3 Nov 2011

What makes my project a PRINCE2 project?

Posted by sjg21

What makes my project a PRINCE2 project?

What makes my project a PRINCE2 project? The answer to this is quite simple – the 7 PRINCE2 Principles.

PRINCE2 follows seven key guiding Principles which are supported by PRINCE2’s Themes and Processes.  So what are the principles of PRINCE2 and why are the important?Following the Principles make a PRINCE2 project

Let’s have a look.  The first is this trainer’s pet principle.

Continued Business Justification

PRINCE2 is value driven.  A PRINCE2 project must be able to provide the organization with benefits.  If it doesn’t why are we doing it?  If the justification is there at the beginning but disappears as the project progresses, then why continue?

The reason I say this is my pet principle is that I have seen too many projects start just because someone had “a good idea”.  Well, is it a good idea?  Will it bring benefits to the organization?  Will the investment be worthwhile? These are all questions we should ask and continue to ask during the project.  The reasons, benefits and justification for the project are documented in PRINCE2’s Business Case document

Manage by Stages

A PRINCE2 project is managed by stages.  This means breaking the project up into manageable chunks of work.  It allows us to create more robust plans.  There’s no point trying to plan that someone will be carrying out a specific activity in two years time at 9am in the morning on the March 26th.  It may be in the plan but, honestly, what is the chances of it happening?

Stages also give the Project Board the chance to stop and ask if they want to continue with the project or stop.  This allows them to delegate the day-to-day running of the project to the Project Manager but keep overall direction and control.  Which leads nicely to…

Manage by Exception

In a PRINCE2 project we set delegated limits of authority through the use of tolerances.  So Corporate or Programme Management set the project level tolerances for the Project Board, the Project Board set the stage tolerances for the Project Manager and the Project Manager sets the Work Package tolerance for the Team Manager.  This allows decisions to be made at the right level in the Project Management Team.

If an issue occurs that you forecast will exceed your tolerances you have to go to the next level of management for a decision on what to do next.

Learn From Experience

In a PRINCE2 project we should capture and learn from lessons.  This should happen throughout the project.  At the beginning of the project we should capture and use lessons from previous projects as well as counting on people’s experiences.  During the project we should be capturing and acting on lessons and at the end of the project evaluate the project and capture lessons for future projects.

And remember once we have captured lessons we have to act on them.  Lessons are only lessons learnt when we do something with what we have captured.

Defined Roles and Responsibilities

One of the usual problems a project suffers from is not knowing who is responsible for what.  “That’s nothing to do with me” is usually a comment you will hear.  PRINCE2 says we need to define the roles involved in the project and each of those roles should have a set of responsibilities.  This stops people passing the buck.  When you sign up you know what your responsibility in the project is.  The PRINCE2 manual, Managing Successful Projects, includes templates for all the management roles in the project

Focus on Products

In a PRINCE2 project we focus on the products (outputs) that it will deliver.  This will start by defining the scope of the project and then defining the quality that the products must meet to make them fit for purpose.

Tailor to suit the Project Environment

PRINCE2 is generic.  This means that it can be used on any type of project regardless of size and complexity. PRINCE2 is a great method but only if you use it with a bit of common sense.  The method provides you with a framework but the key is to tailor it to suit the project you are running.

How you tailor the method will be completely different in a small project covering only a couple of weeks to a two-year project worth a few million dollars.  When tailoring you need to adapt the processes, themes, management products and you apply the principles.

So it’s by applying these 7 PRINCE2 Principles that YOUR project becomes a PRINCE2 project.

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