What is the PRINCE2 PRIMER and how can we use it in IBM i Projects?

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Jul 15

PRINCE stands for PROjects IN Controlled Environments – The PRINCE2 PRIMER is a Masterclass teaching project managers how to grab PRINCE2 and shake it by it’s tail.

Prince2 is a structured method for effective project management. It is a process-based approach for project management providing an easily tailored and scalable method the management of all types of projects. The PRINCE2 PRIMER method is the de-facto standard for project management in the UK and is practiced worldwide.

A Potted History of Prince

The method was established by the central computer and telecommunications agency in 1989, originally developed from a project management method created by Simpact Systems in 1975 this was originally known as PROMPTII. Four years later in 1979 it was adopted by the CCTA (know known as the Office of Government Commerce) as the standard used for all government information projects.

  Ten year later, 1989 arrives and PRINCE is born out of the earlier path of Prompt. Prince Development continued and was further refined over the following years. Prince2, as we know it, was born in 1996 with improved guidance on project management aimed at all types of projects, not just information systems. Hundreds, if not thousands, of project teams have contributed to the organic growth of Prince as the methodology of choice Project Management Teams everywhere: Building on mistakes made, improvements discovered and fine tuning the methodology behind Prince2 has made PRINCE2 the de-facto standard used extensively by the UK government and is widely recognized and used in the private sector, both in the UK and worldwide.

What is PRINCE2?

Before we go into the specifics of PRINCE2, there are some general points about the subject of project management, which should help put everything into context…

Why project management is important

Whenever we decide we want to do something, go somewhere, build something, achieve something, we need to know the answer to some questions. What are we trying to do? When will we start? What do we need? Can we do it alone, or do we need help? How long will it take? How much will it cost? These are typical questions asked at the start of any project and the answers are the building blocks of project management – defining what we want to do and working out the best way we can do it.

Structured project management means managing the project in a logical, organised way, following defined steps. A structured project management method is the written description of this logical, organized approach. PRINCE2 is a structured project management method.

We have briefly covered what structured project management, and hence PRINCE2, are all about. Now for some more details about the PRINCE2 method.

Coverage of PRINCE2
The PRINCE2 PRIMER says that a project should have:

  • An organized and controlled start, ie organize and plan things properly before leaping in.
  • An organized and controlled middle, ie when the project has started, make sure it continues to be organized and controlled.
  • An organized and controlled end, ie when you’ve got what you want and the project has finished, tidy up the loose ends.

In order to describe what a project should do when, PRINCE2 has a series of processes which cover all the activities needed on a project from starting up to closing down.

Organizing and controlling a project means that we need to have someone responsible for doing the organizing and controlling – this person is called the Project Manager. The Project Manager will select people to do the work on the project and will be responsible for making sure the work is done properly and on-time. The Project Manager draws up the Project Plans that describe what the project team will actually be doing and when they expect to finish.

The person who is paying for the project is called the customer or executive. The person who is going to use the results or outcome of the project, or who will be impacted by the outcome of a project, is called the user. On some projects, the customer and user may be the same person. The person who provides the expertise to do the actual work on the project (ie will be designing and building the outcome) is called the supplier or specialist. All of these people need to be organized and co-ordinated so that the project delivers the required outcome within budget, on time and to the appropriate quality.

Each PRINCE2 project will have a Project Board made up of the customer (or executive), someone who can represent the user side and someone to represent the supplier or specialist input. In PRINCE2, these people are called Customer, Senior User and Senior Supplier respectively. The Project Manager reports regularly to the Project Board, keeping them informed of progress and highlighting any problems he/she can foresee. The Project Board is responsible for providing the Project Manager with the necessary decisions for the project to proceed and to overcome any problems.

Providing an independent view of how the project is progressing is the job of Project Assurance. In PRINCE2, there are three views of assurance; business, user and specialist. Each view reflects the interests of the three Project Board members. Assurance is about checking that the project remains viable in terms of costs and benefits (business assurance), checking that the users’ requirements are being met (user assurance), and that the project is delivering a suitable solution (specialist or technical assurance). On some projects, the assurance is done by a separate team of people called the Project Assurance Team, but the assurance job can be done by the individual members of the Project Board themselves.

On most projects there is a lot of administrative work needed, keeping everyone informed, arranging meetings, keeping plans up-to-date, chasing things up, keeping files, etc. Project Managers often do all this work themselves, particularly on smaller projects. But if there are a number of projects going on at the same time, a Project Support Office can be setup to help the Project Managers with this work.

Apart from describing the different people involved on a PRINCE2 project, and what they are each responsible for, the method also explains how to manage risk, how to manage quality, and how to control change on the project. Risk Management is about working out what could go wrong and planning what to do if it does. Quality Management is about checking the quality of work done on the project, either by testing it or reviewing the work in some way. There are always lots of changes during the life of a project; people change their minds, other things happen, which affect what the project is doing. PRINCE2 has a technique of controlling the way changes impact the project in order to prevent the project going off in the wrong direction.

So, PRINCE2 is a method for managing projects. It helps you work out who should be involved and what they will be responsible for. It gives you a set of processes to work through and explains what information you should be gathering along the way. But PRINCE2 doesn’t do the work for you, it cannot guarantee that your projects will be successful. Good projects, which deliver quality results, on-time and within budget are dependent on the quality of people involved from Project Board down to individual team members.

And finally
Having read this brief introduction to project management and PRINCE2 PRIMER, the next thing to do is go on a training course and find out more! I happen to know a certified PRINCE2 INSTRUCTOR, Dave Litten, who is simply the best in the world. #noexaggeration

Check out the PRINCE2 PRIMER

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About the Author

IBM i Software Developer, Digital Dad, AS400 Anarchist, RPG Modernizer, Alpha Nerd and Passionate Eater of Cheese and Biscuits. Nick Litten Dot Com is a mixture of blog posts that can be sometimes serious, frequently playful and probably down-right pointless all in the space of a day. Enjoy your stay, feel free to comment and in the words of the most interesting man in the world: Stay thirsty my friend.