Begin with the end in mind.
PRINCE2 is one of the most commonly used project management methods in the world. There are lots of reasons why this is the case e.g.
- A strong focus on business justification throughout the project lifecycle,
- It advocates clearly defined roles and responsibilities
- Projects broken down into manageable stages
There is one other area which for me is key to project success and that is PRINCE2’s ‘focus on products’. I say this because it has a significant bearing on two critical aspects of project delivery – Planning and Quality.
PRINCE2 suggests that we should ‘begin with the end in mind’ and this supports a strong focus on the products to be delivered. From a planning perspective, our first consideration should not be on’ what do we have to do?’ but on what products do we need to produce and to what quality? The PRINCE2 Product based planning technique provides an ideal opportunity to achieve this.
Project Product Description and Product Breakdown Structure
If we start with the project itself we can define what the project must produce in the Project Product Description. This will not only define the final output of the project but also define the quality to which it must be delivered (the acceptance criteria). We need this as a starting point to ensure we have a clear understanding of what the project must produce.
Once we have produced this we can then move on to scope the component products which are required to deliver this in a Product Breakdown structure. This is a very effective tool in scoping the project. Working on a project a few years ago the final product was a regional development plan for a city. The plan had to be short (no more than 30 pages) – sounds straight forward but when we did the Product Breakdown structure we identified 75 component products which had to be produced to support the delivery of the development plan.
PRINCE2 Product Descriptions
Once we have identified the component products we need to describe them. Producing product descriptions gives you the opportunity to be clear about what these products are and by including the users in their definition we ensure we take their requirements into account. We specify the quality criteria against which they will be reviewed thus ensuring that the product will be fit for purpose and meet the users’ requirements.
PRINCE2 Product Flow Diagram
The Product flow diagram allows us to sequence the order of delivery of the products. This is a good starting point for the development of our schedule as it allows us to understand the order in which the products must be delivered and the dependencies between them.
Begin with the end in mind
So, when it comes to planning your project PRINCE2 can help keep you focused. By using the PRINCE2 Product Based Planning technique it keeps you focused on the products to be produced and the quality to which they need to be delivered – so you ‘begin with the end in mind’.