PRINCE 2 - a personal view
At a high level PRINCE 2 is based on:
- Robust definition of the aims of the project
- Tightly defined procedures and roles
- The pre-eminency of customer acceptance
- Robust risk controls
- Formal resource planning
- Tight change control- where things go wrong or the external environment of the project changes
- The use of project assurance to allow the Project Board to check progress outside the formal channels
- The use of a quality plan to allow components to be checked for compliance
The complexity of the PRINCE approach can be increased or decreased according to how complex the project is. This is the concept of “scalability”.
To go into these areas in a little more detail:
The Project Owner (the key senior influence on the project e.g. the company board) gives a MANDATE to the Project Executive. This is typically one or two sides of A4 which sets down at a high level of the aims of the project.
The Project Executive is the key senior individual responsible for delivering the project. He/she runs the Project Board (which is not a democracy).
The Board commissions a PROJECT BRIEF from the Project Manager. This expands the project mandate and might include such sections as:
- Business Case including the strategic context
- Stakeholder identification
- Risk register
- High level Gantt chart
- Customer acceptance criteria
This fundamentally validates the project and is duly approved by the Board.
Board membership in PRINCE 2 terms includes:
Project Executive - senior individual responsible for delivering the project
Project Manager - individual responsible for delivering the current stage of the project only
Senior User - key senior representative of the people who will use e.g the building which the project will deliver. Key role is to keep the business benefits to the user at the front of the minds of the Board members
Senior Supplier - a key senior representative of the contractor (or if pre-procurement, the trade as the supplier will not have been chosen). Key role is to act as a reality check on the aspirations of the users to make sure that the project is deliverable and technically feasible.
Project Assurance - a senior individual who can pro-actively check progress of the project to a brief from the Project Board.
As the Project develops the Board will approve the project approach document which amplifies the project brief and furthermore sets down which aspects of the project are to be “bought in” and which aspects are to be made “in house”.
Following the approval of the Project Approach the Board then commission the Project Initiation Document. This incorporates elements of all of the above documents, but in particular includes
- Unambiguous roles and responsibilities
- A Gantt chart
- A risk register
- A communications plan
The project initiation document (PID) is a very good summary of the “why” and “how” for the project.
Following approval of the PID the project manager can than author a stage plan which sets down the work packages for the first stage and the resources necessary to deliver them.
Once this approved the Project Manager has significant headroom to get on and deliver this stage of the project; subject only to routine and exception reporting.
There are many positive aspects from the PRINCE 2 methodology including:
- Key business benefits identified pre-commencement
- Explicit authorisation of risk and resource and levels
- Formal planning of outputs through stage planning and Gantt charts
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