Are Your Projects Desirable Viable and Achievable?
According to the PMIs (Project Management Institute) Report Success in Disruptive Times 2018, 55% of project failures are as a result of businesses pursuing the wrong projects, projects which will not provide benefits to the businesses or projects whose costs outweigh the benefits provided. This is a staggering figure given that these businesses would be recognised as some of the most profitable and successful in the world.
So how do you as a business or project manager avoid or at least diminish the chances of your projects not being successful. Using the Prince2 approach to business justification might help.
Previously here I have talked about the structure of Prince2 and how it is a principled based methodology. One of the principles, indeed the first, is Continued Business Justification. This means that if you are managing a project using the Prince2 methodology the project must have continued business justification.
What does Continued Business Justification mean in Projects?
Continued business justification means not only writing a business case prior to delivery of the project but maintain the business case as you proceed through the project and review it from time to time.
Projects are distinct from operations in that they support operations and the business in general. If the business needs to change in any way, running projects will ensure the change is managed and delivered upon with efficiency.
However the business case for the project can be diluted and projects are liable to absorb operational requirements as they go (scope creep). Also it can be a challenge to identify a definitive business case for certain projects such as those with largely intangible benefits (branding, social and research projects).
But its not just enough to write a business case for projects prior to proceeding into delivery, because as the project proceeds it will be subjected to both external and internal influences such as resourcing issues, regulations, marketplace fluctuations and many others. The project is also constrained with time, scope and cost. All of these put pressure on the project to deliver benefits to the business.
How does Prince2 approach Continued Business Justification?
The Principle Continued Business Justification stresses that a project:
- must have a justifiable reason to be started
- must have a written business case
- must continue to be justified as it proceeds through delivery
How do you implement this using Prince2?
The Prince2 Theme (knowledge area) Business Case, details how to apply the principle Continued Business Justification. It explains the minimum requirements to be used for the Prince 2 method.
Indeed, the purpose of the Theme is – to ensure the project is desirable, viable and achievable. It does this by identifying that the project must:
- create and maintain some form of business case
- review and update the business case in response to events and decisions
- identify who is responsible for and who will manage the business case
Applying this theme will ensure the project has continued business justification and is desirable, viable and achievable.
Example of Justifying a Project with Prince2
So you have decided to run a process improvement project for your business using Prince2. This would be a very common small project for most businesses and crucial to continuous improvement.
To be applying Prince2 for your project you must at a minimum identify the reason for delivering the project, record it and identify roles and responsibilities for keeping it:
- The reason for the project is to:
- Increase productivity in the department
- Save time by integrating existing and new systems
- As part of our approach to continued business justification for the project we will:
- Assign a C-Level person in the department to be responsible and accountable for the business case
- Assign the project manager to develop and maintain the business case
- Check the viability of the project at defined milestones using the business case and project plans
- Check the viability of the project when changes are introduced and other significant events both internal and external relating to the project come to light
This is quite basic stuff when you think of the number of projects that reportedly fail due to the lack of a written business case or maintaining the business case during the project.