Project management is something that companies need to get right. Just ask the Ford Motor Company; the business world still talks about the Ford Edsel in the hushed tones of a campfire horror story.
According to Time magazine, the Edsel was a product that took too long to reach a market that had already moved on, and so has gone down in history as an object lesson in poor project management. Good planning, especially around the development of new products, should ensure that story isn’t repeated.
The PRINCE2 approach to projects
One of the leading approaches to processes for project management is PRINCE2, a sequence of practices and protocols designed to ensure projects remain on track and true to their purpose throughout their lifecycle.
PRINCE2 is the second generation of an approach described as ‘PRojects IN Controlled Environments’ and business processes are central to the approach. Developed out of the PROMPT methodologies, PRINCE2 focuses on ensuring that every part of a project is directed towards achieving the organization’s strategic goals. In order to make sure an Edsel doesn’t slip through, every project under PRINCE2 is justified with a comprehensive business case, and resourced for success.
The PRINCE2 methodologies can be applied to any project, from a one-day event to the construction of extensive plant or property. It defines a project as a temporary organization created within an enterprise or business for the purpose of delivering defined products according to an agreed business plan. That means there is a clear start and finish point, explicit reasons and expected benefits for pursuing it, and an identified team to make it happen.
Six steps to better processes for project management
At the heart of PRINCE2 are six key processes. These define the lifecycle of the project and shape the responsibilities within it. Whether it runs through multiple stages or is complete in just one or two, the framework creates a reliable structure that ensures expectations are clear and boundaries are solid for the length of the project.
The six central processes are:
1. Starting up a project
This process provides the project board with the key information they need to determine whether the project should get the green light. It serves as a gatekeeping function and determines if the project is worthwhile and viable. Short and decisive, a project that is accepted after this stage goes on to the next step.
2. Initiating a project
In the initiation stage, the foundation for the project is laid down. It clarifies the expectations for all stakeholders, including planning milestones, confirming the approach to things like quality and risk management, and completing the business case.
3. Controlling a stage
Controlling a stage is the work of the project manager, and this process describes their day-to-day activities. That includes authorizing work packages, following their progress, and reporting on the project status. It’s also their role to identify issues and risks and correct or escalate them when circumstances demand.
4. Managing product delivery
At the next level down, team managers take on work packages that outline the products required, then plan and produce them within the required limits. This is a microcosm of the stage-control process, at a team level, and results in the delivery of the authorized product.
5. Managing stage boundaries
This process assures the project board that everything is on track, and is especially important when running a project with multiple stages or products. One of the vital elements is collecting lessons learned from the stage, to inform the approach to future stages, as well as reporting on the progress made and updating the business case in line with the outcomes.
6. Closing down a project
Having a predetermined end to the project is a key tenet of PRINCE2, and a natural part of the project lifecycle. Of course, not every project makes it that far, and so part of this process is determining where and when to close the project off, handing over the completed products, and reporting on the experience.
All of these are overseen by the project board in a directorial role, coordinating the activity sets in an executive process that approves, evaluates, and resources the efforts.
Putting processes at the heart of your projects
The strength of PRINCE2 processes for project management is the reliance on these clear, well-defined processes. They outline the structure and expectations of every step with easily understood boundaries. Each team has lines of accountability and stated outcomes to work to, ensuring no one is left wondering what happens next.
It’s also product-based, keeping the deliverables front-of-mind for all participants, and divides the entire project into manageable chunks. What’s more, the framework can be tailored to almost any context, and is easily repeatable for multiple projects, creating a familiar and well-tested formula for managing projects across the organization.
PRINCE2 project management provides a best practice framework for any project. To make the most of this industry-proven tool for your business, download a full set of PRINCE2 process templates from the Nintex Gallery for your Nintex Promapp® site today.