Prince2 embedding – by stealth

I am studying for Prince2 foundation exam and it is very obvious that Prince2 is expected to be introduced from the top down. The embedding – which means introducing Prince2 into an organization – talks about securing executive commitment, building high level strategies and other nonsense high-commitment steps. And the corresponding templates are all overwrought, with actual content appearing somewhere towards page 3 or 4 only.

My view on project management is quite different. In a small organization, projects are often unmanaged in any real sense of the word. However that has a price that those projects then can cause sudden unexpected problem and have to be dealt with.

I feel that this is basically choosing a price to pay. It can be paid early in project management overhead, or later, through overpaid consultants, failed projects and/or burned out people who suddenly have to deal with unexpected consequences.

The problem however is that management often does not experience the pain directly and therefore does not feel the pressing need to invest in deliberate, planned Prince2 embedding process. After all, if they already were effective in coordinating efforts to achieve results, why would they need Prince2?

So, what I feel is needed in those situations is a lightweight, gradual rollout of Prince2 that can be done by the person actually doing project management and therefore interested in reducing risk, improving processes and reducing possibility of project failure for which they will be blamed. Not very Prince2 of course to blame PM, it should be The Executive’s fault, but go tell that to the Executive.

Yet, the gradual rollout – by stealth – would require a very different set of strategies that Prince2 manuals seem to cover. I would have expected to see discussion points such as:

  • most bang for the back,
  • starting with daily log,
  • are we there yet,
  • the simplest Project Initiation Document, and
  • 10 Prince2 questions to ask at the start of the project, without being obvious

Some of this is covered by other project management books, but, given the popularity of Prince2, it would have been useful to have some specifically tailored for that methodology and cycle definition.

2 thoughts on “Prince2 embedding – by stealth”

  1. I think this is an indictment of the traditional forms of project management discipline. They pre-suppose the existence in an organization of the kinds of management practices that themselves align with project management methodologies, while failing to examine the potential for project management discipline to arise organically within the larger management frameworks. Additionally, they are far too heavy for small organizations. For small organizations, I like some variant of agile better, because it focuses on implementing only the process pieces that are required to achieve the result and provide insight into the project’s progress.

    As an aside, I would be interested to know how you think Prince2 compares with other methods, like PMI/PMBOK.

  2. Prince2 actually has scaling (tailoring) as one of the important aspects. So, you can use it to run small projects and a lot of documents get simplified then. My article is not complaint about tailoring Prince2, but about embedding (step by step).

    And you can combine Prince2 with agile methodologies, as they agile processes can easily fit into the ‘managing product delivery’ stage. If need be, Prince2 stage can be equivalent to a sprint or a couple of sprints. Team Manager can be Scrum master. And so on. Prince2 adds other things instead, like making sure the Executive thinks about risk and defines tolerances, etc. Like ensuring that there is a daily log for the project and that past lessons-learned are actively looked for before starting the project. That there is a post-deployment wrap up and lessons-learned and handover is defined.

    As to PMI/PMBOK, I have no idea. I am not a project manager. I just run into the high price of having ‘organic management process’ and feel that more formal project management techniques (Prince2 or whatever) might help. One of the reasons to use a well-known framework is so there is at least a chance to have multiple people on the same page. Prince2 fills that role well. I do not particularly want to reinvent the bicycle here, as the project management is not exciting to me, it is just the way to get things done without too much drama.

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