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Improving PRINCE2 Project Manager Flexibility

One of the basic principles of the ECPM Framework is to protect the flexibility and decision-making authority of the Project Co-Managers. The vetted portfolio is the artifact that accomplishes this.

Every instantiation of the ECPM Framework in an organization includes a portfolio of vetted tools, templates, and processes from which a project manager chooses what will be used to manage their specific project. The ECPM Framework provides the template of contents for that portfolio. It is called the ECPM/kit and includes the following categories:

  • bodies of knowledge
  • a specific portfolio of PMLC Model Templates
  • vetted tools, templates, and processes
  • customized reports
  • business process models
  • process improvement program
  • professional development program
  • problem-solving process
  • decision-making process
  • RASCI Matrix

Related Article: Output Decisions From the Client Checkpoint

Every organization has its own culture, best practices, and business processes. Some will be commercial off-the-shelf products; others will be home grown and meet specific situations that may be unique to the organization. To plan and execute projects the organization will offer a portfolio of tools, templates, and processes that have been vetted for use by anyone in the organization. That vetting is often the responsibility of a Project Support Office (PSO). Because the portfolio includes only vetted items, their use will have been pre-approved. It is up to the co-managers to decide which to use given the situation they face. Additions to the vetted portfolio are always welcome as new employees are hired and new tools, templates, and processes are introduced by the thought leaders in their respective disciplines.

The vetted portfolio offers any project manager complete freedom to choose which to use among a set of pre-approved alternatives. Some organizations may require the manager to offer the rationale for their choices whenever those choices depart from common practice. Supporting that freedom is critical to the successful execution of complex projects. This is consistent with the cook/chef metaphor and is an essential characteristic of the complex project landscape.


The major strength of the ECPM Framework is that it places full control over the management of the project in the hands of the co-managers. But that control would be a ticket to chaos if it weren’t contained within a portfolio of vetted tools, templates, and processes. We call that portfolio the ECPM/kit. Having that portfolio in place and used presents several benefits and challenges to the organization:

  • The ECPM/kit contains all of the tools, templates, and processes that will be needed to satisfy the management requirements of any project that the organization might encounter.
  • The ECPM/kit includes a continuous improvement process that monitors project performance and provides an open environment for project performance enhancements.
  • The co-managers have a detailed working knowledge of the portfolio and how to adjust it to satisfy any project management requirements that might arise.
  • The co-managers have the authority and responsibility to do what makes sense for effective project management.

The creation of the ECPM/kit is an exercise that is included the workshop that was conducted to design and deploy the organization’s version of the ECPM Framework. The ECPM/kit is a dynamic entity. It is constantly updated with new ideas from the project teams, new employees and evolving industry processes and practices. If the PMO is the steward, their responsibility is to make sure the ECPM/kit is complete and doesn’t needlessly constrain the co-managers to less than optimal choices of alternatives.


The ECPM/kit must support all of the project management needs of every project. Built into the ECPM Framework is a continuous process improvement program shown in Figure 10.1

fig 10.1
Figure 10.1 ECPM Framework Continuous Process Improvement Program

Source: Wysocki, Robert K. and Steve Tendon, Patterns of Effective Complex Project Management: A Journey Towards a Hyper-productive End State (J. Ross Publishing, forthcoming)

The DOI (Declaration of Interdependence) Performance Assessment is the decision framework that drives the continuous process improvement program. It is instigated at the completion of each of the three stages of the ECPM Framework.

The six DOI Statements are:

We increase return on investment by making the continuous flow of value our focus.

The proper use of the Effective Complex Project Management (ECPM) Framework maximizes the Return on Investment (ROI) from several perspectives:

  • Each iteration not only moves closer to defining an acceptable solution but also delivers a production version of the current solution.
  • Each iteration includes a significant Client Checkpoint where the best fit alignment to the project and its environment is reconfirmed or adjusted.
  • Each iteration maintains its “lean” principles to avoid wasted time and cost.

We deliver reliable results by engaging customers in frequent interactions and shared ownership.

The ECPM Framework is designed around a collaborative and meaningful client involvement. Meaningful client involvement is the key to delivering reliable results. There are several examples of meaningful client involvement in the ECPM Framework:

  • Equal responsibility and authority between the parties comes directly from the ECPM Co-Manager Project Team Model. One manager pays attention to the process (the project manager). The other manager pays attention to the product (the client product manager).
  • An open and honest environment is the bedrock of a successful project result .

We expect uncertainty and manage for it through iterations, anticipation, and adaptation.

The complex project landscape is defined through not only its complex nature but also the uncertainty of change. That change arises from three dependent sources:

  • The changing priorities of the project in the program or portfolio wherein it resides.
  • The changing internal environment.
  • The changing external environment.

We know that all of these changes will occur, but we don’t know when and we don’t know what impact will result. That means our project management approach must be nimble and flexible.

We unleash creativity and innovation by recognizing that individuals are the ultimate source of value, and creating an environment where they can make a difference.

An open and honest team environment is the key to releasing creativity and innovation. The ECPM Framework has a number of processes and practices that embolden creativity and innovation:

  • the ECPM Brainstorming Process
  • the use of Probative Swim Lanes for discovery
  • the use of ECPM Brainstorming for solution alternatives
  • establishing the open and honest team environment

We boost performance through group accountability for results and shared responsibility for team effectiveness.

Whatever the team produces is due to the efforts of all the team members pulling in the same direction. There are no “knights in shining armor.” ECPM includes a number of processes and practices that allow such behavior:

  • The ECPM Brainstorming Process is open and encourages every member to express their ideas and suggestions.
  • The ECPM Framework is based on individual accountability for results.

We improve effectiveness and reliability through situationally specific strategies, processes and practices.

The Patterns that describe the real value and benefits of the ECPM Framework through its adaptive and agile structure:

  • As internal and external situations change so do the strategies, processes, and practices that support those situations change

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