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PRINCE2 (an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a de facto process-based method for effective project management. Used extensively by the UK Government, PRINCE2 is also widely recognised and used in the private sector, both in the UK and internationally. The PRINCE2 method is in the public domain, and offers non-proprietorial best practice guidance on project management.
PRINCE was established in 1989 by CCTA (the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency), since renamed the OGC (the Office of Government Commerce). In June 2010, the Office of Government Commerce Best Practice Management functions moved into the Cabinet Office.
PRINCE was originally based on PROMPT, a project management method created by Simpact Systems Ltd in 1975, and adopted by CCTA in 1979 as the standard to be used for all Government information system projects.
When PRINCE was launched in 1989, it effectively superseded PROMPT within Government projects. PRINCE remains in the public domain and copyright is retained by the Crown. PRINCE2 was published in 1996, having been contributed to by a consortium of some 150 European organisations.
7 Principles of PRINCE2
PRINCE2 is a process-based approach that focuses on organization and control over the entire project, from start to finish. That means projects are thoroughly planned before kickoff, each stage of the process is clearly structured, and all loose ends are neatly tied up after the project ends.
The PRINCE2 method is built on these 7 principles
Projects must have business justification. Each project must have a clear need, a defined customer, realistic benefits, and a detailed cost assessment.
Teams should learn from every stage. Lessons are sought and recorded at every step in the process, and then used to improve future work.
Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Everyone should know exactly what they’re responsible for — and what their teammates are responsible for.
Work is planned in stages. Projects are broken up into individual work phases, with periodic reviews to record lessons learned and confirm the project is still on track to meet requirements.
Project boards “manage by exception.” Since board members are typically senior execs who don’t have time to manage a project’s daily activities, they establish baseline requirements for things like time, cost, risk, and scope, and then delegate daily oversight to the project manager. The project manager has the authority to get the project back on track if it’s running late, going over budget, etc. But if issues arise that will impact the established requirements, that’s an “exception,” and the project board decides the best way to proceed.
Teams keep a constant focus on quality. Deliverables are continually checked against requirements through the use of a quality register.
The approach is tailored for each project. The PRINCE2 method itself should be adjusted to suit the needs of each project, changing the amount of oversight and planning to fit the size of the project, number of people involved, etc.
PRINCE2 Outlines Eight Processes
Startup: The decision-makers gather and appoint a Project Manager. Together, these people all define the need for the project and outline the processes by which it is to be executed.
Direction: A Project Board is responsible for the overall success of the project, but an individual called the Project Manager, who reports to the Project Board, is charged with the responsibility of managing the details.
Initiation: The Project Manager prepares a Project Initiation Document. This document is submitted to the Project Board for approval. If it is not approved, it is returned to the Project Manager for revision.
Stage control: The project is broken down into manageable stages, the number of which depends on the project size and risk level. Each stage contains plans for the succeeding stage. Before a new stage can be begun, the current stage must be fully executed.
Stage boundary management: The current stage is reviewed, and the process for the next stage is developed. The project can continue only after the Project Board has approved the execution of the current stage and the plan for the next stage.
Planning: This includes decisions as to what products will be produced, the activities that will be required to produce the products, estimates of the cost, time, and other resources that will be necessary, risk analysis, activity scheduling, and process streamlining.
Product delivery management: The Project Manager must make sure that the right products are produced according to the planned schedule.
Closing: After the project has been completed, the Project Manager conducts a Post Project Review, which is an evaluation of the project’s outcome. Once this document has been approved by the Project Board, the project is closed down.
The 7 Phase Process
Starting-up a project
-Someone submits a request for a new project, called the project mandate. The project mandate is very brief, covering only why the project is necessary and what it will ideally accomplish.
-Someone assesses every project mandate to make sure the company is capable of taking on the project.
-If approved, the person who initiated the project then submits a more detailed project brief, which covers the actions, resources, manpower, etc. needed to execute the project.
Directing a project
-The project board reviews and evaluates project briefs based on business justification and viability for another round of approval/disapproval.
-The project board decides what it needs to do in order to organize and execute each approved project, and what/how they’re going to delegate to the project manager.
Initiating a project
-The project manager creates Project Initiation Documentation, including a comprehensive project plan and baselines for 6 performance targets: time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.
-Initiation documents are sent to the project board for approval. Once the board is confident in the project plan, they give their approval once again and work begins.
Controlling a Stage
-The project manager breaks down the project into smaller “work packages” and passes them off to team managers and teams to complete.
-The project manager oversees the progress of work packages during each stage and steps in to help overcome roadblocks or correct any mistakes, if necessary.
-Team managers coordinate detailed daily work and act as the link between the project manager and individual team members, helping to make sure everything goes according to plan.
Managing Product Delivery
-The project manager checks progress against the project brief and makes sure deliverables meet quality expectations.
-The project board evaluates completed work packages, and either approves them or requests revisions/changes.
Managing Stage Boundaries
-The project manager and project board review each stage to make sure the project is progressing according to plan and meeting project assurance requirements.
-At each review, the project board decides whether to continue with the next stage or to abandon the project completely.
-Project managers hold a retrospective with the project team to record any lessons learned and improve the next stage.
Closing the Project
-When the project is complete, the project manager wraps up and loose threads, including documentation, outcomes, and reporting.
For an in-depth understanding and practical experience, explore Online Prince2 Training.
Types of Documentation
|Acceptance Criteria||Definition of what must be done for the final product to be acceptable to the customer and staff who will be affected|
|Business Case||Documents the justification for the undertaking of a project based on the estimated cost of development ad the anticipated business benefits to be gained|
|Checkpoint||To report at a frequency defined in the stage plan the status of work for each member of a team|
|Communication Plan||To define all parties with an interest in the projects and the means and frequency of communication between them and the project|
|Configuration Item Record||A record of the information required about a product’s status|
|Configuration Management Plan||To identify how and by whom the project’s products will be controlled and protected.|
|End Project Report||Project manager’s report to the project board on how well the project has performed against its PID including the original planned cost, schedule and tolerances, the revised business case and the final version of the project plan|
|End Stage Report||Gives a summary of progress to date, the overall project situation and sufficient information to ask for a project board decision on what to do next with the project|
|Exception Report||Produced whenever costs and/or timescales for an approved stage plan are forecast to exceed the tolerance levels set. It is sent by the project manager in order to appraise the project board of the adverse situation|
|Follow-on Actions||To pass details of unfinished work or potential product modifications to the group charged with future support of the final product in its operational life|
|Highlight Report||Self explanatory|
|Lessons Learned Log||To be a repository of any lessons learned during the project that can be usefully applied to other projects|
|Lessons Learned Report||To pass on any lessons which can be usefully applied to other projects|
|Post-Project Review||To find out|
|Product Checklist||To list the products to be produced within a stage plan, together with hey status dates|
|Product Description||Self explanatory|
|Project Approach||To define the type of solution to be developed by the project and/or the method of delivering that solution. It should also identify any environment into which the solution must fit.|
|Project Brief||To provide a firm foundation for the initiation of the project|
|Project Initiation Document||To define the project, to form the basis for its management and the assessment of overall success|
|Project Mandate||Should contain sufficient information to identify at least the prospective executive of the project board and indicate the subject matter of the project|
|Project Issue||Any matter which has to be brought to the attention of the project and requires an answer|
|Project Plan||Statement of how and when a project’s objectives are to be achieved, showing the major products, activities and resources required on the project|
|Project Quality Plan||Part of the PID, defining how the supplier intends to deliver products which meet the customer’s quality expectations and the supplier’s quality standards|
|Quality Log||A log to|
|Risk Log||A log to|
|Stage Plan||Basis for project management control through the stage|
|Work Package||Defines an individual piece of work, including interfaces to other parts of the project.|
PRINCE2 defines a set of baseline management products, records and reports that can be tailored and used in managing projects. These artifacts are not necessarily documents – they are information sets that are used by the PRINCE2 processes to enable to project management team to take action and make the right decisions at the right time. These artifacts evolve over the project life cycle, and are often reviewed and updated as the project progresses.
There are 26 defined management products for a PRINCE2 project. The baseline management products define aspects of the project and are created, approved and put under change control. Records are dynamic management products maintaining information regarding project progress. Reports provide snapshots of certain aspects of the project at certain points in time. Records and reports are under configuration management but are not subject to change control.
The following table summarizes these:
|Benefits Review Plan||Defines how and when measurement of project benefits achievement can be made|
|Business Case||Provides justification for the project in terms of benefits, costs, risks, and timescales and is used to assess viability|
|Checkpoint Report||Reports Work Package progress and information from the Team Manager or team to the Project Manager|
|Communication Management Strategy||Describes the means and frequency of communication between the project and its stakeholders|
|Configuration Item Record||Describes the status, version, variants and relationships for a configuration item (product, product component or release)|
|Configuration Management Strategy||Defining how and by whom the project’s products (each a configuration item) will be controlled and protected|
|Daily Log||Records problems and concerns to be handled informally by the Project Manager|
|End Project Report||Confirms handover of the project’s products to the Project Board and assesses project performance against the PID|
|End Stage Report||Provides information about project performance and status for the stage to the Project Board|
|Exception Report||Describes an exception situation, its impact, options, and Project Manager recommendations to the Project Board|
|Highlight Report||Reports stage progress and status to the Project Board on a regularly scheduled basis|
|Issue Register||Captures and maintains information on all project issues that are being managed formally|
|Issue Report||Describes, assesses the impact and makes recommendations for issues that are being formally handled|
|Lessons Log||Provides an informal repository for lessons learned that apply to the current project and lessons from previous projects|
|Lessons Report||Documents lessons learned from the current project that can be applied to future projects|
|Plan – Project, Stage and Team||Specifies the ‘what, when, how and by whom’ required to achieve an objective at a project, stage, or team level|
|Product Description||Describes the purpose, composition, derivation and quality criteria for a product|
|Product Status Account||Reports product status by identifier or the part of the project where they were developed|
|Project Brief||States the purpose, cost, time and performance requirements and constraints for a project|
|Project Initiation Document||Logical set of documents bringing together key information to start and to manage and control a project|
|Project Product Description||Defines project scope and requirements, customer quality expectation and acceptance criteria|
|Quality Management Strategy||Defines quality techniques, standards and responsibilities to be applied during a project|
|Quality Register||Contains summary details of all planned and completed quality activities for the project|
|Risk Management Strategy||Describes goals, procedures, roles and responsibilities, tolerance, tools and techniques for applying risk management|
|Risk Register||Records identified project risks, their status and history|
|Work Package||Contains information for creating one or more products, describing the products, the work and any constraints|
Advantages of Prince2
-PRINCE2 provides a controlled start, controlled progress, a controlled close
-Regular reviews against plan, business case and risks
-PRINCE2 provides flexible decision points
-Automatic management control over deviations
-Stakeholder involvement at the right times
-Clear communication channels
-Project managers using PRINCE are able to establish terms of reference before the project start
-There is a defined structure for delegation & communication
-Project manager divide a project into manageable stages for more accurate planning
-Resource commitment from management is part of any approval to proceed
-Regular but brief management reports are available (checkpoint reports, highlight reports and exception reports)
-Meetings with management are kept to a minimum, but at vital points in the project
-End product users are able to participate in the decision-making
-End users are involved in project progress
-End users participate in quality checks throughout the project
-User requirements are specified
-PRINCE2 is free (other then any training or support you want to pay for)
-PRINCE2 has a strong User Group
-PRINCE2 is supported by (UK) Government and organisation such as APM and ISEB
-Training courses are available from many accredited training organisation
-PRINCE2 is flexible and can be applied to any kind of project