Anyone familiar with the PRINCE2 project management methodology will know that it uses 7 Themes, 7 Processes and 7 Principles to ensure the project remains truly PRINCE2 and that best practice is used throughout. Uderstanding the 7 Principles of PRINCE2 is vital as their implementation could mean the difference between aPRINCE2 Project that reaches a successful conclusion and one that falls short before reaching it’s scheduled conclusion. With that goal in mind, they are outlined and explained here.
1. Continued Business Justification
Since a PRINCE2 project is divided into manageable stages, the Project Manager has a chance at the end of each project stage to review the project and the Business Case to ensure that it is still viable. It may happen that project change or risk causes the project to veer from it’s justification when the project was first initiated initiated.
If this happens, corrective action needs to be taken in order to steer the project back towards it’s intended goal. If the Project Board deems the project to have strayed too far from it’s boundaries, it will no longer be viable and the project may be brought to a premature close.
2. Defined roles and responsibilities
Each individual involved in a PRINCE2 project need to know exactly what their role is and what they will be responsible for during it’s life cycle. It is near impossible to work efficiently in an environment of uncertainty and disarray and therefore, each person’s duties need to be outlined in a clear and detailed manner.
This will ensure that there is no confusion when the project starts and each member of the project team can immediately start with their duties. This is of the utmost importance as time is a major factor in any project and procrastination and uncertainty cannot be allowed to interfere.
3. Tailor to Suit the Project Environment
Each PRINCE2 project has a measurable size, scope, risks, environment, complexity and importance. PRINCE2 makes it possible to tailor the project while taking these factors into account. No matter how big or how small the project may be, it needs to be tailored to it’s own specific needs with all the above factors accounted for.
Tailoring a PRINCE2 project ensures that Project Managers don’t follow a template-driven style of project management, but rather cater to the needs of each specific project. This, once again, ensures that he project remains fully PRINCE2 and is treated on it’s own merit.
4. Manage by stages
As previously mentioned, each PRINCE2 project is divided into stages, making it easier to manage and to keep track of the direction that the project is heading towards. The Project Plan is revised at the end of each stage and a Stage Plan is created for the start of the next stage. This gives the Project Manager and Project Board a chance to verify that the project is still viable and the risks involved are contained within the prearranged and agreed upon limits.
5. Manage by exception
Managing by exception is basically the opposite of micro-management. Once the tolerances as far as time, cost, quality risk and scope are established, the different levels of management will each assume a determined level of authority and accountability over each of the tolerances. The PRINCE2 Project Manager will manage the day-to-day running of the project and if the above tolerances are forecast to be exceeded, the issue should be escalated to the next level of management for a decision to be made as far as how to proceed in order to remedy the situation.
The Project Manager will also follow this Principle. They cannot supervise every member of the project team, who have been given their own roles and responsibilities. If an issue is discovered, it will be reported to the Project Manager and they will ensure that it is either dealt with or reported to the applicable superior or manager.
6. Focus on products
When implementing the PRINCE2 method, it is vital that the products produced are of the quality that was agreed upon during the very conception of the project. This is an output-oriented approach to creating the product and will ensure that the quality of the product not only meets the agreed upon standards, but that each subsequent product meets those same standard every time. This includes not only the product produced at the end of the project, but all products produced throughout the project’s lifecycle.
7. Learn from experience
As a PRINCE2 project progresses, lessons learned should be documented in the Lessons Log as they occur, including the outcome of each lesson. This will make for excellent reference when undertaking future PRINCE2 projects where similar situations may arise, not only for one, but all Project Managers within the organisation.
Similarly, lessons learned from previous PRINCE2 projects will have been documented and made available for scrutiny during the current project. This ensures that mistakes are not repeated and that an issue that arises may have a swift resolution. An issue that may now seem impossible to overcome may have occurred in a previous instance and a resolution may be readily available. The input from other Project Managers who have worked on similar projects may prove to be an invaluable resource during future PRINCE2 projects.
Final notes for PRINCE2 Project Managers
As with any PRINCE2 project, following these Principles drives the project towards a goal that not only the Project Manager, Project Sponsors and Investors have time and money invested in, but speaks volumes as far as the use of best practise is concerned within the organisation. A client that is fully satisfied by the product produced at the end of a project is far more likely to provide return business.
A PRINCE2 project that is not managed according to the Themes, Processes and Principles that are outlined in the methodology can easily spiral out of control, coming to an abrupt and unscheduled halt. Gaining a firm grasp of comprehension of these 7 PRINCE2 Principles will ensure that every subsequent project is treated and managed correctly and according to it’s own character.