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Free PRINCE2 ebook

“Fantastic! I noted that I could draw the process diagrams in the manual
for the exam. I had no idea. Great tip.” Jane D, New Zealand.

Inside PRINCE2 ebook cover My free ebook, Inside PRINCE2, collates all the great PRINCE2 information and advice from my blog.

It covers:

  • Managing project tolerances
  • Fixed date projects
  • PRINCE2 exam tips
  • Initiating and closing projects
  • and more

Download the free 21-page Inside PRINCE2 ebook now.

P.S. Downloading the ebook will subscribe you to my newsletter.  If you don’t want to receive it, just unsubscribe.  If you do that, though, you’ll miss out on extra articles, news and offers, which would be a pity.  Still, it’s your choice.



***Update, 8 February 2011***

A couple of people have got in touch to say they haven’t received the email with the link to the ebook in.  Once you have entered your email address and clicked ‘Download Now’, the ‘Download Now’ button is replaced by a green tick and a message that says you’ve been sent an email.  The email will come from ‘WordPress’ (wordpress@ pm4girls.elizabeth-harrin.com) with the title ‘Free Download Link’.  Please check your spam filter as your email may have ended up there.  If you don’t receive anything, or have any other problems, please email me and I’ll send you a copy myself.


What software works with PRINCE2?

This entry is part 10 of 11 in the series Inside PRINCE2

Inside PRINCE2 logoThe Inside PRINCE2 series continues with this look at whether you need a particular type of software to go with the methodology.

“I would like your suggestions on which software can apply the methodology of PRINCE2,” said the email from a project manager from Brazil.  I love getting emails from readers, and it is good to have the opportunity to set the record straight about certain things. It was interesting that this question had been asked at all, so I thought it was worth answering here.

The short answer is that there is no software that applies the methodology of PRINCE2.  PRINCE2 doesn’t work like that.  This is what the manual says:

PRINCE2 is a non-proprietary method… [it] is truly generic: it can be applied to any project regardless of scale, type, organization, geography or culture.

PRINCE2 is tool-agnostic, so it doesn’t rely on any type of technology to make it work.  I have used it in organizations using Niku and Microsoft Project, but that is just for producing scheduling information, and in the case of Niku, resource planning through the use of timesheets.  You could use any scheduling tool.  Or none at all.

If you search online for PRINCE2 software you will find some companies who say their software can help deploy PRINCE2 as a method in your organization.  Project in a box, for example, or Project Progress, both have PRINCE2 ‘compatible’ software.  I haven’t tried either of these (although I have had Project in a box on my radar for a while).  I can’t tell you if they are any good – they might be.  But they are certainly not essential for deploying and using PRINCE2.  Personally I would be hesitant about using a project management software product particularly tailored to one project approach, as I have to question how easy it is to pick and choose the bits of the method you want to apply.  The great thing about PRINCE2 2009 is that it is far more customisable than previous versions, and that allows project managers infinite flexibility in how they use it.  I imagine that it would be far more time consuming to manage customisable options in a software product than by letting an experienced project manager get on with doing their job. If you do want to compare software, check out my project management software reviews.

How would you have answered this question?


6 Reasons To Use Your pm4success Subscription

This entry is part 9 of 11 in the series Inside PRINCE2

Inside PRINCE2 logoThe Inside PRINCE2 series continues with this look at pm4success.

Exam rooms for APMG exams like PRINCE2 can be daunting. The desks are clear apart from the papers you need. And somewhere on the desk is likely to be a leaflet for pm4success, the APMG’s website for exam candidates. In the stress of the exam, you could overlook the leaflet and forget to fill in the blanks to ensure you get access to the website. However, with over 1000 pages of content aimed at project and programme managers, it is worth remembering that you have free access to this site for 12 months after your exam.

Here are 6 reasons why you should log on to pm4success.

1:  Ask an Expert

You can Ask an Expert, or browse the questions that have already been asked. Those asked in the last 30 days are flagged as ‘new’ so you can see what’s been recently added. Questions are answered by people like the chief examiner, so you know you are getting a good quality reply. Some of the answers include templates or sample documents, so you get more than just a stock answer – you get a tailored response with useful additional material if they have something extra to share.

2:  Alchemy for Managers

You get a year’s subscription to Alchemy for Managers – which is very useful. Project management is also about good management, so brush up on all your basic (and some more advanced) general management topics. The year starts from the day you sign up to Alchemy, so it doesn’t run concurrent with your pm4success membership. This alone is worth logging on to pm4success for.

3:  OGC Resource Toolkit

There’s a guide to the OGC Resource Toolkit. The OGC website is extensive and difficult to navigate. pm4success provides direct links to the most useful entry points, documentation and briefings, which saves you time. It’s in flux at the moment as the OGC website is being updated.

4:  Mind Maps

There are Mind Maps to download for M_o_R, MSP and PRINCE2. You need to download Thoughtograph, a mindmap viewing tool to be able to view them. It’s not how I think or structure my notes, but for graphically-minded people it’s an aid to not having to build your own.

5:  Sample papers

There are sample exam papers available for PRINCE2, MSP, M_ o_R. Sample papers are a highly valuable resource. In order to get access to pm4success, you will have had to take one of those exams, but if you are thinking of taking another, you can get some exam practice in advance as part of your pre-course learning.

6:  Free

It’s free! There are over 1000 pages of content. While I found that some of it is not helpful at all (although it might be helpful to people at different stages of their career), there has to be something here you can use!

Will I renew my subscription?

No. Much of the content on pm4success is static, and while they do add new articles on a regular basis, it’s not enough to encourage me to pay the annual fee. The Ask an Expert feature is excellent, but the newsgroup is not very active and I’ll get the same benefit of discussion with my peers from forums on Gantthead or LinkedIn groups. Overall, it is a useful perk to have for a year, but not worth continuing after that.

Have you used pm4success? What do you think?

This entry is part 8 of 11 in the series Inside PRINCE2

Inside PRINCE2 logoThis new version of the PRINCE2 manual for project managers feels a lot clearer and structured. Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2: 2009 Edition has more diagrams and a greater degree of clarity and explanation about the themes and processes.   This makes the book more graphically interesting than the previous versions, and I’m sure this makes it easier to study and reference on a daily basis.

There is a greater degree of emphasis on the business case, and the text in general spends more time on evaluating and understanding the project context.  Chapter 5 sets the project in the organisational environment, with advice on working with a project team – part-time or otherwise – including short guidance on training and line management responsibilities.

This version has a clearer definition of the quality approach, including a sample quality review meeting agenda.  Overall, the book provides more structured guidance on the ‘how’ of managing a project with examples of what the techniques or criteria actually map to within a project.  Each Theme chapter ends with a table explaining the responsibilities of each team member as it relates to that Theme, and this is replicated in a similar fashion in the Processes chapters.  However, the text still talks about a daily log and I remain unconvinced as to the usefulness of this concept in an electronic business environment.

The book includes useful checklists, and the Closing a Project checklist seemed particularly good, although it does overlap slightly with the Authorise Project Closure checklist.  In total, the health check lists provided by Appendix E do offer a project manager the opportunity to assess the state of any project, which is helpful if you have not been the project manager since the beginning of the project, or if you are coming to the close of a major stage and feel that it is an appropriate time to schedule a review.

There is clearer guidance here as to how PRINCE2 sits within the family of OGC texts, and there are references to Management of Risk in Chapter 8 (Risks).  This, combined with the advice on tailoring PRINCE2 for your own organisation, makes the manual seem more practical and more coherent.  Previously, the PRINCE2 methods were in danger of being applied in an ‘all or nothing’ approach, but this new version sets organisational maturity and appetite in the heart of the project management process.

Buy on Amazon.co.uk
Buy on Amazon.com

This entry is part 7 of 11 in the series Inside PRINCE2

Inside PRINCE2 logoThis book is long overdue: it’s a great idea to have a separate manual for those responsible for directing projects and sitting on the Project Board.  Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 2009 has a clear structure – and it’s also clear what it does not include.  There is nothing in here about the leadership skills required to carry out the Project Executive responsibilities, but the manual does reference the Focus on Skills series which does cover this.  In fact, the inter-relationships between this book and the other OGC texts is set out in a way which provides context to this text.

I particularly liked the guidance for new Executives:  there are case studies and boxed examples that help bring the theory into a practical setting.  There are also discussions of the more complex concepts for Project Board members.  The explanation of different types of tolerances in Chapter 3 is comprehensive and will no doubt assist project managers in securing tolerance limits on future projects.

There are also practical shortcuts, like draft agendas for Project Board meetings and benefits reviews.  However, I felt there could be more emphasis on the importance of a successful handover to operations, as this is often missed in projects and the support of the Executive is making sure this happens effectively is essential.

The book provides clear guidance as to what is expected of the project manager, as well as how to select the right project manager for the project.  Chapter 8 offers advice on what to do if the project manager selected requires too much support or is failing to manage by exception, and again, this is good, practical advice for new Executives.

In the past, many project managers have had to provide guidance themselves to Project Board members, and ask for what they need.  They will assuredly appreciate the concrete guidance this book offers in a form that they can give to Executives instead of having to hold difficult conversations which can often feel like undermining the Executive’s experience or authority.  While it won’t avoid the need for all difficult conversations between project manager and Executive, it will hopefully ease some of the organisational challenges and allow both parties to get on with the job of managing a successful project.

Buy on Amazon.co.uk
Buy on Amazon.com

This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series Inside PRINCE2

Inside PRINCE2 logoInitiating a project is where it all starts in PRINCE2.  This is the phase where you start working out who is going to do what.  You also put in place all the required elements to make sure the project goes smoothly.  The Initiating a Project process is designed to “establish solid foundations” according to the manual.  Essentially, this is the part where you make sure that everyone knows what they need to do and that there is a common agreement on the project objectives and the rationale for undertaking the work.

There are a lot of items to set up in the Initiating a Project process, although if you have managed a project with PRINCE2 before you’ll just need to get out the versions you did for those projects and tweak them to suit this new one.  No sense in reinventing the wheel.

In my opinion, the four most important parts of this process are putting in place the approach to deal with issues and changes as they arise. That means having:

  • a Risk Management Strategy
  • a Configuration Management Strategy
  • a Quality Management Strategy, and;
  • a Communications Management Strategy.

For each of these you need to work out who is going to:

  • approve the strategy (A)
  • review the strategy (R); and
  • produce the strategy (P).

The responsibilities for each member of the project team are shown in the table below.  Remember that the Config Management Strategy is where your issues register sits.


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