Over the Summer I have undertaken the foundation course of Prince2, the project management system. In the Prince2 manual it is defined as :”Prince2 (Projects in a Controlled Environment) is a structured Project Management Method”, and asserts itself to be suitable, flexible and generic enough for any project, no matter what the size. However this quick post is not an overview of Prince2 (if you want that do the damn course yourself) more a reflection on why I did the course, and how I feel it went. But first a little personal project management background.

The usual approach to project management is, especially within a library-sense ‘Do It Yourself’, or more specifically myself. As the library develops and grows, this is obviously not a workable solution; I cannot control nor do every aspect. When part of a project team be it as part of a wider library or within Public Health, they often feel ad-hoc in their nature, and in some cases quite shambolic. I feel managers and project leads must have had some Prince2 experience as I recognise aspects of it in daily working life, and some of the projects I have worked on seem like bastardised versions. However given the generic nature of it, this could conceivably be coincidence.

The course was a subsidised e-learning course by Infocus who operate in the North-West NHS environment. Naturally it was self-directed; with a written multiple choice exam at the end. The exam itself was sat at the very beautiful, but stupidly located for public transport users, Wrightington Hospital in Wigan. It ran from July until September, and you could do the 8 course modules whenever you liked.

I have to admit I struggled, both with the material and the nature of the course. I haven’t had much real involvement in e-learning, work-based one off courses aside – for example child protection. I really struggled with the e-learning concept. It was not the material or how it was laid out. It was well laid out, clear to understand and with questions mixed in to keep you engaged with it. I’m not sure if it was the actual presentation or possibly even the lack of forced discipline involved… Why study when I have the PS3 there? Why study when I have SO much work to do? This is something I dealt with during the Masters course, but a sneaking feeling is that it is combat the fear of failure. If I do not try and fail, I failed because I didn’t try. However, if I do try and fail, that means I wasn’t any good to begin with right? The content, when discussing the processes etc. became quite difficult for me to follow and for me to remember. What was part of the ‘Initiating a Project’ and what was part of ‘Starting a Project’? Prince2 quickly became quite a complicated (not complex) and convoluted process to me, which further dampened my enthusiasm towards it

I do prefer to learn experientially. Learn by doing, in a real sense has always been my preferred method. The irony is, a major project I am involved in at work, is being ran by the external company using Prince2 guidelines, so I am hopeful it will all fall into place when I am part of it. In fact, I have volunteered myself to be ‘senior supplier’ or within that particular food chain. I passed, and am confident, once I am part of it in this upcoming project, will allow me to fully grasp its future working potential, both in the library and beyond. And worst case scenario I paid £150 for something extra to be added to the CV.