Tailoring Different kind of PRINCE2 projects (part 3)

In my last two articles about tailoring I was writing about tailoring of PRINCE2 and specifically tailoring projects within programmes. Every time I try to focus on those aspects that truly increase our chance of success. What do I have to do to be successful?! In this article I have searched for ways to tailor PRINCE2 projects within different kinds projects and context.

Lifecycle models
PRINCE2 is a project management method; it helps with the management of a project. There are many other methods that address the content approach of a project and the delivery and testing of specialist products. Examples are the waterfall method and agile methods (for example DSDM Atern). Because PRINCE2 stands apart from these aspects, it is possible to connect with these specialist lifecycle models. This is achieved by:

  • Enabling the phasing of the management stage to connect with the development lifecycle (for example design, building, testing, handover).
  • Using tolerances, such as limited tolerances for time and money and a more generous tolerance for range and quality with the application of an agile model or repetitive models.
  • Integrating specialist roles in the Project Management Team. It is often unclear what these roles should be called. This is not a problem. It is only important to be clear about the responsibilities, so that these can be understood by all involved.
  • Lifecycle models can also prescribe project management products. In similar cases it is important to avoid double work or breaks in activity. It is also important to make a conscious choice for an unambiguous approach.

Different kinds of projects
The management of projects is essentially the same, irrespective of the sector in which the project is executed. However, in practice it seems that the approach differs for each sector. So, for example, project management in the IT sector is likely to be different from that for cultural projects. The organization and direction of large and small projects, or single disciplinary and multidisciplinary projects differ. However, in all cases the basic process scheme is the same. The basic scheme can, however, be tailored for each project. Examples of different kinds of projects are:

  • Commercial customer-supplier projects;
  • Multi-organization projects;
  • Development projects;
  • Feasibility projects;
  • Projects in the private or public sector.

Commercial customer-supplier projects
If a commercial relationship exists between the customer and the supplier, it is important to realize that there are at least two reasons (one for the customer and one for the supplier) to execute the project, two management systems, two structures and two corporate cultures. The customer and the supplier also have their own Business Case. If one of the Business Cases no longer applies, the project runs into trouble and will most likely go wrong, even if the Business Case of the other party is still valid. The Business Case of one party is often (partly) not unavailable to the other party.

The appointment of the role of Senior Supplier is a major decision in a commercial relationship. Should the supplier fill this role or leave it to a manager in the customer organization? And what if there is more than one supplier? If there are more than four suppliers, it is recommended that a main accepter be appointed as Senior Supplier. If there is a purchasing stage in the project, an experienced person from the purchasing department can fulfill this role until the supplier has been chosen.

In most cases the Project Manager will be appointed by the customer, while the supplier fills the role of Team Manager. If the project is initiated by the supplier, the corporate representative of the supplier is the Executive, and the head of the department who has to realize the project result is the Senior Supplier. So, who is the Senior User? That is usually the sales manager as they represent the customer within the supplier organization.

It should be indicated in the strategies whether this design emanates from the customer, the supplier or from a combination of the two.

If the project is managed stage by stage, stage assignments can be given, or a contract can be awarded for the entire project with part assignments concluded. The Team Plan of the supplier cannot be made public to the customer. A good Checkpoint Report then forms the basis on which the Project Manager should monitor and control the relevant Work Packages.

The Risk Register can also be confidential, since some risks are relevant to one party only. If a combined Risk Register is kept, then it must be indicated who the owners of the individual risks are.

The change procedure should link up with the purchasing procedures of the customer and the approval procedures of the supplier. The manner in which the progress of the project or the stage is reported, should tie in with the control demands of both organizations.

For the sake of the supplier the processes must be tailored. The Starting up a Project process will take place pre-contract in response to the request of the customer for a tender. Some of the Initiating a Project process will be pre-contract whilst contract negotiations continue. At the end of the initiation stage a contract is subsequently put in place for the delivery. If at the end of SP a contract suddenly has to be placed for the entire project (initiation and delivery), it is advisable that the first stage (the initiation stage) is executed on the basis of hours times price and a definite agreement reached on the contract soon after approval of the Project Initiation Documentation.

The Project Initiation Documentation must fit in with the liabilities and contractual responsibilities. Between the customer and the external supplier a Work Package can be regarded as a legal contract.

Multi-organization projects
It has already been indicated that a project is typically run on the basis of a customer/supplier relationship. However, it can also happen that multiple organizations are involved, such as joint ventures and inter-departmental projects or partnerships. In such a situation the ownership is shared by several organizations. It is advisable to organize similar projects with a programme control as the dominant structure above the actual project and to stick to a single Executive for the project itself.

Development projects
Projects usually start without a rigidly defined output, but with specifications that are developed further during the project. The specifications that have been prepared during the initiation stage are only adequate for making a ‘good and agreed’ prediction about the business justification of the project. In each stage or with every stage boundary the necessary specifications are defined for the next stage and the specifications of the project products are refined to safeguard the permanent business justification of the project. Similar projects are totally supported by the PRINCE2 method by the drawing up of the Stage Plan and the Business Case at the end of every management stage.

Feasibility projects
A feasibility project or study can be necessary to examine a situation and to develop the options further. A similar study is a project in itself, since such a study is in itself a business product with its own business justification to execute this study (see figure 1).

A feasibility study produces an advice report containing the recommendation in each case for the future. The Project Board can take a decision on the basis of the advice report. Policy projects look like feasibility studies; the output has an immediate value, but contributes to reaching a reliable decision. Executing the decision taken is a project in itself.

Figure 1. Example of feasibility lifecycle
(Source: Project management based on PRINCE2)

Projects in the private or public sector
There are different sectors, each with their own dynamics and qualities. However, the characteristics of a project apply whether the organization is in the public sector or the private sector. Despite the fact that there may be differences in the approaches taken to the development of a Business Case, nevertheless the importance of knowing ‘what we do it for’ is applicable everywhere.

The Business Case in the private sector is usually based on a return on investment, even if that is still not the case in some instances. In the public sector the concept of political decision taking often comes up, though the main questions revolve around: what is the added value? Is it realistic and do we want to spend so much money for the proposed solution or are other, less costly solutions available? Even the authorities cannot always get what they want and also their money can only be spent once.

In the public sector as well as the private sector it is notably important that the different stakeholders are involved in the project. The choice of whether to adopt a Project Board depends more on the culture and the scale of the organization and the importance, size and complexity of the project, than on the sector. In the public sector another consultation body is sometimes involved, for which the responsibilities and the competencies are not clear beforehand. Whatever the method, this is a situation to be avoided.

When considering the public responsibility, it is likely that the various reports and decisions are typically recorded more formally in the public sector than in the private sector. In the PRINCE2 method it is entirely up to the customer to complete the necessary documentation.

This was the last article in the series about tailoring PRINCE2 in different circumstances. I hope you enjoyed the articles and were able to apply it in practice.

Please feel free to comment on my articles. I’d love to get into remarks and questions.

For any other information, please mail me (gabor.visvanheemst@intrprimus.nl).



One Response to “Tailoring Different kind of PRINCE2 projects (part 3)”

  1. effectivearticlemarketing Says:

    What has been expressed here fits the general frame of mind that mostly everyone is used to. And maybe is best to keep it that way. At least for the time being.

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