Monday, 28 March 2016

A tour of PRINCE2 Principles - Manage by Exception (5)

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 5 - Manage by Exception.
PRINCE2 Principles

Principle 5 - Manage by Exception

Although PRINCE2 really promotes the role of Project Owner (see Principle 3), it recognises that a Project Board made up of senior stakeholders probably don't have time for day to day involvement. So this principle is about setting the framework in terms of a "contract" between the Owner and the Project Manager who has freedom to operate within the terms and tolerances defined. The contract is what I call I like to call the Project Definition (PRINCE2 calls it the Project Initiation Document) or indeed the Stage Plan which sits under this to manage a particular Stage. Have a read of my post on Project Definition which speaks of a Kipling poem "I keep seven honest serving men...."

The Project Board members can therefore reasonably assume, within the framework of the relevant agreed plan that No news is (broadly) good news.

Despite this principle I always look to keep the Project Board up to date on execution status (including hot issues, risks, change requests, spend against budget etc) by:
  1. Drafting a weekly status report and issuing this to the Project Board members. This is a one way communication but the Sponsor / Board members can come back if they read and have queries. Have a read of this post on Status Reporting for more details.
  2. Having a Project Board meeting around once a month. This forces the Board members to keep in touch with execution status as well as being a forum for discussion of points the Project Manager wishes to raise requesting guidance. Have a read of this post on Project Board meeting preparation for more details.
However, if you a forecasting to be outside the tolerances set in Project Definition or Stage Plan you need to escalate to your owning Board. Other reasons to escalate include a high impact Issue which you cannot resolve within the Project team. Have a read of this post on why, when and how to escalate for more details.

Finally, sometimes a Project Manager can adopt the principle to reduce day to day involvement in some task areas. This is when a piece of work is packaged up carefully into a Work Package and given to a third party or internal team manager. When defining the Work Package you define the tolerances and reporting requirements so this principle comes into play. Have a read of this post on Work Package principles.

Other PRINCE2 Principles

The other PRINCE2 Principles are:
  1. Business Justification - continuously throughout the Project execution
  2. Learn from Experience - from previous Projects
  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 - this one!
  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


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