PRINCE2 7 – Progress: making a good practice better still
Blog posted by: Richard Rose – Co-author, PRINCE2 7, As an independent consultant and trainer in programme, project and change management, Richard is passionate and fervent about the value of delivering value-added training, mentoring and coaching. www.richardarose.co.uk Richard is the lead trainer and author of the MSP and AgilePM® courses offered by Explosive Learning Solutions (ELS) as well as delivering PRINCE2®, MoP® and P3O® courses for ELS and other Accredited Training Organizations. www.elsbusinesstraining.co.uk, 23 November 2023.
The project management world has been both changing consistently and speeding up in recent years, especially in our approach to projects and collating information and data.
Also, the advent of more agile ways of working has introduced a different style of progress monitoring and how to demonstrate control. The proliferation of data has led to a need for simplification – and this changes the face of traditional reporting.
People are more often looking for an instant picture of progress rather than a retrospective report (think Kanban boards) and project board members may want to cherry pick the information they see from a plethora of data.
So, irrespective of whether you’re running projects with a linear or agile approach,
traditional reporting is a thing of the past.
Progress in PRINCE2 7th edition – a practice not a theme
In PRINCE2 7th edition, what were the “themes” are now “practices.
And how themes were aspects of project management to be addressed continually through the project lifecycle, practices are described as being applied consistently.
While project managers need to keep a continual eye on progress, the act of collating and summarising data to create progress or highlight reports was not always continual, but rather a periodic “ritual”.
As a practice, progress needs to be applied consistently throughout a project for decision makers to have information which is both backward and forward looking but also to know whether a project still has continued business justification.
But before getting into the detail about what’s new in PRINCE2’S progress practice, it’s important to note that it retains much of the previous edition's concepts. When planning what to change, it’s necessary to appreciate the positives of what’s already there. And as the underlying precepts of the progress chapter from the 6th edition still have enormous value, why reinvent the wheel?
However, changes to the exception procedures and the addition of the digital and data management approach are both necessary and valuable.
Exception procedures – calming the project management nerves
The exception procedures in PRINCE2 needed a proper “home” in the guidance.
In simple terms, if you’ve got a broken stage in your project, then people need to hear about it. And, surely, it should fit within the progress chapter rather than anywhere else.
Previously, it was an area that delegates on training courses often found challenging. But understanding it is vital, as not monitoring what is going on around you in a project has the potential to be a major inhibitor of progress and could result in a serious mess.
The procedure around exceptions is necessary – certainly for those new to project management, so they have something to follow. But even for the more experienced practitioners, it’s a reminder of the need to report these things in a sequence. Without the procedure, what would they do?
Above all, it’s something that should calm the nerves of any project management professional.
The data and digital management approach – pinpointing the right information
This new management product within the progress practice outlines how digital technology supports us with project control and links directly with how you measure and report progress.
This is about knowing where the data is, what it is and how you should be using it to exert the right controls and use information to report on progress.
In a world awash with digital data, this signposts people to the right digital information to ensure accurate reporting.
What else is new in the progress practice?
- Plan, do, check and act (diagram)
This new diagram is a welcome inclusion for how to do effective progress management.
Essentially, it says – before you leap in – you need to plan based on the situation and how you need to respond; then you enact the plan (do), validate it (check) and move into planning the next stage, or amend things if they’re going less well (act).
- A common format for the practice chapters
Each practice chapter – progress included – follows a common format covering its purpose, key relationship with principles, guidance for effective use, etc.
This gives practitioners ease of access when seeking the source of guidance; allowing them to recognize where to dip into a chapter for specific information, which cuts down time – not least when they’re in a hurry.
Overall, how does progress retain its value in the PRINCE2 method? I don’t think there’ll ever be a time when it’s not needed in best practice project management.
And, in this 7th edition, the inclusion of more modern elements will likely spark ideas in practitioners about the art of the possible in delivering progress now and in the future.
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