PRINCE2 Principle Tailor to suit the project 

 November 25, 2023

By  Dave Litten

PRINCE2 Principle Tailor to suit the project

PRINCE2 is applied and tailored to suit the project environment, size, complexity, importance, delivery method, team capability, and level of risk.

PRINCE2’s value is that it is a universal project management method that can be applied to consider the project’s context, scale or size, delivery method, stakeholder landscape, complexity, importance, team capability, and level of risk.

What’s more, it can be used for any project type, geography, or culture. It can be used on any project because the method is designed to be applied and tailored to suit each project’s specific needs and context.

The purpose of PRINCE2 Tailoring is to ensure that:

  • The project management method used is appropriate to the project (for example, aligning the method with the business processes that may govern and support the project, such as human resources, finance, and procurement)
  • Project controls are appropriate to the project’s scale, complexity, importance, delivery method, team capability, and risk (for example, the frequency and formality of reports and reviews).
  • Tailoring requires the project board and the project manager to make proactive choices and decisions on how PRINCE2 will be applied.

It may also involve adjusting the terminology to match terms used by the organizations involved or replacing some of the PRINCE2 techniques (such as the risk management technique) with alternative procedures, such as those already used by the business or supplier(s).

When tailoring PRINCE2, it is essential to remember that effective project management requires information (but not necessarily documents) and decisions (but not necessarily meetings).

If PRINCE2 is tailored, it is likely that the project management effort and management approaches would be appropriate for the needs of the project. This can lead to inattentive project management at one extreme, where PRINCE2 is followed without question, or ‘heroic’ project management at another extreme, where PRINCE2 is not followed.

The project manager is responsible for tailoring and will make recommendations after consulting relevant lessons and standards. The project board is accountable and needs to approve the recommendations at the end of the initiation stage, and every time there is a proposed change to the management approaches.

The project initiation documentation captures how PRINCE2 will be applied and tailored for the particular project. This ensures that all those involved in the project understand how PRINCE2 will be used and how to carry out their responsibilities.

Care should be taken to ensure that the proposed tailoring is consistent with PRINCE2’s seven principles and that the resultant method retains its integrity.

An example of applying the ‘tailor to the suit the project’ principle is where the project has a commercial customer-supplier relationship.

The project may need to align the project management processes, practices, and documentation to two or more quality systems, one from the customer and one from the supplier. For example, a supplier may wish to use their in-house product development framework based on an iterative-incremental delivery method using agile management approaches.

Clarifying your PRINCE2 tailoring approach

To avoid potential confusion, the project manager might propose to:

  • Map and define terminology between PRINCE2 and the supplier’s agile management approaches.
  • Add the project team roles of ‘customer subject matter expert’ and ‘supplier subject matter expert’ to the agile team, representing the customer and the supplier, respectively
  • Add a coach to guide the teams in working effectively using PRINCE2 and the supplier’s in-house agile method.
  • Collaborate and communicate according to agile ways of working, such as a daily stand-up and support agile reporting tools, such as information radiators
  • Define project procedures, such as working with sprints or work packages, product descriptions, or user stories, and how to use these in the project.

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Dave Litten

David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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