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of the Cabinet Office under delegated authority from the Controller of HMSO.
It stands for:
PRojects IN Controlled Environments.
It evolved for PROMPTII created by Simpact Systems Ltd in 1975 and was first established by CCTA (Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency) in 1989. PROMPTII was adopted by CCTA in 1979 as government standard in information system projects. Prince was then adopted in 1989.
CCTA is now the Office of Government Commerce.
PRINCE2® was introduced in 1996.
This now covered all projects and not just information systems.
It has become a widely used standard for the project management of any project.
Why use a project management method?
Most people have common sense and a degree of organisational skills.
Bearing this in mind you might think it was possible to prepare a list of tasks and everything will be fine.
Unfortunately, this might work for a personal project and even then it would have to be rather small and over a short time period.
For any reasonable size of project requiring multiple skills and multiple resources you will need a method.
In the main, many of the project management skills are generic and would apply to any project.
Many aspects of project management are common and merely given different titles.
PRINCE2 brings many aspects of project management together under one umbrella.
Reasons for project failure
There are many other reasons for project failure making sure you use a sound method can help alleviate or eliminate these issues:
- All projects need a reason for existence and that means you must justify a Business Case.
- The quality aspect of the project is often ignored from the beginning and during the development stages.
- Projects are often lax in defining what is ‘success’. This generally shows it self in poor definition of success also known as the required ‘outcomes’. What is the project expected to achieve?
- Poor communication is a major cause for failure. This can be seen on many fronts. There may be a complete misunderstanding as to the requirements of the customer. This could be the Client (may also be the Project Sponsor) or even the direct user of the project output. Internal problems may exist with other stakeholders, project committees, project teams. Communication must be good and unambiguous.
- Weak definition of personal and project roles undermines good leadership and creates uncertainty in the direction of the project and inferior decision making.
- Either overestimation or underestimation of project costs can cause serious problems.
- If you ‘fail to plan, you plan to fail’. This adage has always been true. Poor planning and techniques lead to poor scheduling with poor use of available resources.
- Poor control in general. Usually seen with a lack of milestones and other points in the project where progress and problems can be discussed. A lack of measurable criteria for success can also be an issue.
- If quality control is poor then the project output may fail requiring a loss of time, money and reputation.
Without a project management method involved parties will have different ideas how it will progress leading to confusion and reduced chance of success.
There is no such thing as the perfect project management system.
What ever system you use you will need to tailor it to meet the need of a particular project.
Companies are now aware of the benefits of a structured approach to project management.
- A good system or method is repeatable and can be taught to others
- PRINCE2 has been produced on the back of considerable experience
- A good system makes sure everyone knows where they are and what they can expect
- Project management methodology will provide early warning of problems
- Any system must be flexible to take up unexpected events.
- Prinec2 is a proactive methodology and not reactive as should be any project management system
Many projects will stand alone. However, it is good to have a system that will be useful if your project interacts with other projects or larger programmes.
PRINCE2 will do this.
In addition PRINCE2 will provide:
- The control of management of change for financial aspects such as investment and return on investment
- All parties are actively encouraged to contribute so that all requirements are met, for example, business, environmental, functional, service and managerial.
- As for any good project management practice the development aspects are separate from the management side. This means that no matter what the project output, the project management method can cope.
Risk and resources are managed more effectively. Also it provides:
- A controlled organised start, middle and end to a project
- Regular progress reviews against the plan and the Business Case
- Flexible decision points
- Automatic management control of any deviations from the plan
- The involvement of management and stakeholders at the right time during the project
- Good communication channels between the project management team and the rest of the organisation
- Agreement on the required quality at the outset and continuous monitoring against those requirements
PRINCE2 methodology allows:
- Generation of a ‘terms of reference’ necessary for the start of a project
- Structured process for delegation, authority and communication
- Create stages in the planning for easier control
- Approval to proceed is based upon the release of resources
- Generation of management reports
- Good control of the level and frequency of meetings as and when appropriate
There will be facility for anyone using the product or project outcomes to get involved in decision making, or if necessary in the day-to-day running, quality checks and other aspects.
PRINCE2, as do other project management methods promotes management by exception. Basically, a plan and schedule are developed and agreed and the Project Manager is allowed to get on with it, with no interference unless a problem is raised.
Note the idea of waiting for problems before intervening is not the same as being ‘reactive’ as opposed to ‘proactive’.
Management of the project will still require being proactive and anticipating problems so that they do not materialise, that is, good planning.
Benefits can be seen in many forms, these might also include:
- Financial gains in terms of increased profit or reduces costs
- An improvement in strategic planning that will be beneficial for a company in the long term
- Improvement in the compliance with legal requirements and systems. Either internal or governmental.
Thorough planning and control will highlight other areas where benefits may be gained, either in the current project or perhaps in future projects based upon experience.