Published here September, 2006. 

PRINCE2 Concepts: Project Management Team Roles and Responsibilities
PRINCE2 Concepts: Document Description Outlines
Downside: Product and Project Life Spans | Downside: Project Manager's Responsibilities
Control | Downside: Project Management Product Description Documents

Downside: Product and Project Life Spans

Figure 3, that we displayed earlier, shows PRINCE2's comparison of the product life span and project life cycle. It is our view that the labels are misnamed and should be the other way round. It is the product that typically gets cycled by being continually upgraded, for example as in software. It is the project that moves inexorably from start to finish, albeit perhaps with some iterations along the way, as in a life span. Indeed, the 2002 version of PRINCE2 spoke of it having the characteristic of "A finite and defined life span" (emphasis added). We were therefore very disappointed to see this changed to "cycle" in the 2005 version.[20] We hope that the next PRINCE2 version re-examines this terminology.

As we mentioned in our introduction, the scope of PRINCE2 is limited to the execution phases of a project. For the front-end work you must refer to a different OGC document, Managing Successful Programmes, that contemplates a different management environment. Consequently, the PRINCE2 coverage is more akin to "construction management" in the construction industry. While this is common in the construction industry, we are not comfortable with this limitation in the general application of project management.

PRINCE2 speaks of "stages" rather than "phases" and states that while the use of stages is mandatory, their number is flexible according to the needs of the project.[21] PRINCE2 also differentiates between technical stages and management stages. Technical stages are typified by a particular set of specialist skills, while management stages equate to 'go or no-go' decisions, commitment of resources and authority to spend. The two are separate concepts and may or may not coincide.[22]

Obviously, this section of the manual has given problems in the past because the text has been substantially reorganized since 2002. Two illustrations, Figures 5 and 6, show the same set of "product" activities and how they might be displayed normally and under the "management stages" concepts.

Figure 5: Product activities crossing stage boundaries
Figure 5: Product activities crossing stage boundaries
Figure 6: Products broken down to fit project management stages
Figure 6: Products broken down to fit project management stages

To us the latter seems to be something of a "force fit" and we think the result is still unconvincing. Indeed, we think that the project management control points, or gates representing phase ends, should be properly aligned with the major milestones of the natural project life span for the type of project. Thus, for a properly aligned methodology this added complication would be unnecessary.

Concepts: Document Description Outlines  Concepts: Document Description Outlines

20. Ibid, p7
21. Ibid, p246
22. Ibid, p248
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