The PRINCE2 2017 update – tailoring and other topics

28 Jun 2017

By Tom Lynam

Australia is one of the world's more mature and biggest markets for PRINCE2® and programme and project management (PPM).

For this reason alone, we would expect there to be more than a ripple of interest in the PRINCE2 2017 update.

Though PRINCE2 is, and has always been, universally applicable to project management regardless of region and industry, we believe the new changes to the guidance should have a resonance with the current hot topics in the Australian market.

Above all, the PRINCE2 update has a greater focus on the principle of tailoring. Despite being a part of the previous version, it now has a renewed emphasis and presence throughout the book and the exams. A good example of this is how it is visible within the chapters covering each of the 7 themes of PRINCE2 and establishes the minimum requirements needed to be following PRINCE2.

So, for example, tailoring the business case means ensuring that you are capturing and maintaining the business justification for the project but the project manager can decide on the most appropriate way of achieving this. It doesn't need to be a 20-page document if a brief slide deck or adhesive note pinned to the wall is sufficient!

Equally, the organisation theme within PRINCE2 can be tailored to decide who can fulfil which role and which roles can't overlap: that means the project manager can never be the executive but could be the team manager in a small project. So, while PRINCE2 requires that a project must have a structure of roles and responsibilities, this can and should be tailored to the individual situation.

Turning our attention to agile

The PRINCE2 2017 update has created a more direct connection between the guidance and agile methods, complete with examples of tailoring PRINCE2 in an agile environment. The evolution of agile, we know, is of particular importance to the Australian project management community.

Therefore, the guidance now includes specific advice and examples about how to create a business case and what's important to know when delivering products incrementally. This includes more insight into the relevant tolerances, with time and cost fixed but with the potential to de-scope along with the prioritisation of benefits within the project.

PRINCE2 – updated for different scenarios

The revised content in the update also reflects a need for greater clarity for project managers using PRINCE2 in a number of other scenarios: that might include how to manage projects being run within a programme as well as aligning with other best practice guidance from AXELOS, such as MSP® (Managing Successful Programmes) and M_o_R® (Management of Risk).

The update's specific guidance for managing a project within a programme addresses particular issues for project managers, such as how the business case is affected by operating within the programme environment. In effect, the programme will define the approach to business case development and its initial outline. Therefore, the project's business case is likely to be reduced in size and content because of its relationship to a programme.

What the business case is most likely to capture in this case is detail about budgets, timescales, benefits and how the project feeds into programme outcomes.

Bringing bigger benefits for PRINCE2 practitioners and organisations

There would be no point in updating what is already the world's most widely-used project management method unless there were new and greater benefits for practitioners and the organisations they work for.

So, the 2017 update is about helping project managers and others using the method to understand how they can apply and get value from PRINCE2 in their own, unique context. Therefore, while PRINCE2 remains grounded in how people are using the method most effectively on a day-to-day basis, it will also help people gain more value from PRINCE2 and break down any previous misconceptions of rigidity or bureaucracy. The focus on tailoring should relegate such ideas to history.

Ultimately, the update aims to instil appropriate and proportionate use of the method, rather than those currently adopting the "PINO" (PRINCE2 in name only) approach or, on the other hand, those running it slavishly "by the book".

By following PRINCE2's 7 core principles and tailoring working practices to fit your project and organisational situation, this will be unlocking and adding considerably more business value.

To be the first to know when DDLS is releasing the updated PRINCE2 course, register your details here.