Managing Sucessful Projects with Prince 2: The APM Group Ltd
The Stationery Office Books | ISBN: 0113308558 | 2000-03-22 | PDF (OCR) | 342 pages | 1.97 Mb
This book is the officially sanctioned reference for PRINCE(PRojects IN a Controlled Environment) version 2. The PRINCE 2 approach to project management is a national standard in Great Britain that is under the cognizance of the CCTA(Central Computer & Telecommunications Agency). As such, PRINCE 2 is the British counterpart of the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), which is an American National Standard designated as ANSI/PMI 99-001-2000.
This 342 page book is composed of four sections: (1) Introduction (project management methods that PRINCE encompasses and incorporates), (2) Components (project planning, control and organization), (3) Processes (the eight PRINCE 2 processes: Planning (PL), Directing a Project (DP), Starting up a Project (SU), Initiating a Project (IP), Managing Stage Boundaries (SB),Controlling a Stage (CS), Managing Product Delivery (MP), Closing a Project (CP)), and (4) Techniques (Product Breakdown Structure, quality reviews, etc.). The book also contains appendices that are valuable. One of the better ones discusses PRINCE 2's relationship to ISO 9000 with respect to quality.
Note that to someone not familiar with PRINCE 2 the Starting up a project and Initiating a project may seem ambiguous or redundant. During start-up the key players are identified and preliminary plans and briefs are developed; during initiation the initial planning is done and project controls and administration is developed and instituted.
The big question is how does PRINCE 2 compare to the PMBOK. Here are what I consider to be the key differences: PRINCE 2 is more focused on project assurance and its organizational structure reflects that. At the top of a PRINCE 2 project is a project board that consists of a customer (project sponsor), user (major stakeholder) and supplier representative (the organization that has control over the project's human resources). The project manager answers to this board, which represents all major stakeholder constituencies. The project board's role is active and under this arrangement there are no surprises late in the game. Contrast this with the PMBOK model under which does not impose the same formal controls and organization. It is conceivable using the PMBOK model that customers (I'm lumping the PRINCE definition of customer with the PRINCE user) could be surprised late in a project by quality or differing views on what was promised vs. what was delivered. Under the PRINCE 2 the checks and balances of the project board prevent this.
This organizational structure is also a key element of assurance. PRINCE 2 mandates three independent views of project progress: business, user and specialist, which correspond to the project board members. Discrepancies between or among any of these viewpoints can be quickly and efficiently remedied. This is an excellent system of checks and balances.
PRINCE 2 is business-case driven. The PMBOK falls far short of the mark here.
Risk management is nearly identical for both approaches. In fact the restructuring of the risk management knowledge area in the PMBOK 2000 edition into 6 process steps appears to have been inspired by PRINCE 2, which made its debut in 1996.
I think that the increased emphasis on earned value project management in the PMBOK puts that approach ahead of PRINCE 2 for project controls.
Both approaches support stages and phases, but this is one of the core processes of PRINCE 2 while the PMBOK is somewhat ambiguous. PRINCE 2 is also clearly deliverables driven, while the PMBOK does not place anywhere near the same emphasis or attach the same degree of importance to this aspect. PRINCE 2 is clearly ahead in these areas.
Why pursue PRINCE 2 certification for which this book is the definitive reference? It is essential if you expect to manage or perform a key role on a project in the British Commonwealth or in countries that were once part of the Commonwealth. This includes a large portion of the Middle East and some important Asian-Pacific countries where PRINCE 2 is highly recognized but the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification has little recognition of carries little weight.
Why read this book if the above does not apply? There are some exceptionally effective practices embodied in PRINCE 2, especially the organizational structure described above. PRINCE 2 and PMBOK are not mutually exclusive, and the best parts of PRINCE 2 can be incorporated into projects that are managed in accordance with the PMBOK. Moreover, PRINCE 2 is an ideal framework with which to build a project management office, which is only briefly touched upon in chapter 3 of the PMBOK 2000 edition, but is substantially built into the PRINCE 2 method.
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