Sunday, May 13, 2007

PRINCE2 in Detail

PRINCE2 methodology is huge (Manual itself is over 400pgs A4 size book), but I tried to summerise it to 3 pages. I will publish it here for the benefit of the readers but hope to publish elsewhere for the benefit of a larger audience.

Given below is the central Prince Process diagram which shows the relationship between each process.

In today's managerial world, projects are considered as one of the best ways to carry out work effectively. In the past civil engineering work was executed as projects and then later on IT work took on the same approach. Today, attempts are made at converting every possible piece of work into a project in almost all industries spanning across both the private and public sectors.

To identify a piece of work as a project, it should have a clear start and an end and needs to be completed within a set time frame. General operational work such as clerical work and ongoing work do not make good projects.

In this light, there should be some sound and effective ways of managing these enormous numbers of projects. One of the most famous Project Management Methodologies in this regard is the PRINCE2 methodology.

PRINCE (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a structured method for effective project management. It is the de facto standard used in the UK and is widely recognised and used internationally. PRINCE2 is in the public domain offering best-practice guidance on project management. It is owned by and is a registered trademark of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), UK. The First version of PRINCE came in 1989, but was fairly Information Technology Projects specific. The second version, which is now called PRINCE2 came in 1996, and can be used in any project discipline such as IT, civil Engineering, Scientific, defense etc.

PRINCE2 has eight main processes which are explained below.

Starting Up a Project (SU) – Upon the receipt of the Project Mandate, SU process starts. Initial work such as appointment of a Project manager, appointment of an Executive to Chair the Project Board, Project Brief preparation and project approach are defined.

Planning (PL) – This runs through-out the life cycle of the project. Includes sub processes such as Designing a Plan, Estimating, Scheduling and Analysing Risks.

Initiating a Project (IP) – After the SU process, IP process is triggered. This plans Quality for the project whilst setting up the overall project plan and other controls. The important document that comes at the end of this stage is the Project Initiation Document, which will be used as a basis for the project throughout. Initial Business case, Initial Project Plan and initial risk log are parts of this document.

Directing a Project (DP) – This is the process that handles overall direction of the project whilst making key decisions.

Controlling a Stage (CS) – This is the stage where an ongoing stage is controlled. Reviewing stage status, Reviewing project issues and Taking Corrective Action are some of the sub processes of this.

Managing Product Delivery (MP) – This is the process which manages the delivery of actual products of the project. If it is an IT project, this might be a piece of software, in a building project, this can be the building of a bathroom for a new house.

Managing Stage Boundaries (SB) – In this process, next stage is planned based on experiences of the preceding stage whilst updating the project plan and risk log.

Closing a Project (CP) – This is the stage where project is brought to a controlled end.

PRINCE2 also has the following components.

Business Case – The business justification for the project. This is the key feature of PRINCE2. The entire project is driven by the Business Case. This provides the reasons for carrying out the project. Throughout the project life the Business Case is checked to confirm that the project is meeting the set objectives.

Organisation – The way in which the personnel involved in the project are structured. A PRINCE2 project environment has a project board which oversees the project whilst interfacing to external parties on project issues. The project manager takes care of the day-to-day project activities. Specific work packages will be carried out by different teams, and each team will be lead by a team manager who will report to the project manager.

Plans – Who, what and When to do certain project management activities.

Controls – The way in which the project manager and the project board should exercise control over the project. Project Board is another key concept of PRINCE2 for project governance. It includes three main parties Business, User and Supplier. The executive who represents the Business is the Chair of the board and the Project Board is not a democracy as decisions are not made by the majority but by the executive. This is to facilitate the best interest of the business and not of the users or the suppliers.

Management of Risk – Risk Management aspect of the project and is considered as vital to the success of the project.

Quality in a Project Environment – Deliverables within a PRINCE2 environment are called Products. This component takes care of accepted standard maintenance for each product.

Configuration Management – The way in which the project products are stored and maintained for easier identification. (Version Control)

Change Control – Change is inevitable in any organization. How do we manage it? That question is answered in this component.

PRINCE2 can be applied to any project discipline and can be used with many project management techniques. It is important to note that generally PRINCE2 is non-prescriptive meaning it says ‘why’, ‘what’ and ‘when’ to do things but does not say ‘how’ to do things. Product Based Planning, Change Control and Quality Reviews are three areas where PRINCE2 provides detailed techniques even though it’s generally non-prescriptive.

PRINCE2 is a scalable methodology. Each process comes with guidance on how it could be tailored to suit different situations. An important thing to keep in mind when working with any process is that the process should not be made a burden to the project team. If the project achieves its objectives but still has to do too much of documentation or red tape work due to the process guidance, that’s where people start to think about the processes as monsters. PRICE2 has been very careful about this reality and has provided full scalability options. Experienced PRINCE2 experts would decide how the process is going to be applied into a given real life project scenario.

Benefits of using PRINCE2 are successful delivery of projects, possibility of application to any project discipline, clearly defined roles, clearly defined responsibilities, process consistency, flexibility, scalability, cost savings through project success and effective communication channels.


Anonymous said...

this is a very good summarry of prince2 , can you pls lets know more using praactical scenaerio

Anonymous said...

wht i mean by practical , give an example of a simple project , then usiing prince2 starting from su1 to closiing up a project. i think it will really help people to really know wht this method is not margical, are ther any inbuilt software? to get the project going ,relevant of M.S project 2000 in prince2. what are the prospect ,as a fresh student,just finished the training how do u wana start with ,ways,how to pass the exam ........................