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3 Common Pitfalls to Avoid with PRINCE2

Our previous blog showed how to apply positive project management habits to PRINCE2. Now, we’ll look at the other side of the coin. Although project success rates are growing, project managers still struggle with many common pitfalls. Here are some of the ways PRINCE2 can prepare you for them.

  1. Unclear scope

Every good project has a clear goal. It’s easier to assign work and correct problems when you know the end goal. Along with a clear scope, it also makes it easier to define project success. Even small changes like changing the colour of a logo create delays. When these little changes go unchecked, they can ruin projects. Here are some of PRINCE2’s tools for staying on scope:

  • Project Initiation Document (PID) – As the name suggests, this document is part of the Initiation stage. A complete PID will outline the project’s objectives, scope and exclusions. With these three documented, you can not only define the scope, but also manage scope creep.

  • Change control – PRINCE2 uses the term ‘issue’ to describe unplanned events that require management intervention. You can’t stop issues from arising, but you can control how they’re handled. PRINCE2 has five steps to handling issues and keeping projects on-scope. This process is abbreviated to CEPDI:

    • Capture: Determine type of issue
    • Examine: Assess the impact of the issue on the project objectives
    • Propose: Propose actions to take
    • Decide: Someone decides to approve or reject the recommended solution
    • Implement: Put the recommended solution in action

  1. Micromanagement

Micromanagement tends to be more prevalent among budding managers. However, managers at every level are susceptible to it, and the results are never good. Project teams should be able to get immersed in their work. Instead of fostering a ‘babysitting’ corporate culture, consider this:

  • Manage by exception – One of PRINCE2’s 7 core principles. It means senior managers are only alerted to major process deviations. This not only gives the project team more breathing room, but it also helps senior managers prioritise their time.

  • Communication Management Strategy (CMS) – This document on how you’ll communicate with stakeholders was brought up in the previous blog, in reference to sponsors. Since everyone in the project team is also a stakeholder, the CMS should account for them. With regular meetings, the project team and team manager won’t have to spend as much time updating you. Instead, they can raise issues without disruption.

  1. Unrealistic timelines

Project managers are eager to make clients happy with a quick product delivery, but this often leads to overambitious estimates. It’s easier to form and stick to a realistic deadline with these tools:

  • Project Plan – Part of the Project Initiation Document (PID). It details the start and end points of the project’s milestones/stages, and control points for these. By breaking the stages down, it’s easier to judge the length of the project. It will be less tempting to underestimate the project length when the stages are laid out in front of you.

  • Project Assurance – This is where manage by exception and Change Control come in. After the first delivery stage, you may no longer agree with your original timeline. You can save a new version of your Project Plan with new information and estimates. Project Assurance can help devise these new estimates. Better yet, senior managers and sponsors can lend their support to get the project back on track.

If you’d like to keep projects on track, PRINCE2 has so much more to offer. For the easiest way to get qualified, we offer an accredited Foundations course with a Pass Pledge. The Pass Pledge lets unsuccessful candidates resit the exam for free within three months of their first attempt. To find out more, click here to visit our contact page.