set for the project.

Involvement of right senior people in the governance of the project is critical to its success.  How many times have projects failed because of lack of senior management involvement or buy in.  PRINCE2 looks to the Project Board to fulfil this.

Responsibility for the successful delivery of the project will mean that the Executive will need to ensure the appointment of the appropriate Senior User(s) and Senior Supplier(s) onto their Board.  This will be needed to support effective governance of the project.  By selecting the right people, the Executive will ensure that the Project Board represents the interests of the project:

· Business (Benefits and Value for Money),

· User (those who will use the products), and

· Supplier (those who will deliver the products).

As the Business representative the Executive has ultimate responsibility for the project governance supported by the Senior User and Senior Supplier.  PRINCE2 describes in detail what these roles are and how they should be carried out. Ensuring that the correct people are appointed to these roles is critical and ultimately can help achieve successful project delivery.

7 Dec 2012

The PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam is Changing

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PRINCE2 Practitioner ExamThe PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam is Changing

Good news.  As of the 1st January 2013 the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is changing and is getting a little bit easier.

One of the biggest challenges facing students who take the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is time.  You can see below the current format of the exam.  2.5 hours sounds a lot but it is not in a PRINCE2 Practitioner exam.  Many students do run out of time.  With the new changes being introduced below in 2013 it will give students less questions to answer in the same time frame and should in theory make the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam a little easier.

As the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is changing so is the PRINCE2 Re-registration exam.  This is good if you are thinking about re-registering in 2013.  You will also find details below of the new format for the Re-registration exam.

2012 PRINCE2 Practitioner exam

– 9 questions (7 Theme questions and 2 Process Group questions)

– 12 marks per question, total is 108 marks available

– 55% to pass (59 marks)

– 2.5 hours to complete the exam

– The exam is open book (official PRINCE2 manual only)

2013 PRINCE2 Practitioner exam

– 8 questions (6 Theme questions and 2 Process Group questions)

– 10 marks per question, total is 80 marks

– 55% to pass (44 marks)

– 2.5 hours to complete the exam

– The exam is open book (official PRINCE2 manual only)

2013 PRINCE2 Re-registration exam

– 3 questions (2 Theme questions and 1 Process Group question)

– 10 marks per question, total is 30 marks

– 55% to pass (17 marks)

– 1 hour to complete the exam

– The exam is open book (official PRINCE2 manual only)

So 2013 might be the time to think about taking the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam and gaining the certification.  Or if you are need to re-register this might be the perfect time to do it.

PRINCE2 exams are scheduled regularly across Canada, or you can take an accredited PRINCE2 elearning course



26 Nov 2012

PRINCE2 Product Based Planning – Begin with the end in mind

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PRINCE2 Product Based Planning – Begin with the end in mind

PRINCE2 is one of the most commonly used project management methods in the world.  There are lots of reasons why this is the case e.g.

• A strong focus on business justification throughout the project lifecycle,

• It advocates clearly defined roles and responsibilities,

• Projects broken down into manageable stages.

There is one other area which for me is key to project success and that is PRINCE2’s ‘focus on products’.  I say this because it has a significant bearing on two critical aspects of project delivery – Planning and Quality.

PRINCE2 suggests that we should ‘begin with the end in mind’ and this supports a strong focus on the products to be delivered.  From a planning perspective, our first consideration should not be on’ what do we have to do?’ but on what products do we need to produce and to what quality?  The PRINCE2 Product based planning technique provides an ideal opportunity to achieve this.

Project Product Description and Product Breakdown Structure

If we start with the project itself we can define what the project has to produce in the Project Product Description.  This will not only define the final output of the project but also define the quality to which it has to be delivered (the acceptance criteria).  We need this as a starting point to ensure we have a clear understanding of what the project has to produce.

Once we have produced this we can then move on to scope the component products which are required to deliver this in a Product Breakdown structure.  This is a very effective tool in scoping the project.  Working on a project a few years ago the final product was a regional development plan for a city.  The plan had to be short (no more than 30 pages) – sounds straight forward but when we did the Product Breakdown structure we identified 75 component products which had to be produced to support the delivery of the development plan.

PRINCE2 Product Descriptions

Once we have identified the component products we need to describe them.  Producing product descriptions gives you the opportunity to be clear about what these products are and by including the users in their definition we ensure we take their requirements into account.  We specify the quality criteria against which they will be reviewed thus ensuring that the product will be fit for purpose and meet the users requirements.

PRINCE2 Product Flow Diagram

The Product flow diagram allows us to sequence the order of delivery of the products.  This is a really good starting point for the development of our schedule as it allows us to understand the order in which the products have to be delivered and the dependencies between them.

Begin with the end in mind

So when it comes to planning your project PRINCE2 can help keep you focused.  By using the PRINCE2 Product Based Planning technique it keeps you focused on the products to be produced and the quality to which they need to be delivered – so you ‘begin with the end in mind’.


12 Nov 2012

MoP or MSP – Which one is for me?

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MoP or MMoPSP – Which one is for me?

As part of the toolset offered by Cabinet Office for the successful delivery of change, three frameworks have been developed which provide best practice guidance:  PRINCE2, MSP (Managing Successful Programs) and MoP (Management of Portfolios).  Each of these is MSPsupported by accredited training provided by Advantage Learning Limited.

PRINCE2 is a generic project management method which supports the successful delivery of projects.  There seems to be an understanding of when this certification should be undertaken.  However, when it comes to MoP or MSP the question is often asked ‘So what would be the best one for me to certify in?’.  It may be that you are looking to enhance your career or alternatively looking for training to develop your skills in the wider aspects of business change and you are considering which one is for me?.

I would recommend that you start by asking the question ‘What are my objectives for the training?’.  Am I looking to develop my skills in delivering transformational change or am I looking to develop my skills in supporting the decision making process with regard to the changes my organization/department should invest in to support the achievement of its strategic objectives.  In other words am I looking to be involved in ‘doing things right’ or in ‘doing the right things’.

MoP or MSP – Delivery of Change

If I’m looking to develop my skills in delivering change then MSP is likely to be the best training for me.  MSP is a practical framework for program management that contains principles, themes and a ‘transformational flow’ life cycle.  None of the principles covered in MSP are particularly new, nor for that matter are the themes (including organization, risk management and leadership) but bringing these ideas together in this framework provides powerful tools to support the delivery of transformational change through for example a collection of related projects.  By aligning a number of related projects within a program it provides the organization with the capacity to deliver stepped changes in its capability.  MSP provides a detailed focus on areas such as benefits management, stakeholder engagement and transitioning of project outputs into the business.  MSP training may well be right for you if you are working or hope in the future to be working in transformational change initiatives.

MoP or MSP – Defining, Prioritizing and Selecting Change initiatives

However, if your role or objective relates more to defining, prioritizing and selecting change requirements and answering questions like ‘What change initiatives should my organization invest in?’ and ‘are these the right ones?’ then training in MoP is what you should seriously consider.  MoP is a set of principles, practices and techniques which provide guidance in determining what are the right programs and projects an organization should invest in and how they link to the delivery of the organization’s strategic objectives.  This training is suitable for people at various levels in the organization from the CEO right through to program and project managers.

It is worthwhile to highlight that both of these are excellent frameworks which contain best practice guidance. So in answer to the question Which one for me?, is your focus now or likely to be in the future on ‘doing programs or projects right’ or ‘doing the right programs and projects’?  Is it MoP or MSP for you?


1 Nov 2012

The PRINCE2 exams

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PRINCE2 examsThe PRINCE2 exams

The PRINCE2 exams.  You cannot get away from them.  If you attend a PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course you are going to have exams to sit.

There are 2 PRINCE2 exams – the Foundation exam and the Practitioner exam.  So what is the difference?

Foundation PRINCE2 exams

The Foundation PRINCE2 exams are multiple choice papers.  You have 1 hour to sit the paper.  The exam is closed book so the only paperwork that will be on your desk is your question book and answer sheet.  This exam tests your knowledge and comprehension of PRINCE2.  Being completely honest with you it’s like a memory test – it shows that you can remember the key points in the PRINCE2 manual.

Passing the Foundation exam shows that you have a good grasp of PRINCE2.  It shows that you have gained a good knowledge of the key principles of the method and also the processes and themes.

So who should take the Foundation PRINCE2 exams?

People who are going to play apart in a project team either as a Team Manager or Project Support so they can get a better understanding of what the Project Manager is talking about.  I would also recommend that people who are going to sit on the Project Board take the Foundation course.  This is because it will give them a good grounding on what their responsibilities in the project will be and also let them know how their Project Managers are managing the project.

To be able to sit the Practitioner exam you need to pass the Foundation exam first.  The pass mark is 50%.

Practitioner PRINCE2 exams

Once you have passed the Foundation exam you will be able to take the Practitioner exam.  The Practitioner exams are also multiple choice but are objective testing exams.  This basically means they are a more complicated multiple choice paper than the Foundation exam.

The Practitioner PRINCE2 exams are 2.5 hours long.  They are open book as you are allowed your official PRINCE2 manual in the exam.  The questions are based around a project scenario and the exam tests your application and analysis of PRINCE2 in the given scenario.

The Practitioner exam is a big step up from the Foundation.  You not only have to have a good grasp of what’s in the PRINCE2 manual you also have to be able to show you could apply the framework.

So who should take the Practitioner PRINCE2 exams?

As I mentioned above this exam is about showing you can apply PRINCE2.  So the Practitioner course is really for people who are managing projects or could be managing projects in the future.  It is a tough exam so if you have experience of managing projects that will definitely help.

The pass mark for the Practitioner exam is 55%.

So there you have it.  The PRINCE2 exams.  They are hard work but if you gain the certification they are well worth the effort.

PRINCE2 exams are scheduled regularly across Canada, or you can take an accredited PRINCE2 elearning course

26 Oct 2012

PRINCE2 Risk Management

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PRINCE2 risk managementPRINCE2 Risk Management

In a project is risk inevitable?  It’s a question that I always ask at the beginning of the PRINCE2 risk session on the course.  Of course the answer to this is yes.  PRINCE2 describes uncertainty as a characteristic of a project.  Well in PRINCE2 uncertainty = risk.

The PRINCE2 risk theme describes a risk as “an uncertain event or set of events that, should it occur will have an effect on the achievement of objectives”.  Quite simply a PRINCE2 risk is something that you have identified that may happen and could have an impact on what you are trying to achieve.

Threat or Opportunity

It is said that the Chinese character for risk has 2 parts. One for danger and the other for opportunity.  Well the PRINCE2 risk theme also describes a risk as a threat or an opportunity.  When I first read this I thought that’s not right.  “A risk is something that if it happens will  harm my project not enhance it!”  But look at the description above again.  It does make sense.  It’s an uncertain event that could have a negative or positive impact on your project.

PRINCE2 Risk Theme

So if risk is a part of project life the key is to accept that and make sure you have a good procedure in place to identify, assess and control it.  This is where the PRINCE2 risk management theme comes in.  It tells you that you must prepare a Risk Management Strategy (it gives you a description for one in the PRINCE2 manual) where you will document your procedures for controlling risk.

Not only that the PRINCE2 risk theme gives you a risk management procedure.  It has 5 steps to follow.  It is pretty much just commons sense but that’s what PRINCE2 is good at. Common sense.

PRINCE2 Risk Management Procedure

Step 1 – Identify

The PRINCE2 risk management procedure says first of all you need to identify the context of your project.  What are the specific objectives that are at risk and to prepare your risk management strategy.

You then need to identify the risks to your project.  Both threats and opportunities.  Once identified they should be recorded in the Risk Register.

Step 2 – Assess

The PRINCE2 risk management procedure then says that for each risk identified you need to estimate the probability, impact and proximity.  This will allow you to decide what risks are the ones you are going to keep more of an eye on.

You also need to think of the overall risk exposure of the project.  So you should also assess the net effect of all risks in the project.

Step 3 – Plan

The PRINCE2 risk management procedure then says you need to plan your response.  It gives you a number of response categories to think about.  Such as avoid the risk, reduce the risk, transfer the risk etc.  The PRINCE2 manual provides you with definitions and examples of these.

Step 4 – Implement

Well you have planned your response so the PRINCE2 risk management procedure now says you need to carry it out.  So the next step is to implement your action.

To help with this PRINCE2 identifies a couple of roles that need to be allocated.  The Risk Owner and the Risk Actionee.  The Risk owner would be a named individual who would be responsible for monitoring and controlling the risk whereas the Risk Actionee would be responsible for carrying out the response.  Now in reality it is most likely the same person that performs both roles but it can be different people.

Now these 4 steps – Identify, Assess, Plan and Implement happen in sequential order. The 5th step should happen continually. That step is…

Step 5 – Communicate

Communication is vital in project management and when managing risk.  You will need to communicate risks to other members of the team or to other stakeholders.  PRINCE2 gives you many ways of communicating about these risks through the set of management products it offers.  These can be used in the PRINCE2 risk management procedure to make sure you communicate effectively.

So risk is inevitable.  But as you can see from above PRINCE2 gives you the tools to be prepared.


29 May 2012

Why do Projects Fail?

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Why do Projects Fail?

One of the first questions I ask on a course on a Monday morning is ‘why do projects fail’.  It’s quite often my favourite question of the week as well!.  It still amazes me no matter how many times I ask the question it is always the same answers that I receive back from the delegates.project failure

PRINCE2 has been around for over 30 years and has over 1,000,000 certified users.   So let’s have a look at some of the most common reasons why projects fail and what PRINCE2 can do to help.

Lack of Communication

How often in an organization could we say that ‘the left hand doesn’t know what the right hands doing!’.  That’s even truer in larger organizations.  Or just that member’s of the Project Team don’t know who and how to communicate with other members of the team or other project stakeholders.  I always say a lack of communication is one of the key reasons why projects fail.

Communication in a project environment is crucial.  As a Project Manager we need to know who is a stakeholder in our project and what their information requirements are.  Also, how best to communicate with other stakeholders.

Well in PRINCE2 during the Initiation Stage we will prepare the Communication Management Strategy.  This allows us to perform a Stakeholder Analysis and then also document how and when we should communicate in the project.

Lack of Change Control

Projects are about change.  So projects themselves will change from the plans we set out at the beginning.  That’s absolutely fine.  PRINCE2 likes change as long as it is done in a controlled manner.  A term that is widely used in project management is ‘scope creep’.  I am sure we have all come across projects where timescales and costs have spiralled. Quite often simply down to adding to the project without actually taking the time to look at the impact of the change.  The next thing we know costs are out of control and the project is taking longer to complete.

To help us control change PRINCE2 gives us a 5 step issue and change control procedure to follow when a change is requested.  Covered in the Change theme this procedure allows us to make informed decisions on whether a Request for Change should be approved.

Roles and Responsibilities are not properly defined

One of the PRINCE2 principles is that a project should have Defined Roles and Responsibilities.  People should know what their role in the project is and what their responsibilities are.  This stops the hands being put up in the air and saying ‘nothing to do with me’ or ‘I thought such and such was dealing with that’ when something happens in the project.

The PRINCE2 Organization theme discusses the roles in the project management team and the PRINCE2 manual provides generic role descriptions for each.

Lack of planning

It amazes me how many times organizations just jump in and undertake a project without actually asking some basic questions about what the project is to deliver, what is required and how long or how much will it cost.  Then wonder why their projects fail!  From my experience I’ve quite often found organizations didn’t have the time to ask these questions and put plans in place but always seemed to find the time to fix things when they went wrong because they hadn’t been planned in the first place.

PRINCE2 is very big on putting some time in up front to ask questions and document what, when, how etc we are going to do in the project.  The first two processes in PRINCE2 support this – Starting Up a Project were we are really looking to see if we have a good or bad idea then Initiating a Project where we get into the detail before we make a decision to Authorize the Project.  The Plans theme gives us a planning procedure to follow including a great technique to scope the project – the Product Based Planning technique.

So I’ve touched on a few common reasons why projects fail (there are plenty more!) but hopefully you can begin to see how PRINCE2 reduces the chances of project failure.

17 May 2012

Tailoring PRINCE2 – One Size Doesn’t Fit All!

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Tailoring PRINCE2 – One Size Doesn’t Fit All!

Some of the criticisms I quite often hear about PRINCE2 are that it is “over prescriptive” or it is “only for large projects”. My answer to this is that one of the Principles of the method tell us we need to be tailoring PRINCE2.Tailoring PRINCE2

PRINCE2 is a generic project management methodology. This means we are saying it can be applied to ANY type of project regardless of size or complexity. The PRINCE2 manual provides a framework for you to monitor and control your project but the key is in tailoring PRINCE2 to your project environment. Put simply – use it with a bit of common sense!

So what does tailoring PRINCE2 mean? Let’s have a look.

  1. First of all we need to apply the 7 PRINCE2 Principles. We can’t tailor these. These are the guiding obligations that make a project a PRINCE2 project. We need to support the Principles. Of course in tailoring the processes and themes in our project we are supporting one of the Principles – Tailor to Suit the Project Environment.
  2. Adapt the Themes – The 7 PRINCE2 Themes are aspects of project management that we need to continually address. The Themes discuss PRINCE2’s approach to areas such as Risk and Change. Well of course how you use the Themes will vary greatly depending on your project environment. PRINCE2 is expecting you to adapt the Themes not follow word for word what is in the PRINCE2 manual.
  3. Adapt the Processes – The 7 PRINCE2 Processes tell us when in a project life cycle we should be carrying out certain activities. These processes can be scaled up or down. In small projects the first two processes – Starting up a Project and Initiating a Project can be done together. On larger projects we can optionally use Controlling a Stage and Managing Product Delivery in the Initiation Stage.
  4. Use your organizations own terminology – PRINCE2 has a language but you don’t have to follow the exact terminology in your projects. For instance if the key decision maker in your project is called a Sponsor rather than the Executive that’s fine. What makes a project a PRINCE2 project is that you define the roles and responsibilities. Not what you call the role.
  5. Adapt the Management Products – One of the reasons people sometimes say that PRINCE2 is over prescriptive is that they see all these documents that PRINCE2 offers and think they will spend all their time writing reports. Well again you have to use the Management Products with a bit of common sense. The Management Products are there to be tailored. In small projects do you need to use them all? Think about what you need to monitor and control your project and use accordingly.

So tailoring PRINCE2 is vital. If you do this it is where PRINCE2 becomes a great methodology.

4 May 2012

Project Status Meetings – It’s a Love/Hate thing

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Project Status Meetings – It’s a Love/Hate thing.

We hate going to the project status meetings, but my how we get upset if we can’t go to one.  How many times have you asked someone how a particular aspect of your project is going and the response is “Well, we had a meeting.”  I once read that a meeting is no substitute for progress.  How true.

PRINCE2 does not support regular project status meetings.  It uses the Principle of Management by Exception instead.  Regular team/project status meetings, regular Project Board/Steering Committee meetings – NO MORE!”  When my PRINCE2 instructor said this, my first thought was “Good luck with that in our meeting obsessed culture.”

Project Status Meetings

Most dislike the idea of going to a meeting because the vast majority of meetings don’t really accomplish anything concrete.  People sit around the table discussing without making with any decisions or concrete actions to accomplish once the meeting is over.

Many times our “weekly” team/project status meetings are used for an around the room marathon answering the question “What did you do this week?”  The project manager is usually scrambling to write things down and at any given time half of the people in attendance are not paying attention.  Rarely are serious problems or issues raised in the discussion as people don’t like to admit in public that they are having difficulties or ask for help.

I have heard project managers say “I have to hold the meeting or else I won’t know what is going on in the project.  Team managers/members don’t want to fill out any sort of report showing their progress because it takes away from their work.”  The reality is, if it takes a team manager/member more than 10-15 minutes per week to complete their status report (Checkpoint Report in PRINCE2 terminology) then the report is too complicated.  Also, the meeting itself is likely to take more than the same 15 minutes.

When a team member/manager writes their own checkpoint report, they take ownership of the information.  It provides a trail of information for the purpose of lessons to be learned in the future.  If a team manage/member is having difficulty, a discussion can be held in a private setting. Also, the checkpoint reports should not contain any surprises.  Issues should be raised on an as needed basis.

There is a book I reference many times when teaching project management courses called Why Employees Don’t Do What They’re Supposed To and What You Can Do About It by Ferdinand F. Fournies.  In it, he says that often people are rewarded for NOT doing what they are supposed to do.  When you (PM) hold a meeting to discuss status and you (PM) take the minutes, you are in fact rewarding the team for NOT preparing their own checkpoint/status reports.

I will fully acknowledge that there is value in face time for larger teams and for geographically dispersed teams. These meetings serve the purpose of team building.  These meetings should be to discuss common success and common issues and this perform problem solving conversations.

If you absolutely have to have a weekly team meeting, all I ask is that you remove the status part of it, keep it to under 30 minutes, and be sure to have clearly defined outcomes and follow on actions for each meeting.

As PRINCE2 originated in the UK you might take another tip from that country: the Queen takes her Privy Council meetings standing up!

By Julie Grabb B. Math, PMP, PRINCE2 Approved Trainer

26 Apr 2012

Project Portfolio Management: Know When To Hold ‘Em

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Project Portfolio Management: Know When To Hold ‘Em

In the song ‘The Gambler’ by Kenny Rogers there are two lines which always come to mind when I think about Portfolio Management – “You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em”.  You might well ask what has that got to do with Project Portfolio Management?

Today, most organizations have to deal with significant pressures such as cuts in budget, reducing overheads and reducing staff numbers whilst at the same time still maintaining, if not improving services. Increasingly senior executives are dealing with this reality.  Often they are being asked to make percentage cuts in their organizations.  So what is the best way to play the hand you’re faced with, even though it’s not the one you wanted?  Should the organization just make a cut of 10% across the board or is there another way to deal with this?

Most organizations have large numbers of change initiatives underway.  These are typically being delivered through programs and projects. Sometimes organizations don’t know how many of these they have in flight and how many are in the pipeline.  Often there is no relationship between these and what the organization is trying to achieve.  In some organizations they find it difficult to answer the question – How many initiatives do we have underway?

Is it realistic therefore to implement across the board cuts in this scenario?  When we start to cut, how do we know that the right things are being cut?  How do we know we are not undermining our ability to achieve our strategic objectives?

Project Portfolio Management adds value

Well going back to the song we mentioned earlier one of the things senior managers need to be able to decide is which change initiatives to ‘hold’ and which ones to ‘fold’?  This is where Project Portfolio Management can add real value.  Portfolio Management is not about ‘doing projects right’ but about ‘doing the right projects’.  It is about making sure that your hand has the best chance of success to meet the varying demands being placed on the organization.  It gives you the chance to select your hand, rather than sticking with the one you were dealt.

MoP improves your hand

MoP improves your hand

So portfolio management is like gambling?  Well isn’t the whole of life a gamble so there has to be an element of this in portfolio management. However, have you ever met a good gambler that doesn’t play to a system, who makes decisions on what hands to hold and to fold on.  So, in the current climate, is there anything that exists to help senior managers make these decisions?

Management of Portfolios standard

The UK government recently introduced Management of Portfolios (MoP) as one of their best practice suite of products.  This provides an effective approach to managing portfolios using mechanisms which support the decision to ‘hold ‘ or ‘fold ‘ your change initiatives.’  Within MoP the definition cycle practices of Understand, Categorize, Prioritize, Balance and Plan enables you to determine which to hold and which to fold. This enables you to develop the most effective change portfolio providing a ‘clear line of sight’ from where you are currently to where you want to be in the delivery of your organization’s strategic objectives. Through the delivery practices that MoP provides, you can ensure delivery is managed and controlled effectively. Key aspects given particular attention in the delivery cycle include Management Control, Benefits, Finance, Risk, Stakeholder Engagement, Governance Alignment and Resources. All of these are key areas that need to be managed during delivery. Utilizing the principles and practices of MoP can significantly reduce ‘the gamble’ and provide senior executives with a much more effective hand to deal with.

When all is said and done, we really should know which initiatives we will ‘hold’ and which ones we will ‘fold’.  If we can’t do that then, as the song says, “the best you can hope for is to die in your sleep!”  In contrast MoP is the “ace you can keep” – a significant step forward in supporting executives to balance complex change portfolios effectively and efficiently



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