Posts Tagged ‘hedeman’

Introducing tailoring PRINCE2® (part 1)

July 5, 2010

Introduction basic principles

One of the characteristics of a project is that the change is unique, or in any case unique enough not to be managed under a line management function but to be started as a project. This means that, in principle, no project is the same as another. Just think of the different sizes of projects, the varying organizations, and the differences in respect of the types of product. Put alongside this the fact that no Project Manager, Executive or project environment is the same and the basis is established for ‘tailoring’.

Figure 1. Effects of tailoring (Source: Project management based on PRINCE2)

Naturally it is so that a number of types of change, projects and environments can be distinguished to get more insight into all this complexity. This is useful to determine the approach to the project or the selection of the Project Manager who will execute the project. It is important to look at what the project and sometimes even the stage requires. With every project or every stage the Project Manager and the Executive should check what the specific characteristics of the project and the environment are (see figure 1). The Project Manager must organize the project accordingly. In this PRINCE2 offers structured guidance to enable the organization of the project to be adapted for every required situation. As such it is a generic method of project management and the method can be used as the start point for organizing and managing all types of projects.

Tailoring a PRINCE2 project is all about making the application of PRINCE2 fit a particular project, so that the correct means of planning, controlling, directing and the use of processes and themes can be adopted.

On the other hand PRINCE2 is embedded with a method for organizing products. This refers to the assurance of the PRINCE2 method throughout the entire organization. The table below indicates all the interim changes and tailoring (see table 1).

Table 1. Embedding and tailoring (Source: Project management based on PRINCE2)

In tailoring the project organization all aspects of the project must be considered, thus all themes and processes of PRINCE2. What can be used and what not? Can processes be combined (think of Starting up a Project and Initiating a Project in a small project)? How does the terminology link up with the standard corporate terms? Which roles can be combined by one person? How is a link obtained between the programme and the project organization? Which project approach fits which type of project best at the moment? How are the templates and the management products used?

In this article I will give an illustration of a number of specific situations and the application of PRINCE2 that can be used. The aim of tailoring the method must always be that what is done is precisely what the project requires to be successful.

Nothing more and nothing less!


Projects never stand alone and are always executed in conjunction with many factors – whether these are environmental factors or project factors. In figure 1 a few examples of such factors have been included. So, tailoring is also about the application of PRINCE2 bearing in mind the external factors.

PRINCE2 has a number of generic principles, themes and processes, but also a few specific topics such as terminology, management products and roles. The principles are universal starting points for project management and in this sense must always be applied in a PRINCE2 project. The themes are the aspects of project management that must be addressed continually and integrally during the entire lifecycle of a project. These aspects must be tailored for the specific project and for the specific circumstances. This often happens in the different project strategies. In a formal organization the risk strategies will, for example, be much more formally structured than in a more vision driven organization. Also the way of directing the line organization to the projects will differ in similar organizations and this will have an impact on the plans and strategies.

The PRINCE2 processes consist of connected activities that must be executed at certain times in the lifecycle of the project. It is therefore not advisable to leave these activities out or to skip them. The art is in the application of these process activities, giving each the attention that it deserves. It is thus more a question of how extensively and formally an activity must be executed, or the extent to which activities can be combined, rather than omitting activities altogether.

The same applies for the roles within PRINCE2. The starting point is that the correct person must fulfill the correct role in terms of the appropriate tasks, responsibilities and qualifications, and that everyone is clear what these roles, tasks, responsibilities and qualifications are, and not there is a signed role description available for every party. That can be necessary in critical projects with external parties, but that will more likely work counterproductively in other projects.

The terminology of PRINCE2 is one of the great plus points of using it as standard methodology. By all using the same terms and knowing what they mean, there is much less miscommunication, making the hand-over of work easier. That does not mean that the PRINCE2 terminology must always be insisted on. If everyone in an organization has been used to referring to a project contract instead of a Project Brief and the meaning is the same, then it is probably advisable to continue to use the existing terms.

In principle this also applies to the application of management products. It is sometimes advisable to keep on using existing documents or lay-outs and to enrich these on the basis of the set-up of the management products of PRINCE2, rather than replacing them altogether. One should take care that all aspects are addressed.

It is always advisable to pay attention to all the parts. Make a conscious choice if it is necessary and, if yes, to what extent it is necessary to describe the part. Avoid bulky plans in which all aspects are described in detail, when this does not contribute to the success of the project. This costs unnecessary energy, time and money.

Whatever an example is given, there will always be a unique situation in a project, so on the basis of that, choices are made for its organization. It is all about the purpose, not the means! Just think: There are no bureaucratic methods… only the bureaucratic applications of methods. Bureaucracy is a choice!

The above example ends with the most important starting point in the tailoring of PRINCE2. CHOOSE CONSCIOUSLY!


In the next article I will go into tailoring PRINCE2 for projects within a programme. This project environment has its own characteristics and possibilities to keep PRINCE slim and lean! So it seems to probably become a interesting article again :-).

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

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Our goals for our book “Project Management based on PRINCE2™”

May 7, 2010
In the last couple of years I published several books about project management and programme management. For most of them I worked with Bert Hedeman, my good friend and fellow guru in this field of expertise. With every book we wrote we had some goals in mind we wanted to achieve. We wanted our books to add value to the books already available. In this article I want to give you some insights on our goals and ideals.
The reason for us to think about writing a book about project management was the observation that an increasing number of organizations were working in a project-like manner and were using the PRINCE2® project management method. For these organizations the advantages of using one uniform standard method are obvious: a uniform method of working and terminology makes projects comparable, transferable and orderly. Moreover, PRINCE2 has additional qualities, such as the standard ‘no go’/’go’ decision with each stage, the Business Case at the centre of the project and clear agreements about who is responsible for what.
Our book is intended for everyone doing projects in their daily work. It is written for Project Managers, Project Leaders and Team Managers and all others who are involved with the starting up and management of projects. It aligns with the 2009 Edition of the PRINCE2 methodology, with many lists serving as reference material for all project types and sizes. As our book illustrates, PRINCE2 is quite logical and this title demonstrates why it is often referred to as a structured best practice for project management. In addition, the contents of the book meet the majority of the theoretical requirements set for successfully passing the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. It also provides a good reference title as part of the wider reading and practical experience required from those taking the Practitioner exam.
In this book, we have tried to combine our long experience in project management and PRINCE2 training. Using this background we explain the PRINCE2 approach in a structured manner, complemented with useful examples to help bring the theory alive. The Themes, Processes, techniques and Management Products as defined in PRINCE2 are explained in an easy-to-read, concise text. In the appendices you will find an example of a Project Brief and a paragraph on how to deal with lessons learned in a project.

Enriching the PRINCE2 Manual
Although this book is based on the manual ‘Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2™’ from the OGC, which was fully revised in 2009. It is by no means the intention to ’translate’ the manual, but rather to make the methodology more accessible to the reader and to ‘enrich’ it with additions, practical tips and examples. It provides insight into how PRINCE2 can be used to manage projects and thus serves as a practical reference work for the experienced Project Manager. Thanks to its accessibility, the book is also extremely well suited to being used by anyone wishing to acquaint himself/herself with the method or working on a team engaged in projects (PRINCE2 or otherwise).
For instance, we wanted to provide the reader with extra information about working in a project management environment. So with Chapter 1 we added an introduction to Project Management. This first chapter provides the reader with insight into what a project is or is not, why projects are ‘different’ and what managing projects entails. In chapter 2  we introduced PRINCE2 and specifically examines what the PRINCE2 method encompasses, the structure of the method, its relationship to other OGC guidelines, what is not included in the method’s scope, the benefits of the method and the differences between the 2005 version and the 2009 version. In the rest of the chapters we go through the fundamental principles, themes and processes of PRINCE2.

Preparation for exams
In the PRINCE2 method, a PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner exam can be taken based on Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2TM.
The PRINCE2 Foundation exam is aiming to measure whether a candidate could be act as an informed member of a project management team on a project using the PRINCE2 method. The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is aiming to measure whether a candidate could apply PRINCE2 to the running and managing of a non-complex project within an environment supporting PRINCE2. With this book we provide a good basis for both exams.
So overall we aimed for a practical, easy-to-read book for project managers with all knowledge of PRINCE2 to pass the examination. But also a comprehensive book about working in a project management environment. Follow this link when you want to know more about the book or buy it.

PRINCE2® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.