Review: Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2

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Title: Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2
Authors: OGC
Publisher: The Stationary Office
ISBN: 0-11-330891-4
Reviewer: Tanya Cowin

My first thought on receiving this book was that it would not be a “light” read (it has 400 pages, weighs nearly 2kg and I only took it on the train once!).

I was, however, to be pleasantly surprised. This book works on many different levels and that it exactly what it is intended to do.

PRINCE (Projects In Controlled Environments) was introduced in 1989 for use in government information system projects. In 1996 PRINCE2 was launched as a method for managing all types of projects – not just information systems.

If you are looking for a manual that de-mystifies the PRINCE2 method of project management I would suggest that this manual is worth exploring whether you are a Project Manager, a senior manager or a member of a project team.

The manual is divided into five main parts:

  • Introduction
  • Processes
  • Components
  • Techniques
  • Appendices

In the introduction the reader is guided to the relevant sections dependent on his or her role within the project. This section discusses the benefits of using PRINCE2 and explains how to use the manual. It clarifies the characteristics of a PRINCE2 project, explains the scope and gives the reader a brief overview of the method with some helpful illustrations.

The section on Processes is very well designed with similar headings for each topic (where applicable):

  • Fundamental principles
  • Context
  • Process Description
  • Scalability
  • Responsibilities
  • Information
  • Needs
  • Key Criteria
  • Hints and Tips

A useful diagram introduces the section on the PRINCE2 components which explains the philosophy of the components and their usage together with more Hints and Tips (these are very useful and used throughout the book)

The chapters on Techniques explore:

  • Product-based Planning
  • Change Control
  • Quality Reviews

The Appendices contain:

  • Product Description outlines for the standard management products
  • The responsibilities of the team roles
  • Risk Categories

It is very simple to navigate this book. It is, by nature of the subject matter, fairly “dry” but it is well-structured and an excellent use of white space, different typefaces and diagrams make it fairly easy to read. I found the explanation of the team roles particularly helpful.

This is not a book to be read and left on the shelf. It is the official guide to PRINCE2 and I would recommend it to anyone studying for the PRINCE2 examinations as a companion and to anyone who is involved in a project as a useful resource to be referenced as required.

Tanya Cowin FCIPD – ex HR generalist now specialising in HR information.

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