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PRINCE2 - Product-based planning part 1



General

It is a technique that can be used as part of many processes, for example, the sub-process Defining and Analysing Products (PL2).

It provides a simple method for devising the project’s work in order to produce a product.
In this case, a ‘product’ can be many things, for example, a piece of equipment or a document, which are tangible items.
Alternatively, it may be intangible, such as, a culture change or organisational restructuring.

The four products

The technique will create 4 products:

  • A Product Description of the final product of the project
  • A Product Breakdown Structure
  • Product Description of each product
  • A Product Flow Diagram

Benefits

It ensures that all breakdowns and activities that lead to the final product add value

Product Breakdown Structure

This breaks down the final product into all of its sub-products in a hierarchical order.
It will help to assess all of the work required to complete the final product.
Doing this will improve the efficiency of estimation of effort, resource and timescale needed.
It will apply quality more specifically and will reduce the possibility of omitting products.

Product Descriptions

They help the project by defining exactly what is required for each product and as such will help to identify those activities required to produce each product. The Product Description reflects the quality standard required for the product. It will be used by testers at a later stage to help verify the necessary quality has been achieved.

How many Product Descriptions will you need?
It will depend on just what level you wish to go down to.
There must be at least one for the final product.
In addition, you should choose relevant products from the Product Breakdown Structure.

Product Descriptions help everyone understand the nature and purpose of the product with no ambiguity.
In addition, they will identify the necessary quality criteria and the testing methodology.

Product Flow diagram

It will naturally develop from the Product Breakdown Structure and represents the ‘flow’ of activities, together with any dependencies between them.
This will lead to network planning and Gantt charts that represent the project schedule.

Producing a Product Description of the final product

The first task in product-based planning is to sit down with the Customer and write a Product Description of the final product.
There is a list of requirements for a Product Description in the file ‘Product description.doc’ which is part of the product package.

Producing a Product Breakdown Structure

The second task is to product the Product Breakdown Structure.

Before you can do this you must:

  • Identify all products to be created or obtained by the planned work
  • Identify additional products required for the final product

Non - PRINCE2 information

Product Description

As far as the Product Descriptions are concerned the one for the final product will be completed as a priority.
All other Product Descriptions will ‘begin’ with the amount of information obtainable at the time and will be completed as and when the other information becomes available. This is bound to be the case as the project plan evolves.
Any reference under Product Descriptions to ‘writing’ will mean begin and complete as soon as possible.

PRINCE2® recommends processes for product-based planning and recognises that its not the process but the output that matters.

Product Breakdown Structure

Often the Product Breakdown Structure is called the ‘Work Breakdown Structure’ [see Work breakdown structure – part 1] which represents a series of tasks identified in a schedule leading to the completion of the project.

Product Flow diagram

PRINCE2 refers to the Product Flow diagram which is often referred to as a project schedule when presented in Gantt chart form.
It forms the basis of project control as it contains not only the tasks needed for the project but also the timings.
It may also include resource information.

Other

Prince does not specifically cover network planning, Gantt chart, dependencies and other peripheral aspects such as PERT, 'float’ and 'slack'.

These are covered in detail elsewhere.

This product contains EVERYTHING in the publications:

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2005 edition
Managing successful Projects with PRINCE2 – 2009 edition
Directing Projects with PRINCE2.
plus:
The Complete Project Management package.

And much more besides - at a fantastic price.