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PRINCE2 in 5 minutes

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 2 months ago

Get to know PRINCE2 in 5 Minutes




PRINCE2 is a long established project management method, which is widely used in the British public sector, and is developing increasingly into a de-facto requirement for private businesses as well. PRINCE2 was developed in 1989 as a structured project management methodology, which is being continuously refined by its owner, the British government’s OGC (Office for Government Commerce), by taking into account latest research and feedback from users of the method. PRINCE2 was originally developed for IT projects but now has grown into a universal model that can be used for big and small projects alike and is not dependent on any particular area of application. PRINCE2 is well known and used internationally and PRINCE2 material has been translated into numerous languages.

The use of PRINCE2 is free; although the name and content are protected by copyright, users can employ the method for their own projects without being tied to specific consultants and associated services.


Basic Principles of PRINCE2


Many projects run the risk that, once underway they take on a life of their own, are not adapted to changing circumstances and therefore do not deliver the required outcomes. Often these projects continue to waste resources when the original reason for the project is no longer required. PRINCE2 is based on a number of principles that encourage clear direction and make sure that results delivered truly match the needs of the customer.

• PRINCE2 uses a number of processes to describe what happens in a project at what time. These cover all activities from the beginning to the end of the project and are designed in such a way that the extent to which they are applied can be tailored to the individual needs of a project.

• These processes are based on a range of components that introduce aspects such a Business Case, quality, risk management and change control into the organisation of the project and ensure that the end product is “ fit for purpose”.

• Within a customer/supplier environment, PRINCE2 ensures that stakeholders and senior management are involved in all important decisions. This ensures that the project stays on and the expectations are met.

• “Management by Exception” is an important principle of PRINCE2, which enables the realistic involvement of senior management, despite their busy schedules, which is a problem project managers have to battle with. The detailed processes of PRINCE2 provide structures that leave the every-day management of the project to the project managers and involve all stakeholders of the project effectively providing the appropriate level of input towards decision-making processes.

• PRINCE2 provides an interface to programme management and is designed to meet requirements of recognised quality management standards.

PRINCE2 can be supplemented by other common planning methods, which help the project manager with the organisation of his/her management work, but has the additional value that it provides a project environment which avoids that projects are run in a vacuum, while delivering the expected business benefits.


PRINCE2 Processes


PRINCE2 is based on a refined and scaleable process model. The 8 management processes of PRINCE2 and their respective sub processes provide a solid framework for the work and communication channels for all parties involved in the project. Depending on the needs of the project these processes can be applied more or less extensively, and their output can be more or less formal.


The most important functions of the main processes can be summarised as follows:


Directing a Project is an overarching process that defines the responsibilities of the project board. It ensures that they carry the ultimate responsibility for the Business Case and are ready to advise the project manager as well as senior management where necessary.


Starting Up a Project is a more or less formal process, depending on the needs of the project, that clarifies the basic question: „Do we have a viable and worthwhile project?“


Initiating a Project is the first real project process which lays down a firm foundation for the project and achieves an understanding with the project board about the aims, risks and expected quality of products.


Controlling a Stage contains the day-to-day management activities of the project manager Managing Product Delivery covers the creation or provision of the actual products according to the quality criteria agreed in their product descriptions.


Managing Stage Boundaries is an important aid in assessing the ongoing merit of the project and assists decision on whether the Business Case is still viable.


Closing a Project ensures the controlled end of a project, as well as the planning of necessary followon actions and post-project reviews.


Planning describes the iterative steps involved in planning and replanning the project. By using the product-base planning technique it ensures that plans are based on required outputs.




There are a number of key aspects of project management that are used throughout the PRINCE2 processes.


PRINCE2 regards the Business Case, the economic justification for undertaking the project, as the driver of the project. The Business Case creates the links to corporate strategies and is updated continuously throughout the lifetime of the project. The division of a PRINCE2 project into stages supports the regular review of the Business Case and any resulting changes in direction. The responsibility for the Business Case is located right at the top of the PRINCE2 organisational structure, reflecting its importance in PRINCE2.


PRINCE2 provides a flexible organisational structure consisting of specific roles, which may be allocated to one person or shared between a number of people, or combined together. By ensuring the representation of the interests of the business, suppliers and users on the project board PRINCE2 provides the project manager with the vital link to the main stakeholders in the project. Project Executive, who represents the business or customer side, is the head of the project board and in PRINCE2 is designated as the person ultimately responsible for the Business Case. This provides the project manager with support from the relevant management level to overcome problems and ensures at the same time that senior management keep an eye on the ongoing viability and direction of the project. The role of project assurance provides a check on the progress of the project by the three interests – business, user and supplier – represented in the project board. Necessary changes can be implemented in time and it is assured that the quality of the end product meets customer expectations.


“Management by Exception” is facilitated through the use of the various controls of PRINCE2. Through the definition of tolerances PRINCE2 provides the project manager with the flexibility to manage problems on his own as well as with the means of escalation which enable him to seek assistance from the project board if a problem cannot be managed within the agreed tolerances. PRINCE2 also provides the project board with controls to ensure that the agreed course is kept and where necessary corrections can be made.


Through the use of plans at all levels, baselines are agreed against which milestones can be reviewed.


Quality is a key concept of PRINCE2. The PRINCE2 quality path, which runs through all processes, ensures that the end result conforms to agreed quality standards. Completed products are checked through tests or reviews.


Configuration Management is regarded as a major aspect of quality control and an aide to the management of product versions.


As all projects are subject to changes that influence its direction, such as changes in corporate strategies or other events outside the projects, PRINCE2 places significant importance on risk management and it creates an important interface to change control.


PRINCE2 provides a technique to control such changes and ensures through a close coordination of risk management, quality management and change control, that external or internal factors which have an impact on the project or the quality of a product can be identified, analysed, and that appropriate counter measures can be taken. This ensures that the countermeasures are decided upon according to the impact of a risk on the quality of the final products.


Next to its processes and components, PRINCE2 also offers other techniques such as product-based planning and quality review, but is not prescriptive in the choice of other appropriate techniques for a particular project and leaves it to the user of the method.

Want to learn more about PRINCE2?


For PRINCE2 Project Management training, coaching, consultancy, audits and/or software solution implementation contact Projects2Deliver, Sjaak Hendriks, http://www.p2deliver.com

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