Process - Top Tips - Prince2 Project Management

Prince2 Project Management

This document is designed as a quick reference guide to PRINCE2 Project Management

This will enable you to gain knowledge of a particular skill, task or process.

This means you can quickly find the key information that you need and refer to it on an ongoing basis whenever you need to refresh your knowledge.

 

Introduction

Project management skills can be applied to any task, where you are required to plan, consider a number of options and then manage a series of activities and resources to achieve a specific end result. Projects come in all shapes and sizes, from the small and simple to large and highly complex.

Regardless of the size and complexity of the project you are managing you can follow this simple step by step process.

 

1.   Agree precise specification for the project.

2.   Plan the project - time, team, activities, resources, and budget

3.   Communicate the project plan to your project team.

4.   Agree and delegate project actions.

5.   Manage, motivate, inform, encourage, and develop the project team.

6.   Check, measure, review project progress; adjust project plans, and inform the project team and others.

7.   Complete project; review and report on project performance; give praise and thanks to the project team.

 

Process - Top Tips - Prince2 Project Management

Prince2 Project Management

What you need to know…

 

1.   Agree precise specification for the project

Often called the project 'terms of reference', the project specification should be an accurate description of what the project aims to achieve, and the criteria and flexibilities involved, its parameters, scope, range, outputs, sources, participants, budgets and timescales.

 

As a project manager, you will usually consult key stakeholders in order to agree the project specification before starting work on the project. Once finalised, the project specification can be referred to on an ongoing basis to assess how the project is going and the extent to which it is successfully completed. The product specification clearly outlines what is in and out of scope for a project and avoids confusion if issues should arise once the project begins.

The time taken to produce a project specification will vary according to the nature of the project. Establishing and agreeing a project specification is an important process even if your task is simple one so this is time well spent.

 A project specification includes the following sections:

 

     Describe purpose, aims and deliverables.

     State parameters (timescales, budgets, range, and scope)

     State people involved and the way the team will work (frequency of meetings, decision-making process).

     Establish 'break-points' at which to review and check progress, and how progress and results will be measured.

 

1.   Plan the project

Plan the various stages and activities of the project. A useful tip is to work backwards from the end aim, identifying all the things that need to be put in place and done, in reverse order.

Start by noting down all your ideas and key points at random, this will help gather all the information you need to include in your plan. Depending on how close you are to the detail of all aspects of the project it may be useful to involve other members of your project team.

 

Thereafter it's a case of putting the points in the right order, some of the activities may run in parallel to one another and some parts of the project will need other parts of the project to be completed before they can begin or progress. Always remember to build some ‘slippage’ into your plan so if anything goes wrong or takes longer than expected you can still bring the overall project in on time.

 

To plan projects with various parallel and dependent activities you will need to put together a 'Critical Path Analysis' and a spreadsheet on MS Excel or equivalent. Critical Path Analysis will show you the order in which tasks must be performed, and the relative importance of tasks. A Gantt chart is a useful way of showing blocks of activities over time and at a given cost and for managing the project and its costs along the way.

 

If you have a project budget to manage you will also need produce a financial plan and monitor spend as the project progresses. Create a cost line for main expenditure activity, and break this down into individual elements. Remember to set some budget aside for contingencies.

Process - Top Tips - Prince2 Project Management

Prince2 Project Management

1.   Communicate the project plan to your team

This serves two purposes: it informs people what's happening, and it obtains essential support, agreement and commitment. If your project is complex and involves a team, then you should involve the team in the planning process to maximise buy-in, ownership, and thereby accountability. Your project will also benefit from input and consultation from relevant people at an early stage.

 

1.   Agree and delegate project actions

Your plan will have identified those responsible for each activity. Activities need to be very clearly described, including all relevant parameters, timescales, costs, and deliverables. When delegated tasks fail this is typically because they have not been explained clearly, agreed with the other person, or supported and checked while in progress.

 

1.   Manage, motivate, inform, encourage, and enable the project team

Manage the team and activities by meeting, communicating, supporting, and helping with decisions (but not making them for people who can make them for themselves). Look out for differences in personality and working styles in your team. They can get in the way of understanding and co-operation. Your role here is to enable and translate. Face to face meetings, when you can bring team members together, are generally the best way to avoid issues and relationships becoming personalised and emotional. Communicate progress and successes regularly to everyone.

 

1.   Check, measure, and review project performance; adjust project plans; inform project team and others

Check the progress of activities against the plan. Review performance regularly and at the pre-planned ‘break points’, confirm or adjust the remainder of the plan in light of performance, changing circumstances, and new information whilst remaining on track and within the original project specification. Plan team review meetings and stick to the monitoring systems you established.

 

1.   Complete project; review and report on project; give praise and thanks to the project team

At the end of your successful project hold a review with the team. Ensure you understand what happened and why. Reflect on any issues and mistakes positively, objectively, and without allocating personal blame. Reflect on successes gratefully and realistically. Write a review report, and make observations and recommendations about follow up issues and priorities - there will be plenty.

Process - Top Tips - Prince2 Project Management

Prince2 Project Management

 

PRINCE2 Project Management Methodology

What is PRINCE2? - PRINCE2 Definition

PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments and is a process based method for effective project management. It is widely recognised and used in the private sector at an international level.

 

The key features of PRINCE2 are:

 

     Its focus on business justification

     A defined organisation structure for the project management team

     Its product-based planning approach

     Its emphasis on dividing the project into manageable and controllable stages

     Its flexibility to be applied at a level appropriate to the project.

 

Why use the PRINCE2 methodology?

PRINCE2 is recognised internationally and is a standard method for project management. PRINCE2 does not define every aspect of a project for you but provided a flexible framework that you can adapt to the needs of your project.

PRINCE2's formal recognition of responsibilities within a project, together with its focus on the purpose of a project provides:

 

     A common, consistent approach

     A controlled and organised start, middle and end

     Regular reviews of progress against plan

     Assurance that the project continues to have a business justification

     Flexible decision points

     Management control of any deviations from the plan

     The involvement of management and stakeholders at the right time and place during the project

     Good communication channels between the project, project management, and the rest of the organisation

     A means of capturing and sharing lessons learned

     A route to increasing the project management skills and competencies at all levels

 

 

Summary

Project management skills can be widely applied to manage small and simple tasks through to large and complex projects. Every stage of the project is crucial to achieve overall success, not least the planning required before the project begins.

 

PRINCE2 as a project management methodology provides a framework within which you can work. It requires you to define exactly how the framework applies to your project but ensures a comprehensive and consistent approach.