Planning Large Projects and Programs

Planning Large-Scale Projects

Use a formal planning approach for complex projects.

© iStockphoto/m-1975

The techniques explained so far in this section on Mind Tools support a pragmatic, commonsense approach to planning and managing small and medium-sized projects.

However, this approach will only scale up to a certain extent – as projects get larger, they can reach a level of complexity where ad hoc approaches to project management become wasteful and inefficient.

For these projects, project management becomes a technical discipline in its own right. To run such projects efficiently, project managers use formal project management methodologies such as PMBOK or PRINCE2.

PMBOK, which stands for the “Project Management Body Of Knowledge”, was first published in 1996 as a manual called A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. It is now in its fourth edition.

It is a standard that represents generally-recognized good practice, and is published by the Project Management Institute. This is a not-for-profit membership association for the project management profession, which administers the associated Project Management Professional (PMP) qualifications. PMBOK is the dominant project management methodology used in North America.

PRINCE2, which stands for "PRojects IN Controlled Environments", is widely used in the UK and in English-speaking countries outside North America, and was originally devised as a “best practice” standard to be used for managing UK government information systems projects. Since then, it has become increasingly widely used for projects of all kinds, in the private as well as the public sector, and although copyright in it is retained by the Crown and managed by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), its methods are in the public domain and are free for organizations to use.

Various accredited training organizations offer PRINCE2 qualifications at Foundation level, for those who need to be familiar with its terminology, and at Practitioner level, which is aimed at project and program manages.

PRINCE2 is powerful in that it...

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