PRINCE2 is not a rule book!

The PRINCE2 manual is not a rule book.  There’s no such thing as “PRINCE2 compliant” and if you’re “using all of it” you’re probably doing too much. You only need to follow the PRINCE2 manual word for word to pass the exam.  After that you adopt and adapt to whatever gets your project done right. That doesn’t mean throw the whole thing away.  PRINCE2 is the world’s most popular project management method for good reason.  It’s full of good stuff  that will help you.  But don’t get carried away.

A guide not a straight jacket

The PRINCE2 manual is a reference manual.  Use it when you need some guidance on how to handle an aspect of your project.   The reason PRINCE2 is not a rule book is that it designed to tailored. Take the Management Products that PRINCE2 provides. Many people look at those and all they see are documents.  A PRINCE2 project doesn’t mean spending all your time writing documents.  Management Products, such as Highlight Reports or End Stage Assessments could be documents – but they could be emails, a slide deck, even a conversation.  They only need to be documents if it’s appropriate.  That depends on the size and complexity of your project.

Works for small projects

Students sometimes say they only have a small team – so PRINCE2 won’t work as it’s for large projects.  They’re surprised when I tell them that the minimum number of people on a PRINCE2 project could be 2! The key is to adapt the roles PRINCE2 provides to your circumstances. The 2 individuals on the Project Team would be 1 person carrying out the Project Board decision making and one person as the Project Manager.  Also, it’s not important what you call the role e.g. the Executive is called a Sponsor – what’s important is that the individual doing the job understands “what is expected of me.”

Follow the Principles

What makes a PRINCE2 project work is to make sure you apply the 7 principles. To me, the Principles are just good project management practice. Principles such as Continued Business Justification and Defined Roles and Responsibilities are the kind of things any Project Manager should be thinking about in their projects. Follow the Principles and you will become a better Project Manager. The key to PRINCE2 is using common sense.  The methodology gives you the tools to manage projects effectively.  It’s how you use them that counts.  If you treat the PRINCE2 manual as a rule book you’ll get stuck.  Use it with common sense and PRINCE2 becomes what it is meant to be – a great project management methodology.

Ask for Advice

It can be daunting knowing where to start on your first PRINCE2 project after you qualify.  Our students can ask for advice at any time after their course and someone from our experienced team will provide some guidance.  There’s no charge for this service.

Paul Atkin