I first discovered PRINCE2® when I moved to the UK from the United States and, I can honestly say, it was an eye-opener.
It both reinforced the project management theories explored in my early training years and provided guidance on how to use them.
Instead of guessing what to do next, PRINCE2 Practitioner offers a process-based approach which helps you think through every step of a project from beginning to end. For me, it was the “missing link” in my knowledge; helping me to see the big picture and judge the best use of resources and time in every situation.
This is so important because not all companies have robust governance structures for control and regulation or a diligent and effective Project Management Office to provide guidance and support. Nor do they all have a shared history of doing projects well, or even doing projects at all. PRINCE2 Practitioner helps project managers instil the right practices and maintain control, no matter what wider support is available.
Scale up or down
In terms of scalability, for example, knowing when to scale up or down has proved extremely useful in my experience; particularly when working with smaller clients who are not as familiar with PRINCE2.
This was certainly the case when I was hired as project manager to lead a small team through a four-week project. I ensured we took time upfront to agree how to work together, communicate, where the limits were and how to escalate if necessary. This Initiation Stage took just over a day to put in place, which left the majority of the four weeks to complete the project without having to waste valuable time second guessing everything. We had a system and it worked.
At the other end of the scale I worked as a consultant on a very large project, involving multiple stakeholders, sizeable teams and diligent methods of record keeping and reporting. My role was to assist the internal project manager and support staff to set up and launch the project, which was part of an even larger programme of change.
In total, we spent over a month on the Initiation Phase. As the project progressed and things changed (as they inevitably do), well thought-through processes were already in place. Equally, when questions arose about targets or scope, there was hard evidence to look back on to justify decisions made. Concerns, especially those resulting from faulty memories or hidden agendas, were also easily handled.
The big picture
I’ve seen PRINCE2 Practitioner deliver many, valuable benefits: from the ability to deal with unexpected situations and changing environments, to the efficiency of a common language and the confidence to deal with stakeholders.
In fact, I believe in it so much, that I am now a qualified trainer as well as project management consultant. Interestingly, my old colleagues in the US are now hearing about it too, so I anticipate they will be starting their own PRINCE2 journey.