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Project Management

Practitioner Guide on PRINCE

1. PURPOSE

The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines on PRINCE ( PRojects IN Controlled Environments, the method developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) of UK ) used in OGCIO. PRINCE has been referred during the development of such practice. The method is currently being supported by the Cabinet Office, the UK Government.

2. SCOPE

This Guide is targeted for practitioners of the PRINCE method. It is designed to serve as a major reference for practitioners in their day-to-day project management work. The PRINCE Processes section provides a quick reference of the necessary steps and activities required in managing a project. Other sections provide information about the underlying principles and the associated techniques required in following the project management procedures.

3. OVERVIEW

The project management practice takes a process-based approach. The processes define the activities to be carried out during the project. In addition, the practice describes a number of components that are applied within the appropriate activities. The components are:
 

  • Organisation
  • Planning
  • Control
  • Stages
  • Management of Risk
  • Quality in a Project Environment
  • Configuration Management
  • Change Control


Each component is described briefly below.

3.1 Organisation

A proper Project Organisation is essential for the effective management of a project. The Project Organisation is as follows : -

Project Organisation

The various set-ups within the Project Organisation have their respective roles. In brief, the Project Steering Committee (PSC) is for overall project management and major decision-making. The Project Manager (PM) is for day-to-day management. The Team Managers (TMs) are for production of end product. Project Assurance ensures the integrity of the project in terms of the interests of the Customer, User and Supplier areas.

3.2 Planning

A plan is a statement of intent. It is an important component that it provides a base for comparison with the actual out-turns. Control can then be applied based on the discrepancies found in the comparison. A plan usually defines the steps required in order to achieve the project goals, the time sequence of those steps, the inter-dependency between them, the estimated duration of each step, the persons who are responsible to carry out the steps and where control checkpoints are to be applied.

3.3 Controls

In practical situations, it is usually not the ideal cases that everything goes as expected. It is inevitable that there are deviations from the initial plan, the PSC therefore has to be aware of any deviations and exercise control on the project where appropriate, such as modifying the plan or changing the approach of handling the project.

3.4 Stages

A project should be divided into stages to facilitate project management and control. A Stage is a logical sub-division of a project. The purpose of having stages is to enable the management to have checkpoints to assess the project progress, to ensure the viability of the business case, and to make decision on whether to proceed, re-direct or terminate the project.

3.5 Management of Risk

The practice puts a heavy footing on foreseeing the risks well in advance and devising a way to avoid or to minimise the damages that are brought by risk. The project manager is required to perform a risk assessment and the potential risks would be documented down in a risk analysis checklist. The project manager is also required to recommend ways to deal with risk at the very beginning of the project. (i.e. during the initial stage when the Project Initiation Document is drafted). Such practice would improve the chance of success of a project.

3.6 Quality in a Project Environment

It is important that the Customer's quality expectations are understood and documented prior to project commencement. This is done at the start of the project. Each Stage Plan specifies in detail the required quality activities and resources, with the detailed quality criteria shown in the Product Descriptions.

3.7 Configuration Management

Configuration Management (CM) is a discipline that applies technical and administrative direction and surveillance over the life cycle of items to keep track of changes of the items, to audit the items so as to verify their conformance to specifications, drawings, interface control documents, and other contractual requirement.

3.8 Change Control

Uncontrolled changes would have great impact over a project, and may result in project delay or over spending. In the practice, all changes, regardless of types, are raised as Project Issues and recorded in the Issue Log. Impact analysis has to be conducted for each project issue so as to determine the resource requirement, time and cost of implementing the change. If the cost of implementing the change were beyond the tolerance limit, the project manager would have to seek approval from PSC before implementing the change.

4. PROCESS MODEL

The practice takes a process-based approach. The processes define the activities to be carried out during the project. The processes are :

 

  • Directing a Project (DP)


The process runs from after the start-up of the project until its closure. The PSC has the authority and responsibility for authorising project initiation, authorising a Project, authorising a Stage, giving ad hoc direction and confirming project closure.

 

  • Starting Up a Project

Senior management triggers the process, which will provide input to sub-process Authorising Initiation, which may then trigger process Initiating a Project. The process includes appointing a PSC Executive, a project manager and a project management team and defining project approach.

  • Initiating a Project


The process includes the planning of a project and its quality, setting up Business Case and risks, project controls, project files and assembling a Project Initiation Document.

 

  • Controlling a Stage (CS)


The process handles day-to-day management of the project. It starts working after the approval of a Stage Plan in an event-driven manner. It includes authorising work packages, reviewing progress and stage status, capturing project issues, examining project issues, reporting highlights, taking corrective action, escalating project issues and receiving completed work package.

 

  • Managing Product Delivery


This process provides an interface between the project manager and the team managers. Sometimes, third parties such as contractor are involved in delivering the project products who may not use PRINCE. The process includes accepting Work Package, executing Work Package and delivering a Work Package.

 

  • Managing Stage Boundaries


To enable PSC to exercise its control and authorise a project to move forward a stage, the process is needed to create a plan for the next stage and provide the information needed by the PSC about the current status to judge the continuing benefits of the project. The process includes updating project plan, risk log, Business Case, and reporting stage end or project closure.

 

  • Closing a Project

A project must be brought to a normal close when it has met the objectives set out in the Project Initiation Document, or terminated when it is no longer viable to continue. The process involves decommissioning the Project, identifying follow-on actions and evaluating the Project.

  • Planning

Planning is an essential part of project management. The product-based planning process is recommended which can be applied to both project level and stage level plan. It is a repeatable and iterative process that involves designing the Plan, defining and analysing the products, identifying the activities and dependencies, estimating, scheduling, analysing the risks and completing the plan.


5. PROJECT MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES

5.1 Product-based planning

Product-Based Planning is the recommended planning approach. It approaches the planning of projects from the viewpoint of the products to be produced. It focuses the attention on the goal, thereby ensuring that any activities to be undertaken in the project are the necessary ones required for the production of the ultimate products. By focusing on the goal rather than the means of getting there, all products required by the project can be identified and described before development of the products commences, ensuring that a common understanding exists between all interested parties.

5.2 Activity network analysis and Bar-Charting

Activity network analysis helps to identify the critical path, which is the path of activities that has no spare time available. Late delivery of any one of the activities on the critical path will result in the slippage of the project. Identifying critical path enables the management to concentrate their attention and resources on critical activities. Resources may be deployed from non-critical activities to critical ones in order to keep a project on schedule. While Activity networking is a useful way of graphically presenting the dependencies between activities, Bar Charting is a complementary technique that helps to present the activities in the form of a scaled timetable. A key benefit of a bar chart is its ability to quickly and simply convey time scale related information to project planners and decision-makers. Various types of Bar Chart exist, and different tools would have different conventions and methods in plotting Bar Charts. One widely used example of a Bar Chart is known as Gantt Chart, which is shown below for illustration purpose.

Gantt Chart

5.3 Resource Leveling

Leveling Resource is a technique to schedule, within the limits of the floats available, the timing of individual activity that would best meet the overall project objectives of time scale, resource utilisation and cost-effectiveness. Most project management tools provide automatic resource leveling function. After leveling the resources, a revised technical plan has to be produced. From the revised technical plan, a resource plan can be compiled.

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