Tailoring PRINCE2

How to make it work for you

Tailoring PRINCE2 is essential to make it work properly.  It's like a bespoke suit:  it is better because it is made just for you.  Apply this PRINCE2 principle to your projects and they will be just as comfortable

 tailoring prince2

We all know PRINCE2 is an excellent project management method which supports the successful delivery of projects.  Used appropriately it can be a real benefit in supporting a project manager deliver a project successfully.  Making it work effectively for you for real however is not just about following the process as defined in ‘the manual’. The real value comes from tailoring PRINCE2 - when you start to scale it to suit your project’s needs. Scaling the method provides that added value that using PRINCE2 can give. So why is it that many project managers don’t fully realize the benefits of using the method by tailoring PRINCE2 to meet their needs?

The Morning after the week before

Let’s say you have just completed your PRINCE2 training course.  The following Monday you get back to the office ready to go.  Then it suddenly hits you that you covered a lot of ground on the course the previous week.  You’ve got to be seen to be using PRINCE2 but where do you start? Well remember what you covered on the course. PRINCE2 is flexible and scalable. Don’t be scared to think about tailoring it even at this early stage.  Think through what you need as a project manager to help you successfully deliver your project and then start to tailor PRINCE2 to suit. My approach to using the processes in PRINCE2 is to view them as ‘prompts’.  I ask myself: "what do I need to be thinking about" and then follow that up with "how much do I need to document this". For example on a small project I’ve found that the first question I ask is – "what elements in the first two processes can be combined to avoid creating all the documents".  Remember that the PID is a compilation of all the information collected during the two processes – so on a small project do I really need both a Brief and a PID? Using this approach throughout your project will ensure you tailor PRINCE2 appropriately and develop your confidence in using it.  So don’t let your inexperience in the use of PRINCE2 result in you not tailoring - it is supposed to done this way.

‘Ah but the PRINCE2 method says.......’.

You may have come across the ‘expert’ PRINCE2 project manager or even someone from a PMO who uses this statement.  They may even hide behind the prescriptive use of templates ‘because PRINCE2 says so..’  I like to think that you require a level of intelligence to manage projects and this applies to the use of PRINCE2 as well.  If you adapt and tailor PRINCE2 to you are not breaking the rules.

Tailoring PRINCE2 for a small project

Most new project managers start with smaller projects.  Here's  a few questions you can ask to help you tailor PRINCE2
  • Do you need than one product description?  The Project Product Description may be enough
  • Should you create all the registers and logs that PRINCE2 talks about?  Why not combine these into one or you can use the daily log
  • Will you formally issue work packages? Again I would suggest that this can be done verbally where the opportunity arises.  This might work for established, trusted suppliers.  New suppliers should have a written audit trail
  • What about a formal reporting structure with written highlight and checkpoint reports? From my experience this can be done informally through phone calls or face to face conversations. It is worth thinking about the formality you require in delivery of your project.
Used intelligently and creatively PRINCE2 works. Don’t be scared to tailor it. Avoid becoming a slave to the process and avoid becoming the person who does it because ‘PRINCE2 says so...’   Remember - Tailoring PRINCE2 is one of the principles of the method - there's no problem using common sense to make it work from you.  Used this way it will give you as much satisfaction and long life as a Savile Row suit.