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Last week I delivered a course for an an interesting group at Cardiff University. We ended up debating the advantages and disadvantages of a project management methodology and the best approach to develop and roll out a project management method in an organisation. This seems to be a conversation that I am having with more and more organisations, partly because many people are finding PRINCE2 too complex to apply to many projects. The APM define project management as
"Project management is the application of processes, methods, knowledge, skills and experience to achieve the project objectives".
Association for Project Management (2013-06-23). APM Body of Knowledge 6th edition (Kindle Locations 590-591). Kindle Edition.
So a method must be quite fundamental to project management. For a method or project management framework consists of the following elements:
1. Defined roles and responsibilities for such as the project manager, sponsor, work package manager, project board.
2. A defined and standard lifecycle for the stages that apply to a project. Often this will include pre-defined gates and key documents to support these gates.
3. Standard processes for key project management processes such as risk management, progress reporting or change control.
4. Defined templates for key documents such as the project management plan and business case.
5. Defined forms for the change log, risk register etc.
The challenge with a project management framework is always to scale the implementation of the method the the risk in the project. For more guidance you can visit my blog post of what is a project management framework and twelve steps to design and deploy a project management framework. This leads to the debate we had last week. The motion was
A standard method imposes unnecessary bureaucracy on the delivery of projects
We had strong views either way, some felt that a method was inappropriate for smaller projects. Others that without any consistent approach then the organisation would descend into chaos with every project making up their own rules.
The overall conclusions were
1) That having a project management method will impose some bureaucracy on the delivery of project but this is a worthwhile cost compared to the risk associated having no method in place
2) The method should be scalable to fit the risk associated with the different projects. Those more complex and larger project should have a more rigorous approach to project control.
I would be interested in your views, do standard method add unnecessary bureaucracy or are they a worthwhile investment in time and effort?