Published here March 2007.

PART 1 | OT: The Planning Process: 1 | OT: The Planning Process: 2
OT: The Planning Process: 3 | OT: Who is Really in Charge? | OT: Availability of Resources
OT: Application of PRINCE2 to Projects: 1 | OT: Application of PRINCE2 to Projects: 2

Original Text: Application of PRINCE2 to Average Projects: 2[26]

And so it seems to us, when presenting project management methodologies for the population at large, it is the middle ground that should be covered.

Colin Bentley:

So what does anyone with a really large project do? Look for another method? When I was taught mathematics, I had to learn my tables by rote. I don't have to go back through them now to calculate what 8 x 6 is. I remember and pass through in the blink of an eye. I believe the same applies to PRINCE2. You learn it thoroughly, and then you can move quickly through it as you become more experienced. Simplifying a method is OK for the experienced, but the newcomers sometimes need a fuller explanation to get from one 'simple' step to the next.

Max Wideman:

Yes, that's very much an engineer's philosophy of which I, too, am guilty. If you can mandate "table learning", (which in these days of hand-held devices seems to be becoming dubious), and you can mandate the use of PRINCE2, (by government fiat), all that is well and good. But if you have to actually sell the product then you need something that people will actually buy into.

I suggest that a simpler model that people can understand and apply and that works 80% of the time is more useful than a complex and hard-to-use model. The hard-to-use model may work 95% of the time but people are not willing to buy and use it because of its lack of ease and simplicity. True that PRINCE2 is scalable but that scalability needs to be transparent. It is much easier to graduate people from a set of basic or simple concepts that they have bought into rather than throw them into the deep end perhaps against their better judgment.

But there is a much more compelling reason. Suppose a project experiences difficulties that end up in litigation, as so often happens in such cases. Then the common likelihood is that you will be faced with legal confrontation. To substantiate their case, the opposing lawyers will look around for "best practices". Whether or not PRINCE2 was actually adopted, it may well be used as the "standard for comparison". In which case, if there is anything that a project manager has not done, even if it was considered and rejected as unnecessary, the project manager is in a vulnerable position. That's why I believe the general case should be the norm, with separate options for the very small or the very large.

Colin Bentley:

I'm sorry, but I just don't understand this last paragraph. You seem to be saying that because PRINCE2 states what should be done at each detailed step of the way, this could be a bad thing for a Project Manager who has not done one or more of these steps, so PRINCE2 should be more vague in order to hide any failings from a lawyer's eyes? This does seem rather negative, especially as you say "whether or not PRINCE2 was actually used"!

Max Wideman:

Negative or not, and palatable or not, I am just expressing what I believe to be the reality of real legal risk, especially in North America.

* * * * *

Readers should note that in spite of these exchanges, we do feel that PRINCE2 is a solid methodology that can be recommended. As with any methodology, provided always that the methodology is applied appropriately according to the type of project (area of project management application) and with the right level of "ceremony" suited to the size, scale or complexity of the project.

Our hope is that such discussions as this will help to improve still further the next version of PRINCE2.

OT: Application of PRINCE2 to Average Projects: 1  OT: Application of PRINCE2 to Average Projects: 1

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