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The Strengths of Prince2™ – Organization and the Project Board (#7 in the series How PRINCE2™ Can Complement PMBOK® and Your PMP)
By Jay Siegelaub – MBA, PMP, PRINCE2

PRINCE2™ has a number of impressive and useful features that distinguish it from other project management methodologies. Its strength lies in its common-sense approach. Each of the following features supplements what the PMBOK® provides — through a very specific focus, or by offering a perspective beyond the PMBOK®.

Organization and the Project Board

Perhaps the most significant of PRINCE2™’s features is the concept of the Project Board. PMBOK® refers to a ‘project sponsor’ in general terms, and suggests the role the sponsor should be playing in supporting the project. PRINCE2™ is more specific – it calls for a Project Board to provide oversight and support in a clearly delineated way. (While PRINCE2™ does not require the use of any particular feature – such as a Project Board – it does spell out the most robust way to apply that feature, in a manner that would do most to reduce overall risk to the project.)

In most projects, “authority” (the control of resources) is separated from “accountability” (consequences of success or failure): senior management has authority (but often not held accountable for success or failure of the project), while the project manager is held accountable (with insufficient authority over the resources to ensure completion of work). PRINCE2™ calls for an accountable Project Board to own the project, helping to ensure their commitment to getting the work completed. At the same time, the Project Board grants authority to the Project Manger by explicitly committing resources as the project progresses. The PMBOK® suggests this will happen under certain organizational structures; PRINCE2™ believes it can be implemented in most environments.

PRINCE2™ proposes management oversight from those who are in the best position to make decisions about project viability.The Project Board is based in representation from the Business (speaking for how the project will benefit the organization as a whole), the User (for value and usability of the project on a functional level) and the Supplier (for those who will deliver the solution).These are the roles that can assure the availability of resources (if they are at the proper organizational level), and are the kind and level of resource that a project manager needs to resolve issues that arise during a project. Supporting the project manager is part of the Board’s role — giving the project manager access to and authority in the parts of the organization needed to ensure success.

The process model calls for the Board to be identified early on, in “Starting Up a Project”. PRINCE2™ understands that if a Project Board cannot be assembled to represent the above interests (Business, User, Supplier), it is unlikely that there is sufficient support for the project to succeed. (This is an example of how PRINCE2™ ties together what has to be done with why with when it should be done to be most effective.)

Jay Siegelaub has over 30 years of professional experience delivering and supporting projects in information technology, insurance systems, banking, and nonprofit strategic planning, as well as in the pharmaceutical, financial service, consulting, and consumer products industries. As a recognized educator he has trained thousands of project managers over the past 23 years, including 13 years as the Project Management tutorial instructor for the Drug Information Association.

Jay’s recent responsibilities included leading the North American Change Management and Training practices for a UK-based management consulting firm, training corporate consulting professionals in project and program management, and supporting clients in managing the “people” issues of their business change initiatives. He has authored articles on training, project management and information technology for various publications, and often presents at conferences, including the PMI North American Congress (1999, and 2004 – 2007), ProjectWorld and ProjectSummit.

In addition to his PMP® certification, Jay has his MBA in Organization Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and is an accredited PRINCE2™ Practitioner, Instructor and Examiner. He has taught and consulted in PRINCE2™ in North America for 10 years (the first US-accredited PRINCE2™ instructor), and worked for the company (and with the authors) that wrote the PRINCE2™ Manual for the UK government.

He has provided Change Management and Project Management consulting and training (including PRINCE2) to companies such as Sun Microsystems, NATO, the United Nations Development Programme, Bechtel, IBM, Philip Morris, Credit Suisse, JPMorganChase and Diageo.

Jay also consults in Organizational and Professional Development.

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