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4.2 out of 5 stars
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4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 16 March 2017
I am not sure Nick Graham has fully cracked the art of simplicity with this book but then it does aim to be an accurate interpretation of a course syllabus on a subject matter notoriously 'process-tastic' that could have led to a case of confirmation bias, i.e. a left-brain methodology for left-brain types in a left brain descriptive style; but what about those who don't have the Myers Briggs judging preference gene of 'predict and control' - possibly the 'perceivers' (like me) who like to surf a project instead?

For certainly Part 1 it is all about customer/supplier structural planning at 3 levels of detail (post-initiation, stage and team), 7 event and time driven processes consisting of products, activities, and resources calling in 7 themes... and that's a lot to remember for newbies. Lest we forget we are talking about the 7 critical themes (and 7 control factors) which are:

- business case (cost & benefits)
- risk controls (risk)
- organisational roles (comms)
- quality controls (quality)
- change controls (change)
- progress controls: event/(time)
- plans

These themes are built on 7 principles - akin to an Agile manifesto - and 3 levels of decision points: the board level (directing), the PM level for project and planning skills (managing) and the Team level of work packages (deliverability). An outcome is a soft product, a changed perception versus the hard product, a deliverable.

Therefore, quite logically P2 defines the outcomes and deliverables up front, and then assigns resources and activities to build up the actuals of the products. Each process along the waterfall sequence carries a number of activities and each activity adopts a number of management (wetware) products e.g. plans, reports, records, checklists, registers, packages, logs, descriptions etc. Each management product is supported by the infamous overload of tick-box documentation. For instance, take a look at the break-down of a Product Description, a necessary part of the acceptance criteria produced during the Start Up and Initiation processes: identifier, title, purpose, description (composition), derivation, format and presentation, development skills required, quality criteria, quality tolerance, quality method, quality skills required, quality responsibilities and so on.

But wait... two of P2s Principles allow for either a certain tailoring to suit the project environment and a flexible response to learning from experience. Nick is careful to assuage the doomsayers of P2's reputation by emphasising a defter lightness of approach in trimming the tool-kit but never at the expense of resorting to "fire-fighting that can end up more time consuming than planning." Always, the baseline is making the method fit around the project not the other way around is a welcome reminder.

However as lapsed P2 Practitioner and practising Agile Practitioner this was the kind of revelation I had unfortunately cared to forget which made me question the degree P2 might loosely be defined as stream-lined without over-dilution; for it brought to mind the often paradoxical debate I have wrestled with between the two approaches - if an Agile practice is familiarly "learn to fail, or fail to learn" how does it interface with a "fail to plan, then plan to fail" P2 methodology?

The meeting point is surely somewhere in the middle, to reach a more realistic place of 'sense and respond', and Nick points out you can alter the sequence of activities by asking "is this a sensible change for this project?" i.e. is the adjustment better than the default, but never without a method, a justification, or an approval. You can overlap processes like the Initiation stage with the first stage, but slightly grudgingly lest the method be unduly stressed, only as a last resort when you need to move quickly; further for good measure you can shift activities between processes, alter the sequence of activities within a process and leave out activities in trim mode.

However P2's achilles heel is possibly it assumes it has the advantages of hindsight experience in producing excellent planning up front and this depends on having a very experienced team in place and more importantly the time and inclination given over at Board level; otherwise for all P2's noble aims a project's tactical planning tends to become wholly reliant on the experience of the stage and team levels operating as specialist products teams (internal/external). These guys become the real owners of the check lists and it is interesting to note that an Agile project backlog often works in a similar way being given the breath of life from encounters with failure from the ground up, not from the plan - go figure?

Possibly then P2 should be relabelled Pre-success Failure in Controlled Systems (prics) or Planned Product Led Projects in Controlled Customer/Supplier Structures to make Technical Deliverables using Processes and Activities through allocated Resources, but then it would be a rather difficult acronym to digest - you get the point. You chose your weapons and you takes your chances but choose wisely.
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on 16 March 2017
Given that the official AXELOS manual is so bewildering, I can say with a degree of certainty I wouldn't have passed my exams without this book. Well worth reading cover to cover and I can't recommend this and The accompanying 'Passing the Prince2 Exams' enough.
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on 1 April 2017
I do like the 'Dummies' range of books and find that they explain things rather well. This is laid out very well with clear and concise chapters but is more use as a refresher rather than an introduction. You can dip in and out of the chapters should you need a refresher on a particular subject.
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on 11 July 2017
Did the job. Have since realised what a waste of time Prince 2 is. Now only do Agile/Scrum projects.
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on 27 February 2017
All good
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on 30 December 2013
This is a great book for anyone that knows nothing about project management. It explains terms exactly as you need them. Not patronising, and not littered with jargon. Just right. Probably the best book on the market for anyone that is a project manager too. Highly recommended.
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on 5 September 2013
This book is as it says, a dummies guide. It is easy to follow and understand, a helpful tool for a project manager to have.
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on 31 January 2013
I took the PRINCE2 course with little knowledge of the subject. I have previously worked on several projects and thought that the PRINCE2 course would beneficial. I read through the manual which they provided and undertook all the homework and still failed. This book explains the procedures, goes into depth and provides examples. So, if you're thinking of taking the PRINCE2 course, read this book first.
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on 19 March 2009
You know what you're getting with a "for dummies book". It doesn't go into too much detail (and God knows, there's a lot of detail in the official coursebook!) and that makes it easy to get some basic knowledge out of it. I bought this 2 weeks before I went on the Practitioner's course so I had both this and the official coursebook before I started the course. If you're coming to the practitioner course without any prior knowledge then the sheer amount of information injected into your brain over 3 and a half days or so can throw you a bit. and that's where this book comes in. Where the official coursebook is very dry nd details everything,this book gives you more "context" so you get a better feel for why things are done the way they are in Prince2 environments.
As a companion to the coursebook, I highly recommend it. If you're buying it just to get you through the Practitioner exam you should look for something else instead or to supplement it.
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on 5 February 2009
My company has taken on Prince 2 training big time for most of the staff. having no project management experience I was booked on the foundation course so I bought a copy of this book. Its the best thing I did and helped me a lot. The actual Prince2 manual is more like a reference book where as the Dummies guide talks you through the process's in a more informal way. My advice is if you are going on the foundation or practitioners course then get this book.
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