An Introduction to PRINCE2 Methodology | Kissflow

An Introduction to PRINCE2 Methodology

Kissflow

August 27th, 2019 Project Management  

As a project manager, the bulk of your focus goes into choosing the right project management methodology for your team. A methodology typically gives you a framework involving techniques, practices, principles, and ideals to guide the way the project needs to move forward. The selection of a particular methodology should be based on the project at hand and determining which methodology makes the best use of the time and resources at hand. Popular project management methodologies include Agile, Scrum, Kanban, Lean, PRINCE2 among others. With this brief understanding of what project management methodologies are, we can take a look at different aspects of the PRINCE2 project management methodology.

Fundamentals of PRINCE2

Originating from the United Kingdom in the ’80s, PRINCE2 has become a popular project management methodology worldwide. Projects in a controlled environment (PRINCE2) aim at improving the organization, management, and control of the various phases of the project from beginning to the end. The approach in PRINCE2 project management is outcome-based which means that more emphasis lies on the end result rather than planning out the project meticulously.

Seven principles of PRINCE2 project management:

Like all other project management methodologies, PRINCE2 carries some fundamental principles which form the backbone of all projects carried out through PRINCE2. Adhering to these principles ensures that PRINCE2’s best practice is incorporated efficiently. The principles are as follows:

Business justification of projects:

A fundamental principle at the heart of PRINCE2 is that each project must have a clearly defined objective, a goal, a customer, tangible benefits or profits and a comprehensive cost assessment of the project. This helps the team to stay focused towards a clear goal and allows to work towards a clear benefit and incentive.

Continuous learning:

The PRINCE2 project management methodology highly regards continuous learning for teams. At each stage of the project, teams should take note of the key lessons learned and make sure that they incorporate them at the later stages or even in future projects.

Clear distinction of roles and responsibilities:

At each stage of the project, the roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined for individuals and teams. This cuts the clutter and everyone is clear about what they’re responsible for and what is expected of them. This also gives a clear performance metric for all team members.

Phase wise approach:

In the PRINCE2 methodology, each project is divided into distinct phases and at the completion of every phase, phase outcomes and lessons learned are noted. This also helps to keep track of the direction in which the project is heading.

Manage by exception

The board of directors over any project doesn’t have enough time to delegate to projects daily. They manage this situation by assigning the baseline requirements of projects. These requirements can be cost, time, risk assessment, and scope of the project. Guided by these baseline metrics, the project supervisors can intervene if the project phases are going overtime or over budget but if such issues arise. This can disturb the established baseline requirements, and then these issues must be dealt with by the board of directors themselves, in whatever manner they think is suitable.

Focus of product quality

Teams must ensure that there is no gap between the project deliverables and the project requirements. For this, the quality of the deliverables must be constantly checked and measured by the teams.

Custom approach for projects

With the PRINCE2 methodology, the approach for different projects can be tailored according to the resources and time available. Different parameters such as the number of team members and the amount of oversight and planning for each phase of the project can be customized.

The seven themes:

Themes guide the project planners as to how the principles are put in practice. Themes are preset at the project start and adhered to during the course of the project:

Business case:

This helps to decide whether the project at hand is deliverable, viable and worthwhile.

Organization:

This theme guides the project managers to clearly delegate and keep track of the roles and responsibilities of teams and individuals.

Quality:

Helps to deliver the best quality product by clearly defining what would constitute the best quality product or service being delivered.

Plans:

This theme provides a roadmap as to how the targets will be achieved. Different parameters such as benefits, cost, and quality are considered under this theme.

Risk:

A risk log is drafted in which the potential risks are identified and categorized. Risks may come in the form of threats and opportunities where the former case is referred to as negative risks and the latter as positive risks.

Change:

This theme helps to adapt. Change can come in the form of both project requirements or implementation strategies. The idea is that each change is agreed upon before work starts towards incorporating it.

Progress:

The project progress is determined by comparing where the project should be according to the plan. By working on this theme, it can be identified whether the project is on track or off the rails.

The seven processes:

The PRINCE2 project management methodology  gives a series of processes in a sequence through which each project has to go to achieve maximum efficiency.

1. Starting up a project:

Here a customer submits a request for a new project which is called a project mandate. This mandate is then evaluated and it is determined whether or not the company can take up the project. Once approved, the customer submits a detailed proposal regarding the resources, actions and other information about the project.

2. Directing the project:

Now the viability of the project is analyzed and the project is assigned to a project manager.

3. Project initiation:

The project manager prepares a plan in which different parameters such as the cost, time required, quality, advantages, risk, and scope are covered.

4. Stage control:

The project is subdivided into stages and teams are assigned for each stage. The project manager tracks the performance and issues of each stage.

5. Product delivery management:

The project manager makes sure that there is no gap between deliverables and quality expectations. The project board makes a final evaluation and either approve the product or request revisions.

6. Managing stage boundaries:

At the closing of each stage, the manager and the board will review the outcomes of that stage to ensure that the project is on the right track.

7. Project closing:

Project closing marks the closing of the outcomes, documentation, and reporting.

Documentation type in PRINCE2:

Documentation is a key part of the different stages of any project. This helps in keeping the project on track and submitting information to the board for review and quality checks. Types of documents in PRINCE2 project management methodology include:

  • Business case: Explains the need for the project and what benefits it can bring to the company and user.
  • Risk register: The chances of risks and opportunities and their effect on the project is maintained here.
  • Quality register: This log is to make sure that there are no gaps between expectations and deliverables.
  • Issues register: Used to list all the issues highlighted by team members.
  • Lessons log: Contains record of the lessons learned from previous stages.
  • Daily log: Written by the manager himself, it contains the daily report on performance and outcomes.

Pros and cons of the PRINCE2 methodology

As mentioned above, the entire framework is so flexible that it can be incorporated in just any type of project. Furthermore, if you want better communication and accountability in your projects, then PRINCE2 project management is among the best for you. It focuses more on outputs and provides for continuous improvement so progress and results are guaranteed.

On the other hand, if you don’t like excessive documentation, then PRINCE2 isn’t for you. At every stage, there’s loads of documentation to maintain and update. Also, the senior management has to be continuously involved and owing to the lack of time senior management usually has, this inevitably slows down the project.

Final thoughts

In light of the above observations, project owners have to make the crucial decision of applying PRINCE2 project management to their projects or not. As a methodology, PRINCE2 has proven its success and has become a renowned approach to handling projects. However, it’s the project owner’s decision whether or not to go with this approach and that decision can be best made after evaluating the project’s requirements, the available resources and the project team’s ability to adhere to the methodology.