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An Introduction to PRINCE2

~ By Duncan Haughey

PRINCE2 logo

PRINCE2 is the UK de-facto standard for project management developed by the Government and used in both the public and private sectors. The acronym stands for Projects in Controlled Environments - the "2" refers to its relaunch in October 1996.

History

PRINCE was developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) now part of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). The method was developed from PROMPTII, a project management method originally created in 1975 by Simpact Systems Limited. PROMPTII stands for Project, Resource, Organisation, Management and Planning Technique. The CCTA adopted PROMPTII in 1979 as the standard for all government information systems projects. PRINCE replaced PROMPTII in 1989. For the 1996 relaunch the PRINCE2 method was geared towards a generic best practice approach and has since been used for many different types of project.

Project Management and PRINCE2 Timeline

  • 1910-1915 The Gantt chart developed by Henry Gantt (1861-1919)
  • 1957 The Critical Path Method (CPM) method invented
  • 1958 The Program Evaluation Review Technique (PERT) method invented
  • 1969 PMI (Project Management Institute) launched to promote the project management profession
  • 1975 PROMPTII method created by Simpact Systems Limited
  • 1987 PMI introduce the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)
  • 1989 PRINCE arose from PROMPTII and is published by the UK Government agency CCTA and becomes the UK standard for all government information systems projects
  • 1996 PRINCE2 published by CCTA (now OGC) as a generic project management method for all UK government projects
  • 1997 Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM) method invented
  • 2002 Corrections to the PRINCE2 Manual and a few incremental improvements
  • 2005 PRINCE2 Manual updated in consultation with the international user community
  • 2009 PRINCE2 revision making the method simpler and more easily customisable

Principles

Unlike many other methods, PRINCE2 focuses on the delivery of products rather than carrying out activities. Every project must have a business case and plan that is periodically reviewed.

The PRINCE2 method is in the public domain therefore, users are not tied to any single organisation for consultancy, training and support.

Method

PRINCE2 is a process-based approach to project management. Each is defined with its key inputs and outputs with the specific objectives to be achieved and activities to be carried out. The eight processes are:

  1. Starting Up a Project (SU)
  2. Initiating a Project (IP)
  3. Directing a Project (DP)
  4. Controlling a Stage (CS)
  5. Managing Product Delivery (MP)
  6. Managing Stage Boundaries (SB)
  7. Closing a Project (CP)
  8. Planning (PL)

Within each of the processes PRINCE2 produces documents such as the Project Initiation Document (PID) used to define the project, form the basis for its management and assessment of overall success. The Risk Log is used to identify record and grade risks to the project and the Lessons Learned Report used to pass on any lessons that can be usefully applied to other projects.

PRINCE2 provides a scalable framework that can be tailored to meet the needs of any organisation, providing a controlled environment through which to deliver projects with the resulting benefits.

Benefits of PRINCE2

These are some of the benefits that are obtained from using PRINCE2:

  • Standard approach to managing projects
  • Common project language
  • Flexible decision points
  • Regular reviews of progress against the project plan and business case
  • Early visibility of possible problems
  • Good communications between the project team and other stakeholders
  • Mechanism for managing deviations from the project plan
  • Improved levels of customer satisfaction

Who Uses PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 has been adopted by many organisations worldwide both large and small, they include:

  • Barclays
  • British Government Departments
  • British Telecom
  • EDS
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • HSBC
  • Phillips
  • Siemens
  • Tesco
  • Vodafone

Exam Tips

These are my tips for passing the PRINCE2 Practitioners Exam:

  • Take one of the many professionally run courses
  • Read the PRINCE2 manual before and during the course
  • Learn and use the correct PRINCE2 terminology
  • Apply the method correctly when answering the questions
  • Make brief notes to use as reminders of key points
  • Read the questions carefully; understand what is being asked

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