PRINCE2 is an acronym for ‘PRojects IN Controlled Environments version 2’.
It is a process based project management methodology that comes with a framework of : (a). 4 elements, (b). 7 principles, (c). 7 themes, and (d). 7 processes that help in project management. PRINCE2 evolved from a huge number of best practices noted from numerous projects over a long period of time.
PRINCE2 is extremely popular in the UK and used as a standard in all UK Government projects. It is also popular in many other countries and is used on many private sector projects in the UK too. This is due to the robust structure the PRINCE2 framework provides to projects. Across the world, PRINCE2 has helped many to manage their projects better and to achieve their business goals with ease.
PRINCE2 is available to all, in the public domain, free to use. You may find PRINCE2 manual useful.
PRINCE2: A High Level Overview.
The PRINCE2 methodology is based on :
(a). 4 Elements,
(b). 7 Processes,
(c). 7 Principles and
(d). 7 Themes.
PRINCE2 enables you to easily manage the projects with great control all over it.
4 Elements of PRINCE2:
The 4 Elements of PRINCE2 are Processes, Principles, Themes, and Tailoring to suit the project.
7 Processes of PRINCE2:
The 7 processes of PRINCE2 are named as below: 1. Starting Up a project (SU), 2. Initiating a Project (IP), 3. Directing a Project (DP), 4. Controlling a Stage (CS), 5. Managing Stage Boundaries (SB), 6. Managing Product delivery (MP), and 7. Closing a Project (CP).
These PRINCE2 processes can be described as below.
Starting Up a Project (SU)
Starting Up a project (SU) is a very short process and occurs at the very beginning of project. It is sometimes considered as a pre-project process as it deals with all necessary pre-requisites for the actual project to start. This process deals with the design and build of the project team and provides all necessary information to the project team. It requires a Project Mandate to be in place, and creates a plan for the Initiating a Project (IP).
Initiating a Project (IP)
Initiating a Project (IP) follows the Starting Up a project (SU) process. In this process, it is checked whether the project is worthwhile and feasible in the given circumstances, if yes then all resources for the project are committed for the first stage of the project.
Directing a Project (DP)
Directing a Project (DP) is a process that runs throughout the life cycle of a project from Start to Finish. This process is expected to be run by the PRINCE2 Project Board. The Project Board uses various tools such as reports, dashboards etc. to function.
Controlling a Stage (CS)
Controlling a Stage (CS) is widely considered to be the sole function of the Project Manager as it covers the day-to-day activities within a PRINCE2 stage. It is expected that a Project Manager monitors and controls all the activities in each stage of the project, so that the project works to the plan.
Managing Stage Boundaries (SB)
Managing Stage Boundaries (SB) is the process that provides the PRINCE2 Project Board with decision points between two stages of a project. The PRINCE2 Board can review the project and then decide whether to continue it.
Managing Product delivery (MP)
This process deals with all the activities that are needed to deliver the product. It includes making right use of the resources, meeting the quality, cost, scope and schedule constraints. This process finishes with obtaining a sign-off from the customer that they are happy with the product.
Closing a Project (CP)
Closing a Project (CP) is the process that finishes the life of a project. Here the project manager brings the project to a controlled close with the approval of the Project Board. The project may close either as planned when all work is done or even pre-maturely if closing prematurely is something that’s recommended by the PRINCE2 Project Board.
7 Principles of PRINCE2:
The 7 principles of PRINCE2 are named as below: 1. Continued business justification, 2. Manage by exception, 3. Learn from experience, 4. Defined roles and responsibilities, 5. Manage by stages, 6. Focus on products, 7. Tailor to suit the project environment.
The PRINCE2 principles are Universal, Empowering and based on the Best practices.
Continued Business Justification
A PRINCE2 project must have a valid business justification at all times to prove that it makes sense to keep the project live. Such a business justification is in the form of a Business Case. A Business Case is essential to start a PRINCE2 project and then gets updated as needed throughout its life. At the minimum, a business case must outline in clear terms, the reasons why the project should be started and then continued. If at any time, there is no reason to continue with the project, the project needs to be closed. An example of how the business case helps the project board in making decisions whether to continue a project is at stage boundaries. The business case gets updated at the end of each stage and is presented to the project board. The project board then review the same and decide if there is justification to continue with the project to the next stage.
Manage by Exception
An exception in simple terms is a deviation from the norm. A project has pre-set boundaries or tolerances for terms such as quality, cost, scope, schedule, risk etc. When the project meets with an exception in any of these areas, it calls for management action as per the plan. Normally, in the project plan it is named who can make a decision for a given exception. The PRINCE2 Highlight Reports provide the Project Board with the data to understand and respond to exceptions. This keeps the PRINCE2 Project Board on the project progress regularly and get involved more seriously only when it is really needed.
Learn from Experience
PRINCE2 projects do better by learning from experience. Thus a given project will document the lessons learnt from its own life time for use by self or other projects. A project also reviews such lessons learnt from other projects and puts it to best use. This principle helps the projects in not repeating the mistakes and not-so-good practices while repeating the best practices learnt from experience. Often a routine audit would like to see evidence that the projects are documenting the lessons learnt and also using lessons documented by other projects. A Project Management Office or PMO maintains a repository of lessons learned by all projects. And any project can then access the same and try to apply the lessons learnt in its own scope.
Defined Roles and Responsibilities
A project writes down roles and responsibilities clearly so that one knows what’s expected from one and what one can expect from others as a practice. This minimises conflict and enhances the chances of project success. All involved can go to a common place to refer to gain clarity on tasks. Thus, Project Management gets easier with clear roles and responsibilities due to the fact that there is less need for PRINCE2 project board’s time on such points.
Manage by Stages
A project is designed to perform in stages. This provides good check points at stage boundaries that help the project team to assess the viability of the project at these points. This type of approach makes the project easier to manage as the project is broken down into smaller chunks. It makes it easier to manage the smaller chunks than a single large project. PRINCE2 says that each stage need to be planned and managed with proper monitoring and control so that the stage meets the objectives of the project. This ensures that the next stages get a good starting point and can progress ahead with ease. Each PRINCE2 project stage also passes through a go no-go decision point where it’s checked whether it is still viable for it to progress to the next stage. This helps to maintain business justification for the project at all times in its life.
Focus on Products
PRINCE2 focus on products and their delivery at all times. Each product is described and documented in detail. This helps all to have a good understanding of what a product description, its quality, its acceptance criteria etc. are in the eyes of the customer. Thus one can make sure that the products meet the agreed quality, cost, scope and schedule by this principle. Focus on products means projects employ product based planning. This helps in reducing the risk of scope creep and prevents possible disputes during the acceptance and sign-off.
Tailor to suit the Project Environment
PRINCE2 in real terms, does not recommend a rigid and as-is framework to be applied strictly to every project as it is. The PRINCE2 framework is robust but need to be tailored to suit the environment to give the best of it. This is an important as it shows the fact that each project is unique and just cannot be same as some other project. So, any project needs to be managed in such a way that suits its own specific needs and the environment in which it works. But at the same time PRINCE2 says tailoring must be made in such a way that the core PRINCE2 concepts are never compromised. This makes sure that the projects still operate in a PRINCE2 framework despite the tailoring.
7 Themes of PRINCE2:
The Business Case theme provides the project board with the power to check and confirm the reason to continue with the project.
A PRINCE2 project needs to maintain a well defined organisation structure at all times to be easy to manage. This will allow all to be clear in expectations and avoid conflicts.
It is vital that the products of a PRINCE2 project are good and meet the quality requirements as agreed with the customer.
A clear project plan must be maintained at all points in time for a PRINCE2 project to finish successfully. A plan includes many details such as 1. quality, 2. communication, 3. risk, 4. schedules, 5. response plans and 6. other activities that are done during the project’s life time.
PRINCE2 says that managing risks as needed is crucial for the success of the project.
A PRINCE2 project must be well placed to deal with inevitable changes that are bound to happen during the its life time. These changes can take any form such as people joining or leaving, law-related changes, and changes in customer needs etc.
It is vital to evaluate the progress that is being made by the project at all times against the agreed plan. This helps all to understand how the project is progressing and then actions can be taken to correct the course in good time.
PRINCE2 Milestones by Year:
1975: PROMPT (Project Resource Organisation Management Planning Techniques), a project management method created by Simpact Systems Ltd. was framed.
1979: PROMPT adopted by Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) as the standard to be used for all Government Information System projects.
1989: PRojects IN Controlled Environment (PRINCE) established by CCTA based on PROMPT and superseded PROMPT in all Government projects.
1996: PRINCE2 (PRINCE Version 2) was published, having been contributed to by a group of some 150 European organisations.
2000: CCTA subsumed into the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).
PRINCE2 Qualifications and Training:
What is PRINCE2 Foundation?
PRINCE2 Foundation training is considered as an best way to begin your journey with PRINCE2. This course covers all the topics that are relevant for Foundation Exam to the required level. It is available online or in person.
What is PRINCE2 Practitioner?
This training is for those that are already managing PRINCE2 projects. It helps them to enhance their project management skill to the next level. It is available both online or in person.
What is PRINCE2 Re-Registration?
All PRINCE2 Practitioners need to pass the Re-Registration Exam if they want to keep it. They need to do so within 3 to 5 years of their PRINCE2 certification.