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21 Mar 2012

The Punch Drunk Project Manager

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The Punch Drunk Project Manager

Punch Drunk project manager

Is this you? It’s certainly me, on too many days.  ‘Stuff’ just seems to pour in – to-dos go red in my inbox, issues arise, send/receive brings another wave of information.  Just another day in the life of a project manager.

Some of it essential – check how the team is going, get the report done, deal with the urgent issue etc.  But it’s not under control.  The main thing for me is interruptions – I get going on a task and, after 20 minutes or so, start to approach ‘the zone’, the productive place where I can really focus.  And then the interruption – ‘this isn’t working’, ‘can you speak to John’ or another 10 emails arrive.  I deal with it and go back – but the focus has gone.  It will take time to get back to the state of concentration.  And then the interruption, and repeat…

I know, I should multi-task.  But I can’t.  Human beings can’t.  Nor can computers – if you get down into the mechanics of how a PC works it doesn’t multi-task; it just swaps things in and out of the processor so fast that it looks like multi-tasking.  For us mere humans, the task-swapping is what kills you – you can’t go from email, to crisis, to lunch and back again without feeling that you’ve just done 10 rounds with a heavyweight champion.

What’s the answer? Well it’s broader than project management but a great benefit of PRINCE2 is that is very systematized.  Processes and activities are laid out to a degree of detail that makes it easy to follow.  Each activity tells you what to do, when and which documents to update.  And it’s the same document set and activities every project.  Granted, you have to tailor and adapt to the size and scale of each project, but 80% of it is the same.

Ever wondered why the military learn drills and procedures by rote? In the chaos of a war zone you need to do the right things automatically, you need to keep momentum and focus on the desired outcome.  How different is that from projects you have been involved in?

Remember what PRINCE2 stands for

It’s Projects in Controlled Environments.  The PRINCE2 method has been around long enough to have an action for every possible project situation.  Whatever happens – costs go up, costs go down, issues arise, risks happen; the PRINCE2 system says ‘do this, update that, speak to this person.’ You don’t need a unique solution every time – just follow the PRINCE2 procedures you learned and you’ll stay in control.

Some years ago my project was part of a large IT change program in a financial services company.  My project was generally going OK, and then something happened.  It was one of those ‘out of the blue’ things that no-one imagined, but it was potentially serious.  The program manager was good, but under pressure from above.  She passed it on.  I remember hearing “this is your project, you need to get this sorted out – what are you going to do about it?’

At that point I had no idea.  It had just been brought to my attention and it needed dealing with.  I gave the out of the PRINCE2 book answer: “well, I’m going to log it as a Project Issue in the Issue Register.  After that, I’ll do an impact analysis and see how it affects the business case, project plan and any risks we’ve got open.  Once I’ve done that I’ll work out if it’s in Tolerance and, if it is, I’ll deal with it.  If not, I’ll have an Exception Report on your desk by tomorrow morning.” To which the answer was “Oh, OK Paul, it sounds like you know what you’re doing, I’ll let you get on…”

Fantastic.  Don’t need to think; just do. Crisis happens, but it’s under control.   This stuff works and I have confidence in a well proven system and I can use it to get back on track.  Which is great news for project managers.

12 Mar 2012

One Canadian’s Journey into PRINCE2 – “Wanna come for the ride?”

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One Canadian’s Journey into PRINCE2 – “Wanna come for the ride?”

“Wanna come for the ride?” is exactly what a Project Management Training colleague of mine said to me in early 2008 as he explained that he was bringing PRINCE2 training to his organization.  And what a ride it has been.

PRINCE2 Canada journey

I went to a presentation by Paul Atkin of Advantage Learning and thought, WOW. This looks like it will provide me with some great tools and alternate approaches to explaining to clients as well as those on my projects, the value of project management and what their role in it is. Paul explained that PRINCE2 is not contradictory to the PMBOK. Joy to my ears because as a veteran project manager using the PMBOK framework, I was concerned about the possibility of a conflict and having to unlearn or remember 2 different ways to do project management.

A couple of months later I was sitting in a classroom (on the student side for once) listening to an Advantage Learning trainer teach a very intense PRINCE2 training course. As I listened I realized that I wasn’t learning a whole lot that was new, but rather a new way to explain project management, a clearer way to identify roles and responsibilities and most of all, a clearer and simpler approach to explaining and building Quality into a project.

I was quite taken aback at the minimalist approach to detailed planning that PRINCE2 took. For example, there is only 1 line in the whole manual about developing a project budget. However when the Advantage trainer explained that there are lots of great opportunities to learn different ways of planning and that PRINCE2 acknowledges that these details can be industry specific; I felt better knowing that PRINCE2 does address a high level approach to planning and stresses how to use various levels of plans and why they are needed.

At the end of our class, one participant asked “how am I going to convince my organization to give up PMBOK and embrace PRINCE2?” My initial thought was “you haven’t been paying attention”. PRINCE2 and PMBOK compliment each other very nicely. PRINCE2 gets into details of roles & responsibilities where PMBOK focuses mainly on the Project Manager. PRINCE2 does not do details of project scheduling and budgeting, where PMBOK does. PRINCE2 get into the details of how to do project management where PMBOK discusses what knowledge has to be gathered. PMBOK goes into how a project manager includes procurement of external goods and services into the project where PRINCE2 does not.  They fill each other’s gaps nicely.

After an intense week, lots of reading, piles of sample exam questions, 2 exams and buckets of questions to the Advantage trainer, I was successful in both exams and began my journey to becoming the first Canadian PRINCE2 Approved Trainer. That’s a story for another day!

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

1 Mar 2012

What’s the benefit

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What’s the benefit

Most organizations nowadays are looking to maximize their investment in change initiatives. The area of focus is moving from successful project delivery to the achieving benefits. From a business perspective – yes it is good to deliver Projects and Programs successfully but how can we demonstrate this?

The focus on benefits is something that can be seen throughout the Best Management Practice suite.  At Project, Program and Portfolio level there is a significant focus on benefits in the three methods – PRINCE2, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) and Management of Portfolios (MoP). Without this focus we will struggle to demonstrate what the justification is for a program or a project. Without that justification our initiatives should not be started or allowed to continue.

At Project Level

If we are working at a project level, our focus (using PRINCE2) is very much on the business justification of our project. Why are we doing this project? Based on the combination of costs, benefits and risk we can determine whether or not the project should be started and should then continue through to completion. We have a very definite focus on project output but we also keep a focus on benefits to be achieved that are specific to the individual project.


At Program Level

Stepping up to the next level, at a program level, the essence of successfully delivering our program is making a stepped change to our organization’s capability often linked to a strategic objective of our organization. This involves us taking a much more detailed view of benefits. Looking at how the projects in our program will deliver outputs which in turn lead to benefits which support one or more of the strategic objectives of the organization. The combined effect of managing benefits at a program level enables us to maximize the benefits to be achieved and ensuring that there is a direct link between the project benefits and the organizational benefit to be achieved. The MSP Method covers benefits in a degree of detail which builds on the approach taken in PRINCE2.

At Portfolio LevelMoP_Benefits

At a Portfolio level, the recent introduction of Management of Portfolios (MoP) sets the delivery of benefits within a portfolio context as well. At this level we are looking to demonstrate how benefits are linked to the achievement of the organizations strategic objectives. This is key for organizations today as more and more pressure is being place on them to maximize their delivery.

The methods give us excellent guidance on approaching benefits at the various levels of change. One thing that all three methods support is that benefits should be defined in measurable terms. This is how we can demonstrate achievement.

So when we are asked ‘What’s the benefit?’ the focus on benefits provides us with the way in which we can demonstrate to our organization why effective delivery using best practice methods is critical in today’s environment.

9 Feb 2012

PRINCE2 Software – when should I buy?

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PRINCE2 Software – when should I buy?

Looking for PRINCE2 software before defining the business problem is like putting …..

PRINCE2 Software before process

Many businesses are looking for the “magic” piece of software that will help them solve their business problem.  In reality they don’t even understand their business problems

One client called me in to help organise their project workload. The project manager’s first questions were “Have you any Microsoft Project templates that would help organize all the projects we are currently running?  Should we roll out Microsoft Project Server or go straight into SharePoint?”

It’s too easy to search for software in the belief that it will solve all your problems.

Define the problem before the solution

What you must do first is to sit down with a piece of paper, a pencil/pen, cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate and think!   OK, you might want your coffee and that iPad with that special pencil attachment that you won.

But honestly, before you buy the latest shiny thing, you should define your business need with questions such as:

  1. What am I trying to accomplish?
  2. What is the goal?
  3. What is acceptable?

Then you are well on the way to solving your problem.  Frame your business question first and then you can search for a technology to help.  You might surprise yourself and find that you already have the software (there are huge areas of Microsoft Office that could help) or that, in fact, you don’t need software at all!

Keep it Simple…

If your resultant system is not simple to use then you won’t use it – the initial enthusiasm will wane and then you expend energy in searching for your next “solution”.

Back to the Project story……

Working with the Project Manager we made a list (yes, a list) on the whiteboard of all the projects he currently had buzzing around his head (because it hadn’t been documented anywhere else).  Then, for each project I kept asking “Why are you doing this project? What’s the benefit to the business?”

If you ask “Why” at least three times you will uncover the real reason for the project.

For those projects that had no real definable benefits, they were closed – immediately.  For the rest, they were added to a spreadsheet with columns such as “Status” (Waiting for client, Active, Waiting for supplier), “Priority”, “Promised date” and a few others.  The overview of all the projects being undertaken became clear.  Priorities could be assigned.

The projects team started to get a reputation for delivering on time and to the quality specified by the client. Oh, and they stopped working 60 hour weeks and most weekends!

Process before software!  Every time.  When, and only when, that is sorted out can you think about which software is best for PRINCE2

About the Guest Author

Ray Frew MBA is a PRINCE2 Approved Trainer, MSP Advanced Practitioner and Database Developer

30 Jan 2012

Portfolio Management requires 2 heads

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‘Portfolio Management requires two heads’.

You might think that a strange comment to make but, in essence, best practice would suggest it is true. There is a very good reason for keeping the decision-making aspect about the content of the portfolio separate from the delivery aspect. I recall being involved with a change portfolio a few years ago which did exactly this – separated out the investment decision-making from the delivery process. They constituted two different groups. This reflects current thinking with regard to portfolio management best practice as defined in the Management of Portfolios – MoP –  guide recently issued. It advocates the existence of two groups, the first the Portfolio Direction Group (or Investment Committee) with key responsibility for decisions relating to the definition and composition of the portfolio and the Portfolio Progress Group (Change Delivery Committee) which is very much focused on the delivery of the portfolio.

Why split these responsibilities you might well ask? Keeping these responsibilities separate ensures a clear focus on what is required from each group.

Portfolio Direction Group

From the Portfolio Direction group we require the decision on what change initiatives are included in the portfolio based on accepted prioritization criteria. They are responsible for ensuring a proper balance within the portfolio. They will be responsible for making sure that the portfolio as defined is the most effective balance to deliver against the strategic objectives of the organization. They have to agree any changes to the portfolio content and reprioritization of the portfolio and therefore any changes. That is their role.

Portfolio Progress Group

When we then consider the second group, the Portfolio Progress Group, their focus is very much on the successful delivery of the portfolio. They will have responsibility for dealing with any issues that could compromise delivery and benefits realisation. The group can make decisions in relation to delivery and that is very much their focus.

What happens if we don’t distinguish in this way between decision-making and delivery? I would suggest that these distinctive roles will become blurred and once we mix decision-making with delivery achieving our delivery of strategic objectives becomes more problematic. Just think about what happens at project level when this takes place. At portfolio level it is even more critical to keep these two roles separate.

No matter what level we are operating at keeping the decision-making role separate from the delivery role makes perfect sense.

So as we think about it in a bit more detail does your portfolio have two heads – one to make the decisions and one to ensure effective delivery?


20 Jan 2012

Projects – at what cost?

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Projects – at what cost?

Why do we do projects? In the majority of cases, it is surely to deliver benefits, whether these are financial, say through efficiency savings, or passed on to our customers through improved service delivery.

Looking back on projects carried out in the past, how often have we painted a rosier picture than is actually the case by understating the costs to the organization and overstating the benefits? How many times have we actually compared what we intended to deliver against what was actually delivered and what the true cost was?

An area of good project management practice is in ensuring that your organization is in control of what resource is being utilised and what the true financial impact.

A common practice is to term the cost of a project as the budget that it has been allocated. Of course, we all have financial constraints and many projects have to plan to deliver within a ‘no more money under any circumstances’ environment. Such constraints impact on the quality of the deliverables and therefore the benefits.

Many projects do not even have an earmarked budget, they simply dip into several different cost centres, with various Departments absorbing the costs, as and when an expense arises. Tracking the true cost of these projects becomes almost impossible, especially where subject to audit

What should be included within the project costs? One of the major expenses that many organizations still do not consider is: –

Resource Costs

All projects will have identified staff resource applied to them, ranging from perhaps an individual Project Manager (full or part-time), reporting to a Project Executive to full-blown governance structures involving User Groups, Configuration Librarian, Project Support (through a PMO) and several full-time project posts.

The removal of a member of staff from their normal job to work on a project represents a project cost. It is of course not always that simple and different organisations may wish to look at how they apportion these costs in different ways. This assessment is often linked with how the organisation manages its finances at a high level. When creating an approach to calculating project cost, involvement of the Finance Department is essential.

For example, some organisations may only consider the secondment of a member of staff onto a project as a project expense where the post from which the project team member has been removed has required to be back-filled. Others may only consider adding resource time to a project cost where the project team member’s allocated time to the project exceeds a certain percentage of their overall employment time.

Another major area of costs that is often overlooked when calculating the total project cost, and, when comparing against the benefits, is: –


If a project has been created to deliver a new system (almost always involving ICT these days!) for carrying out a specific task that your organisation has responsibility for and this new system is predicted to result in efficiency savings, then as well as the capital costs involved, it is very important that the organisation consider the impact of training costs.

A new IT system can potentially involve the re-training of large numbers of staff. Even at a couple of hours per head, these costs can be significant and should be offset against the financial benefits identified of operating the new system.

There are of course several other headings under which costs require to be captured. When putting together your stakeholder engagement and communication plans, what costs may be involved in publications, printing and hospitality? Are the project team to be located into one office? If so, what are the hardware / software requirements and office furniture needs? What is the likely extent of travel requirements for the project team including, say, benchmarking, where you wish to visit a similar organisation that is perhaps located in another part of the country. These are just some of the areas you need to think about.

As an organisation, you may wish to create a standardised approach to costing projects in order that direct comparisons can be made at Business Change level. Identifying what is Capital and what is Revenue costs allows forward planning of yearly budget requirements and breaking each project budget down into phases (again, often in line with Finance Department) provides even greater control and transparency of predicted spend.

The cost of any project should be forecast in as much detail as possible during the Initiation Stage of the project and these costs should be included within the Business Case presented within the Project Initiation Documentation.

It may be that a project is estimated to deliver financial savings of, say, $50k, but if the project costs $40k, is it worth the risk and how accurate is the estimated $40k? Perhaps in reality the project is costing the organisation $60k and the actual benefit realised may only result in $45k of savings. Familiar??

Alternatively, a project may cost $200k, a big commitment in any circumstances, but is predicted to deliver savings of $5 million. Estimated project costs based around a sound method of calculation allows the senior management (or Business Change Board) to make informed decisions on committing large sums of money to projects and to decide which projects should receive the green light to proceed.

Once a project has been shown the green light to enter into Controlled Progress or Delivery, actual spend should be recorded and this can be compared against predicted spend. This will assist the Project Manager in identifying or predicting when the project is looking like it will exceed the financial tolerance set within the PID and therefore kick-start the Exception Process.

About the Guest Author

Alvin Gardiner MBA is a PRINCE2 Approved Trainer, Practitioner and Registered Consultant.  Alvin is the UK Prize Winner for the best use of PRINCE2 following his work to introduce structured project and program management at the Registers of Scotland Land Registry.  Alvin regularly lectures in PRINCE2 in Canada and is also a Management of Portfolios Approved Trainer

15 Dec 2011

What is the Difference between Projects and Programs?

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What is the Difference between Projects and Programs?

Best Management Practice standards include PRINCE2 for Project Management and MSP for Program Management.  But  when I talk to Project and Business Managers about program management they often ask questions like:  “Are programs just big projects and shouldn’t we manage them like that?” or “What is the difference between projects and programs?”

So what are the differences between projects and programs.


The PMI definitions of a Project and a Program are:

  • A project is a temporary endeavour undertaken to create a unique product, service or result such as implementation of a solution, infrastructure etc.
  • A Program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. Programs may include elements of related work outside the scope of the discrete projects in the program (such as transition to operations and then ongoing until the benefits are realised).

The PMI definitions for Project and Program Management are:

  • Project Management is the application of knowledge skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.
  • Program Management is the centralised coordinated management of a program to achieve the programs strategic objectives and expected benefits.

Management focus

Another key difference between program’s and projects is the focus of the management.  Program and project managers differ in their perspective, the lists below highlight the differences.

  • Projects have a narrow scope with specific deliverables. Programs have a wide scope that may have to change to meet the benefit expectations of the organization.
  • The project manager tries to keep change to a minimum. Program managers have to expect even embrace change.
  • Project success is measured by budget, on time, and products delivered to specification. Program success is measured in terms of Return On Investment (ROI), new capabilities, benefit delivery
  • Project leadership style focuses on task delivery and directive in order to meet the success criteria. Program leadership style focuses on managing relationships, conflict resolution. Program manager’s need to facilitate and manage the political aspects of the stakeholder management.
  • Project managers manage technicians, specialists etc… Program managers manage project managers
  • Project managers are a team player motivating by knowledge and skills. Program managers are leaders providing vision and leadership
  • Project managers conduct detailed planning to manage the delivery the products of the project. Program managers create high level plans providing guidance to projects where detailed plans are created.
  • Project managers monitor and controls tasks and the work of producing the projects products. Program managers monitor projects and ongoing work through governance structures.

The basic difference is that programs are responsible for delivering outcomes (benefits, new capabilities) whereas projects are primarily responsible for delivering solutions or products that enable the outcomes to be achieved.

Programs are a means of achieving organizational goals and objectives, often in the context of a strategic plan. Projects are a means of achieving tactical goals and objectives.

These fundamental differences mean that managing a program is not just BIG PROJECT MANAGEMENT.

About the Guest Author

David Whelbourn, MBA PMP is the Director of Project Management at New Brunswick Internal Services Agency.  A PRINCE2 Registered Practitioner he served a reviewer as part of the PRINCE2 2009 and MSP, Managing Successful Programs, 2011 refresh projects

8 Dec 2011

L’examen du Praticien PRINCE2

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L’examen du Praticien PRINCE2

L’examen du Praticien PRINCE2 est le deuxième examen PRINCE2. Il contrôle votre capacité à appliquer la méthodologie PRINCE2 et à faire des analyses et des jugements appropriés à partir d’un scénario de gestion de projet donné. Comme l’examen Fondation, il se base sur le manuel officiel PRINCE2: « Réussir la Gestion de Projet avec PRINCE2 ». Vous devez réussir l’examen Fondation avant de passer celui du Praticien mais vous n’êtes pas obligé de passer les deux pendant le même cours.

L’examen du Praticien

L’examen du Praticien dure 2,5 heures, contient 9 questions et se base sur un cas d’étude. 7 questions se basent sur les Thèmes PRINCE2 tandis que les 2 autres se basent sur les processus PRINCE2. Veuillez noter que « se baser sur » ne signifie pas « au sujet de ». L’examen du Praticien couvre l’ensemble du programme PRINCE2 et dans les questions on s’attendra à ce que vous sachiez comment les thèmes, les processus et les Principes sont liés entre eux et peuvent être appliqués à des situations réelles. Une question à base du thème du Cas d’Affaire, par exemple, n’utilise ce thème que comme point de départ. Il y a 12 points par question et il faut répondre à toutes les questions. Vous pouvez consulter le manuel PRINCE2 pendant cet examen.PRINCE2 Practitioner Objective Testing

L’examen du Praticien utilise un format d’Examen Objectif et vous choisissez la(les) bonne(s) réponse(s) en marquant A, B, C, etc. sur une feuille avec un crayon. Après l’examen votre feuille de réponses sera interprétée par machine pour établir votre note.

Il y a 5 types différents de question:

  • A choix multiples classique : il y en a quelques-unes dans l’examen du Praticien, mais pas beaucoup. Ils ont le même style que la question standard dans l’examen Fondation.
  • Réponses multiple : ce type nécessite 2 réponses correctes à partir d’une liste de 5. Vous devez donner seulement 2 réponses et toutes les deux doivent être correctes pour obtenir un point. Je n’aime pas celles-ci – vous en connaissez généralement au moins une, mais cela ne vous vaudrait pas la moitié d’un point – c’est tout ou rien.
  • Correspondance: dans ce type de question vous aurez deux listes et vous devrez faire la bonne correspondance pour la réponse. Par exemple, la première liste pourrait être une liste de documents PRINCE2, tandis que la deuxième liste pourrait contenir des processus PRINCE2. Le travail sera de faire correspondre chaque document à la procédure où il est créé ou utilisé. Tout ce qui est dans la liste 1 devra être utilisé, mais les éléments de la liste 2 peuvent être utilisés une seule fois, plusieurs fois ou pas du tout.
  • Mise en séquence: dans une liste d’éléments PRINCE2 – éventuellement des activités, des documents ou des personnes – vous devrez choisir le bon ordre parmi plusieurs options. Par exemple, les réponses pourraient être A: 1,2,3,4, B: 1,3,4,2, C: 1,4,2,3 et D: 4,3,2,1. Vous pouvez normalement éliminer celles qui sont de toute évidence mauvaises et ensuite décider de la bonne réponse parmi celles qui restent
  • Affirmation / Raison: il y a une déclaration (affirmation) et une justification (raison) liées avec les mots « parce que ». Vous devez décider si l’affirmation et la raison sont vraies et si l’une est vraie à cause de l’autre.

Après l’examen les copies sont ramassées par le formateur ou surveillant et envoyées à APMG pour être notées. La note moyenne de passage est d’environ 75% – certains organismes de formation PRINCE2 agréés arrivent à un moyen plus élevé que cela, mais vous ne pouvez pas prendre des affirmations commerciales au sérieux car elles ne peuvent pas être vérifiées de façon indépendante. L’APMG ne publie pas de tableaux de classement des résultats d’examen et tout organisme qui prétend avoir le « plus haut taux de passage » raconte n’importe quoi – ils ne savent pas!

7 Dec 2011

L’Examen PRINCE2 Fondation

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L’Examen PRINCE2 Fondation

L’examen PRINCE2 Fondation est le premier examen PRINCE2. C’est un contrôle de vos connaissances et votre compréhension de la méthodologie PRINCE2 qui se base sur le manuel PRINCE2 officiel: « Réussir la Gestion de Projet avec PRINCE2 ». Vous devez réussir l’examen Fondation avant de passer celui du Praticien.

L’examen Fondation contient 75 questions à choix multiples et dure 1 heure. C’est un examen « à livre fermé » et la note de passage (note minimale pour réussir) est de 50%. Bien qu’il y ait 75 questions, seulement 70 comptent pour votre note finale, donc la note de passage est en réalité 35 / 70. 5 questions Fondation sont des questions d’examen qui sont en cours d’évaluation pour des examens futurs. Votre formateur ou surveillant ne sait pas de quelles questions il s’agit.

La plupart des questions Fondation sont du type à choix multiples standard. Par exemple: « De quelle couleur est un bus ? » Les réponses possibles seraient « rouge, vert, bleu ou jaune ». Vous indiquez votre réponse au crayon, sur une feuille de réponses à part, en fonçant la mention A, B, C ou D selon le cas.

Il y a 3 autres styles de question:

  • Négatif – « Lequel des éléments suivants n’est PAS un produit PRINCE2 »
  • Mot Manquant – « Un projet PRINCE2 est une organisation temporaire qui est créé dans le but de livrer des produits du projet selon un cas d’affaire [?] »
  • Liste – Dans une liste de produits ou d’événements PRINCE2, vous devrez indiquer le bon ordre.

A la fin de l’examen les copies sont ramassées et habituellement notées immédiatement: le formateur ou surveillant a une feuille maîtresse pour comparer avec votre feuille de réponses et établir la note. Le résultat est assujetti à la confirmation de l’APMG, mais, dans plus de 100 cours PRINCE2, je ne les ai jamais vus modifier une note.

Presque tout le monde réussit l’examen Fondation – le taux moyen de réussite pour les classes encadrés par un instructeur est de 99% et légèrement inférieur pour les candidats qui n’ont pas suivi de formation.

Si vous envisagez continuer pour passer l’examen du Praticien, ce qui comptera sera votre note d’examen Fondation. Il vous faudra seulement la note minimale de réussite de l’examen Fondation pour passer celui du Praticien, mais l’expérience montre que les étudiants qui n’ont que le niveau minimal dans l’examen Fondation ne réussissent typiquement pas celui du Praticien. Cela a du sens – si vous n’avez pas le bon niveau Fondation de connaissance et de compréhension, vous ne pourrez pas le mettre en application au niveau pratique du Praticien.

24 Nov 2011

Controlling a Stage in PRINCE2 – Project Manage like a Meerkat

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Controlling a Stage in PRINCE2 – Project Manage like a Meerkat

You’re the Project Manager and the next Stage of your PRINCE2 project has just been approved.  Your Stage Plan has the green light, your Team is ready to go…

What happens next?

In PRINCE2 this is the trigger for the Controlling a Stage process.   This process covers the “what and when” of the Project Manager’s work during a delivery stage.  Controlling a Stage in PRINCE2 is about managing the work of the Team Managers using Work Packages.  It’s about reporting stage status to the Project Board, dealing with and escalating issues and risks and generally keeping a sharp eye on things.

If you come from a technical background there’s a real temptation to get involved in the detail.

But stay detached: good Project Managers act like Meerkats.  If you’ve ever watched Meerkats you’ll have noticed that, while the others are PRINCE2 Manage Like Meerkatrunning around doing the day to day busy work (the Team Managers), one of them is always standing on its back legs; watching, checking, scanning the horizon for signs of danger.

This is the Meerkat using PRINCE2: they’re present and available, but not involved in the detail.  They’re focussing on the wider picture.

Control the Stage, don’t deliver it

So the Controlling a Stage process in PRINCE2 can be successful, the Project Manager needs to step back and away from the detail to look at the bigger picture and decide if the stage is still on track.  Or, in PRINCE2 terms, to ask: “are we still within tolerance and can I continue to manage this stage without escalation?” PRINCE2’s Controlling a Stage process provides a list of activities, inputs and outputs to do this successfully.

Once we have had stage authorization from the Project Board we can start to hand out work to the Team Managers.  We do this by authorizing Work Packages for the Team Managers.  In PRINCE2, the Project Manager creates Work Packages to provide Team Managers with the information and authorization to build and test the project’s products.  The Project Manager does not need to be involved in the day to day delivery of the products; they delegate limits and then stand back. It’s a key part of PRINCE2’s Manage by Exception Principle.

Managing the day to day work

A Work Package includes information such as the joint agreements on timescales and costs, the tolerances set by the Project Manager, reporting arrangements, problem handling and escalation procedures, as well as copies of the relevant Product Descriptions.

The Work Package is the responsibility of the Team Manager to carry out the work and provide progress reports to the Project Manager in regular Checkpoint Reports.  The format and frequency of the Checkpoint is documented in the Work Package.

Every so often the Project Manager will need to report stage progress to the Project Board.  This is done by the Project Manager creating a Highlight Report for the Project Board.  The frequency of the Highlight Report will be documented in the Communications Management Strategy.  And Highlight Report should be just that – giving a high level view of the stage.  It’s not a detailed report – it shouldn’t take a week to write!

Dealing with stuff that happens

Now if a project goes exactly to plan then the issue and receipt of work packages makes it all sound simple.  But, as we know, life is not like that.  No plan survives implementation and as a Project Manager you will have to deal with issues and risks as they occur.

You may have to escalate them if they exceed your level of authority.  This is where PRINCE2 uses controls such as the Issue Report, Exception Reports and Exception Plans to control situations as the arise and PRINCE2 has well defined activities to capture, analyze and, if required, escalate the unplanned to the next level of management.

Remember: Meerkats control stages better – they’re away from the detail and able to see and think in a wider context from the team at ground level.


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