Tag Archives: Prince2 in practice

PRINCE2: Project Organization

From time to time I receive requests to explain the project governance structure. Based on some video’s I found on YouTube I created a small video explaining the set up of a Project Management Team structure (PRINCE2 2009).
I would like to hear your comments and if you see a need for more of these simple videos to explain other PRINCE2 themes or principles.

A helping aid to pass the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam

PRINCE2 Manual supporting study tabs.

During several of my PRINCE2 training classes I saw attendees struggle with the PRINCE2 manual. It’s a 326 page document which many, many details. Having tabs in the manual, can make your life a little bit easier if you have to answer a question about e.g. the Project brief and within a split second you can open the book on the page describing the composition of the Project Brief. Or answer a question about threat responses. Where can I find the Risk Theme? People were creative and I have seen them working with post-its or plastic indices. I thought that it must be possible to create small tabs, which must be glued on the right places in the manual. After some try-outs I created tabs for all the management products, the themes, processes, principles and tailoring. If you print them on a sticker A4 than you only have to cut them out of the paper and stick them to the manual. To make your life even more easier I asked OGC, with a recommendation from Andy Murray, the lead author of the PRINCE2 manual, ‘Would be a great add-on!’ if it was possible to include this page in the manual and put on the correspondent pages a place marker for the tabs. At the end they said ‘We see this as a separate product and not a direct add-on to the PRINCE2 manual.’ A pity, but what about the Dutch PRINCE2 User Group? I spoke to Ruud Peltzer and he was directly very enthusiastic. He organized the funding and production and now it’s possible to order those tabs via your ATO or via the www.bpug.nl. Enjoy using the tabs and I hope it will help you to pass the PRINCE2 practitioner exam. If you have recommendations please let me know.

PRINCE2 Manual tabs A4 PDF

Cut every tab, stick, fold and stick/glue at the corresponding pages. The manual’s frontpage shows possible positions at the top or right hand side of the manual. The get a perfect result it’s easier to work from right to left and from the back to the front.

On request of one of my readers I created one with only black letters. see: PRINCE2 Manual tabs A4 (black)

Avoid PINO syndrome by adopting a tailor-made approach to PRINCE2

Many organizations encounter problems when introducing PRINCE2 and often ending up with PINO (PRINCE2 in Name Only). What makes it so difficult to implement this popular project management methodology? In this article I focus on the possibilities of tailoring the method to your project and embedding it into any organization. PINO happens because PRINCE2 has been insufficiently adapted to the specific situation in the organization. Having standard templates for the Project Initiation Documentation doesn’t automatically mean you work according to PRINCE2. You can find the complete article at pmtoday or in the Box folder ‘Prince2 in practice’, name PINO0610

PRINCE2 in practice: communication plan update

The current communication plan building block only contains the communication action plan. But before you can create these actions you must be aware of the background and the communication issue. What must be the result of the communication: knowledge transfer, change in attitude or behavior? The adjusted building block takes this into account.

The Communication Management Strategy describes the objective, the message, the planning, the means and those responsible for project communication.

Before you create your Communication Actions you must be aware about the background from a communication perspective. Are there negative emotions which need to be addressed? What is the communication issue in terms of knowledge, attitude and/or behavior? Based on this analysis it becomes clear what communication has to take place and this is your starting point to create the Communication Action Plan.

In terms of project communication, think of news letters on the corporate intranet, presentation sessions and formal reports for the benefit of the Project Board and the stakeholders.

For the purpose of the Communication plan an analysis of those involved (stakeholder analysis) is useful. Establish their interest in the results of the project. Ask yourself what information stakeholders need and how often they would wish to receive such information.

Decide how communication on project level is integrated within the Communications Plan on programme level if your project is part of a programme.

Op maat maken van PRINCE2

Recentelijk zowel aan de Hogeschool Arnhem en Nijmegen, Expertisecentrum Informatica, Media en Communicatie als aan de Hogeschool Utrecht, richting Digitale Communicatie van de faculteit Communicatie en Journalistiek een gastcollege gegeven over het op maat maken van PRINCE2. Uitgaande van een krantenartikel waarin de bureaucratie van PRINCE2 aan de kaak werd gesteld heb ik aangegeven dat PINO (PRINCE2 In Name Only) geen antwoord op deze bureaucratie is maar dat het hanteren van de principes van PRINCE2 je vele mogelijkheden biedt om deze bureaucratie te lijf te gaan. Zolang je de principes maar blijft hanteren kun je PRINCE2 volledig aanpassen aan je omgeving en je project. Middels een afbeelding van Rene Magritte ‘ceci n’est pas une pipe’ de discussie aangegaan dat je de PRINCE2 methode moet aanpassen aan je project anders blijft het PINO. Vervolgens heb ik aan de hand van het PRINCE2 management product model uit Prince2 2009 Edition Quick Reference Card stap voor stap laten zien hoe dit op maat maken van PRINCE2 voor een klein project gestalte krijgt. Vervolgens ben ik ingegaan op mijn zoektocht naar en filosofie achter mijn bouwsteenaanpak van PRINCE2 managementproducten zoals beschreven in De praktische Prince2, maakt het weer leuk. Wat mij betreft twee geslaagde sessies waarvan bijgevoegde videoopnamen zijn gemaakt.

Hogeschool Arnhem en Nijmegen:
Henny Portman De Praktische Prince2 deel 1 from Hans Mestrum on Vimeo.

Henny Portman De Praktische Prince2 deel 2 from Hans Mestrum on Vimeo.

Henny Portman De Praktische Prince2 deel 3 from Hans Mestrum on Vimeo.

Hogeschool Utrecht
Video + slides from Pim Schonk

PRINCE2 in Practice: Acceptance Criteria building block update

In my book ‘PRINCE2 in practice’ I described a free format page to explain the acceptance criteria (Success criteria). This gave some confusion and that was the reason why I changed the layout into a more structured layout.

Definition of the acceptance criteria according to PRINCE2:
A prioritized list of criteria that the product must meet before the customer will accept it, i.e. measurable definitions of the attributes, required for the set of products to be acceptable to key stakeholders.

This template can help you to explain the current level of these criteria before the project and the needed acceptance level before the final product/project will be handed over to the organization.
Not every topic (criteria) will be important. To show the priority you can make use of the MoSCoW principle (see first column). Each acceptance criterion is rated as either M: Must have, S: Should have, C: Could have (nice to have), W: Won’t have. All the ‘Must have’ and ‘Should have’ acceptance criteria should be mutually achievable.
You can find the complete article about this building block template update in the Box folder ‘Prince2 in practice’, name: PP2 EN Building block (Acceptance criteria).

Book review: The One-Page Project Manager

Just finished reading the One-Page Project Manager from Clark Campbell. Definitely a book I like. It explains very thoroughly how to set-up and use a single page to communicate progress and issues to senior management (up), your project team (down) and your peers (out). The philosophy behind this book is the fact that senior managers usually only have time to read the highlights. They just cannot read all of a multi-page report; instead, they look for key indicators and the most vital information. And guess what, this is exactly the same I am using in my book ‘PRINCE2 in Practice, A practical approach to create project management documents (how to avoid bulky, inaccessible, standalone, and illegible documents). The One-Page Project Manager consists of five essential parts: Tasks (the how), Objectives (the what and the why), Timeline: the when, Cost (the how much) and the Owners (the who). The book guides you through twelve steps to construct the One-Page Project Manager including examples for every individual step. Very easy to follow and the book give you several key concepts and tips for project management related to the steps you have to take to fill in the One-Page Project Manager. For those who are using PRINCE2 some remarks to make their life easier. In this book Tasks are key. I would replace this with products or key deliverables. If you communicate to your executive that tangible products are reviewed on behalf of senior user or senior supplier and they approved that these products are according to agreed quality criteria you have a great story. Also the use of owners can be confusing. In this book the project manager (sometimes called executive or lead manager) and those who are responsible for specific tasks are called owner. I would propose to use project manager and team manager for these roles en leave the owner for the executive or project owner (he/she who is judging if it’s still worthwhile to finish the project). If the project is too big you can use the concept of multiple layers of the One-Page Project Manager by using a task breakdown. Here I would go for the PRINCE2 product breakdown, but the use of multiple layers will definitely work. If I look at the one-page highlight I described in ‘PRINCE2 in Practice’ I have the possibility to have KPIs on project and on deliverable level. In the One-Page Project Manager it’s a little bit difficult to show an early warning or problem with your project end-date when a specific deliverable, on the critical path, has a delay. In the example a subjective task was introduced: ‘Go live on time’. For me it was also not clear what to do when you can’t met the project deadline and the only solution is to postpone this deadline.

To summarize, this is definitely a book that I can recommend and I am going to use some of these ideas to improve the one-page highlight I am using. Connection of objectives to specific deliverables and team managers to specific deliverables is something I am going to add.

Book review: The lazy project manager

I just finished reading ‘The lazy project manager’. A lovely book explaining how you can apply some simple techniques of lazy project management in order to work more effectively. I must say, that Peter Taylor, the author, did a great job explaining something I love to do, but I never thought that you could call this lazy project management.
Via Google I found Hlade’s Law states that: “If you have a difficult task, give it to a lazy person; they will find an easier way to do it.” But it’s not Hlade’s Law Peter is using. He explains the intelligence of laziness by describing how Generalfeldmarschall Von Melke (1800 – 1891) from the Prussian Army categorized his officer corps. He was looking for mentally bright and yet physically lazy officers who, he thought, should take the highest levels of command.
Inspired by Miss Anne Elk’s theory of the brontos (from Monty Python): ‘All brontosauruses are thin at one end, much, much thicker in the middle, and then thin again at the far end. That is my theory, it is mine, and it belongs to me, and I own it.’ Peter developed his own Lazy Project Manager’s theory of projects, from a productive laziness aspect: ‘All projects are thick at one end, much, much thinner in the middle and than thick again at the far end.’
This book follows this project life cycle thick, much, much thinner, and thick again and explains several tips to achieve productive laziness combined with project manager’s tales describing situations were those tips were applied or should have been applied. Projects don’t fail at the end, they fail at the beginning. Think for example about knowing your sponsor, anticipation, managing project creep or communication. Peter explains much more and he ends with one of my favorites. Lessons learned are not only for yourself but you have to share it.

After reading this book I can now say that my own book PRINCE2 in practice will help the project manager to become a lazy project manager and it will help the project owner or sponsor to become a Lazy Project owner or Sponsor too!

‘The lazy project manager’ is definitely a book to read if you want to look at project management from a different angle and if you want to get some good advises to become a more efficient, or shall I say lazy, project manager. Finally I included the Monty Python episode. It gives you Miss Anne’s explanation of the theory of the bronthos (starts at 5:03). But the first part is worth looking too. It gives you a great example of communication when you exclude feedback as the final part of communication.

PRINCE2 in practice: buildingblock update

Last year the building block approach was used in more than 100 projects. Based on this experience (lessons) I have updated the building block templates. In several articles I already described some new or updated building blocks like the Quality Plan and the Benefits Review Plan. You can find the building block template update in the Box folder ‘Prince2 in practice’, name: PP2 EN (building block template). Please give me your lessons when using these building blocks

PRINCE2 in Practice: Benefits Review Plan building block

To build the End Project Report we use several building blocks from the PID like the business case and the latest storyboard information. The business case will be updated with actual data from the final stage. At this moment we have the Recap and Lessons building blocks to evaluate the project and the Follow-on action recommendations building block to complete the End Project Report. What was missing in the current documentation is the Benefits Review Plan building block. Conform PRINCE2 this Benefits Review Plan has to be created during Initiating a Project and could be updated during Closing a Project. I will replace the non Financial benefits building block with this Benefits Review Plan building block.


Composition of this building block:
(non) Financial Benefits: scope of the Benefits Review Plan covering what benefits are to be measured
Quantification (KPI): what to measure
Who is accountable: Individual who is accountable for the expected benefits
When to achieve: when can the (non) Financial Benefit be measured
Resources needed to carry out review: identifies the skills or individuals who will be needed to carry out the review
Baseline measures: Baseline measures from which the improvements will be calculated
How will the performance of the project’s products (deliverables) be reviewed: description