What Is Prince2 Project Management?
Are you thinking of proposing a project but aren’t sure what management method to use? Or do you just want to improve your product’s quality? If any of these sound like something you’re interested in, the answer you’re looking for could be Prince2 project management.
This methodology gives you a defined framework and makes your job easier. On top of that, it will also help you use your resources efficiently and increase your team’s confidence. If you want to learn more about this methodology in a simplified manner, this is the article for you.
What is Prince2 Project Management?
Let’s start with the basics. Prince2 management refers to projects carried out in controlled settings. When broken down, the acronym stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. Although it is called Prince2 today, this methodology was influenced by the previous PROMPT method (Project Resource Organization Management Planning Technique) which was widely used by the IT industry in the 1970s. After PROMPT, The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) developed the Prince method to be used throughout the United Kingdom. In 1996, this concept was officially published as Prince2 and is still widely used across the globe today.
This type of management is entirely process-based. Meaning, it focuses on planning and control. Every part of a project is decided before it starts, as well as a team structure, so you can think of it as a map leading you to your goal. At any point in the project, you can refer to the map and know what you have to do and when. This structure is a crucial element of Prince2 project management.
Seven Key Principles of Prince2
Prince2 project management has more to it than its widespread use, as it’s based on seven principles that can’t be changed. These principles are an ideology that keeps a project the right path. Therefore, if a project doesn’t abide by them, it isn’t being managed by Prince2. Let’s go through each of the seven.
1) Sustained business justification
The project needs to have clear goals, which means that project leaders have to map out the following:
- What demand their business meets
- Benefits they can offer
- Their ideal customer bases
- Projected returns
2) Learn from experience
Every time a company finishes a Prince2 project, they must make a log and add the parts that went well and those that didn’t. Then, they can refer to the log before starting a new project and avoid making the same mistakes again. Looking back and reflecting on past performance is integral to growth.
Before starting another Prince2 project, they must reflect on similar past endeavors.
3) Roles and responsibilities
There are a set of specific roles and responsibilities that each project member must take on. Prince2 project management has roles on several levels:
- Project board – A group that includes the Executive, which is the one person who takes ownership of the project and it’s outcomes, the Senior User, who represents the needs of the end user (there can be more than one), and the Senior Supplier, one or more people who protect the interest of the suppliers (the people developing the project).
- Project assurance – Making sure the stakeholders interests are met.
- Change authority – Approve or decline change requests that are actioned by the board.
- Project manager – The day-to-day authority on project contents, reporting to project board.
- Project support – All people who help the project manager.
- Team manager – One or more people who focus on quality control.
4) Manage by stages
It’s always easier to complete a big project if it has smaller milestones. Prince2 project management calls on teams to divide the work, and then go step by step. Not only does this give them immediate goals to work towards, but it also provides breaks to review and edit a stage after it’s completed.
5) Manage by exception
Project boards only have to make the plan and set the baseline. It is then on the team to complete the tasks. For example, the board will give deadlines, but the manager needs to make sure they are met. Subsequently, the board is only involved in the day to day activity if there is a big issue.
6) Focus on the product
Any Prince2 project focuses on the delivery of the product, and in particular, the quality. So, the team has to know what the product is and what is expected of them. They can then build their work around that goal.
7) Tailor the project
Prince2 has to be adjusted to each project’s size, risk, importance, environment, etc. This is the first task in the process of ‘initiating a project’ and is renewed before every new stage.
The Seven Themes Of Prince2
Within Prince2, there are seven themes that give insight onto how each project should be managed. Everyone that is part of the Prince2 process should constantly check-in with these themes and ensure that they are being followed.
1) Business Case
Thinking about business case ensures that you’re completing the project for a reason, and that there is an end goal that will benefit the business overall.
Each role must be clearly defined and people must stick to their original roles for a successful project.
This goes back to principle 6 on the previous list, but basically means that you need to ensure everyone has a coherent definition of quality before the project starts.
Make sure there’s a plan in place for each role and what they will achieve.
A risk log will store information about all risks throughout the project. Risks are divided into “threats” and “opportunities.”
Change is natural and must be taken into account. Make sure that all change is addressed by senior members before it goes into action.
Make sure the project itself is trackable throughout.
How To Use Prince2 Project Management
Companies can only use the Prince2 method if they know how it works. And how it works is simple – there are seven steps. Each one deals with a set of activities that help manage, direct, or deliver the project.
First, the project needs to make good business sense. If it doesn’t, it won’t help the company. Therefore, a project brief is made to explain and justify its importance. This includes appointing a project team, a project manager, and an executive manager. A detailed brief is only drafted if the project is approved.
2) Initiating a project
Next, the board needs to ask itself a lot of questions. For example:
- What work needs to be done?
- What are the pros and cons of doing the project?
- What problems could come up?
- Are there ways to fix the problems?
- How will the project be monitored?
All of these are essential as they refine the business case. Without it, there would be chaos. At the end of this step, there needs to be a clear and detailed project plan.
3) Direct the project
This step dictates how the project board will provide oversight for the project. In most situations, they have control over when a project/stage is initiated, closed, etc. Furthermore, they decide how much direction they will provide.
Here, the project manager decides how each stage will be controlled. They break down the task into smaller tasks and assign work to each member of their team. They update the board on the project’s progress and deal with any issues that arise along the way.
5) Product delivery
The manager makes sure the project is meeting deadlines and that the products are of high quality. At this point, the board can either give a green light and approve the work or ask for additional products. This marks the end of a stage.
6) Managing the stage boundaries
Project managers give the board a review of their performance at the end of each stage. The board then decides if they want to continue the project or abandon it.
7) Closing the project
After completing the project, the project manager fills out paperwork and reports. They hand over the product and recommend that the board officially close the project. This step aims to make sure the team meets its goals within the deadline.
The Prince2 manual has a list of 26 templates a team can use for documents. These are referred to as management products and are divided into records, baselines, and reports. Some of them include:
Benefits Management Approach — Defines when and how the Senior User measures a project’s benefits
Daily Log — Records informal issues
End Project Report — Reviews the project’s performance against the original initiation documentation
Lessons Log — Notes on lessons which may be useful for future projects
Risk Register – Records risks related to the project
However, these 26 products are only used for high-level management. Task managers have to decide their own frameworks. Some suggestions include:
- Product-based planning
- Gantt charts
- Change control
- Critical path analysis
- Quality review technique
- PERT charts
There are four certification levels for Prince2 project management. Each one has an online and in-person exam available to the public. But to take them, you are required to take a training course with an accredited organization. The four levels are:
- Prince2 2017 – Foundation
- Prince2 2017 – Practitioner
- Prince2 Agile – Foundation
- Prince2 Agile – Practitioner
The cost ranges from $550 to $1000; specific amounts depend on the course and level. To learn more about Prince2 certifications, click here.
Prince2 is one of the most powerful management tools available right now, but it won’t get results if you don’t use it correctly. It’s crucial you keep the seven principles in mind and follow all the steps. Good luck!