Delivering Standards with Inconsistency?

Effective communication is key to any project's success, yet lack of consistency can be a major cause of confusion resulting in a communication meltdown, with poor or even no decisions capable of being made. This can lead to project failure.
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May 30, 2012 - PRLog -- Delivering Standards with Inconsistency?

In order to deliver business strategy and business change successfully, organisations adopt standards, such as PRINCE2®, with a view to 'effectively' manage their projects/change initiatives. Yet it seems, in many cases, the crucial management information that's required for effective decision-making is either being produced in a hap-hazard way without any form of consistency or not being created in a timely manner and in some cases not being produced at all!

Effective communication is key to any project's success, yet such lack of consistency can be a major cause of confusion resulting in a communication meltdown, with poor or even no decisions capable of being made. This can lead to project failure.

Based on this, we asked a cross section of PRINCE2 users the following questions:

# If you were asked to prepare a project Business Case, for consistency, would you expect a template to be available containing useful guidance for you?
# If you were given a Business Case to review, would you expect to easily recognize it as being a Business Case and expect it to be composed of certain key information?

Unsurprisingly, most responses were "Yes…in an ideal world"! So what are the related issues in the real world?

# Despite PRINCE2 being a project management standard which gives guidance and outlines for management information, in many cases the information is still somewhat lacking.
# People run projects without any consistency to their management information.
Communication breaks down, project progress is faltered and business cases are weakened.

PRINCE2 and Effective Communication

Essentially, one of the objectives of PRINCE2 is to ensure that the right management information is made available at the right times of a project, in order to allow the right people to make the right decisions. PRINCE2's management information is produced in the form of 'Management Products', such as a Business Case which provides the justification for a project and a Highlight Report to provide progress information to the Project Board.

However, the creation of such management information obviously takes time and effort - so you should add such tasks to your PRINCE2 plans. If something needs to be done… plan it in!

Producing management information also requires guidance and some form of assistance, otherwise we tend to 'put it off'. Procrastination is the thief of time and a common trait amongst the best of us. If there's a task to be completed then it should be done properly. However what we tend to find is:

# We don't know where to start - so we put it off
# We don't know what's required - so we put it off
# There's no guidance on what's required - so we put it off
# It seems a daunting task (albeit actually a simply one) - so we put it off!

When we finally take the plunge and get around to the task, it's usually rushed, we don't feel confident, we make assumptions of what's required and end up creating something too late and/or inadequate. Because of this, nobody has the time to rectify the situation and so the words "we'll just have to go with what we've got and try to make the best of it" are often heard ... sound familiar?!

'Putting it off' does not mean however that you won't still somehow   'pull it off'! But that's NOT the way to manage your projects. Through discussions with our clients, we've found such issues tend to exist around the production of PRINCE2 management products, as they wish they had some kind of supportive tool; perhaps in the form of useful templates which contain guidance to assist with their creation.

How Can SPOCE Help?

To support our clients and help promote consistency and effective communication across their projects, SPOCE have responded to our client's needs by supplying a complementary full set of PRINCE2 project templates to everyone.

These templates are also embedded within our useful Process Assistant software tool which contains additional supportive guidance such as project health checks and is made available to anyone who attends a SPOCE PRINCE2 training course. [ Call 01202 739116 or or visit  for your complimentary copy of PRINCE2 project templates]

In conclusion

To help with effective decision-making, consistency is a key factor regarding the 'all important' management information which should be created and updated throughout a project's life. However, PRINCE2 is a methodology which needs to be tailored to suit each project's size and complexity, as well as to suit each organization's internal standards, processes and procedures. Hence for some small, low budget, low risk projects, it may be appropriate for communication to be handled on a less formal basis with certain management information, such as a Highlight Report, being communicated verbally!. Please therefore feel free to adopt these templates and tailor them where necessary to suit your own specific internal standards. Please use these templates to introduce consistency to your management information across all of your projects.

About SPOCE:  SPOCE Project Management Limited is a professional company, operating in the OGC Best Practice Markets (PRINCE2, MSP, ITIL, APMP, MoP, MoV, P3O & M_o_R). The company’s strategy is to maintain an efficient, professional, administrative core, backed up by three key specialist units that provide technical excellence on: the OGC Best Practice methods; instructor-led training and e-learning solutions; and individual learning styles and e-leaning solutions. This ensures that the highest quality is achieved when the outputs are delivered by our proficient group of independent trainers and APMG-accredited distance-learning products.

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