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Getting to Grips with PRINCE2 Themes

Everyone can have a brilliant idea for a product or service. The trick is to make sure that you follow the right steps to turn the idea into reality. PRINCE2’s themes help ensure this. They are the seven critical aspects of project management that, addressed and considered throughout the project, make it a success.

  1. Are you on the case? You’ve got a great idea but how do you know if it will pay off? The Business Case enables you to balance the expected benefits with the estimated risks and costs. While benefits outweigh costs and risks you continue with the project. When they don’t, you stop the project. Here’s a simplified example: imagine that you have decided to achieve X within one year because it will result in Y. You’ve kind of looked at the risks and costs and they seem acceptable. Now imagine that it’s five years and thousands of dollars or pounds later and although you still haven’t got X up and running, the project is stumbling on. Well if you had only subjected your idea to the rigor of the PRINCE2 business case it would have reduced the chances of this happening.
  2. Who's doing what? Ever organised an event where everyone thought someone else was in charge and that someone else was doing what needed to be done so that in the end nothing got done? Well, if only everyone had known how to use PRINCE2. Putting it in very simple terms, its Organisation theme ensures people know their roles (roles not jobs, because roles may be shared and combined) and know who they’re reporting to. In fact, it ensures that the buck stops somewhere for there are some people who will direct, some who will manage and some who will deliver a project. Result? Absolutely!
  3. Is it up to scratch? We have all bought something that promised particular features and results and then lo and behold you unpack it and it doesn’t live up to expectations. PRINCE2 can ensure your customer doesn’t suffer such disappointments. Quality is a key theme of PRINCE2 that can apply to a product, a person, a process, a service and/or a system. By using the methodology you can be clear on what the customer wants, what you and the customer have agreed will be acceptable, how to achieve the required result, what should be in the product description and, you can also create a quality register which summarises planned and completed quality activities.
  4. What’s the plan? We all use plans every day, whether it’s to plan our day, to plan how to make something or to plan how to get somewhere. Business is no different. The beauty of PRINCE2 is that its Plans theme makes the planning of a project effective and efficient. Simply put, its product-based planning approach tells everyone involved what is required, how it will be achieved, who will achieve it, what they will use, when things will happen and whether you can produce the product within the required parameters.
  5. What kind of a gamble is it? If we’re planning a summer barbecue there’s a risk it could rain and stop the event; if we’re manufacturing something there’s a risk that our component supplier won’t deliver on time. Risk is all around us and it can be positive and negative. PRINCE2’s aim with the Risk theme, therefore, is to manage it through taking steps such as having a strategy, a register of threats and opportunities and a risk management procedure.
  6. All change? You’ve created a product and got everything right about it and then would you believe it someone decides that they want to change the packaging. Well, perhaps you would believe it. Projects, like life, are subject to change. All you can do is manage change. Using a systematic and common approach PRINCE2’s Change theme helps ensure you can identify, locate and control unexpected or expected changes to the established baselines for the products. (You need baselines otherwise you won’t know what the change is.)
  7. Are we making progress? This is kind of a no-brainer. After all it’s no good patting ourselves on the back for our achievements if those weren’t what the project was about. So PRINCE2’s Progress theme helps you keep a weather eye on how things are going. It involves monitoring and comparing actual with planned results, providing a forecast for project objectives and viability and involves controlling any unacceptable deviations. The kind of things that would be looked at are cost, time and quality and these would then inform decisions such as whether to close a project down early.

Useful Links

  • If you think PRINCE2 can't help you because you only do small scale projects, that couldn't be further from the truth. PRINCE2 for Small-scale Projects demonstrates its "light-touch" approach.
  • Big company? Big ideas? PRINCE2 Consulting can help you implement and use PRINCE2 effectively thanks to our consultants whose expertise has helped diverse organisations worldwide such as Vodafone, Chester City Council and Clifford.
  • Some books are hard to put down and we think we have a few of them in our PRINCE2 bookstore. Come and browse!
  • Want to know what our PRINCE2 e-learning course looks like? Watch here.

    Are you social? Then connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and on our Forum.

    The APMG has a slew of useful information about PRINCE2 accredited training options.

  • For definitive information about PRINCE2 the Cabinet Office is the place to go on everything from the history of the methodology to all the Best Management Practice products in its portfolio.