Tanner James Blog

3 Tips for Managing by Exception

Daniel Oyston

One of the good things about training is that we pick up a lot of intelligence about what is happening in the real world with the use of PRINCE2. Often, whilst everyone will agree that management by exception is a good idea, the question comes up many times on how can this be actually implemented.

The principle of Management by Exception is now clearly highlighted in the PRINCE2 text (go to page13 of the Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2). I think the key to managing by exception is setting agreed tolerances. Now, when we say the word “tolerance” I will nearly guarantee that most people think of time and cost.

That’s correct but there are four other variables that need to be considered, they being, benefits, quality, scope and risk.

The PRINCE2 approach takes time and cost and adds these other four describing them together as six aspects of a project’s performance that need to be monitored.

Here are some hints …

Hint #1 

Look at these six performance aspects and ask for agreed tolerances on each. You will find that once given these tolerances (and an agreed approach to escalation if tolerance is exceeded) you will not need to contact the next management level as much.

Hint # 2 

This was briefly mentioned above but try to really work hard on getting an agreed reporting and escalation process if these tolerances are breached. You can do this as part of the project or stage plan or part of a work package. The good news is that if you do this you will save time and only need to harness the attention of the appropriate person(s) and therefore manage by exception.

Hint #3 

Use Project Assurance. If you have good project assurance to the Project Board then each management level should be confident that the controls they have given are appropriate and being monitored for their effectiveness.

So, Management by Exception – yes it can be done! Try these three hints and see how you go. 

Do you have any tips to add? Leave a comment below and share them.

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