Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Why the PRINCE2 Naysayers are Wrong


As a PRINCE2 project manager, the head of a Project Management Office implementing PRINCE2 or just a PRINCE2 supporter and stakeholder, you will for sure be challenged by “the Dark Side” – the PRINCE2 Naysayers. Here are some of the most common naysayer phrases:   
Argument 1: There is so much document overhead involved in a PRINCE2 project.

Argument 2: There are too many processes, sub-processes, themes and roles. You drown the organization in process.

Argument 3: Why fool ourselves? We cannot control the environment.

Argument 4: PRINCE2 does not embrace change.

Argument 5: PRINCE2 does not address requirement management.

Argument 6: The PRINCE2 Project Board dilutes accountability. We don’t need more boards and committees, we need clarify of responsibilities.

Heard any of these? Well, here is why they are wrong:


Argument 1: There is so much document overhead involved in a Prince2 project.
PRINCE2 is not about the documents. It is about the thinking, information and decisions. Many non-PRINCE2 approaches have minutes of meetings and an overwhelming amount of e-mails. That is also documentation, but because it is less structured, it is more likely that things will fall between chairs or have to be redone. The PRINCE2 templates can be used as checklists to ensure nothing is forgotten. The PRINCE2 documentation can be scaled to whatever is appropriate. Checkpoint reports can be in e-mails and all registers and logs can be collected in a spreadsheet if needed.


Argument 2: There are too many processes, sub-processes, themes and roles. You drown the organization in process
PRINCE2 is built on seven principles. How much more simple can it get? All the rest are recommendations on how to ensure that the principles are applied. A natural born Project Manager will do most of the PRINCE2 processes and themes by instinct, but doesn’t necessarily have a language to explain why things are done the way they are. PRINCE2 is giving processes, themes and roles names, which gives us the power to share, discuss and consciously scale them. Why would you want to lose that power?



Argument 3: Why fool ourselves? We cannot control the environment.
We cannot control nature and we cannot control everyone’s behavior, but still we decide to have traffic rules. Some will cross on red light, and a flood will break a bridge, but because the potential chaotic traffic system is quite well controlled, it gives us the opportunity to deal with the risks and outliers. We do not expect it to be 100% controlled, but we control what we can. That gives us the possibility to deal with the rest as exceptions.



Argument 4: PRINCE2 doesn’t embrace change.
Yes it does. PRINCE2 is even suggesting a change budget, so that changes can be dealt with efficiently and without unnecessary process and escalation. If a change needs to be escalated regardless, PRINCE2 has a straightforward way of supporting that change process.

One need to understand that the planning done up front (in Initiating a Project) is at a high level. It is not dictating a rigorous waterfall model. It is actually the opposite. PRINCE2 is demanding staged planning and execution to embrace new insight and needed changes.


Argument 5: PRINCE2 doesn’t address requirement management.
Correct – it doesn’t. PRINCE2 is not a development methodology. It is a project management method and this gives us great flexibility. That is why you can and should combine PRINCE2 with implementation or development methodologies suited for the type of project at hand.


Argument 6: The PRINCE2 Project Board dilutes accountability. We do not need more boards and committees. We need clarify of responsibilities.

The Project Board is not a democracy. The Executive is ultimately responsible for the project and for decisions in directing the work. The Executive happens to be supported by the Senior User and the Senior Supplier, but this does not dilute his/her accountability for the success of the project.


Next time you end up in a battle with the Naysayer Knights, you have some ammunition up your sleeves.



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