Applying PRINCE2® to YOUR environment

Applying PRINCE2® to YOUR environment

Insights | 21 March 2017

PRINCE2 is recognised globally as the leading project management methodology, but it involves more than just picking up a textbook and embarking on your project journey: PRINCE2 is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach; to be truly effective, PRINCE2 should be tailored to suit your project environment.

Sounds great in theory –but where do you start? Both environmental and specific project factors need to be considered.

9 Key Environmental Considerations to tailoring PRINCE2

  1. Organisational Maturity levels. This can have a significant impact on the level of organisational support available for projects. Contrast the idea of high maturity levels where systems and services exist such as a quality management system, Centre of Excellence (COE), programme/project offices and IT support, to a less mature organisation where these do not exist.
  2. Programmes and Programme Management. Is your project part of a programme? If so, is there an established programme management method (for example based on MSP®)? Does your programme management approach build on the organisational maturity level with a focus on benefits management and integration of programme and project level risk, change and communications?
  3. Commercial arrangements. For many, projects are subject to contractual arrangements. In such situations, who really is the customer and who is the supplier? Which side will be project managing the project? Who is representing the business, user and supplier in such a scenario?
  4. Policies and standards. Many of us work in worlds where industry, regulatory and other standards must be adhered to, regardless of whether a ‘project’ or ‘business as usual’.
  5. Joint Ventures and multiple organisations. Where multiple organisations are involved in a project, this can greatly impact decisions around representation on the project management team. In addition, different organisations can have different approaches to areas such as quality and configuration management (version control).
  6. Culture. Culture differs not only from society to society but with different organisations and even within distinct business areas of an organisation. Going from a meeting and ‘hands-on’ approach to a PRINCE2 ‘empowerment’ and ‘management by exception’ focus may be at odds with cultural norms. Recognise and understand the power of culture and people in terms of project success.
  7. Business priority of the Project. The relative priority of a project will have an influence on the level of formality and application of PRINCE2. Lower priority projects may utilise emails and phone conferences whereas higher priority projects may require more formal documentation and face-to-face meetings.
  8. Geography. In this day and age of technology, ‘virtual’ teams and time differences are often the norm. Don’t underestimate the power of a team physically working together. If your project is geographically dispersed, appropriate project controls are required – more formality may be necessary.
  9. Terminology. Yes, PRINCE2 in its textbook form uses terminology such as Project Board, Executive, and Highlight Report. But are these terms really understood in your organisation? Take a step back and use appropriate terms for YOUR environment. For example, if the words ‘executive’ and ‘product’ are used widely in business as usual and would be confusing to apply in a project context, yet the words ‘Sponsor’ and ‘deliverable’ are understood, then tailor accordingly. It is the meaning of term not the word itself that matters.

“The danger of not tailoring PRINCE2 is that it can lead to ‘robotic’ project management if every process activity is followed and every management product is produced without question.”


PRINCE2® and MSP® are registered trade marks of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved
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