View Article  Time for change
I never cease to be amazed by the number of companies with a relaxed attitude towards change requests in their projects. My background is in IT and the words I used to dread most from the customer were, “Wouldn’t it be nice if…” and inevitably the customer’s perception of what the proposed change would entail was light years from reality.

If change is not controlled in your projects there are two universal truths that apply; your project will never finish as you will be too busy acceding to every customer change request and the effort involved will burn any potential for profit from the project.
View Article  Project Organisation
A PRINCE2 project has defined and agreed roles and responsibilities with an organization structure that engages the business, user and supplier stakeholder interests.

PRINCE2 is based on a customer/supplier environment. It assumes that there will be a customer who will specify the desired result and probably pay for the project, and a supplier who will provide the resources and skills to deliver that result. Every project needs effective direction, management, control and communication.

Establishing an effective project management team structure and strategy for communication at the beginning of a project, and maintaining these throughout the project’s life, are essential elements of a project’s success.

One of the principles of PRINCE2 is that all projects must have a defined organizational structure to unite the various parties in the common aims of the project and to enable effective project governance and decision making.

A successful project management team should:
a) Have business, user and supplier stakeholder representation
b) Ensure appropriate governance by defining responsibilities for directing, managing and delivering the project and clearly defining accountability at each level
c) Have reviews of the project roles throughout the project to ensure that they continue to be effective
d) Have an effective strategy to manage communication flows to and from stakeholders.
View Article  How does a project get to be a year behind schedule?
"How does a project get to be a year behind schedule? One day at a time" is a famous quote from Fred Brooks, chief designer of the IBM 360.

When most of us create a plan we think about the activities required to achieve our goal. For example, if our project was to redecorate a room our plan might be to choose new wallpaper, choose new paint, strip the old wallpaper, prepare the woodwork, hang the new wallpaper and paint the woodwork.

Product Based Planning is a technique that focuses on identifying what we intend to create or modify before we think about how to produce it. In this way we would focus on the outcomes first, wallpaper options, chosen wallpaper, paint options, chosen paint, stripped walls, prepared woodwork, hung wallpaper, painted woodwork. Once we know what we are to produce we can start thinking about how to produce it.

Product Based Planning is a Prince2 technique that can be applied to all project planning activities.
View Article  Uncertainty that matters
Harvey Mackay said, "Sometimes it's risky not to take a risk - if you walk backward you never stub your toe"

To succeed in business you have to be prepared to take risks, but they should be calculated risks. I never cease to be amazed by the number of companies who barely pay lip-service to risk. Many will have a brainstorm session at the beginning of a project to establish the risks they face, however they fail to realise that this is just a snap-shot in time. Risk is ever present, and everyone in the organisation has a responsibility when dealing with risk.

Risk can be defined as an uncertain event or set of events that, should it occur, will have an effect on
the achievement of objectives. Risk management activities should be a scheduled regularly where the status of all risks is updated and new risks can be identified, assessed, categorised and responses prepared.

Anything less is really taking a chance!
View Article  There's never enough time to do it right...
Of projects, Jack Bergman said, “There's never enough time to do it right, but there's always enough time to do it over”. For many companies this is the norm and the “Just do it” mentality prevails.

Time spent assessing the viability of a project is an investment but convincing management who are being pressed for results can be a problem.

Prince2 projects go through the Starting up a Project process before they begin. This is pre-project work and the objective is to provide the project board with sufficient information to decide if the project is worthwhile and viable.

Catch the turkeys before they start to run!