Thoughts on PRINCE2 as a Project Management Methodology

I got tired of all that despising PRINCE2: they say it is not a project management methodology, they say it is subordinate (e.g., it must work as a subordinate tool) to PMP (by PMI), and so on. All those “allegations” are just that, allegations: PRINCE2 is probably the best project management methodology one can find, it is an alternative to PMP, and so on.

I chose PRINCE2 and I am even more convinced of my choice now than then.

PRINCE2 is more innovative and very practical (with a practical manual), PMP is more a collection of information; mind, this is my personal opinion.

Besides, the British government “owns” PRINCE2, while PMI is an association; that can be very important, even from a formal point of view.

Misfits of project management: ‘An e-mail from X-City’

https://projectmanagementprince2.wordpress.com/misfits-of-project-management/an-e-mail-from-x-city/

 

Introduction

 

 

This is an ironic newsletter – we like having fun.

For those who did not read previous issues: http://www.righetconsult.com/newsletter

Writing this issue was real fun 🙂

 

Some weeks ago, we received a strange e-mail from X-City; that e-mail was sent to the address anyone can find on our website.

That e-mail was in another language, so quotes are in fact translations. We do not know which `communicate´ that fellow was speaking of, so we must assume he was citing us correctly.

We decided to write about this e-mail because … it is really funny and enlightening; it was good to take some hints.

 

The e-mail began with ‘Kind Eng. Central (I haven’t understood your true name!)´.

Look, what do we have here?

Have we anyone writing to a firm address and complaining because someone does not know who is working for that firm? What could be done here?

Could we put the name of our feline friends on our website, maybe? After all, they are very dignified cats and they take their social role very seriously indeed; but …Tailchaser and Inklet are very reserved cats 🙂

 

From that e-mail: `This passage of yours is taken from a communicate that was pointed out to me …´

So, now we know the antecedents: that fellow was so busy attending his own business … that he could dedicate a good amount of time to comment a `communicate´ of someone who has never heard of him (no, not even Tailchaser and Inklet, and everyone here may assure you they are very knowledgeable cats).

But now we go to find out where the beef is! – unless Tailchaser … 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

An e-mail from X-City

 

 

Processes/Costs and Products/Benefits

 

From the e-mail: `… leaving apart the philosophy: processes/costs and products/profit

Doesn’t that fellow like our `philosophy´? None of his business, you would say; we agree, but this is an ironic newsletter, isn’t it? 😉

 

Are then processes income?

An industrial process is inherently a cost; so are all processes.

But … you know, selling processes is easy, very easy.

Must be all this politically-correct stuff: never ever speak of costs, speak of processes! Btw, the customer understands “costs” but probably he/she is not able to understand “processes” proposed by some “project managers”.

Aren’t products profit? What else could be profits? A kindergarten child knows he/she needs some sort of product to get something … no football picture-card, no barter.

We are not children, so we usually go for profit.

So … if someone is not delivering profits to the customer, what is anyone delivering? Processes? Ahahah!

No jokes here guys, unfortunately this happens very often. The customer pays to get profits and he/she gets processes, i.e., costs.

This is very important: project management should deliver profits, i.e., products; those products ought to be defined from the very beginning; if the project manager does not deliver products, he/she has failed and should not be paid, period. 

 

We are not going to take the hint from the (`communicate`) parts where that fellow would seem not to have understood our words correctly … let’s say he appears not to like our marketing our consulting and training services (what should a firm `communicate´ be about? – we ask you).

Oh, don’t worry, the marketing part is not over!

 

 

London – X-City – Kazakhstan (through Cuneo and Toto’)

 

Let’s speak of the X-City-Kazakhstan part! Without forgetting Toto’ and London.

Doesn’t that fellow like our being (Prince2 Practitioner) certified in London? You know, we usually write we are Prince2 Practitioner certified … we never thought someone wouldn’t like that.

Here it is: `Also Toto’ (prince De Curtis), to put on airs, said that he was drafted as a soldier in Cuneo. What does it mean being certified in London? Do you think that someone who has studied in [X-City] or in Kazakhstan is less prepared than you?´

Toto’ was a famous Italian comic, Cuneo is a small but very nice town (yes, we definitely liked it!) in Piedmont; hey guys, what is wrong with Cuneo?

 

Our fault: we got our Prince2 Practitioner certification in London.

You know how important certifications are to us; in our second newsletter we wrote: ´The only problem is … how can passengers find out which ships will probably begin drifting once the port is no longer in sight? Look for the rudder, ask to see it and ask the captain for certificates attesting his rank.´ The captain was the project manager, obviously.

A Prince2 Practitioner certification in London (Prince2 was born in the UK) is a guarantee. Is it possible that someone does not like our seriousness? If so, why?

Why should anyone get excitable over our certification? Shouldn’t they tend their own business?

 

And yes, usually a certification got in London is (in our modest opinion) better than one got in Kazakhstan (we used to know some good guys from there)!

Would you prefer to employ a Project Manager certified in London in a government sponsored methodology, or a “project manager” who studied in some exotic place?

 

 

The longer courses are …

 

What about courses?

Courses cost, the longer they are …

 

From the e-mail: `3) A one or two days course is sufficient to operate [imprecise quotation of our `communicate´]. But do you know that the best PM didn’t attend even a single training day? If anything, they train others.´

Why, the fellow is trying to be ironic!

Let’s quote (from that e-mail!) our original text: `… we are project managers officially certified Prince2 Practitioner in London and we can help you in the management of projects, it is our job; and for your personnel, a one or two days course is sufficient to begin to operate”.

 

The first Prince2 certification stage is called Foundation: it is conceived for the personnel bound to work in a Prince2 environment, and in fact there are much more “Foundations” than Practitioners (the true Project Managers); usually, Foundation lasts at most three days and in fact two days could be enough.

So, to give some basic knowledge to the personnel working in a project under the direction of a certified Project Manager – in a few words to put them in the condition to begin executing instructions – one does not need long and costly courses.

 

Here lies the truth!

How do training organizations get usually paid? Per day, folks, per day!

We have recently spoken to a manager: he spent a lot of money for a three-day course for himself and his personnel (plus the trainer hotel expenses, we presume), he got pissed off because he realized it was not worth and … he reverted to his old habits (i.e., another methodology). Some key personnel lost three days for a course which in our opinion would have required at most two days, not to speak of the self-study option (i.e., one day would probably have sufficed).

And mind … that course involved a certification (if only as a personnel member)!

Btw, the manager who lost three days and spent a lot of money is probably not going to take any project management courses in the future, no way. Mind, he deals with a lot of folks; what is he going to tell other people?

Now comes the juicy part 🙂

 

 

“Avanti Savoia!”

 

We promised you the marketing part was not over 🙂

From the X-City e-mail: `… it is the apotheosis of marketing. In fact, marketing doesn’t need product specifications, but only slogans to sell it

This is really enlightening: after having “criticized” our ´products/profit` ´philosophy´, the fellow speaks of product specifications. We need to insert this into our Tip section someday 🙂

We are guilty: we are good at marketing our products. That is very flattering because marketing is one of the products … we market!

 

The point is: some “project managers” sell processes, not even solutions (nowadays’ magic word); what do they tell their customers-to-be in order to win over competition?

Nowadays, whatever one does not like becomes “slogan”.

But the point is: what are customers going to think of project management, afterwards?

 

From that e-mail: `… What is missing is just the shout “Avati [sic] Savoia[Savoy forward – the cry of Savoy’s cavalry], but you are Swiss and maybe the Savoys were only welcomed guests after the Italian disaster.`

We did not know the Savoys lived in Switzerland, but it should be known the Swiss are famous for their pike-men, certainly not for their cavalry 😉

 

A thought … what does “politics” have to do with project management?

A Project Manager should leave “politics” and national matters out of business: acting differently may doom a project, create long-lasting tensions inside the team/s, and so on.

A Project Manager should be professional, never ever put forgotten episodes on the scales. A Project Manager deals with people; without a team backing him/her, he/she is doomed … and the project with her/him.

 

 

“Slay the Swiss, slay them all!” 😉

 

What were the next words? You will never believe your own eyes! Pure juice, folks!

Here they are: `Sincerely, in your words one can find a lot of influence by NLP principles, but [sic] firms are not in a crisis because of a lack of Project Management, rather because of the greed and incapability of some wicked guy that maybe is still in command, and maybe he keeps his money inside a Swiss bank. NLP aims at recovering depressed people, while the PM aims at rationalizing processes to improve the product (NOT THE VICEVERSA). but this is a long story.´

Pure juice, folks!

 

We do NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming), it is written on our site. In fact we deal with NLP applied to marketing, sales, and so on.

The only problem is … that fellow seems to have “proprietary” ideas on what NLP is! We suppose he studied our website and then he decided our `communicate´ was full of NLP. You know, after all NLP is trendy.

 

How often is the customer not so knowledgeable on some arguments he/she has to deal with? Is the “project manager” ready to help him/her in earnest?

 

Are firms in a crisis because of the Swiss? You know, maybe those wicked, greed and incapable guys put their money inside Swiss banks; even worse, maybe those guys are still in command!

On the other hand `… the PM aims at rationalizing processes to improve the product (NOT THE VICEVERSA).´

Processes again! Customers want good products at a minimum cost … what if they are proposed processes, i.e., costs?

Ah, but then if a firm is in a crisis, maybe it is a fault of those “wretched” wicked guys who maybe keep their money inside Swiss banks, not of “uninformed” project management or even of the lack of project management! 😉

Lack of project management: here, guys, what do you think a Project Manager would propose?

 

Would you like to make use of these concepts?

In case of failure, there is a culprit at the ready: the wicked Swiss pike-man.

Ok, folks, it’s up to you, but then please, please, please … don’t go around saying it is a fault of the Swiss who hosted the Savoy’s horses 😉

 

 

“I was there” – Horseman of the Apocalypse

 

We know, this is a funny title … but after so much speaking of Savoys and horses … 😉

`If I were you, I would reflect well on the origins and the past of Prince2, the present English small crown notwithstanding! I was there in the 80s.

In any case, my motto is the exact opposite. “All methodologies have the same goal: to lift [translated from the original] the cultural level of an organization. They seem to be the same, instead one must know many of them to appreciate the differences.´

And yes, the last sentences were written in bold (and coloured) characters.

You see, he was there!

It would seem that fellow likes speaking not only about the Swiss, but about the Brits, too. What was he hinting at? It would appear he is not Prince2 certified … but maybe he knows something special … he was there, you know.

 

Is the goal of project management methodologies “to lift” the cultural level of an organization? Hey guys, we were convinced the goal was to manage projects and to bring them to a profitable conclusion!

Speaking of slogans: would anyone tell something like that to his/her customers-to-be? We would say it would be not only “wrong” marketing, but also something which has nothing to do with Project Management.

Do project management methodologies seem to be the same? Sorry, we do not think so: as an example, there is a huge difference between Prince2 (sponsored by a Western government and adopted worldwide) or PMP, for instance, and … some project management “methods(?)”.

 

It is very late. Time to go, guys … better, never forget to check whether Tailchaser and Inklets are ok before leaving: never forget to take care of whomever put his/her trust in you.

 

Let’s finish here with one last quotation: `I’m sure you are able to mark out and respect the work of those who do things with the necessary seriousness. [Y] is an example of such, believe me

Oh, are scores saying similar words to customers-to-be? … what is your opinion?

Our opinion? Sorry, but we are deadly scared of the day of the Apocalypse … what if we find ourselves unprovided with pikes on that day? 😉

Achtung – Prince2!

Never heard of general Guderian?

 

In 1937 he wrote a book, Achtung – Panzer! That is where Achtung – Prince2! comes from.

General Guderian was a professional only interested in his craft and an innovator, the father of modern tank warfare, i.e., of what was then named “Blitzkrieg” by an American magazine.

He changed the way things were done, he innovated: he studied the past, he took the present into consideration and proposed his Way.

Till the end of the second world war, his ideas were opposed by many infantry and former cavalry officers, even when his Way had clearly demonstrated its own superiority.

That opposition changed the course of history, there can be no doubts about it. If general Guderian had been properly heeded, that army would have won.

 

 

What is Prince2?

 

Prince2 (Projects IN Controlled Environments) is a Project Management methodology created after having studied the past and taken the present into consideration.

Prince2 is widely used in the UK and has been adopted by NATO. It is also used in many other countries like China. That in itself says much about Prince2’s effectiveness.

It has clearly demonstrated its superiority in the field, nonetheless modern “infantry and former cavalry officers” either oppose it or try to relegate it into a limbo.

General Guderian analyzed mistakes and tendencies of the past; the same has been done by Prince2’s creators.

He studied English texts and experiences, because the tank had been born in the UK; Prince2 was born in the UK, in fact the UK government sponsorized it.

 

 

Two crises

 

General Guderian studied first world war operations and the crisis of infantry: infantry had gotten blocked, incapable of operating in areas full of trenches, barbed wire, machine-guns and so on. The first tanks could have solved the situation, but they were used in the wrong way; even after the war, some infantry and cavalry officers were able to impose their views.

 

Project management is like tanks: it is often used wrongly because some modern “infantry officers” refuse to see the light.

As a result, no one is able to stop the crisis: the means are there, but they are not used in the right way, or not used at all.

Prince2 is the right way of using tanks: that is clear, its practical successes speak on its behalf.

Nonetheless, it is often unheard of in some countries.

Nonetheless, very often those who practice project management try not to see it, to relegate it into a limbo.

 

 

What could Prince2 do?

 

A lot, really a lot.

 

Did you know that the panzer divisions that won the campaign of France were only a fraction of the German army, and that some of those divisions had just been formed, often by using old or captured equipment?

Did you know that, had not those armoured divisions been stopped for political reasons, they would have taken Dunkirk before the fleeing French and English forces had gotten there (instead of reaching the UK, they would have been destroyed)?

Did you know that the French had more tanks than the Germans? But they employed them in the wrong way.

 

Do you know that Prince2 could (and in many places has) dramatically improve the success rate of projects and reduce costs?

Do you know that Prince2 is at hand?

 

 

Professional Project Management

 

General Guderian was a professional who had no interest in politics. So are we.

We are interested in success stories and in innovative project management.

What about you?

You are interested in results, aren’t you?

Results mean products, not processes. Prince2 is product-based, whilst other project management methods are … process-based.

Processes mean expenses, products means profit.

Are you interested in Prince2?