The PRINCE2 project management methodology was developed in 1989 for use on government projects. It has since developed into an internationally recognized best practice method and a standard qualification for project managers and project management teams. But is PRINCE2 relevant for smaller, non-governmental organizations?
The short answer is, yes. In this article, we will explore why this is the case, but looking first at the relevance of PRINCE2 for a range of organizations and projects, and then at the importance of PRINCE2 training for effective implementation.
A PRINCE2 PROJECT MANAGEMENT PRINCIPLE: “TAILOR TO SUIT”
PRINCE2 provides a stable and tested framework for carrying out projects within any environment. The principles, processes, and themes around which the PRINCE2 methodology is structured are building blocks for the construction of a project, rather than constraints and definitions of how the project should look. Indeed, “tailoring to suit the project environment” is one of the PRINCE2 principles.
PROJECT MANAGEMENT WITH PRINCE2: THE “BUILDING BLOCKS”
Every PRINCE2 project should meet several basic criteria:
- Product focus
- Business justification
- Appropriate forethought, planning, and control
These criteria help to ensure that a project does not deviate from its intended purpose, expose the organization to unjustifiable business risks, or proceed without suitable regulation. The PRINCE2 principles, themes, processes, management products, and techniques all contribute in some way to supporting these criteria.
The PRINCE2 focus on products is reflected primarily in the product-based planning technique and the planning theme, where it is emphasized that effective plans, detailing the means and targets relevant to delivering products, are crucial for avoiding waste of resources and miscommunication or conflict over product acceptance. Regardless of the scale of the project, or the types of products to be created, making products the centre of planning activities enables project teams to maintain a clear and focused awareness of what they are supposed to be doing, and why.
If there is no justifiable reason for a project, either when it starts or at any point in its lifespan, then the project is exposing the organization to unnecessary risks, and wasting effort and resources. Accordingly, the PRINCE2 methodology includes “continued business justification” as one of its principles, and “Business Case” as its first theme, as well as one of its management documents. Ensuring that a project is initially and iteratively confirmed as having business justification is also integrated into the PRINCE2 framework of project processes.
APPROPRIATE FORETHOUGHT, PLANNING, AND CONTROL
How can an organization be sure that a project has been adequately assessed and planned, or that suitable levels of control are being implemented? The PRINCE2 methodology provides detailed process models for pre-evaluating and planning a project, as well as for controlling product delivery during and between stages. The PRINCE2 management hierarchy also ensures that project activities and issues are dealt with at the appropriate level of management, with effective, but not superfluous controls.
PRINCE2 TRAINING COURSES
PRINCE2 training for project teams in small organizations maximizes the benefits of using the PRINCE2 methodology, as it ensures that all participants understand the basic terms, assumptions, and expectations involved.
The PRINCE2 Foundation training course is aimed at individuals working within project teams, and focuses on knowledge of the PRINCE2 methodology. The PRINCE2 Practitioner training course builds on this knowledge, to enhance understanding of how the PRINCE2 method is applied to project scenarios. This PRINCE2 course is intended for actual or aspiring project managers. PRINCE2 Professional is the newest PRINCE2 qualification, and tests the individual’s ability to apply the methodology, through a combination of essays, discussions, and group tasks. The PRINCE2 Professional certificate is aimed at experienced project managers who are seeking advanced qualification and an in-depth understanding of project management.
Regardless of its level, a PRINCE2 training course should include case studies that enable the students to perceive how the principles, themes, and processes, etc. relate to real-life project situations. The PRINCE2 trainer should also be able to explain how these various elements integrate into a holistic and practicable model for effective project management.