The project manager may need to tailor how the project is directed and managed in order to recognize internal and external factors that affects the way in which the project is delivered.
Any deviations from the organizations standard project management approach must be documented and agreed.
There are two management products used as an input to this activity triggered by the authority to initiate a project.
The main output here is the creation of part of the project controls, in this case driven by the tailoring requirements.
I’ll let you into an insider secret. To learn and master PRINCE2 and pass your exams you need a course that lasts two weeks. Not that you’ll find one. Why?
Too darned expensive and your boss can’t spare you away for that long. It’s no accident that those PRINCE2 high learning curve stressful classroom courses cram it all into less than a week.
Like a stampede of cows – if you miss a point in a rushed classroom, you will trip over that memory-fade over and over….
They must cover the entire contents of the PRINCE2 Manual in the first three days – which is why you work late into the night with yet more cramming and stress. Not to mention your boss and family throwing phone calls, emails and texting into the mix.
Want a high-energy and engaging way to hone and tune your PRINCE2 Exam pass-skills?
Why not take your Foundation and Practitioner Exams WITHOUT attending expensive and rushed classroom training, just use my PRINCE2 Primer System and book an Open Center Examination at your convenience.
Did you know my Primer System is Fully Licensed and endorsed by Axelos (the owners of PRINCE2 – and the folks who mark your exams) as an Official PRINCE2 Study System?
Unlike the typical classroom, you can rewind my PRINCE2 Primer videos and watch over as many times as you need, so you won’t miss a thing! And you’ll get me teaching you one-on-one in a friendly conversational tone for easy listening and learning.
In fact, I’ve spent the last 15 years teaching the PRINCE2 methodology, techniques, and principles to literally thousands of people like you, both as downloadable lessons and live training seminars across the world
Each of my 16 Full Colour Handbooks contain full colour pictures of each slide (and plenty of room to mark up and make notes as you watch my individual step-by-step video modules.
They also contain hundreds of lesson-specific Foundation and Practitioner questions, answers and rationale – to nail down the reason for the correct (and wrong) answers – you won’t miss a thing!
Heck! I guarantee you will pass your PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner Exam at first try!
I know what it is like. I’ve been in your shoes, that darned Official PRINCE2 Manual is as easy to read as it is to nail jelly to a mirror. To be fair, it is intended just to be a reference – not a training manual.
That’s where I come in.
See, when I used to run classroom courses, I was ordered only to use the “official” presentation slides, and by lunchtime on the first day, panic was setting in. My students were developing the “1000-yard stare”.
But I Had a Cure.
After lunch, I would spend at least an hour talking them through my PRINCE2 Road Map.
I drew this blow-by-blow on a huge whiteboard (or I would stick four or five flip-chart sheets together), and walk them through how the seven processes and key management products worked together to form the backbone of the PRINCE2 Method.
My students used it as their touchstone for the rest of the training, and all agreed it was the turning point for their grasp of PRINCE2 that lead them to passing their exam.
So, I’ve got great news for you in my
– You get me presenting the same Road Map to you a one-hour bonus video along with a large full-colour graphic for you to print out.
Step-By-Step. You won’t miss a thing.
It’s a lot easier than trying to nail PRINCE2 jelly to a mirror!
The sooner you start, the sooner you will become a PRINCE2 Practitioner, so go here:
Timing and critical mass is key here. Like any test exam, you need to “peak” at the right time. Failure and retakes suck the life out of any student.
Fails and retakes are more than double the effort and pain. Not to mention low self-esteem.
Exam failure and retakes are like herding cats – balancing the time needed to properly re-learn/improve, against the risk of forgetting small details from your original training after the passage of time.
How long has it been since you took an important exam? School or university/college?
Picture this. The examiner advises you in writing that you were not successful. And what if your work colleagues DID pass first time. How does that make you FEEL?
Telling your family is also an embarrassment. You put in time, effort, passion and inconvenience – yet you still failed.
Passing first time provides you with office bragging rights.
There is NO second chance – re-takes make you feel second-rate.
Don’t let “if only I had been better prepared” get in the way of First Time Success. You need to proportion your effort 40% to learn and apply the PRINCE2 Method, and 60% on exam familiarity and passing technique. My PRINCE2 Primer blends that exact ratio.
You need to get inside the head of the examiner. I have been a PRINCE2 examiner, marked thousands of papers and set questions for the past two decades. I know the pressure points that can cause failure, and I will show YOU how to side-step them.
The cost or preparing and taking the exams is just chump-change compared to the cost of failure and lost career opportunities.
Time for some facts.
The pace of change is quickening. Today’s organization needs to adapt or die.
Folks who can implement that change are gold-dust to any organization. Sure, operations management is needed, but they just manage what you’ve already got – project managers implement what you NEED.
It’s no accident that the project management industry is set to grow by $6.6 trillion in the next THREE years, and in that timeframe, will NEED 45 million jobs in project management.
Want to get on that train?
Have you noticed how many “managers” let it drop that they are running a “project” (often nothing more than an “assignment”. It gives them instant bragging rights.
Project Management provides the warp and woof of commerce and you will be paid handsomely – particularly if you are QUALIFIED. A recent study showed that a PRINCE2 Practitioner will earn 18% more than their peers.
The earning power of a project manager is into six figures – more than many lawyers and doctors.
But above that, a project manager earns RESPECT both from senior management and customers alike – priceless!
“When you are up to your rear in crocodiles, it’s hard to remember your objective was to drain the swamp”
Project management is never boring – but it is stressful and the responsibility for other people’s money and your team can be intense. They will look to the project manager to provide solutions and put out fires.
Critical thinking is key here, but of no use whatever if the sand keeps shifting beneath your feet.
PRINCE2 gives you back control, explains why you DON’T need to plan in detail at the start, and why the customer is NOT always right. Instead, PRINCE2 gives you a solid reference to manage against, stop “scope creep” dead in its tracks, prioritise and plan options, while building the project products right – in addition to building the right products.
PRINCE2 gives you a controlled System for Success – a project framework instead of project chaos and blame
Peace of mind and confidence in yourself and the project team to deliver …consistently.
Fear, doubt, pressure with trial and error methods are removed, and replaced instead with a process set of friendly checklists tools and templates.
What does PRINCE2 allow you to HAVE?
It’s no accident that project managers earn large salaries (well, good ones do…), they are the lynch pin of change and business success. If not done right, the project manager can end up being the whipping post. Senior Managers are adept at placing the blame on the project manager and the success on themselves.
Make no mistake, projects are just a means to an end – business benefits of whatever flavour are the real driver behind any change initiative.
PRINCE2 gives back control to the project manager and shared responsibility in success.
PRINCE2 won’t give you charisma – (something FAR more valuable than that) – it will give you a solid track record and reputation of delivering successful business outcomes.
You’ll be the Go-to Guy or Gal. The Great and The Good will beat a path to your door.
To the frustrated outsider, they will not be able to see how you do it because the PRINCE2 framework will be hiding in plain sight – yet you can get the job done time and again.
Now, you may already have a project management qualification, and that’s fine, but can you APPLY it? That’s where PRINCE2 comes in. You’ve got the Yin but you need the Yang
PRINCE2 gives you a consistent methodology for delivering project success. All projects are different, yet you seem to have the knack to take anything that management throws you – no matter what their project size, complexity, risk, specialism, or industry.
A project manager, like any professional, is there to manage change and their bag of tricks consists of being able to plan manage and control. Although they are all vital, it is the “manage and control” part where things go awry.
Unlike managing a department or a service (operational management), projects are temporary, once they have bought about the change, they are disbanded. Job Done. Or not.
So a new project has just been thrown at you.
You know all the “stuff” – how to knock up a plan, come up with estimates, manage risks, make sure the products you create are “quality”, manage change, take corrective action, report progress, and so on
So why do 80% of projects fail in some way – from “the customer is not happy” to an outright kamikaze foul-up?
The answer is that ALL project managers need a “project framework” for success. The same way that Gordon Ramsay knows that a successful restaurant needs a structure – food prep and service teams, organized kitchen, right menu, hygiene and atmosphere.
PRINCE2 provides that framework for projects. It sets up success from the get-go. Sure, you’ve got to understand it, how to apply it and tailor it to each specific project, but it provides each project manager with a “system for success”.
The PRINCE2 Principles set out set out the bedrock APPROACH, The PRINCE2 Processes tell you WHAT to do and WHEN, and the PRINCE2 Themes provide the project manager with “Best in Class” practices for aspects such as risk and quality – the HOW.
But there’s more. PRINCE2 shows you the most powerful planning technique on the planet as well as how to “bake-in” quality from the outset.
The Four Mad Dogs of time, cost, quality and scope trying pulling you in all directions – are tamed.
Risks bring uncertainty that may impact a project’s objectives, and this uncertainty may arise from events both inside and outside the organization.
An example here is the risk that an organisation can’t gain common agreement for the scope of the project, possibly risk in timescales or resources.
The purpose of the PRINCE2 Risk Theme is to identify, assess and control uncertainty and, as a result, improve the ability of the project to succeed.
PRINCE2 defines risk as an uncertain event or set of events that, should it occur, will influence the achievement of objectives. A risk is measured by a combination of the probability of a perceived threat or opportunity occurring, and the magnitude of its impact on objectives.
Risk management is defined as the systematic application of principles, approaches and process is to the tasks of identifying and assessing risks, planning and implementing risk responses and communicating risk management activities with stakeholders.
For risk management to be effective, the following aspects need to be considered:
Risk exposure is the extent of risk borne by the organization at the time.
Effective risk management provides confidence that the project can meet its objectives while keeping the business justification valid. Risk management supports decision-making by ensuring that the project team understand not only individual risks, but also the overall risk exposure that exists at a particular time.
This replaces the older “risk management strategy” document. However, the composition of the risk management approach remains the same as the risk management strategy document.
The risk management approach describes how risk will be managed on the project. This includes the specific process is, procedures, techniques, standards and responsibilities to be applied.
The risk management approach is derived from the project brief, business case, and where relevant, any corporate, programme management or customer risk management guides, strategies or policies
The risk management approach format may include a standalone document, a section of the PID, or an entry in a project management tool.
As an absolute minimum, a PRINCE2 project must:
PRINCE2 requires that two products are produced and maintained:
This describes how risk will be managed on the project and includes the specific process is, procedures, techniques, standards and responsibilities to be applied.
The risk management approach should be reviewed and possibly updated at the end of each management stage. It also defines how and when the risk register is reviewed and updated.
This provides a record of all identified risks relating to the project, including their status and history. The risk register is used to capture and maintain information on all the identified threats and opportunities relating to the project.
The risk management approach and the risk register are created during the initiating a project process.
PRINCE2 does not prescribe a specific or detailed approach to risk management. Any approach that meets the requirements described, can be seen to be following PRINCE2.
The PRINCE2 End Stage Report is the Project Managers report to the project board on the stage that is just finishing. You think through the form and content of the End Stage Report in the initiation stage and record the details of it in the Communication Management Strategy document.
Normally small is beautiful, and informal (such as verbal reporting to the project board), can be attractive for some projects as well.
The contents of the report are predictable – basically, how did the stage go, what did it cost, how long did it take in comparison to the plan, and were the quality requirements met?
In full, the report is very extensive but as always, to cut it down whenever possible for your organization and project.
One problem with the PRINCE2 End Stage Report is that it has a lot of headings and many Project Managers feel obliged to write a fair amount under each heading to show that they’re completed the document thoroughly and so did their job well.
Arguably, rather too many headings are included here for a ‘normal’ End Stage Report. Be careful that you don’t swap your project with excessive documentation.
Having said that, one problem lies with the choice of wording for the headings and the content is simpler than it looks at first sight.
But some sections, not least the ‘review of products’, are overkill for a lot of projects and the project board will not send you for a huge report restating information that they already know.
Project Managers report
How the stage went from the Project Managers viewpoint
Review of the Business Case
This section draws attention to any change, such as projection of total benefits. This action is also for reporting any benefits already realized and a comment on the total risk exposure.
Review of project objectives
How the project currently stands including the six control the areas (cost, time, quality, scope, risk and benefits). It is also useful to comment whether the four strategy documents and the controls contained within the project initiation documentation, are proving effective.
Review of stage objectives
How the stage just finishing, met its objectives. Aspects to consider here would include cost and time.
Review of team performance
Any performance metrics and a ‘mention in dispatches’ for team members who’ve performed particularly well. This could be expanded to include team efficiency and effectiveness, or any other aspect regarding the use of teams to get the work done and create the products.
Review of products
These should consist of:
Any lessons that need to be passed back into the organization at this stage.
Issues and risks
A summary of the position on risk and any current issues
The Project Managers forecast for the project and the next stage for the six control areas. Although aspects like time and cost are largely self-evident from the plans submitted along with the End Stage Report, there may be value in having it stated concisely in one place
The Lessons Log will have been kept up to date throughout the project, which means during the stages.
But having said that, the point at which you write the End Stage Report is a great time and an opportunity to reflect on the stage as a whole. Think about whether any more can be learn from the experience that would be of value to others in future projects. This should include good things that worked well, and bad things to try to avoid if similar circumstances arise.
A mechanism is available for reporting lessons back to the organization at the end of the project, but if something comes up that the organization would benefit from knowing now, it can be reported now.
The Project Manager can prepare a Lessons Report which is then be included in the End Stage Report and which the project board and then passed back into the organization. Again, the Communication Management Strategy document should be referred to for receivers of lessons learned – for example operational managers.
Processes and Themes – how do they work together in PRINCE2?
I am often asked that while there are helpful diagrams showing how the PRINCE2 Processes work together, why are there not any similar diagrams for PRINCE2 Themes?
So, to start, just a quick review of the 7 PRINCE2 Processes.
Starting Up a Project and Initiating a Project are done in series with a quick dip into Directing a Project to get authorization for entering the initiation stage.
The Initiating a Project process is used in the first PRINCE2 stage which is always called the Initiation Stage. All remaining stages are ‘delivery stages’.
The Final stage is NOT a separate stage; it is just that after all the specialist products have been completed, then the Closing a Project process is used within that same last stage.
Controlling a Stage and Managing Product Delivery are used in parallel within each PRINCE2 delivery stage.
The Managing a Stage Boundary process is used just prior to the end of a particular stage. This simplified graphic will help make that clear:
Controlling a Stage is the process used within each delivery stage by the Project Manager.
There must be at least ONE delivery stage, but there may be many. The actual number is dependent upon the nature, size, risk, and complexity of the project.
Managing a Stage Boundary is the process used at the end of EVERY stage to prepare for an End Stage Assessment, and covers the creation of the next stage plan, as well as updating relevant documents within the project initiation documentation (PID) and creating the End Stage Report.
Managing a Stage Boundary is also used if needed to prepare an Exception Plan ready for an Exception Assessment because tolerance has been forecast to be exceeded, and the Project Board(using Directing a Project process), have requested an Exception Plan.
This of course, would happen during a stage.
The Team Manager may decide to create a Team Plan as part of accepting the Work Package.
The Project Plan is created by the Project Manager in the Initiating a Project process (within the Initiation stage).
It contains all the information from the start of the first delivery stage (the next stage) up to and including the end of the final delivery stage.
PRINCE2 states that as you get to the end of ANY stage, a Stage Plan is created ready for the Project Board to review at the end stage assessment.
There is not a complete diagram anywhere in the PRINCE2 Manual, so this is my interpretation, and certainly captures most of the key relationships.
Your mind-set should be “while I am using this particular process, what management products do I need to create, and therefore, to which Themes should I reference?”
First, let us look at the major products that would be referenced for the Starting Up a Project and Initiating A Project processes:
Just using this diagram, you can see that Themes such as Plans, Risks, Business Case, Change, and Quality easily come to mind…
Suppose the project is to build a house. Let’s say that Stage 4 is to landscape the garden area. In the Project Plan, I will have estimated at a high level the duration, resources and costs for landscaping as a small part of the complete house build.
My Project Plan has now been approved, and I am delivering the project in the series sequence of PRINCE2 delivery stages….
As I get near the end of Stage 3, I create the Stage 4 Plan. I take the high-level tasks from the Project Plan, and for the first time create it in sufficient detail so that I can manage it on a day-to-day basis during Stage 4.
New or modified Product Descriptions and Configuration Item Records will also be generated. This is my stage 4 Stage Plan.
The Stage Plan for stage 4 will need to be approved by the Project Board (along with the updated PID contents and my End Stage Report showing current progress and forecast information for the remainder of the project.
The preparation for all this is done in the Managing a Stage Boundary process, and is then brought before the Project Board in the Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan activity within the Directing a Project process.
BUT, for the first time in my Stage 4 Plan, I can now create product descriptions and activities for the water feature, the grassed area, the planted trees, the garden pathway, etc….
Why? Because I did not know enough detail nor had yet to make my mind up back at the time when we created the top-level Project Plan….so planning in detail at the start of a project can be a waste of time and often leads to setting the wrong expectations and leading to rework later in the project when details are known.
So in this way, PRINCE2 allows its Plans to be refined as the project progresses through its stages – just like in the real world.
By the way, suppose I have decided to outsource the garden water feature to a specialist local designer/provider. One of the Work Packages detailed in the Stage Plan for stage 4, will now be presented to the external supplier for their agreement (cost, time, materials, resources, etc.).
They then sit down with their experts and do a complete costing etc., this is optional of course, but they are producing YOUR Team Plan (they would see it as ‘their project plan’) and their manager would be your ‘Team Manager’
I have just described the ‘Authorize a Work Package’ activity in Controlling a Stage, and the ‘Accept a Work Package’ activity in Managing Product Deliver process (where the specialist teams live and work!)
View the PRINCE2 processes as your ‘toolkit’ showing the sequence and relationships with each other.
View the Themes as ‘reference manuals’ sitting on your top shelf over your desk illustrating the 7 key ‘approaches’ used in a PRINCE2 project.
As you might imagine there is a lot of interaction between the processes and themes. Don’t worry about ‘memorizing’ the activity names – since you will have access to the PRINCE2 Manual throughout your Practitioner exam…
This diagram shows the most likely Theme references needed in each PRINCE2 Process:
Okay, what is the first thing that you notice?
What is apparent is that almost all the Themes are used in each of the processes!
There is a temptation to think about the individual roles taking part in each process, and frankly, you could argue that all the Themes are used (or are helpful to reference) in ALL the PRINCE2 Processes!
But I’ve tried to pare that down a little. For example, NO planning is done in the Directing a Project, nor in Controlling a Stage processes.
In Managing Product Delivery, if being used by a third party, they may well have their own business case, but it is not the Business Case owned by the Project Board Executive.
Closing a Project. No planning needed here (the Benefits Review Plan does not use product based planning, nor does it need to follow the same structure as a ‘standard’ PRINCE2 Plan.
These PRINCE2 principles are based on years of experience and lessons learned from both successful projects as well as failed projects. To conform to PRINCE2, your project MUST adhere to these principles.
The SEVEN Principles are:
The justification is documented in the Business Case, and this is used to drive all decision-making processes to ensure that the project remains aligned to the business objectives, and that the benefits and Business Case is viable, desirable, and achievable.
The Business Case must be viable to start the project, and remain viable throughout. If the Business Case ceases to be viable, the project should be changed or stopped.
Everyone involved in the project should proactively seek out lessons rather than waiting for someone else to provide them. The lessons are captured in the Lessons Log when starting the project to see if any could be applied.
Lessons should be included in reports and reviews including End Stage Assessments, the aim being to seek opportunities to implement improvements.
When the project closes, the Lessons Report should pass on lessons identified for the use of future projects.
All projects need resources with the right level of knowledge, skills, experience, and authority. These must be assigned required roles within the project. The Project Management Team structure must have these roles and responsibilities agreed plus a means for effective communication between them.
A project must have primary stakeholders, and all three stakeholder interests must be represented on the project:
Business sponsors – ensuring that the project provides value for money
Users – those who will use the project’s products
Suppliers – they provide the project resources including the specialist team who create the products
A PRINCE2 project divides the project into a number of management stages – the minimum being two, the initiation stage and one delivery stage.
These stages are partitions of the project with a control/decision point at the end of each – the Project Board need to approve the next stage plan before work commences.
Shorter stages give more control, and longer stages place fewer burdens on senior management.
There is no point attempting to plan beyond the horizon, as planning effort will be wasted.
PRINCE2 achieves this by having a high-level Project Plan, and detailed Stage Plans that are created for the next stage near the end of each current stage.
The project is released to the Project Manager one stage at a time.
Without a product focus projects can be subjected to “scope creep”. PRINCE2 uses Product Descriptions which are created during planning. These include the quality criteria that each product must meet.
Once the products of a plan have been defined, then the activities and resources can be planned in order to create the products.
Management by exception enables efficient use of senior management time by reducing their time and effort burden – while still having control by ensuring that appropriate decisions are made at the right level within the organization.
It does this by defining distinct responsibilities at different levels for directing, managing and delivering the project with accountability at each level. The situation is escalated to the next management level (up) if the tolerances are forecast to be exceeded.
These levels of authority from one management level to the next is achieved by setting appropriate tolerances (a plus/minus allowable deviation from plan).
The tolerances can be set against the six objectives and constraints for each plan. They are Time, Cost, Quality, Scope, Risk, and Benefit.
PRINCE2 is a universal project management method that can be applied to any project in any industry, organization and culture because the method is designed to be tailored.
Tailoring ensures the PRINCE2 method relates to the project environment, that the project controls are adjusted to suit the project’s scale, complexity, importance, capability and risk
I am often asked how one PRINCE2 Process “speaks” to another in terms of a PRINCE” Process Overview. My following summary will give you a new insight to each PRINCE2 Process, and how they work together:
It would be helpful if you thought of a PRINCE2 process as “Toolkits” or “Toolboxes” Each Process is used when they are needed – some once per project, some re-used several times, and one, Directing a Project, is used continuously after the completion of the starting up a project process.
Here is how the seven processes would be used in a (say), a three stage PRINCE2 project…
Note how some processes are used many times, and the differences between the Initiation Stage (creating and approving the Project Initiation Documentation) and the delivery stages (creating and approving the specialist products).
Also, that the Closing a Project process is used once within the last delivery stage, and is NOT in a stage of its own.
There are many drivers in an organization that may cause the need for change, and hence the instigation of a PRINCE2 project.
These drivers may include a new idea, a customer request, new business objectives, or the need to respond to competitive pressures, changes in legislation, the final report of a feasibility study, or even a recommendation or audit output.
Therefore, the trigger for PRINCE2 could be just about anything and in any form. This trigger is called the Project Mandate, and may take the form of a verbal instruction, the minutes from a meeting, or a direct request from senior management.
The Executive of the Project Board is appointed who in turn will normally appoint or recommend the Project Manager. At this point, the Project Manager will create the Daily Log, which is usually in the form of a diary.
It is used throughout the project to capture any informal issues or risks, and for the Project Manager to use to note any information that may not be captured elsewhere (such as a ‘to-do’ list)
The rest of the management team are also appointed – the Senior User role, Senior Supplier role, and Project Assurance (if separate individuals).
The information in the project mandate will almost certainly need to be further refined and this uses the PRINCE2 process Starting Up a Project to carry this out along with other activities.
The project mandate will be further refined into the Project Brief plus the creation of a Stage Plan for the Initiation stage. The Project Brief contains the Outline Business Case, the project approach and the Project Product Description.
The Project Board will now review these two key documents and make a decision on whether or not to formally start the project.
Their thinking will be “do we have a viable and worthwhile project?”
This is used continually throughout the project by the Project Board, and its purpose here is to use the activity ‘authorize initiation’ activity.
If a decision by the Project Board has been made to proceed further, then this is the trigger to start the Initiation stage, where the project brief will be further refined and expanded to become the Project Initiation Documentation (PID).
The project will now be planned in detail after the various strategy documents within the PID have been determined. These are:
Appropriate Project Board and project management level controls are defined, including how funding for the project is to be obtained.
The outline Business Case contained within the Project Brief is now further refined to become the detailed Business Case as part of the PID.
The initiation stage is completed once all of the information is assembled within the Project Initiation Documentation which will now need to be reviewed by the Project Board to decide whether or not to authorize the project, and to proceed into the next stage (the first delivery stage).
Also during the Initiation stage, the Managing a Stage Boundary process is used to prepare for the End Stage Assessment, including the creation of the second stage plan.
This is used continually throughout the project by the Project Board, and its purpose here is to use the ‘authorize the project’ activity. It does this by approving the PID and the next Stage Plan.
The activity ‘authorizing a stage or exception plan’ within the PRINCE2 process Directing a Project is used to approve or otherwise the second Stage Plan.
Once the PID is signed off, then all remaining stages (there may only be one), need to be authorized, and the Project Board will have delegated day-to-day control to the Project Manager for each remaining stage, one at a time.
The Project Manager will assign work to the Team Manager/Specialist team) via Work Packages and will want to ensure that their progress is in line with the approved stage plan, and that the stage forecast remains within the projects performance targets and agreed tolerances.
To assist in progress control, the Project Manager will use a set of project records (the Daily Log, Lessons Log, Issue, Risk, and Quality Registers, and Configuration Item Records).
The Project Manager will keep the Project Board informed of progress via regular Highlight Reports.
This is used by the Team Managers and specialists team members to execute their assigned Work Packages, keeping the Project Manager informed of progress with regular Checkpoint Reports.
This is the process where the specialist products are created, and as such will normally spend most of the project budget!
At the end of each management stage the Project Manager will use the PRINCE2 process Managing a Stage Boundary process to create the next Stage Plan, update the Project Plan and Business Case, and assess the aggregated set of risks including any current issues.
This information will be presented to the Project Board in the form of an End Stage Report, where they will need to decide what to do next.
The final delivery stage (there can be as many as the project needs, but must have a minimum of one delivery stage), is different in that although specialist products will have been created, when the final products are approved, the Project Manager will use the PRINCE2 process Closing a Project process to prepare for controlled shutdown.
The evidence from this process is used by the Project Board to authorize project closure.
The main deliverables are:
Use this diagram to help visualize the way that the PRINCE2 processes map onto the typical stages of a PRINCE2 project:
PRINCE2 kicks off with the project “trigger” from Corporate or programme management – the Project Mandate.
Then the whole cycle repeats… In PRINCE2, all plans are documents, and the Plans Theme and the product-based planning technique is used whenever a Project Plan, Stage Plan, optional Team Plan, and Exception Plan (if needed), are required
Whenever the Stage/Project is forecast to exceed Tolerance, the Project Manager enters it in the Issue Register, and raises an Exception Report to bring the matter to the attention of the Project Board (along with options to recover/minimize the situation)
The Project Board then makes a decision to ask for a plan on a particular option or order a premature close.
If the Project Board wants an Exception Plan, the Project Manager will use Managing s Stage Boundary to create it, and then update the remaining documents just like an End Stage Assessment.
BUT, the meeting to agree/or not, an Exception Plan is called an Exception Assessment (EXA).
Once approved, the Exception Plan replaces the original Stage Plan that would have not completed within Tolerances, and the Project Manager authorizes new/modified Work Packages against the new Stage Plan
Glad you asked.
A benign alien race whose technology far surpases our own, gave it to us to use for all our peaceful project endeavours ….
Errr ….No, actually
In recent years, organizations have experienced an unprecedented level of change and innovation and have become aware of the inherent risk associated with managing change in their business. To control the risks within IT Projects, Projects IN Controlled Environments was developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) back in 1989. It was intended as a UK Government standard for IT Project management.
Although PRINCE2 is a new method, it was based on a previous method called PROMPT which was developed in the 1970’s by Simpact Systems and had been adopted by the UK Government in the 1980’s.
Since its introduction, PRINCE2 has become widely adopted in both the public and private sectors and is now the de-facto standard in the UK for project management.
Today, the PRINCE2 Methodology is used in all project industries and in over 50 countries across the world.
The latest version of the PRINCE2 Method, released in 2009, has remained unchanged to the present date. This alone is a sign that it has become a mature and successful methodology.
Despite being originally developed for the IT Industry, PRINCE2 has evolved to incorporate the requirements of existing users and to enhance the methods to a generic project management best practice approach for any type of project within any environment.
PRINCE2 is a process based approach for project management providing a scalable and tailored methods for the management of all types of project. In addition to the process is, there are seven themes showing how the selected aspects of project management are applied, and provides guidance on when and how to use them.
PRINCE2 even has a new offspring. It’s called PRINCE2 Agile and shows in detail how PRINCE2 projects can use the agile approach.
And no, that’s not alien either.
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These are the agreements setting down the resource and timescales for delivery of the products within the Work Package. The Team Manager must then manage the work to deliver it within these limits.
This is a plus and minus variation on late targets, because almost nothing ever goes exactly to plan!
Placing a plus and minus tolerance on some of these delivery requirements, notably time and cost, often makes sense. If tolerances are set to zero, then the smallest deviation needs to be escalated upwards causing an increase in bureaucracy, cost and time.
At the other extreme, if wide latitudes are given for the requirements of a product, then once complete it may be unacceptable to the customer or users, and again extra to spent some time will be used for rework.
It makes sense therefore to set tolerances within the “goldilocks zone” – neither too small nor too large that just right…
The constraints section sets down anything that affects how the Team Manager and the team carries out the Work Package. In some project environments, you may have security considerations that affect, for example who can enter certain restricted areas and the time-frames when this is permitted.
Another example is if building works and taking place, limits may be placed on when builders can carry out more easy work so that the work does not interrupt the operational functioning of the business.
Under the heading “reporting arrangements”, the PRINCE2 Manual refers to the frequency and content of Checkpoint Reports, but there may be other information required.
For example, you may specify the frequency and content of these progress reports in the Work Package and not within the Communication Management Strategy document.
Being able to adjust the content and frequency of a checkpoint report between one Work Package and another is very useful. In a very high risk Work Package, the Project Manager may require checkpoint reports every two days.
Whereas a less critical Work Package my only need a Checkpoint Report once a week. But take care here, as this heading talks about reporting arrangements and this will normally go beyond just discussing Checkpoint Reports.
Other reporting may be needed over and above the progress reports. For example, financial reporting covering when orders are being placed on what money is being committed within a financial year.
Health and safety procedures may dictate daily reports to confirm such things as fire exits or safety equipment have been checked every day.
If a Work Package tolerance is going to be exceeded, this is normally reported or escalated using an issue – not by issuing an exception report which is only done by the Project Manager.
However, if the Project Manager wants the Team Manager to use a different procedure, this is where such a procedure would be stated.
This refers to reference is relevant to other documents, for example security requirements or safety requirements for this type of work.
More common is that this section includes project related information and two management products:
It is usually simpler for the Project Manager to give the Team Manager a copy of the whole stage plan rather than just an extract. But they may be reasons why that would not be appropriate.
As an example, here, parts of the stage plan may be confidential, or share with the Team Manager cost or pricing information. In such a case then sending sections of the stage plan makes more sense.
Where a third party is being used to execute the Work Package, then the relevant parts of the stage plan may have been created by the third-party themselves in consultation with the Project Manager of course.
In which case, only milestone information would be needed. A powerful PRINCE2 document that can be used here is the Product Checklist.
As each product is completed, which means that it has been quality-checked and signed off, the delivery dates are noted on the Product Checklist and the milestone related to that. In effect, the third-party Team Manager (who may be their Project Manager), has pre-advised the Project Manager of when to expect the completed products.
PRINCE2 uses the technique of product based planning, and part of that planning is to write a Product Description to define every deliverable or products to be created within this stage, and hence this Work Package.
The Product Description describes the product together with any quality criteria it must satisfy and details of how to quality check the product. The Work Package may contain more than one product, and hence more than one Product Description will be included within this section.
In these days of electronic documents, the Work Package and the Product Descriptions, and any relevant plans may simply be a collection of files such as PDF documents.
This defines who can approve the products within the Work Package often they have been built and tested. Sign-off is normally very simple, but can involve things like formal acceptance is and even legal acceptance as laid down within a contract.
The section also covers how the completed products in the Work Package are to be delivered and in some cases the Team Manager can simply hand them back physically or electronically to the Project Manager.
The product may need to be returned in a different way such as into an automated configuration management version control system or by delivering direct to a final location such as a customer site.
The delivery of some products may mean installing them and setting them up so that they are operational. In any case, the Project Manager needs to be notified that the product or products included in the Work Package are complete and delivered.
You remember that project communications do not have to be complex. The Team Managers can notify Work Package completion by email or even phone calls. To not make formal communications when simpler and more effective methods are available.
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In a previous article covering PRINCE2 risk responses, I reminded you that in PRINCE2, risks can be either positive or negative.
The traditional negative risk type is referred to as a threat.
The positive risk type is referred to as an opportunity.
To help remember the six risk action types for negative threats, use the acronym AS RAFT as the first letter of each action type, namely:
To help remember the four risk action types for positive opportunities, use the acronym SEER as the first letter of each action type. Remember that the Share response is used for both positive and negative risk types:
So, now all you have to do is to remember what the letters of those acronyms stand for!
Many PRINCE2 Practitioner exam candidates get this wrong, and misinterpret the type of action that is being described within the exam paper. The following examples will help cement the application of each risk response in your mind.
For each of the following examples, write down the type of risk response used:
PRINCE2 Example one
The news reports are saying it is increasingly likely that there will be a train strike, so you and I are flying to our destination instead to make sure that we make the meeting on time
PRINCE2 Example two
Our teams have limited experience in this highly complex area, so we are going to outsource this part of the work to an experienced company. If that accompany its problems, they will have to find more experts at their own cost in order to deal with them
PRINCE2 Example three
We may be liable for large costs if our advice to customers is incorrect, so we are taking out professional Indemnity Insurance for all staff with direct customer contact
PRINCE2 Example four
The new headquarters building will be great, and we think it would be really good to have it includes a staff restaurant. A restaurant should be very popular, but that is not guaranteed. We do not have the funds for all of it, but we are inviting the catering company to set up and run a restaurant once we’ve put the basic facilities in place, and then we’ll split the profits.
PRINCE2 Example five
Our staff will have to do technical work that is beyond anything they’ve done before. Things could go wrong, with consequent project delay, but we are sending staff on training courses to boost their knowledge and skill levels
PRINCE2 Example six
Customers are likely to buy more of Power Products, simply because ordering will be easier to the new website been developed by the project. However, we are going to offer a 10 per cent discount for online orders compared with orders placed to other sales channels to make certain of it
PRINCE2 Example seven
The new wear and stalls some heavy goods, and we’ve had a lot of cases of back injury in the past. We are going to put all the really heavy stuff in one’s own, with warning signs around the perimeter to remind warehouse staff to use proper lifting equipment
PRINCE2 Example eight
Bad weather could affect the launch display to the point of it being cancelled. However, because holding the display in a large indoor arena would be very expensive, and because it will be mid-summer, when there’s less chance of rain, we have decided not to take action to change the venue and just hope that the weather is okay.
If, nearer the time, forecasts indicate a high probability of really bad weather, we may think about this again
PRINCE2 Example nine
We may face problems in the office move with the list breaking down. That would cause severe problems with the schedule for the move. We have arranged preventative maintenance though to have them this thoroughly checked and serviced before the move takes place. It will not guarantee that we will avoid problems with the lives, but it will make those risks or less likely
PRINCE2 Example ten
Customers are likely to buy more of the products when they see the better information in the catalogue which is part of this market in project. We could have an electronic catalogue with animated views of the products, which might prove sales even further.
However, we have decided not to pursue that, at least for the time being, because the time and resources needed to do it would postpone the project launch date. We may pick up the idea in a future project
PRINCE2 Example one. Avoid. This response was previously called “prevent”, which actually made the action clear. In this case, if we go by plane, then the train cannot affect us
PRINCE2 Example two. Transfer. The risk impact is being passed to someone else. Subcontracting is a typical risk transfer action
PRINCE2 Example three. Transfer. Another transfer, this time covering the financial impact and passing it to an insurance company – albeit at a cost of the premium. Insurance is another typical transfer action
PRINCE2 Example four. Share. The investment will be shared with a partner in return for sharing the benefit, which is the profit, so it’s a share response for the opportunity-based risk
PRINCE2 Example five. Reduce. The training will not eliminate or avoid the risk, but it will reduce the chances of mistakes with the consequent impact of project delay
PRINCE2 Example six. Exploit. There is a good chance of increased sales, but we are going to try and make an increase certain with the 10% discount
PRINCE2 Example seven. Reduce. Staff may still live things incorrectly, but the warning signs will reduce the chance of injury, by reminding staff to use the proper equipment
PRINCE2 Example eight. Accept. The key words here are “we have decided not to take the action”. It is still in the risk register however, first to explain the current in action, but also so that the risk remains under review; if circumstances change in the expectation of good weather, so might the response
PRINCE2 Example nine. Reduce. The list are less likely to break down with consequent impact on the schedule
PRINCE2 Example ten. Reject. We still hope that will realize the upside risk, but we have judged that it is not worthwhile to go chasing after it in order to make the opportunity more likely
If you’re struggling to grasp how this PRINCE2 Methodology fits together, drowning in mind numbing details, then you’re almost certainly going about your exam preparation the wrong way…
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Benefits realisation management (BRM) (also benefits management, benefits realisation or “Project Benefits Management) is one of the many ways of managing how time and resources are invested into making desirable changes and controlling the PRINCE2 Business Case Theme.
Benefits Realisation Management has four main definitions .
The first definition is to consider Benefits Management as an organisational change process. It is defined as “the process of organizing and managing, such that the potential benefits arising from the use of IT are actually realized”
The second definition perceives it as a process. Benefits Management is defined by the Association for Project Management (APM) as the identification, definition, planning, tracking and realisation of business benefits. The third definition is to apply this concept on project management level. Project Benefits Management is defined as “the initiating, planning, organising, executing, controlling, transitioning and supporting of change in the organisation and its consequences as incurred by project management mechanisms to realise predefined project benefits”
Finally, the last definition perceives Benefits Realisation Management (BRM) as a set of processes structured to close the gap between strategy planning and execution by ensuring the implementation of the most valuable initiatives.
Let us take a look at what you will learn in the PRINCE2 Progress theme
What is Progress?
What are Progress Controls?
What are Exceptions and Tolerances?
The PRINCE2 approach to Progress and the four main controls provided by PRINCE2:
(1) Delegating Authority,
(2) Using Stages,
(3) Time & Event-driven reports, and
(4) Raising Exceptions
The 3 Project Controls used by the Project Board and Project Manager, i.e., Authorizations, Progress Updates, and Exceptions & Changes and how they differ.
Management Stages and why Management Stages are used by the Project Board as controls.
Points to consider when deciding on the number of stages on the project and how long a stage should be.
What are technical stages? How do they differ from Management Stages? and How it is possible to manage Technical Stages from Management Stages?
How does the Project Manager review progress? How do they use the different management products such as the Checkpoint Reports, Daily Log and Issue Register?
How the Lessons Log and the Lesson Report are used from a Progress point of view.
The three reports used by the Project Manager to report progress to the Project Board.
How the Project Manager raise exceptions and why.
And lastly, the Progress Roles and Responsibilities.
Progress is all about how to control the project and know where you are against the current plan. Each company and Project Manager will have different ideas on how best to do this and if you are Project Manager in a company the, one good question to ask your Project Board is: “how do I best keep you informed of the progress of the project?.
The answer to this question will tell you a lot about the maturity of project control in the organization.
I believe the most important points that a Project Manager has to keep in mind are:
Most poor Projects Managers make the following mistakes
You will find this chapter on PRINCE2 easy to read and understand and you will also learn how tolerances are used to help each management layer manage the layer below. The last point I would like to make is that the Project Manager should make sure they have time during the project to manage progress and control the project.
The purpose of the information in the Progress Theme can be explained in three parts:
Progress is about checking progress compared to the plan, checking project viability and controlling any deviations.
Three of the seven principles are represented in the Progress Theme; they are:
Now let us get a picture of who needs to control who, as this will make it much easier to understand. Recall that there are four levels in a project organization and three levels in a project team.
Well, each above-level wants to be able to control the level below and there are three levels of control in a Project Organization and two levels of control in a project team.
Control or progress is all about decision-making and is central to project management ensuring that the project remains viable against its approved Business Case
11.4 Progress, Progress Controls, Exceptions and Tolerances
Progress is checking and controlling where you are compared to the plan. This is done for the Project Plan, Stage Plan and Work Package.
Progress Controls are used by one layer to monitor the progress of the layer below it. For instance, the Project Board is to monitor the progress of Project Manager or Project Manager to monitor the progress of the Teams that create the products.
The layer above can do the following:
An Exception is a situation where it can be forecast that there will be a deviation beyond the agreed tolerance levels.
Tolerances are the deviation above and below a plan’s target. For example, the project should take 6 months, with a tolerance of ±1 month. Tolerance levels could also be set for all six tolerance areas, i.e., Time, Cost, Quality, Scope, Benefits and Risk. These are also known as the project variables.
Question: What do you think would be the result if Tolerance were not used in a project between the Project Board and the Project Manager levels?
Answer: In that case, every small issue that would occur, the Project Manager would escalate to the Project Board and they would end up working on the project 8 hours a day and therefore would be doing a lot of work for the Project Manager.
Remember the Project Board are busy people and we don’t want the project to take up much of their time. Setting tolerances allows the Project Manager to handle smaller issues and only bother the Project Board for bigger issues (more efficient use of time for Project Board)
Tolerance Example: A 6-month project with a tolerance of ±1 months. If the project is forecast to be 1 week late, the Project Manager would deal with this and not escalate it. But if the project is forecast to be two months late, then they would escalate it to the Project Board.
Let us look at when tolerances can be decided on: