Thoughts on PRINCE2...

If you've been doing project mgt for any length of time, you've probably thought that if you've seen one project management methodology (PMM) you've seen them all, right? That was my thought when the boss threw my current project in my lap and shipped me out for PRINCE2 (Project In Controlled Environments) training. My first thought was "Great! Another PMM with a new set of nomenclature slapped on it." Though...my perception bended a bit when one of the 1st comments out of the instructors mouth was "PRINCE2 is not meant to replace your current project protocols that work well, nor is it recommended that you implement every P2 tool with your project."

I found it rather refreshing that the P2 mantra was not "This is it! The holy grail of managing projects, people! Use this exactly as instructed and your project will never fail and you'll never die. Your projects will deliver on time and under budget. And oh...don't forget to buy our bazillion $ software products on your way out the door. Bye-bye, have a nice day." What they don't tell you is they don't use their project mgt products on their own projects because they're too cumbersome.

Instead, I've found that P2 tools have blended well with existing practices from other PMMs - such as Six Sigma (known internally as Sun Sigma), other PMM practices, & internally developed best practices. Further, I've come to appreciate the flexibility of taking specific P2 tools and molding them to meet the specific needs of the program team.

The best part of P2? The program team org structure. Here's a simple P2-based organization diagram of my project:

GenericStarlightOrgDiagram

















It places all the right people in the right position to \*really\* be engaged with the project. The program board for my project includes my VP and four of his direct reports (mostly at the director level - including my boss...who plays the role of Sr. Supplier). The project is managed by exception...meaning there are time and budget boundaries agreed to up front. Exceptions that can be managed within these boundaries require no board approval. Exceeded boundaries are escalated to the board by me (the prog mgr) w/ proposed actions. I meet w/ the program board every other week...pretty sweet deal to have that calibur of execs fully in the know on your project!

Another thing I like about the program team structure is the engagement of a project mgt team (AKA team mgrs in P2 terms)...individual Project Managers focusing on their area of expertise (as opposed to a single PM playing the role of the entire project mgt team). They report to the Program Mgr in a matrixed fashion. How many projects have you been on where 'Proj/Prog Mgr' included the roles of Dev Mgr, Quality Assurance Mgr, Business Analyst, Training Mgr, Support Mgr, Data Mgr, Sales Mgr, Marketing Mgr. etc.? Sure most small projects might get away with this model, but you're doomed for burn-out and failure if you attempt it with larger projects.

So....there's my initial 2 cents on PRINCE2...more to come...
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Sr. Community Engineering Program Manager/Acting Director for Sun's external social networking sites (blogs, forums, wikis, etc.). Skrocki's personal blog, LinkedIn.

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