PRINCE2 Foundation Certification Notes 5: Organization Theme

PRINCE2 Foundation Certification Notes 5: Organization

Important: The new PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner exams (PRINCE2® 2017) are available from 10 July 2017 (details of the changes here). Don’t worry, the changes are quite minor indeed as all the 7 principles, themes and processes remain the same. From now on until the end of 2017, candidates can take either the existing or updated English versions of the PRINCE2® exam. All PRINCE2® Foundation and Practitioner exams will be based on PRINCE2® 2017 from 1 January 2018. You can still seize the time to get certified based on the current version! Once you get PRINCE2® certified, your certification is still valid under PRINCE2® 2017 and onwards!

Introduction: In PRINCE2®, there are 7 Themes describing important aspects of project management that are vital to the success of the project. The Organization Theme is the second PRINCE2® Theme which focuses on establishing the accountability and responsibilities structure for the project and is primarily based on the PRINCE2® Principle of “Defined Roles and Responsibilities”. The PRINCE2® Foundation Study Notes for the Organization Theme below details what are needed for the PRINCE2® Foundation Exam.

PRINCE2® Theme: Organization

  • The Organization Theme aims at providing a clear definition of the “Who” of the project, their responsibilities and the accountability (e.g. reporting structure).
  • Every PRINCE2® project is based on the customer/supplier environment.
  • PRINCE2® defines the roles (not persons) and their associated responsibilities in the project. While the roles might be shared / combined depending on project needs, the responsibilities must be allocated.
  • Some roles can be combined or shared while others must be independent in order to provide the needed accountability

4 Levels of Project Organization

  • Corporate or Program Management (outside of project team)
    • responsible for: commissioning the project, identifying the Executive and defining project-level tolerance
  • Project Management Team
    • Directing — Project Board (Executive + Senior Supplier(s) + Senior User(s)), accountable for the overall success of the project
    • Managing — Project Manager, responsible for day-to-day management
    • Delivering — Team Manager, responsible for delivering the agreed products

Primary Categories of Stakeholders

  • Business — represented by Executive role, the business stakeholder is there to ensure value for money of the investments of the project
  • User — represented by Senior User role, including those who will use, operate, maintain or support the products to ensure the agreed quality level will be achieved
  • Supplier — represented by Senior Supplier role, including those who will provide the skills and resources to produce the product (can be in-house or external)

 (Note: in PRINCE2®, “Customer” is used in the context of a commercial customer-supplier relationship (i.e. customer is a collective term for business and user stakeholders))

Roles of PRINCE2® Projects

  • Project Board — provide the direction for the project by making/approving key decisions for the project and resources/funding/support to the project
    • 4 key characteristics of the Project Board
      • Authority and Credibility: must be senior enough within the corporate organisation to provide strategic decisions/allocate funding
      • Ability to delegate: can delegate authority to the Project Manager for the day-to-day running of the project
      • Availability: should be easily available for making decisions and providing directions
  • Executive — appointed by Corporate or Program Management to be accountable for the project; develop the business case
  • Senior User — a bridge between the project and users by specifying the needs/requirements of the products
  • Senior Supplier — represents the interests of those who deliver the products
  • Business Analyst — help the Executive to develope the Business Case
  • Project Assurance — help the Project Board/Project Manager by being responsible for checking and advising Business/User/Supplier assurance — providing guidelines, guidances on corporate standards; must be independent of the Project Manager
  • Change Authority — help the Project Board for assessing and approving “lower level” change requests (within the “Change Budget”); may be the Project Board for small projects
  • Project Manager — responsible for the day-to-day management of the project and be responsible for all of the PRINCE2® processes (except “Directing a Project”)
  • Team Manager — (the only optional role) help the Project Manager to manage the project team members
  • Project Support — tasked with administrative/routine activities (e.g. Configuration Management) [NOT optional, defaults to the Project Manager]

Key Definitions

  • Project — a temporary organization created for delivering one or more business products specified in the Business Case; projects are to bring about changes to meet business challenges.
  • Programme — a temporary flexible organisational structure responsible for coordinating, directing and overseeing the a set of related projects/activities to achieve synergy in delivering the strategic objectives of the organization.
  • Stakeholder — anyone that can be affected by the project / have an effect on the project
  • Corporate Organization — refer to the organization leadership; there are two major types of corporate organization:
    • Line management/function management — in functional organization
    • Centre of Excellence Concept — consisting of units providing standards and skills/resources, e.g. PMO

Organization Theme: Roles and Responsibilities

  • Corporate or Programme Management: appoints the Executive (and the Project Manager) and provides Communication Management Strategy template (from organization practices)
  • Executive: forms the Project Board & Project Management Team and approves the Communication Management Strategy
  • Senior User(s): commits user resources and act as a bridge for the communication between users and the project
  • Senior Supplier(s): provides supplier resources
  • Project Manager: prepares the Communication Management Strategy (in Initiating a Project process) and Role Descriptions (in Starting Up a Project process)
  • Project Assurance: advises on the project management team formation and ensures the Communication Management Strategy is appropriate

Stakeholders Engagement and Communication Management

  • Stakeholder Engagement is about
    • identifying who are the key stakeholders,
    • analyzing their influences/attitudes in the project,
    • formulating effective stakeholder engagement strategies,
    • performing these strategies; and,
    • measuring the effectiveness.
  • Communication Management is about
    • defining the means and frequency of communication to all stakeholders (internal and external)
    • the Communication Management Strategy is documented and approved by Project Board in initiating the project process; and updated with approval in subsequent steps.

(The PRINCE2® Organization Theme (in particular the stakeholder engagement and communication management) is similar to the Project Communication Management and Project Stakeholder Management as described in the PMBOK® Guide for PMP Certification Exam dealing with planning, executing, managing and monitoring stakeholder engagement and communication among project team/stakeholders in the PMP Exam.)

Wish you PRINCE2® Foundation Exam success!


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Edward Chung

Edward Chung aspires to become a full-stack web developer and project manager. In the quest to become a more competent professional, Edward studied for and passed the PMP Certification, ITIL v3 Foundation Certification, PMI-ACP Certification and Zend PHP Certification. Edward shares his certification experience and resources here in the hope of helping others who are pursuing these certification exams to achieve exam success.

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