This post contains four short videos which I have created to help you understand PRINCE2. It is aimed at people who want a very quick overview about PRINCE2
Video 1 - Introduction to PRINCE2
In this first video, I will explain what the name PRINCE2 stands for, what is a project, the advantages of using PRINCE2 and the structure of PRINCE2 – all in less than 3 minutes!
Welcome to the first of the four videos in the series “what is PRINCE2?”. This series is designed to give you a clear understanding of what PRINCE2 is all about. PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It’s a project management framework that enables an organisation to plan, management and control a project.
A project is a means by which an organisation introduces change. Organisations that don’t change are likely to stagnate or die. Projects deliver products, for example, a new computer system, which the organisation will then use to achieve changes or outcomes, for example more efficient working practices. These outcomes in turn can be measured in the form of benefits. The total benefits that can be realised from a project must be more than the cost of the project and the cost of operating the project’s products; otherwise the project will not deliver a return on investment.
PRINCE2 is a generic project management framework, which means it’s designed to be suitable for any project in any industry. It’s based upon the most up-to-date best practices in project management. This makes it a very popular choice amongst organisations around the world. PRINCE2 guides you through the whole project life cycle, and can be adapted to meet the particular needs of your project environment.
PRINCE2 is composed of 4 integrated elements. They are Principles, Themes, Processes and Tailoring to the project environment. Everything in PRINCE2 is based upon these principles; they are the foundations of the framework. The Themes concern aspects of project management that must be continuously addressed throughout the project. The Processes describe who is responsible for performing the themes at different points of the project. Finally, every project is different; so the themes and processes must be tailored to suit the needs of the environment.
In the following videos, we will look at each of these integrated elements in turn, starting with the PRINCE2 Principles.
Video 2 - the 7 PRINCE2 Principles
In this second video, I will explain the seven principles of PRINCE2. If you can show that you are applying these principles on your project, it is the true test of whether you are managing your project according to PRINCE2.
Welcome to the second of the four videos in the series “what is PRINCE2?” This series is designed to give you a clear understanding of what PRINCE2 is all about. In the previous video, PRINCE2 is introduced as the leading project management framework. In this video, we will look at the 7 principles of PRINCE2.
The PRINCE2 principles are universal, in that they can be applied irrespective of language or culture. They are self-validating, in that they have been proven over many years to be the most effective way of managing projects. They are also empowering, because they give their practitioners the ability to influence the outcome of the project. If you can show that you are applying the 7 principles to your project, you are managing a PRINCE2 project.
The first principle is that project must have continued business justification. This means that the business which is sponsoring and paying for the project must understand the benefits that will be achieved in return for its investment, compared with the cost and risk of the project. Business justification must be checked on a regular basis throughout the project. If that justification ceases to exist, the project should be closed prematurely.
The second principle is that we should always learn from experience. PRINCE2 encourages the project management team to look at what was done well or badly on previous projects and ask “what can we do better on the current project in order to avoid repeating past mistakes?”
The third principle is that people involved in the project must have defined roles and responsibilities. Having the right stakeholders involved in the decision is crucial if the project is to succeed. PRINCE2 defines three primary groups of stakeholders that form the project board, the highest level of management within a project. Firstly, the business stakeholders, they represent the organisation paying for the project and expect something back in return for the investment; secondly, the user stakeholders, they are the people who will use the project’s products to realise benefits for the organisation; thirdly, the suppliers, they are the people who will use their specialist skills to design, build and deliver the project’s specialist products. Having the right people on the project management team, and each member of the team being clear about his or her responsibilities is crucial for project success.
The project board make the big decisions about the project and delegate the authority for the day-to-day management to the project manager. In turn, the project manager delegates the authority for some work to one or more team managers.
The forth principle is that project should be managed by stages. The project is broken up into management stages which provide control points for the project board to review progress and decide whether business justification still exists. The project board delegate authority for managing each stage to the project manager who then manages day by day using a detailed stage plan. The project board monitor the progress by reviewing a higher level project plan, which is updated at the end of a stage.
The fifth principle is that project should be managed by exception. When the project board decide to proceed to the next stage, they delegate authority to the project manager by setting tolerances for cost, time, quality, scope, risk and benefits. For example, suppose it’s estimated that $100,000 will be required to complete a particular stage. The project board may set a cost tolerance of, say, +$10,000 and -$5,000. This means that providing the project manager is confident that the stage can be completed between $95,000 and $110,000, the project manager does not need to refer to the project board. On the other hand, if the project manager forecasts that the stage can not be completed within these tolerances, an exception has occurred. The matter must be escalated to the project board for their decision. Manage by exception therefore allows for a very efficient use of senior management time.
The sixth principle is that a project must always focus on the products it should deliver, including the level of quality expected from them. The sum total of the products to be delivered is called the scope of the project. The scope must be agreed between the major stakeholders as early as possible. Their agreement forms the basis of planning and status reporting throughout the project. Any subsequent changes to either the scope or products must be carefully considered in terms of the impact on the project objectives before any changes are implemented.
The seventh principle is that PRINCE2 must be tailored to suit the project environment. No two projects are the same; the greater the risk, complexity, size or importance of a project, the greater the degree of monitoring, reporting and control that will be required.
In the next video of the series, we will look at the PRINCE2 themes.
Video 3 - the 7 PRINCE2 Themes
In this third video, I will explain the seven themes of PRINCE2. A theme is an aspect of project management that must be addressed continuously throughout the project. These themes must be embedded throughout all of the management activities that are performed on a project.
Welcome to the third of the four videos in the series “what is PRINCE2?” This series is designed to give you a clear understanding of what PRINCE2 is all about. In the previous video, we examined the 7 principles of PRINCE2. Now let’s look at the 7 themes of PRINCE2.
All projects start with an idea that potentially has value for the organisation. The Business Case theme addresses how that idea can be developed into a viable investment proposition and how the focus on these objectives will be maintained throughout the project. This means understanding the benefits to be realised from the project over time versus the project operational cost and risks over the same timeframe.
The Organisation theme focuses on who will be responsible for making the decisions, committing resources, and monitoring and reporting throughout the project. This theme defines a number of project management team roles and describes responsibilities for each of the roles. The project board takes the key decisions on the project whilst delegating day to day management of a stage to the project manager. Team managers are responsible for delivering products agreed with project manager. Project support is there to assist project and team managers in their work. The project assurance role assures the board that the project is being conducted properly. The change authority takes decisions about whether to implement changes on the project.
The Quality theme focuses on which products are to be delivered by the project and the level of quality expected for each product. It also focuses on the methods that will be employed to measure whether each product conforms to its requirements, or in PRINCE2 language, is fit for its purpose.
The Plans theme focuses on the steps required to produce plans. The plans address how the products are to be delivered, how much it will cost and how much time is required to deliver them. Agreed plans form the basis of monitoring and control throughout the project. This theme describes different levels of plan, each level requiring a different amount of detail. The project board requires a higher level of plan covering the whole project; the project manager require medium level of plans covering each stage; team managers require lower level plans just to cover the work to be done by their team.
The Risk theme focuses on how the project management team identifies, assesses, plans, implements and reports on risks throughout the project. A risk in PRINCE2 is all about uncertainty; it’s an event that may occur in the future, and if it occurs will affect the achievement of project objectives.
The Change theme focuses on how the project management team assesses and makes decisions about general concerns or problems, or request to change any of the project products. Changes must be always assessed for their impact before a decision to implement them can be taken.
The Progress theme focuses on the reporting activities that are necessary for each level of the project management team to keep the higher level of management informed about progress, thus helping to ensure that decisions are taken in a timely and informed manner. Progress is reported against the agreed baselines. For example, an approved plan is a baseline. Monitoring progress allows the project board to decide whether to continue with the project or to close it prematurely.
In the next video in the series, we will look at the PRINCE2 processes.
Video 4 - the 7 PRINCE2 Processes
In this final video, I will explain the seven processes of PRINCE2. A process contains a number of activities that are performed at different points throughout the project. The processes describe what needs to be done and who is responsible for doing these activities. Processes are where the themes which we discussed in the previous video are performed.
Welcome to the last of the four videos in the series “what is PRINCE2?” This series is designed to give you a clear understanding of what PRINCE2 is all about. In the previous videos, we examined the principles and themes of PRINCE2. Now let’s consider the processes of PRINCE2. Each of the processes includes a number of activities that must be completed during the project.
Starting Up a Project is the first process performed in PRINCE2. Its purpose is to answer the question “do we have a viable and worthwhile project?” Every project starts with an idea, but that idea may not be a good one. During this process, sufficient information is made available to the project board for them to filter out the good project ideas from the bad. Only well conceived projects will deliver value for money for the organisation. This process occurs before a project has been initiated, and therefore is regarded as a pre-project process.
Directing a Project is performed by the project board, the key decision makers on the project. This process occurs throughout the project and requires the board to decide whether the project has continued business justification. If it does, they will commit the resources necessary for the next stage. During this process, the board also monitors the progress via reports from the project manager and makes decision about changes, exceptions and risks.
Initiating a Project is performed by the project manager. During this process, a firm foundation for this project is established so that the organisation understands the work to be done before committing to a significant spend. It is when the project plan and detailed business case are written, as well as when the strategy for managing risks, changes, quality and communication are developed. At the end of this process, the board has all the information required to decide whether to proceed with the project.
The Controlling a Stage process describes the activities that the project manager must perform in order to allocate work to teams, monitor progress, manage issues and risks, report progress to the board, and ensure that the stage remains within its tolerances. This process is performed throughout each stage following the initiation stage.
Managing Product Delivery is performed by a team manager. During this process, the work allocated by the project manager is carried out. It is when all the specialist products are designed, built and checked to ensure that they conform to their requirements.
Managing a Stage Boundary is performed by the project manager at the end of each stage, except the final stage. During this process, the project manager prepares information required by the project board to help them decide whether to continue with the project or not. It is also when the project manager prepares a detailed stage plan for the next stage.
Closing a Project is performed by the project manager at the end of the final stage of a project. During this process, acceptance of the project’s products is obtained from users and operational teams. The products are then handed over to the users. It is also when the project manager will report on the achievements of the project and any follow on actions that will be required after the project is closed. Following this process, the project board authorises the closure of the project, after which time no more work is done on the project. All members of the project management team are then relieved of their project responsibilities.
PRINCE2 is designed to ensure that the right information is made available at the right time, so that the right people can make the right decisions. By implementing the framework on your project, you can greatly increase the chances of delivering a project on time, within budget, and to the level of quality expected. I hope that you have enjoyed this series.