Applying the PRINCE2 Organization theme

Forget your business card

The PRINCE2 Organization theme describes the roles and responsibilities of the management team for a specific project.  It’s about the “hat” you will wear for this particular project.  Your day to day job title may not be the same, but it doesn’t matter – this is about your role in a single project

On any project there is often conflict when the hierarchical nature of an organization is turned upside down inside a project. This perceived conflict was loud and clear in class this week as I heard 4 people within the same organization announce that they were the project manager for the same project. Each of these individuals had a prior project management certification and the job title of project manager. Each also had staff who reported to them in the organization. As we began to discuss the PRINCE2 Organization theme and the idea that a project should have only 1 project manager, you could see the tension rise. I was challenging a paradigm that they had been working with for years. This company did most of their projects as a result of winning a client contract.  As such they needed to separate their own internal project from the project that the company that hired them was undertaking.

PRINCE2 organization for a customer – supplier environment

Imagine you work for Company X.  Your client, Company Y, has a PRINCE2 project underway. It has appointed an Executive, a Project Manager and others as part of their Project Management Team.  Company Y has  hired you and your colleagues to deliver some of the products in their project. In your company, your business card may tell you that you are a Senor Project Manager.  And so you are.  But that’s your job.  In this PRINCE2 project your role is that of Team Manager.  You are managing a group of specialists to deliver products to the customer.  Leave your business card at the door and don’t get hung up on seniority or job titles, just focus on the hat you are wearing in this project.

PRINCE2 organization for internal projects

This conflict between job titles and roles is also alive and well for internal projects as well.  I once was a PM on a strategic project where the objective was to establish a financial merger strategy for two companies that were merging. On my team were the Vice Presidents of Finance for all major divisions of both companies and the CFO of both companies.  On this project each of these individuals were acting in the role of Team Manager.  It was quite a stressful experience asking them to report progress, status and issues to me on a regular basis.  The lack of cooperation was raised as an issue to the Executive who went to them and explained that the PM was in place to help make this project a reality. Not to take over. On a separate project, as a seasoned PM I played a project support role due to the size and complexity of the project. My role was to integrate all of the plans using software and to report on schedule progress and dependency issues.  An administrative person would not have had the skills necessary to navigate the PM software or understand intricacies of what they were seeing. I understand it is often difficult for people to give up their well earned job titles.  Just remember that PRINCE2 organization is about roles, not jobs.  However, understanding the role you play in enabling project success and how your skills are acknowledged in that environment helps to make all projects more successful.