Posts Tagged ‘Tailoring’

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.

For any other information, please mail me (

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in the United Kingdom and other countries

Differences in PRINCE2® v2009 versus v2005

June 23, 2010
In 2009 OGC, the owner of the project management method PRINCE2, has released a new edition of the PRINCE2 manual. In this 2009 edition there are several changes were applied to improve the method. The fundamentals of the PRINCE2 method have not changed. The most important improvement is that the underlying principles of PRINCE2 are now explicit guiding principles for the content of the themes and processes as these are defined within the method (see figure 1).

Figure 1. Differences in PRINCE2TM v2009 versus V2005
(source: Project management based on PRINCE2, 2009 Edition)

The principles are also emphatic guiding principles for tailoring the method to a specific project in a given context. It is explicitly stated that deviation from the use presented in the themes and processes is possible, but that if not all PRINCE2 principles are applied in a project, it can no longer be termed a PRINCE2 project. The changes that have been implemented can be distinguished according to methodical changes, changes in the structure of the manual and smaller changes within a specific theme, product or process.
Structural changes
The most important structural changes are:
• Firstly, of course, the new chapter that has been added in which the PRINCE2 principles are explicitly named and described.
• More attention has been paid to adapting the method to a specific project in a given context.
• This has now become a separate chapter called Tailoring PRINCE2.
• The method is less prescriptive. With regard to many subjects, it is stated that deviation from the approach described is possible. It is stated that it is better to work according to the spirit of the method than to adhere to the rules of the manual.
• The method is less bureaucratic. Sub-processes have been swapped for activities. Fewer management products have been defined.
• There is now greater emphasis on learning from experience. In the first PRINCE2 process, learning from experience gleaned from previous projects is expressly mentioned as an activity.
• Lessons now come up for discussion in all reporting and meetings. Conveying one’s own experiences to the corporate or programme management is now included during stage boundaries too.
• There is a clearer link to other OGC methods, such as Management of Successful Programmes (MSP) and Management of Risk (M_o_R).
• Strategies have been introduced for risks, quality, configuration management and communication, all in line with MSP.
• There is more reference to techniques to be used. Reference is made to frequently-used techniques, not only in planning but also for risks and (for example) the Business Case.
• Delivery of the results in stages is pointedly assumed.
Changes to the manual
• First of all, the manual has been reduced from some 450 pages to around 330 pages, primarily by removing duplication of components and processes.
• The components have become themes and have been put before the processes. As themes they have also become what they are, namely areas for attention, without wishing to create an impression of being integral to a project – the term ‘component’ suggests.
• The eight components have been reduced to seven themes. Configuration management has now been integrated into the Change theme.
• Control aspects have now been renamed as the Progress theme.
• The Techniques section is now defunct. The techniques are now described in the relevant themes, alongside other important techniques.
• The number of processes has been reduced from eight to seven. The Planning process has now been included as a procedure within the Planning theme. This puts planning in line with other procedures, such as those of risk management and change control, which always used to be dealt with like procedures within the components/themes.
• There are more support and guidelines for the members of the Project Board and the senior management. To this end, the OGC has even published a separate manual with a separate exam associated with it.
• The appendix incorporating risk categories has become defunct.
• The health check has now been arranged according to the different steps in the project process.
Detailed changes
• Business Case – The Post-Project Review Plan is now called Benefits Review Plan. This plan is now created during initiation of the project and assessed by the Project Board during project authorization. For each stage, the Benefits Review Plan is brought up to date. Justification of the project is now based on whether the project is wanted, viable and achievable. The lifecycle of the Business Case is now subdivided into developing, verifying and confirming. The Business Case now also contains an Executive summary, dis-benefits and benefit tolerances. In the case of delivery in stages, benefits reviews can be held during the project.
• Organization – The four levels of management are now called corporate or programme management, directing, managing and delivering. The Change Authority has now been included in the organization chart. The configuration librarian is now part of the Project Support. In line with MSP, the Senior User is now responsible for identifying and defining the benefits and the operational or programme management holds this role responsible for demonstrating that the benefits forecasted are being achieved. The agreements on communication are now detailed in a Communication Management Strategy.
• Quality – There is now greater emphasis on the quality of the products. The quality path has been replaced by a quality audit path with overlapping paths for quality planning and quality management and quality control. The ‘project product’ has been introduced, which refers to the project’s final product to be delivered. The Project Product Description contains the customer quality expectations, the acceptance criteria and the quality tolerances at project level. The Project Quality Plan has been replaced by the Quality Management Strategy. The Stage Quality Plan is no longer distinguished separately in the Stage Plan.
• Plans – The method now states that a Product Description is required for all products identified. In contrast to this, the technique focus on products, which is now explained within the Planning theme, is less prescriptive. Thus for external products they only ‘advise’ choosing an anomalous colour or shape, for example.
• Risks – This chapter has been completely revised and therefore ties in heavily with the Management of Risks (M_o_R) method from the OGC. The agreements on approach to risk are now set down in a Risk Management Strategy. The risk process has been modified. Risks are now distinguished according to opportunities and threats. The responsibilities of the risk owner have been extended and the role of a risk-actionee is now recognized. The Risk Log has now become a formal Risk Register, which is created during the initiation of a project.
• Change – The Daily Log is now also used to record issues and risks that can be managed informally. The change procedure has been modified. Formal issues are now recorded in an Issue Register. The configuration management has been fully integrated into the Change theme. The approach to change control and configuration management is now recorded in the Configuration Management Strategy.
• Progress – The Progress theme replaces the Control component. This theme now concentrates entirely on the implementation of the project. The control aspects in the processes Starting up and Initiating a Project and Closing a Project are now no longer dealt with within this theme.
• Starting up a Project (SU) – Now also specifies the review of previous lessons. The project organization, the project approach and the Project Product Description have now been incorporated into the Project Brief. The Daily Log and Lessons Log are arranged in this process.
• Directing a Project (DP) – This process now begins at the end of the SU process in response to the request to commence initiation of the project. Apart from this, the DP process in itself has largely stayed the same. However, whereas in the past the Project Board requested initiation of the process Managing a Stage Boundary and premature closure of a project, this action is now the responsibility of the Project Board itself.
• Initiating a Project (IP) – The first activities of this process are now developing the different strategies for risk management, quality control, configuration management and communication management. The Risk Register is now arranged in this process too. The ‘PID’ is now defined as the Project Initiation Documentation. It now has to be explicitly recorded in the PID how the PRINCE2 method has been tailored to a project in this context.
• Controlling a Stage (CS) – This process has largely stayed the same. Only the sub-processes ‘capture’ and ‘examine issues’ have now been merged and extended into one activity: capturing and examining issues and risks.
• Managing Product Delivery (MP) – This process has largely stayed the same. Only the responsibility for recording the risks and the results of the quality reviews has now been returned to the Project Manager or (as the case may be) Project Support.
• Managing a Stage Boundary (SB) – The name of this process is now in the singular. The action ‘update the Risk Register’ is now part of the ‘update Business Case’ activity. The PID and the Benefits Review Plan are now being updated. The products completed in the project up until that point can already be delivered in stages and transferred to the customer. The formulation of a Lessons Report and recommendations for follow-on actions can now be part of this process.
• Closing a Project (CP) – New here are the activities prepare planned closure and prepare premature closure. Separate activities for handing over projects and recommending project closure have now also been defined. In principle, the Lessons Report and the recommendations for follow-on actions are now part of the End Project Report.
Tailoring PRINCE2
This is a new chapter. Whereas previously this aspect was addressed separately in the various processes, it has now been merged into one chapter. This subject has also been expanded considerably with regard to what had been set down in the 2005 version of the PRINCE2 manual. A distinction is made between implementing the method in an organization and tailoring the method to a specific project in a given context. The various aspects of the project and the environment that merit adaptation of the method to the project are examined. In addition to this, the differences between project and programme management are explained and the possible connections between the project and programme organization are examined. Finally it is explained how the method can be tailored to projects of different size and complexity.
• A. Arrangement of management products – The number of products has been reduced from 36 to 26. Further explanation is now given for each product. How the different management products can best be presented has been added.
• Governance – This is an entirely new appendix in which it is shown how and to what extent the PRINCE2 method covers governance of the principles of project management as published by the British Association for Project Management (not included in this book).
• B. Roles and responsibilities – The role Change Authority has been added. The role project office has become defunct. The requisite competencies for the various roles have been added.
• C. Example of product-based planning – This example has moved from the previous technique focus on products to the appendix. A Project Product Description and an example of a product breakdown structure in the form of a mind map have been added.
• E. List of terminology – This has been expanded in relation to the previous version.
• F. Other information – This contains a brief explanation of the various methodologies supported by the OGC.
So quite a lot has changed in the 2009 version, but the fundamental principals are still in place. I think the new edition is a real improvement regarding the 2005 version and easier to work with in practice. The biggest advantage are the explicitly made guidelines for tailoring PRINCE2 to your own situation.
Good luck applying PRINCE2!

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