PRINCE2® 2017 Update: balancing minimum requirements and tailoring

PRINCE2® 2017 Update: balancing minimum requirements and tailoring

Duncan WadeAs a PRINCE2 consultant, trainer and practitioner, what do I think of the PRINCE2 2017 Update?

Not wishing to be contrary but it’s great that PRINCE2 has a changed a lot, while remaining the same. What I mean is that the good things about PRINCE2 are still there while other elements have changed in smart ways to improve its clarity and quality.

Why does this matter to project managers today?

It matters because PRINCE2 has a track record of success. Projects are exercises in probability. In other words, well-run and governed projects have a greater probability of success. So,  the effective adoption of PRINCE2 is likely to improve your chances of success

Turning up the volume on “tailoring”

Applying PRINCE2 straight from the book gives you a very comprehensive and complete method. Such an implementation might be appropriate for reasonably large and complex projects with a significant number of people involved.

However, the PRINCE2 2017 update brings a change in spirit: while the concept of tailoring has always been associated with PRINCE2, in previous versions the sentiment was more that “tailoring might be a good idea”. The update is now very clear that you should tailor the method and assumes that you will tailor from the beginning of your project.

Tailoring means you can adapt PRINCE2 to your own organizational methods, for example within a programme, or facilitate delivery in sympathy with a newer approach, such as agile. Then again, tailoring is not a “pick and mix”; it means tuning PRINCE2 to meet the complexity of your project. For smaller projects this might mean making it easier to use and simplifying elements. For example, a document required by the method might become an email or a conversation rather than multiple pages!

Maintaining PRINCE2 best practice

That said, it’s important there’s a balance or it risks the final project management approach becoming too loose or too far removed from PRINCE2. You cannot simply change everything and pretend that this is still PRINCE2. There are some things that still need to be in place to know that it’s a well-organized PRINCE2 project. It is these that the new update calls the minimum requirements.

Many projects might be perceived as small and simple, yet they still require good governance. The minimum requirements describe a simple, yet rigorous, implementation that still integrates effectively.

The PRINCE2 2017 update expects that you will employ its 7 Principles in your tailored approach along with a minimum requirement in all PRINCE2’s Key Themes to know you’re in keeping with the method.

For example, within the Risk Theme: as a minimum you need a risk management approach that gives an overview of how risks are identified, assessed and managed; whether they have an impact on the business justification and who occupies relevant roles and responsibilities. This should be supported by a risk register as minimum documentation. The latter doesn’t stipulate the document format, but asserts that it should exist!

The PRINCE2 promise

The PRINCE2 2017 update offers just the same well-integrated approach to project delivery that it has always done. In addition it gives more guidance on the things that we should consider when we tailor the method to our environments and projects. To provide a balance to the requirement that we should tailor the method, the minimum requirements give us a framework that will ensure we do not weaken that integrated approach.

The latest version reminds us that PRINCE2 is a living document, developed over time to become an effective method with real provenance – and that growth and development is still continuing.

Ultimately, the proof is in the tasting: try it and you will see that it keeps its promises.

See our PRINCE2 and PRINCE2 2017 sections for more information.

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PRINCE2 2017 Core Publication

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 2017 Edition

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 2017 Edition

Our updated project management guidance places a new emphasis on the flexibility of the method and how to tailor it to your specific projects.

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