6 PRINCE2 Principles to Use outside the PMO

A recent AXELOS PPM survey revealed how useful PRINCE2 is to professionals in the project management office (PMO). But how useful is it to those working outside the PMO?

PRINCE2 gives you a structured approach to delivering something required by the project management office (PMO), regardless of what that something is. But it’s not only the PMO where the power of PRINCE2 can be deployed.

While PRINCE2 is already acknowledged as effective for people with “project manager” in their job title, it’s now more widely recognized as relevant to other professionals too. According to AXELOS’s PPM Survey 2016, 88% of IT professionals, 82% of senior management and 85% of those working in operations said PRINCE2 was of some value to their job role.

But how, exactly, is PRINCE2 useful to people outside the confines of the project management office? Primarily, it’s about helping them deal with things that are not business as usual.

On one hand, a manufacturing process tends to have standard operating protocols that are unchanging so the end product is consistent and easier to maintain. But where something is needed that doesn’t have a simple, prescribed way of working, a better approach is to break down the activity into stages and tasks based on what you’re trying to deliver.

For example, take an event: you can break that down into various elements:

  • What’s the budget?
  • Where’s the venue?
  • What’s the agenda for the day?
  • Who will speak and on what subject?
  • Who should be invited?
  • How will you invite them?
  • What media will you communicate with?
  • Do you need attendees’ name badges?

Breaking down the ultimate product into sub-products then allows you to structure the different products into a schedule.

If you take a structured approach, such as PRINCE2 provides, you’re more likely to ensure that all bases are covered and there are no gaps in what you’re preparing to do.

The top PRINCE2 principles valuable beyond traditional project management roles.

Certain PRINCE2 principles stand out as valuable for any professional tasked with delivering a product:

1. Focus on Products

What do you need to deliver or produce? Understand how you’re going to do it and the threats that might stop you. Equally, what opportunities might arise as you undertake it? The story goes that Viagra was being developed to treat high blood pressure treatment until its side effects for men were identified!

2. Have an Ongoing Business Justification

This helps reiterate what you’re trying to achieve and why. Sometimes it’s obvious and the “why/what” is self-evident but the ultimate outcome might be subject to change.

3. Learn from Previous Experience

Talk to people who have done it before and if you or your organization have no previous experience, think about another organization that do and talk to them to understand the steps required.

4. Understand Internal and External Dependencies

Somethings are in your control and others aren’t. In many projects you will find yourself dependent on others to produce something your project requires as well things your project will produce. So it always good to recognize these external and internal dependencies and to use that to focus on.

5. Have Clear Roles and Responsibilities

You need to understand the roles and responsibilities in each team and PRINCE2 helps you to understand what they are to get the best out of a team.

6. Not All Situations Are the Same So Tailor Your PM Approach

Some organizations and industries have specific approaches to their development lifecycles so the use of PRINCE2 needs to be tailored to fit with these approaches. PRINCE2 is very flexible in this regard, provided that its underpinning principles are not broken – such as an ongoing business justification.

Even beyond the workplace, PRINCE2 principles have their applications: for example, students studying to pass an exam can use its structured approach to ensure that all the component elements of a syllabus are covered in order to be successful. Even planning a holiday can benefit from the PRINCE2 approach, breaking it down into stages to ensure you get the holiday you anticipate.

Here’s an example of how PRINCE2 could be applied to moving in an out of the White House:

This breadth of application in PRINCE2 means you can always have access to a structured way of delivering the results you want.

Mike Acaster
Mike Acaster is the PPM portfolio manager at AXELOS and looks after the maintenance and development of PRINCE2, MSP, MoP, MoR, MoV, P3O and P3M3. Mike joined AXELOS from its inception on the 1st July 2013 having transferred from the Cabinet Office following its decision to establish a joint venture company with Capita plc. Mike led the development of PRINCE2 Agile from inception through to product launch.