What is PRINCE2?

Date: 17/01/2024| Category: Best Practices Glossary| Tags:

PRINCE2®, an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, is a project management method. Published in 1996, it’s now used in over 150 countries in both the public and private sectors, establishing itself as the world’s most practised project management method. The owner of the method is the global leader in the certification industry PeopleCert.

PRINCE2 can guide professionals and organisations through the essentials for managing successful projects, regardless of type or scale. It provides a framework that focuses on organisation and control throughout the entire project: PRINCE2 divides projects into manageable stages to encourage efficient control of resources and regular progress monitoring.

PRINCE2 is “product-based”, meaning the project plans are focused on delivering results, and not simply planning when activities will be undertaken; processes cover all the activities that compose a project, from start to finish. Every project starts with a project plan, each stage of the project is clearly structured. It provides a common language across a project and provides breakpoints within a contractual framework.

PRINCE2 Benefits

PRINCE2 Project Management is a generic best practice method which is flexible enough to be tailored to the specific needs of different organisations for all projects, including Agile delivery. The main PRINCE2 Benefits are:

  • An organised and controlled start, making sure there is a valid reason for the project and that all people and resources have been organised and are ready for the project
  • An organised and controlled middle, once the project has been organized and has started, making sure its validity is maintained and the work carried out is controlled throughout the project life
  • An organised and controlled end. A controlled end is always better than the natural tendency to drift into the operational life of a project’s product, hence we need to make sure the project deliverable is accepted by our client before officially closing the project
  • Regular reviews of progress against plan and against the Business Case
  • Flexible decision points
  • Controlled management of deviations from the project plans thanks to the Management by Exception principle
  • The involvement of management and stakeholders at the right time and place during the project
  • Good communication amongst the project management team, the stakeholders, and the rest of the organisation

Key Elements of PRINCE2 Project Management

The Key Elements of PRINCE2 Project Management are: people, principles, processes, practices (previously called themes but in the new PRINCE2 7 updated to practices) and project environment.

People in PRINCE2 are central to project success. Their collaborative efforts, expertise, commitment, and the development of a positive project culture are key elements that contribute to achieving project objectives. The framework recognizes the human factor as a critical component in effective project management. The people element is addressed in a dedicated chapter structured around the topics of leading successful change, leading successful teams, and communication.

The 7 Principles

The 7 Principles are the guiding obligations and good practices which determine whether the project is being managed using PRINCE2. Unless all of them are applied, it is not a PRINCE2 project; the the 7 principles are:

  1. Ensure Continued business justification: there must be a justifiable reason to be running and managing the project. If not, the project should be closed.
  2. Learn from experience: PRINCE2 project teams should continually seek and draw on lessons learned from previous work
  3. Defined, roles, responsibilities and relationships: the PRINCE2 project team should have a clear organisational structure and involve the right people in the right tasks. Moreover, a PRINCE2 project management team initiates and builds relationships with and betweeninternal and external stakeholders.
  4. Manage by stages: PRINCE2 projects should be planned, monitored and controlled on a stage-by-stage basis
  5. Manage by exception: people working within the project should be given the right amount of authority to effectively work within the environment.
  6. Focus on products: PRINCE2 projects focus on the product definition, delivery and quality requirements.
  7. Tailor to suit the project environment: PRINCE2 must be tailored to suit the project’s environment, size, complexity, importance, delivery method, team capability and level of risk.

The 7 Processes

The 7 Processes in PRINCE2 describe a progression from the pre-project activity of getting started, through the stages of a project lifecycle, to the final act of project closure. Each process has a checklist of recommended activities, products and related responsibilities. The processes are:

  • Starting up a project – the main purpose of this process is to ensure that the prerequisites for initiating a project are in place by answering the question: “Do we have a worthwhile and viable project?”
  • Directing a project– the purpose of this process is to enable the project board to be accountable for the project’s success.
  • Initiating a project – the purpose of this process is to establish solid foundations (documented in the PID) for the project so the organisation can understand the work that needs to be done to deliver the project product.
  • Controlling a stage – the purpose of this process is to assign work to be done, monitor the work, deal with issues, report progress to the project board, and take corrective action to ensure that the stage remains within tolerance.
  • Managing product delivery – the purpose of this process is to control the link between the project manager and the team manager, by agreeing on the requirements for acceptance, execution, and delivery.
  • Managing stage boundaries – in this process the project manager provides the project board with an overview of the performance of the current stage, updates the project plan, and business case and creates a stage plan for the next stage. The project board reviews these documents and decides to approve the next stage.
  • Closing a project – the purpose of this process is to provide a fixed point at which acceptance of the project product is confirmed, and to recognize that objectives set out in the original PID have been achieved, or that project has something more to contribute.

The 7 Practices (previously the 7 Themes)

The 7 Practices (previously the 7 Themes) describe aspects of project management that must be addressed continually and in parallel throughout the project. They explain the specific treatment required by PRINCE2 for various project management disciplines and why they are necessary.

  • Business case: create and maintain a record of the business justification for the project
  • Organizing: define the individual roles and responsibilities of the whole project team
  • Quality: what the quality requirements and measures are and how the project will deliver them
  • Plans: the steps required to develop the plans and the PRINCE2 techniques that should be used
  • Risk: effectively identify risks and opportunities that could impact the project
  • Issues: how the project manager will assess and act on the issues facing the project
  • Progress: the ongoing viability and performance of the plans and how and whether the project should proceed

Project environment: organisations often want a consistent approach to managing projects and tailor PRINCE2 to create their own project management method. This method is then embedded into the organisation’s way of working.

PRINCE2 Certification Scheme

The PRINCE2 Certification Scheme has two main levels:

  • Foundation: this level introduces the PRINCE2 method. The PRINCE2 Foundation exam aims to confirm that you know and understand the PRINCE2 method well enough to be able to work effectively with, or as a member of, a project management team working within an environment supporting PRINCE2.
  • Practitioner: the purpose of the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is to confirm whether you have sufficient understanding of how to apply and tailor the method in a range of different project environments and scenarios.

PRINCE2 or other Project Management Methodologies?

Your choice of a Project Management Methodology defines how you work and communicate with your team. There are different Project Management Methodologies and certifications, and it can be difficult to choose the right one for you and your organisation.
Other project management qualifications that are acknowledged worldwide include:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from PMI (Project Management Institute)
  • IPMA (International Project Management Association) also have detailed bodies of knowledge that explain the wider skills needed for a project manager
  • AgilePM from APMG, a method focused on the management of Agile projects

How to get PRINCE2 Certified?

In order to obtain your PRINCE2 Certification you need to take a classroom or online training with a PeopleCert’ Accredited Training organisations (ATOs).

QRP International is an official ATO for PRINCE2, accredited by PeopleCert on behalf of Axelos. We’re authorised to deliver PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner classroom courses and online courses. We also have developed our own PRINCE2 E-learning.

Would you like support in order to figure out the best solution for you and your team? We would be happy to provide more info on the different PM methods available – contact us!

Source: PeopleCert, Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®, 7th Edition

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