How do I start applying it back at the office?
Let’s start with a question.
Has your organization decided to embed PRINCE2 as its project management method of choice or are you a lone wolf, just trying to improve projects from the bottom up? If your organization is trying to embed PRINCE2 as a method of choice, overall, this should be treated as a project. It is more likely to be a programme, take many years to complete and be a long hard struggle in stakeholder management. Doing this is more than establishing a bunch of templates (Management Products) and sending people on training. Organizations spent lots of time and money sending PM’s on training, teaching them how to be better project managers. But they don’t put the same effort into training others involved in projects on how to fulfill their roles in the project environment. This is particularly true of those assigned to the Executive and other Board roles. I’ll end this conversation here as this is way bigger than 1 blog can handle. If you (and perhaps a few others from your organization) have become PRINCE2 Practitioner Certified, there are some opportunities for quick wins when it comes to using PRINCE2. The key thing to remember is that if you are abiding by the principles, then you can say you are managing a project in a PRINCE2 way. Tailoring is the key.
Output, Outcomes, Benefits
The difference between these is the subject of another blog. Once again, engaging your assorted stakeholders in these conversations promotes a wider understanding of what the project is all about.
Project Product Description
In my classes, after we discuss Project Product Description for the first time I pause. I ask the class “If I was to stop the class here and say thanks have a great day, and this was the only thing you did different on your next project; would it help? Imagine how much clearer your next project would be.” Inevitably, the entire class says yes. The questions the PM needs to ask (primarily of the Board members) helps to promote discussion and understanding about the big picture of the project.
The 4 management strategies within PRINCE2 (Risk, Quality, Configuration Management and Communication) are all heavily organizationally driven. What I mean by that is, much of the content is based on existing organizational and environmental rules, policies, practices and regulations. Using the description in Appendix A of the PRINCE2 manual as a base, sit down with a few of your peers (who do like types of projects). You could probably fill in the content of most of the strategies. Some content might be blank because you don’t have an organizational “rule” in place. You could then discuss “how do we approach this for our types of projects?” and fill in more of the content. Some content might be blank because it differs on a project to project basis. That works too, perhaps you will be able to put some bullet points down around things that need to be considered. Either way, you generate a good consistent set of information to be used. If there are some lessons in the future that lead to changes in the strategies then so be it. Creating these strategies (or at least most of the content) means that each PM does not have to re-create the strategies for their project. It also means that the strategies are consistent and this leads to common understanding. Overall, more discussions promote better understanding and fewer unsaid and undocumented assumptions. When you have better information at the start of the project, by definition, the rest of the project is better. Whether better means, faster, cheaper, or less stressful it is all good.