How often do we hear the moan, “PRINCE2 is OK, but it’s too bureaucratic”. Recently I even heard a comment that PRINCE2 turned the Project Manager into little more than a scribe for the Project Board. In my opinion, people who say these things don’t really understand the method or are subscribers to the ‘just do it’ school of project management.

Why do we get these complaints? Usually, it is because people look at the number of reports in PRINCE2 and imagine themselves sitting down, writing all these reports while the project is dissolving into chaos behind them. They haven’t appreciated the flexibility and scalability of the method. Throughout the PRINCE2 manual there are reminders that, according to the circumstances of the project, a ‘report’ may be informal, verbal, not necessarily a handful of written pages. For example, PRINCE2 takes an anti-bureaucratic stance and says “don’t have regular progress meetings with the Project Board; agree a Stage Plan and then send Highlight Reports unless things are forecast to go badly wrong”. The content of the Highlight Report and the medium used to convey it (telephone call?) are chosen by the Project Board, so surely this follows the ‘let’s get on with the job with minimum interruptions’ principle? If you were a Project Board member having approved a two or three month stage, would you not want some feedback on progress during the stage – without the pain of arranging to spend – what, half a day? – at a progress meeting? As far as I am concerned, PRINCE2 offers the most efficient way of combining maximised work time with good communications.

The whole concept of tolerance is designed to let the various levels of management ‘get on with the job’ – “Here are the limits. Get on with the job unless you forecast that you will go outside these”.

In my next blog let’s start looking at other aspects of this ‘bureaucracy’, the logs.

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