Ulf Livoff, project manager and PRINCE2® trainer, has always had an interest in simulations and mathematical modelling. Having founded Inference Labs to develop learning simulators, he is now applying this interest to creating online PRINCE2 project environments which help learners and practitioners to visualize how the guidance works in practice.
People who have certified in PRINCE2 are keen to see what the best practice guidance looks like in a real project and how all the “moving parts” fit together as a whole. Having just passed the exam, it’s not unusual for them to have questions about real-life application of the PRINCE2 method beyond the theory. But before they get the chance to test their new-found knowledge in practice, why not give people the opportunity to have a simulated project they can interact with?
This is very different to the traditional e-learning approach, with its linear style and multi-choice question at the end. Instead, simulation provides a computer game approach to learning. And, just as with a flight simulator, you can practice on something that’s difficult to do in real life without ending up with a multimillion-dollar bill if you “crash”!
Clearly, projects and project managers have been operating for some time without simulators, but there are often some basic areas that could be handled better. Simulation means practitioners can observe different parts of PRINCE2 and how to apply its principles to particular issues.
Experiencing a PRINCE2 simulation
Simulating a PRINCE2 project environment allows project managers to view complex dynamics and interactions, for example how to create a business case in a way that mimics real-life situations. Because of this, people need to make active decisions during the simulation process rather than reading a theory about what they could do.
Learning through simulation means that information is stored in the brain more efficiently than only reading about a topic. Ultimately, it offers a more engaging experience and increases the time people are willing to spend with the material and be motivated to use it.
In practice, I believe there are several ways learners and practitioners could make use of the simulation-approach to PRINCE2:
- Used as an add-on support tool while studying the course – carry out simulated exercises with a partner and discuss what’s you’ve learned.
- Investigating a particular area of PRINCE2 to see how the principles are used, e.g. how to develop a project plan.
- Used as a tool to “brush-up” on various topics within the guidance, e.g. before facilitating a planning meeting.
- Going through scenarios according to PRINCE2 with an assembled team when a real project is scheduled to start – review the approach that you want to take for that particular project.
The PRINCE2 method is well described and fits together. However, what could help professionals at Foundation level is a greater ability to return to the workplace, recognize the “big picture” and see how the concepts can be applied successfully to actual projects.
Having access to simulated learning in addition to theoretical input provides a tool and a safe environment to help get the basics of the method in place.