Wednesday, 23 March 2016

A tour of PRINCE2 Principles - Manage by Stages (4)

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 4 - Manage by Stages.
PRINCE2 Principles

Principle 4 - Manage by Stages

This is a powerful principle of PRINCE2. The first part of the principle is that PlanningEstimating and thus Budgeting for a whole Project is difficult to a reasonable degree of accuracy. As I put it in a post, you are likely to suffer from Planner's droop! as the accuracy of plans often drops with time. So PRINCE2 offers the concept of the Stage. So you have a firm plan and budget for the current stage and a more outline plan and budget for the remainder of the project.

The second part of the principle is that the end of a Stage forces a formal checkpoint or preferably a Gate where the firm plan and budget for the next Stage is presented and ideally the Business Case is reassessed and also presented. In the best organisations this assessment is done with participation from outside the Project owners to ensure impartiality. The approach forces one or several check(s) part way through on the Project viability in line with PRINCE2 Principle 1. Have a read of my post on Gated reviews.

Where to select the Stage boundary? Look for a point in the project life-cycle where more certainty on estimates can be provided and before any big commitment to costs or rapid increase in burn rate. In an IT Project utilising a waterfall style approach, a Stage covering Analysis and Design is a good choice so a Stage gated review happens before the commencement of Build / Construction.

Lastly, don't forget that PRINCE2 mandates a special Stage called Initiation where the brief is fully understood, Business Case is extended or created, plans (including use of Stages), estimates, budgets etc are established. I wrote a post covering a check-list for Initiation which is worth a read.

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 - this one!
  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

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