The discussion on PRINCE2® methodology cannot be complete without knowing what a methodology is. Simply put, a methodology is the system of methods used in a given field. It refers to the set of principles, theories or practices that give direction and guidance.
The PRINCE2® methodology comprises four integrated elements. The elements are principles, themes, processes and project environment.
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PRINCE2 Methodology: PRINCE2 Principles
PRINCE2® principles refer to the guidelines and practices that help you manage projects using PRINCE2®. There are seven PRINCE2 principles. For a project to be considered a PRINCE2® project, you must apply all the principles
The PRINCE2® principles are:
. Continued Business justification
A project must have a justifiable reason for it to be on-going. If this is not the case, the project should be closed.
. Learn from experience
Project teams should document and act upon lessons learned from previous experience. Learning from experience takes place when starting a project, as the project progresses, and as the project closes.
. Defined roles and responsibilities
There should be clearly defined roles and those who will be responsible for tasks. In other words, the project team should have an organizational structure that will state each person’s role and responsibilities. The roles in PRINCE2® are in four levels. The levels are corporate management, project board, project manager and project team. For each role, responsibilities should be clearly defined.
. Manage by stages
Projects should be planned, monitored and controlled in stages. In other words, there is a need to manage projects on a stage-by-stage basis.
. Manage by exception
A PRINCE2® project has defined tolerances for each project objective. People should be given some level of authority when working in a PRINCE2®® project. However, issues beyond control should be escalated to a higher authority.
. Focus on Products
PRINCE2® projects should focus on products in terms of product definition, delivery, and quality requirements.
. Tailor to suit the project environment
PRINCE2 must be tailored to suit the project size, environment, complexity, environment and risk.
PRINCE2 Methodology: PRINCE2 Themes
The themes refer to the aspects of project management that must be aligned throughout the project. These themes are fundamental to having successful project delivery. There are seven PRINCE2 themes and they are explained as follows:
. Business case
Organizations undertake projects because they want to make measurable improvements in one or more aspects of their business. The purpose of the business case is to ascertain whether or not the project should continue. In other words, the business case answers the question ‘why?’
Every project needs effective direction, management, communication, and control. There is, therefore, need to set up a project management team structure and approach at the beginning of a project. For this reason, projects must have defined and agreed roles and responsibilities. The ‘Organization theme’ describes the roles and responsibilities of a project team. In addition, it answers the question ‘who?’
It is important that a product meets the expectation of stakeholders. In line with this, quality has to be defined in terms of requirements and measures to put in place. The ‘Quality theme’ focuses on quality methods for product specification, development, approval and overall management of the project. This theme answers the question ‘what?’
Without a plan, there can be no control! That said, plans help provide structure and foundation upon which other things are built. The Plans theme helps facilitate communication and control. A plan enables project teams to understand what the project is about in terms of products, risks, issues, people, resources, activities, etc. The Plans theme defines the ‘where and how?’, ‘how much?’, and ‘when?’.
There is some degree of uncertainty in every project. These uncertainties could be external or internal. For instance, there may be uncertainty about what a project should deliver within a timescale and at a particular budget. To address the risk-inherent nature of projects, the ‘Risk theme’ helps identify, assess and control uncertainties. Here, the ‘what if?’ questions are answered.
Progress is a measure of the achievement of the objectives of a stated plan. It is therefore critical that progress is monitored at every stage of a project. One purpose of the progress theme is to put in place mechanisms to monitor and compare actual achievements against those planned. Secondly, this theme provides a basis for knowing whether a project should continue or not. Lastly, the Progress theme helps control any unacceptable deviations from the project objectives. This theme answers the questions ‘where are we now?’, ‘where are going?’, and ‘should we carry on?’
Change as they say is inevitable. This is often the case for projects. Although plans can be made when starting a project, it is almost impossible to deliver exactly what was planned at first. This means that projects need an approach that will help identify, assess and control any changes to reference points.
PRINCE2 Methodology: PRINCE2 Processes
The processes describe the steps in a project lifecycle. A process is a structured set of activities designed to meet a specific goal. Furthermore, a process takes one or more inputs and turns them into specific outputs. For each process, there is a checklist for activities, responsibilities, and guidance on how to deliver projects successfully. Again, there are 7 PRINCE2 processes. The PRINCE2 processes are:
. Starting up a project
It is not a good idea to start something that you know nothing about. The purpose of starting up a project is to ensure that the pre-requisites for initiating a project are in place. In other words, the aim is to do the minimum necessary in order to know whether it is worthwhile to even initiate a project. With this process, poorly conceived projects are prevented from ever being initiated.
. Directing a project
The purpose of this process is to dictate how the project board will oversee the project. It enables the project board to be accountable for the project’s success by making key decisions and exercising overall control. In addition, the project board delegates the day-to-day management of the project to the project manager.
. Initiating a project
Initiating a project helps lay the foundation for successful project delivery. It is essential that all parties are clear on what the project is about. In other words, initiating a project process enables the organization to know the work that needs to be done. Also, it helps the project board to decide whether or not the project is aligned with stakeholders objectives.
. Controlling a stage
This describes the work of the project manager in the day-to-day management of the project. One purpose of this process is to assign work to be done, monitor such work, and deal with issues. In addition, a progress report to the project board and corrective actions are carried out.
. Managing product delivery
This process views the project from the team manager’s perspective. The role of the team manager is to coordinate an area of work that will deliver a project product. The purpose of this process is to control the link between the project manager and the team manager(s). In other words, it deals with how the project manager and team manager(s) accept, execute and deliver project work.
. Managing a stage boundary
Projects may not always go as planned. To move from one stage of a project to another, there is a need to review, update and make necessary adjustments. The managing a stage boundary process helps the project manager to provide the project board with sufficient information to be able to:
review the success of the current stage;
approve the next stage plan;
review the updated project plan and
confirm whether or not the project should continue.
. Closing a project
One of the characteristics of a PRINCE2® project is that it has a start date and an end date. The purpose of the closing a project process is to bring the project to a formal closure.
Tailor to suit the project
The objective of adopting PRINCE2® is to improve business performance. the value of PRINCE2® is that it is a universal project management method that can be used to take account of the project’s environment, size, complexity, risk, and it can be used for any project type, geography or culture.
Therefore, PRINCE2® should be tailored to suit whatever environment it is being applied.
Please, visit our ‘What is PRINCE2’ page to learn more.
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