PRINCE2 can, and should, be “tailored”. That means being flexible in your use of PRINCE2 when delivering projects rather than applying the method rigidly.
Unfortunately, this is something many people have struggled to grasp about PRINCE2 and, as a result, shy away from using PRINCE2; claiming it is “onerous”, “bureaucratic” and an unnecessary overhead on their businesses.
Dispelling these myths is one reason why it was time to update PRINCE2 and make an already successful project management method even more useful to people. But what do we mean by update? To use a motoring analogy, what is “under the bonnet” of PRINCE2 2017 update is the same “engine” as before; we’re just trying to get people to “drive” it better. The emphasis we’ve placed on tailoring PRINCE2 is about helping practitioners manage their projects more effectively and efficiently and getting the results they need.
Overall, we’re confident that – with the PRINCE2 2017 update – we will see chatter about the so-called bureaucracy of PRINCE2 and other misconceptions diminish.
Tailoring – too important to ignore
In the previous version of PRINCE2, tailoring was dealt with at the very end of the guidance in Chapter 19. Equally, it wasn’t examined and so was ignored by some practitioners who would, consequently, do PRINCE2 “by the book”. Inevitably, they formed misconceptions about PRINCE2, which simply aren’t true. As a result, projects could sometimes be either managed to oblivion or people would start making things up as they went along. In both cases, the success of the project was threatened and any team working in such an environment would become stressed.
So what is tailoring?
You cannot apply PRINCE2 best practice guidance without tailoring; it is one of the seven underlying principles of the method. But what does that mean in practice?
Tailoring is about getting the right balance between a laissez-faire approach and over-engineering your project management. It’s about using your skills and experience to adapt PRINCE2 to your project’s particular circumstances.
Tailoring enables you to modify the PRINCE2 roles, themes, processes, product descriptions and terminology. Tailoring, however, is not a licence to do anything you want; PRINCE2 requires that all seven of its principles are respected in how you apply the themes and processes.
Tailoring in the PRINCE2 2017 update
Our work as authors on the PRINCE2 2017 update recognizes that those new to project management are unlikely to have enough experience or practical knowledge to apply tailoring and even some experienced practitioners might need some advice. Therefore, we have updated the PRINCE2 method by providing specific guidance on tailoring throughout the manual. As a user, you can’t miss it! As you learn or read about a particular topic, guidance on tailoring will often be on the same page or covered later in the same chapter.
The manual can’t cover every eventuality and people will need to work at it! To help them get into the right mindset, we have included a lot of examples and suggestions, emphasizing that tailoring is about an appropriate and proportionate application of PRINCE2. Contexts we have covered include projects within programmes, projects with agile delivery, projects from a supplier’s perspective and simple projects. In some contexts, informality doesn’t necessarily mean less rigour and in others, formality doesn’t necessarily add more rigour.
And tailoring is now part of the PRINCE2 exams because if practitioners don’t know how to use the method to suit their project’s circumstances, they can’t truly be called PRINCE2 practitioners.
See our PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 2017 sections for more information.
Read more blog posts on the PRINCE2 2017 Update
PRINCE2® 2017 Update: making it easier to adopt PRINCE2
First impressions of PRINCE2® 2017
PRINCE2® 2017 Update – Training the Trainers
PRINCE2 2017 Update - right thing, right place, right time
PRINCE2 2017 – tailored for a changing project management world