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Tailoring PRINCE2

by PRINCE2 Online
Discover how to tailor PRINCE2 for your project's specific needs and achieve better results.
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PRINCE2 project context | prince2-online.co.uk

Understanding PRINCE2 project context

In project management, PRINCE2 stands out for its structured approach, crafted to suit the unique context of each project. The project context is a blend of various elements that influence how PRINCE2 is applied, ensuring projects are managed efficiently and effectively.

Project context in PRINCE2 is a complex mix, comprising the organisational setup, commercial relationships, delivery methods, sustainability considerations, and the scale of the endeavour. These components are key to adapting the PRINCE2 framework, setting the stage for a successful project outcome.

No two projects operate within the exact same context, making the adaptation of PRINCE2 to each project’s nuances a critical task. The organisational context speaks to how leaders, users, and suppliers interact and contribute to the project. Whether these stakeholders are from one entity or multiple, PRINCE2 offers the flexibility to accommodate various organisational structures.

Commercial relationships within a project also significantly influence its management. Contracts and legal agreements with suppliers dictate how deliverables are managed and how processes are structured. Understanding the commercial landscape is essential when applying the PRINCE2 principles.

Delivery methods, such as the sequential, iterative-incremental, or a hybrid of both, dictate how a project progresses. Selecting an appropriate delivery method is a strategic decision that should be clearly defined in the project’s early stages. Moreover, the growing emphasis on sustainability requires projects to align with organisational sustainability goals, which can be measured against key performance indicators.

Finally, the scale of the project influences PRINCE2’s application. The methodology is designed to be scalable, suitable for both small, simple projects and large, complex initiatives. Determining the right level of project governance and controls is pivotal for managing projects of differing scales, from establishing the project board’s oversight to defining the detail within project documentation.

How to tailor PRINCE2 to your project

Adapting PRINCE2 to your project is an exercise in balancing the methodology’s structured approach with the unique characteristics and demands of your project’s environment. The goal is to customise the framework so that it offers the right level of control and flexibility, conducive to the project’s success.

To start tailoring PRINCE2 to your project, you must first understand the core components that may require tailoring: the processes, practices, roles, and management products. For example, the PRINCE2 processes provide a series of steps to guide project management, but these can be modified or condensed to better suit small-scale projects or expanded for complex initiatives. Similarly, the PRINCE2 practices, which cover aspects like risk, change, and quality, might need adjustments to reflect the specific challenges your project faces.

Roles and responsibilities within a PRINCE2 project can also be tailored. For smaller projects, roles such as the project manager and team manager may be combined to streamline operations. Conversely, in a large project, roles may need to be separated to distribute workload and create clear lines of responsibility.

The documentation, or PRINCE2’s management products, must also be tailored to the project’s needs. This could mean simplifying certain documents or incorporating additional information where necessary. As for controls, setting up appropriate project controls, like the frequency of reporting and review points, is crucial. These controls should be aligned not only with PRINCE2 best practices but also with the project’s scale and complexity.

In the tailoring process, it’s essential to ensure that the changes you make do not compromise the integrity of the PRINCE2 methodology. Each alteration should be made with the seven PRINCE2 principles in mind, maintaining the framework’s overall philosophy while making it practical for the project at hand.

Another key aspect of tailoring PRINCE2 is setting realistic performance targets and establishing tolerance levels for the project’s key performance indicators. Tolerance levels provide parameters within which team members can operate, giving them autonomy while ensuring that the project stays on track to meet its objectives. Deciding on these targets involves understanding the project’s risk profile and determining what variances are acceptable for time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits.

Tailoring PRINCE2 is not just about changing processes and documentation; it’s about creating a project management environment that is fit for purpose. It involves thoughtful consideration and strategic decision-making to ensure that the methodology enhances, rather than hinders, project delivery. Ultimately, the tailored approach should enable the team to manage the project effectively, delivering the intended outcomes and realising benefits for the organisation and its stakeholders.

By carefully adapting PRINCE2 to the specifics of your project, you create the foundation for a responsive, well-governed project that is capable of handling the challenges that arise while staying true to the organisation’s goals and strategies. It is this customisation that allows PRINCE2 to be a versatile tool, suitable for a wide range of projects across industries and sectors.

Considerations for tailoring PRINCE2

When tailoring PRINCE2 to suit your project, several factors must be taken into account to ensure the methodology works effectively within the given context. These considerations range from internal organisational standards to external legal requirements, and each plays a significant role in shaping the project’s approach.

Internal factors such as the organisation’s established policies, processes, and culture can greatly influence how PRINCE2 is tailored. It’s essential to integrate the methodology with these internal factors to maintain consistency and effectiveness within the organisation. For example, aligning PRINCE2’s roles and responsibilities with the organisation’s existing structure can enhance clarity and efficiency. External factors include industry regulations, market conditions, and environmental standards, which must all be reflected in the project’s management approach.

The project team’s knowledge and experience with the PRINCE2 methodology can also dictate the level of tailoring required. With a team that is new to PRINCE2, you may need to incorporate more detailed guidance and support within the project’s framework. Conversely, an experienced team might require less oversight and more autonomy. Understanding the proficiency of the team helps tailor the methodology to provide the appropriate level of direction.

Commercial context is another crucial consideration. The nature of the contractual relationships between the customer and suppliers, and amongst suppliers themselves, affects how the project is structured and managed. Clear and effective management of these commercial relationships is critical, and PRINCE2 must be tailored to ensure that contracts are reflected within the project’s governance structures and processes.

The development of specialised products or services can also influence how PRINCE2 is tailored. Project managers need to consider the specific practices and techniques that are necessary for creating these products. In some cases, incorporating an agile approach can be beneficial, particularly when the project involves frequent changes or requires rapid product iterations.

Finally, if the project is part of a larger programme or portfolio, considerations around how PRINCE2 is tailored may be influenced by the programme or portfolio’s overall strategy. In this case, processes and techniques may be prescribed by a Project, Programme, or Portfolio office (PMO), and the project manager will need to ensure that these are integrated effectively within the project’s approach to PRINCE2.

In essence, the tailoring of PRINCE2 is about making the methodology work for the project, not forcing the project to fit within a rigid framework. It’s about fostering a flexible and responsive approach that serves the project’s specific needs while adhering to the underlying principles of PRINCE2. With these considerations in mind, project managers can tailor the methodology to create a conducive environment for project success.

Maintaining a tailored PRINCE2 approach

For organisations running multiple projects, it’s beneficial to have a standardised yet adaptable approach to PRINCE2. This allows for consistent project management while also accounting for the unique needs of each project. It’s about establishing a common framework that can be customised for individual projects without losing the essence of the PRINCE2 methodology.

This tailored approach requires clear governance structures, role definitions, documentation standards, and control mechanisms. It involves a continuous process of managing and updating the methodology to align with both organisational strategy and the evolving field of project management. A change management approach might be necessary to embed the tailored methodology within the company culture, ensuring effective implementation across all projects.

In summary, the tailored application of PRINCE2 is about understanding the unique variables of each project and adjusting the framework accordingly. It’s about leveraging the structured approach that PRINCE2 offers while granting the flexibility necessary to manage and lead projects effectively in a variety of contexts.

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