Book Review: The Concise PRINCE2®
(ISBN: 9781849283472; Author: Colin Bentley; Publisher: IT Governance Publishing; Pages: 100; Published date: 22 May 2012)
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The Concise PRINCE2® is a welcome refresher to remind students and practitioners of the key points of the PRINCE2 framework. The author, Colin Bentley, now retired was a project manager for many years, and was the author of all revisions to the PRINCE2 manual until 2009.
This new book is a pocketbook, which as the name suggests, easily fits into even the smallest of pockets. Rather than describing the details of the PRINCE2 framework, which is best left to the PRINCE2 manual itself, this book focuses on the essentials of the framework. It is ideal for students who might be studying for a PRINCE2 Foundation exam, or are preparing to manage their first PRINCE2 project. It can be used as a checklist to check that you are on the right way to a successful project and can easily and quickly be used to lookup key elements of the method.
The booklet is divided into 6 chapters: the introduction covers the principles of PRINCE2, chapter 1 covers the processes, chapter 2 covers the themes, chapter 3 covers techniques, chapter 4 covers tailoring of PRINCE2 and finally there is a resources chapter covering the other products offered by the publishers IT Governance Publishing.
Let’s look at each of these in turn, starting with the introduction. In this chapter, some of the basics are covered such as what makes projects different from business as usual, the benefits of PRINCE2, the variables such as time/cost which need to be managed, and ends with a listing the principles.
Chapter 2 which is the largest chapter covers each of the 7 processes of PRINCE2 and includes the purpose of each process, the inputs and outputs of each activity and who is responsible. This is summarized in tables so it is easy to look up what the expected inputs or outputs are of each activity and who is responsible for doing it.
Chapter 3 covers each of the 7 themes of PRINCE2 and describes the purpose of each, provides a summary of the most important elements and describes who is responsible and when it occurs during the processes.
Chapter 4 describes the 2 techniques of PRINCE2: product-based planning and quality review techniques. The various steps involved are summarized.
Chapter 5 covers the tailoring of the 7 themes to meet the needs of different types and scale of project.
The final chapter refers the reader to other product offerings by the publishers which might aid further understanding. This includes websites, toolkits, pocket guides, training and consulting services.
I have one slight criticism though of Colin’s book which is that he doesn’t always use the same PRINCE2 terminology as used in the official PRINCE2 manual. This might be an oversight or a deliberate attempt to simplify the reader’s understanding of the method. For example, he refers to “change management” as one of the roles in the project management team, yet this is referred to as the “Change Authority” in the PRINCE2 manual. It’s a pity about these slight differences in terminology and they might lead to confusion when someone refers to both this pocket book and the official PRINCE2 manual.
Overall though, I would recommend this book to anyone with an interest in PRINCE2 who needs something quick and easy to refer to, or easy to carry and read whilst travelling. It is not intended as a detailed reference book, and should be used with this in mind.