Friday, 11 March 2016

A tour of PRINCE2 Principles - Learn from Experience (2)

Like Snow White, the PRINCE2 Project Management methodology is built around 7 helpers :-) There are 7 guiding Principles, 7 Project Management Themes leading to 7 Processes. In a series of posts,  I want to take you through the 7 PRINCE2 Principles, my views on them aiding Project success and relate these to other posts on the Better Sheepdog site. Let me continue with Principle 2 - Learn from Experience.
PRINCE2 Principles

Principle 2 - Learn from Experience

The second principle is that Project execution is improved by previous Project learnings. I remember this through a Proverb from philosopher George Santayana who stated "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

This is broken into 3 parts in my mind:
  1. The Project Manager (PM) should bring his / her personal learnings to bear in Project execution
  2. The Project Manager should seek organisational learnings from previous Project executions at the organisation in question
  3. The Project Manager should deliver lessons learnt from the current Project for the benefit of future Projects.
For #1, I encourage all PMs to always take learnings out of every Project they run. Many organisations, if recruiting externally, like to look for a PM with a track record in the particular project domain for this reason. #2 is a bold aim but I haven't personally seen organisations succeeding by achieving a usable database for other PMs to find key lessons to apply. However, I have got some benefit from speaking with individuals previously involved in the domain area. Lastly, you don't get #1 and #2 without #3 so please plan for this. Have a read of my post on lessons learnt.

My final point to make about lessons is that often the focus is on the negatives, things that didn't go too well. You should also look for positive lessons i.e. best practices which may apply to your organisation or project domain.

Other PRINCE2 Principles

The other PRINCE2 Principles are:
  1. Business Justification - continuously throughout the Project execution
  2. Learn from Experience - this one!
  3. Defined Roles and Responsibilities - so there is clear understanding of who is responsible for what
  4. Manage by Stages - breaking down the Project execution into manageable chunks with gate reviews to move from one to the next
  5. Manage by Exception - once plans are in place with the owner, no news is good news
  6. Focus on Products - a focus on what is being produced rather than activities is beneficial
  7. Tailor to suit the environment - the methodology should be tailored to the environment, organisational culture, size, complexity and risks


Having spent the previous 15 months adopting Agile methodologies and seeing the benefits when applied in software development projects, I still believe that these 7 principles remain true. One can argue that the principle of "tailoring to suit the environment" would include determining on whether Agile is more suitable than Waterfall or whether a hybrid approach is recommended. What do you think?

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