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PRINCE2 practices

by PRINCE2 Online
Unlock the essentials of PRINCE2 practices and get the most out of the PRINCE2 method.
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PRINCE2 practices | prince2-online.co.uk

Getting started

This guide is part of a series aimed at those preparing to take a PRINCE2 Foundation course.

Overview of PRINCE2 practices | prince2-online.co.uk

Alongside this guide, you will find companion ebooks on PRINCE2 principles, PRINCE2 processes, and the role of people in PRINCE2. It’s highly recommended to explore all four guides to gain a comprehensive understanding.

Each guide has been written to reflect the 7th edition of PRINCE2, ensuring the most current and practical insights. By using these resources, you’re laying a strong foundation for your upcoming exam and future project management challenges.

Now, let’s step into the world of PRINCE2 practices and see how they can bolster your project management efforts.

Overview of the PRINCE2 practices 

PRINCE2’s practices represent a core aspect of its methodology, offering practical tools and techniques for project managers. Seven clearly defined practices encompass key areas essential for the effective application and customisation of PRINCE2 to real-world scenarios.

This guide is designed to take you through each practice:

These practices guide you towards managing projects with confidence, ensuring you can define scope, organise resources, maintain quality, manage risks, resolve issues, and measure progress effectively. As we explore them, remember that these practices are not standalone; they work in tandem, providing a holistic approach to project management. With PRINCE2, you can expect to enhance your skills and drive your projects towards successful outcomes.

Business case

Business case - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

The business case in the PRINCE2 methodology is a crucial element that provides a structured approach for managing projects. Its primary purpose is to justify the initiation and continuation of a project based on its value and feasibility. The business case addresses whether the project is worth the investment by assessing benefits, costs, risks, and timescales. It serves as a critical decision-making tool throughout the project lifecycle, ensuring that the project remains viable and aligned with organisational objectives.

Its importance lies in its ability to provide a continuous assessment framework, enabling project managers and stakeholders to make informed decisions based on the evolving business environment and project performance. It helps in prioritising resources, mitigating risks, and ensuring that the project delivers the expected outcomes and benefits.

The business case interacts closely with other aspects of the PRINCE2 framework, such as risk management, project planning, and benefits realisation. It informs the project plan by outlining necessary resources, timeframes, and milestones that align with the project’s objectives. Furthermore, it is instrumental in risk assessment, highlighting potential challenges that could affect the project’s success and proposing mitigation strategies.

In practice, an outline version of the business case is developed prior to the project and is then revised in more detail during the initiation stage of a project. It is then regularly reviewed and updated to reflect changes in the project’s environment or scope. This dynamic management product guides the project through its stages, from initiation to closure, ensuring that the project’s objectives remain relevant and achievable. It supports decision-making processes, including whether to proceed or terminate a project, based on its ability to deliver value.

The business case’s relationship with benefits management is particularly significant, as it outlines how and when the project’s outcomes will be realised. This ensures that the project contributes to the strategic goals of the organisation and provides a clear return on investment.

In summary, the business case is a key component of the PRINCE2 methodology, ensuring that projects are initiated for the right reasons and continue to provide ongoing justification throughout their lifecycle. It integrates with other project management practices within PRINCE2, guiding decision-making and resource allocation to achieve the desired outcomes.

Organizing

Organizing - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

The organising practice within PRINCE2 is designed to establish a clear, efficient, and effective project management structure. This practice emphasises the importance of defining roles and responsibilities, ensuring accountability, and facilitating communication among all project stakeholders. It is a critical component that interacts with other PRINCE2 principles, practices, and processes to ensure project success.

The primary purpose of the organising practice is to create a structured framework that outlines who will make project decisions, who will perform specific tasks, and how communication will flow throughout the project lifecycle. This framework is vital for aligning the project’s objectives with organisational goals, managing stakeholder expectations, and ensuring that the project delivers value.

PRINCE2 specifies a set of roles including the project board (comprising the executive, senior user, and senior supplier), project manager, team managers, and support staff. Each role has specific responsibilities, ensuring that decision-making, oversight, and project work are clearly delineated.

Selecting individuals to fill the defined roles based on their skills, experience, and ability to contribute to the project’s success. The process involves ensuring that all necessary competencies are covered by the team.

Setting up structured communication channels and mechanisms for reporting, issue resolution, and stakeholder engagement. This ensures that information flows efficiently between different levels of the project organisation and stakeholders are kept informed and involved.

The organising practice is intrinsically linked to other elements of PRINCE2, demonstrating the integrated nature of the methodology.

It supports principles such as continued business justification by ensuring that the project’s leadership is aligned with business needs and manage by exception by establishing clear thresholds for decision-making authority.

Organising interacts closely with practices like risk management by assigning responsibilities for identifying and managing risks and quality by defining who is responsible for quality control measures.

It underpins processes such as initiating a project by establishing the project management team and controlling a stage by defining how project work is monitored and controlled.

An important aspect of the organising practice is its adaptability. PRINCE2 encourages tailoring the approach to suit the project’s context, size, complexity, and environment. This means that the organisational structure can be adjusted to be more or less formal, with roles combined or split based on the project’s needs, ensuring that the management structure is always appropriate and effective.

Implementing the organising practice can present challenges, particularly in terms of aligning project roles with existing organisational structures, managing stakeholder expectations, and ensuring effective communication. Solutions include stakeholder analysis to understand and manage expectations, regular communication and engagement activities, and flexible role definitions that can adapt to changing project and organisational contexts.

The organising practice ensures that projects have a solid foundation of clear roles, responsibilities, and communication channels. By establishing a structured but adaptable management framework, PRINCE2 projects can effectively navigate the complexities of project delivery, align with organisational objectives, and achieve successful outcomes. The practice’s integration with other PRINCE2 elements highlights the methodology’s holistic approach to project management, emphasising the importance of structure, clarity, and adaptability in achieving project success.

Plans

Plans - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

Within PRINCE2, the plans practice is essential for successful project management. It underpins the project’s structure by detailing how, when, and by whom the project’s products will be delivered. This practice is critical for defining the project’s scope, outlining resources, scheduling, budgeting, and managing risks, ensuring a clear pathway to achieving project objectives.

The primary purpose of the plans practice is to facilitate communication and control throughout the project lifecycle. By establishing a clear structure for what needs to be delivered, the plans practice helps align project objectives with business goals, ensuring resources are efficiently allocated. It enables the project management team to monitor progress, manage risks, and ensure quality standards are met, thereby increasing the likelihood of project success.

The application of the plans practice involves the creation of several types of plans, each serving different functions within the project. A project plan provides an overview of the entire project, outlining major milestones, resources, and timeline. It serves as a baseline for project monitoring and control. A stage plan details the activities, resources, and timelines for each stage of the project, offering a more granular view of tasks and responsibilities. A team plan focuses on the work to be done by individual teams, detailing tasks, timelines, and resources required for specific sections of the project. Exception plans are created in response to significant deviations from the plan, outlining actions to be taken to realign the project with its objectives.

These plans are developed through a collaborative process involving key stakeholders, ensuring a shared understanding of project aims, deliverables, and constraints.

The plans practice is intricately linked to other PRINCE2 elements, demonstrating its central role in the methodology. Plans embody the principle of focus on products by clearly defining product requirements and delivery criteria. They also support the principle of manage by stages by facilitating the planning and control of each project stage.

The plans practice works closely with other practices, such as risk, change, and quality, ensuring these considerations are incorporated into the planning process. For instance, risk management strategies are embedded within plans to anticipate and mitigate potential challenges.

During the initiating a project process, the project plan is developed, providing a framework for subsequent planning activities. In the controlling a stage process, stage plans are used to manage day-to-day work, while the managing product delivery process relies on team plans to guide team activities.

Implementing the plans practice effectively requires adherence to PRINCE2 guidance, involving tailoring PRINCE2 to the project environment. This means adapting planning processes and documentation to suit the project’s context, size, complexity, and stakeholder requirements.

Involving stakeholders in the planning process ensures their expectations are understood and managed, enhancing commitment to the project plan. Recognising that plans may evolve, PRINCE2 advocates for regular review and, if necessary, revision of plans to reflect changes in the project’s environment or objectives.

The plans practice provides a structured approach to project management. By establishing clear, detailed plans that are integrated with other PRINCE2 elements, projects are better positioned to achieve their objectives efficiently and effectively. Effective planning ensures resources are used judiciously, risks are managed proactively, and stakeholders remain engaged and informed throughout the project lifecycle.

Quality

Quality - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

In PRINCE2, quality management is pivotal to project success, ensuring that project outputs meet the necessary requirements and standards that fulfil user needs and expectations. This detailed exploration of the quality practice in PRINCE2 encompasses its purpose, application, and interrelation with other PRINCE2 elements, offering insights into its critical role within the framework.

The core purpose of the quality practice in PRINCE2 is to ensure that all project products are fit for their intended use, meet the user’s quality expectations, and are delivered within the agreed-upon specifications. This involves a comprehensive approach that includes identifying, defining, and ensuring the quality requirements of all project outputs. The emphasis is not merely on end-product quality but on the quality of processes used to deliver these products, ensuring that every stage of the project contributes to the overall quality objectives.

Quality planning begins with the capture of customer quality expectations and translating these into specific, measurable quality criteria. This process involves the creation of a quality management strategy, which outlines the project’s approach to maintaining quality standards, including quality control, quality assurance, and continual improvement processes. The strategy guides the project team on how quality will be managed and measured throughout the project lifecycle.

Quality assurance in PRINCE2 is about ensuring that the project’s quality management system is functioning correctly. This includes adherence to defined processes and standards, providing confidence to stakeholders that the project will deliver products that meet the predefined quality criteria. Quality assurance activities are typically overseen by a role outside the project management team, such as a corporate or programme management function, ensuring an independent evaluation of quality performance.

Quality control focuses on operational techniques and activities used to fulfil quality requirements for a project. This includes the monitoring of results against quality standards and taking corrective actions to address any discrepancies. Techniques such as quality reviews, product inspections, and testing are employed to verify that project outputs meet the necessary quality criteria.

The quality practice is inherently connected to various elements of the PRINCE2 methodology, reflecting the integrated nature of the framework.

The quality practice supports the ensure continued business justification principle by ensuring that the project’s products are capable of delivering the expected benefits, thereby justifying the project’s continuation.

Quality management in PRINCE2 encourages the incorporation of lessons learned into quality planning and control processes, promoting continuous improvement.

Specific roles within the PRINCE2 framework, including the project manager, project assurance, and team managers, have clear responsibilities related to quality, ensuring a collaborative approach to quality management.

The stage-based approach of PRINCE2 allows for regular quality reviews and assessments, facilitating timely adjustments to maintain quality standards.

The focus on products planning principle is central to PRINCE2’s approach to quality, with clear definitions of product quality requirements and criteria forming the basis for acceptance of project outputs.

The Quality practice in PRINCE2 is a comprehensive and integrated approach, ensuring that projects deliver outputs that meet defined quality standards and stakeholder expectations. By embedding quality management processes throughout the project lifecycle, PRINCE2 facilitates the delivery of projects that are not only successful in terms of meeting their objectives but also in achieving high-quality outcomes. This focus on quality enhances project value, stakeholder satisfaction, and the likelihood of achieving the desired benefits, underscoring the significance of quality management within the PRINCE2 framework.

Risk

Risk - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

The risk practice is designed to identify, assess, and manage risks that could impact the success of a project. This practice is essential for ensuring that projects can navigate uncertainties effectively, increasing the likelihood of achieving project objectives. The purpose of the risk practice is to create a systematic process for risk management that can be integrated into the project management lifecycle, from initiation through to closure.

The primary purpose of the risk practice is to safeguard project outcomes by proactively identifying potential threats and opportunities, assessing their potential impact, and implementing strategies to mitigate or exploit them. This process involves identifying risks which recognises potential risks that could affect the project, both negatively (threats) and positively (opportunities). It involves risk analysis which evaluates the likelihood and impact of identified risks to understand their potential effect on project objectives. It also involves choosing suitable risk responses. This means developing and implementing plans to address risks, which may include avoidance, mitigation, transfer, or acceptance for threats, and exploitation, enhancement, sharing, or acceptance for opportunities.

This practice is applied through a continuous process of monitoring and review, ensuring that risk management is dynamic and responsive to changes within the project environment. Effective communication and stakeholder engagement are also key components, ensuring that all project participants are aware of risks and the strategies in place to manage them.

The risk practice supports the principle of manage by exception by providing a structured approach to identify risks that could lead to exceptions, enabling timely decision-making and escalation. It also aligns with the learn from experience principle by incorporating lessons learned into risk management practices.

Risk interacts closely with other practices, such as plans (planning risk responses), quality (assessing risks related to quality requirements), and issues (managing risks associated with change requests).

Within PRINCE2’s processes, risk management activities are embedded, such as during the initiation stage where the initial risk register is created, or in controlling a stage where ongoing risk assessment and response are critical for managing stages.

Implementing the risk practice effectively requires a clear understanding of the project’s context, including its objectives, environment, and stakeholders. Best practices include establishing a risk management approach which defines how risks will be managed throughout the project, including methodologies, tools, and responsibilities. It means maintaining a risk register, which is a dynamic document that records identified risks, their status, and details of risk responses. It also involves regular risk reviews and ad-hoc assessments to ensure new risks are identified and existing risk responses are effective. Performing the risk practice in this way ensures that risk considerations are integral to project decisions, from planning to execution.

The risk practice provides a framework for identifying, analysing, and responding to risks. By integrating risk management into every aspect of the project management process, PRINCE2 helps projects navigate uncertainties, making informed decisions that enhance the likelihood of success. This practice not only mitigates threats but also identifies opportunities, encouraging a proactive and positive approach to dealing with uncertainties. Through its systematic and structured approach, the risk practice ensures that projects are better positioned to achieve their objectives, despite the inevitable uncertainties that accompany project work.

Issues

Issues - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

The issues practice provides a structured approach to identifying, assessing, and managing any concerns, problems, or opportunities that may impact the project. This practice is crucial for maintaining control over the project and ensuring that it can adapt to changes and challenges while still meeting its objectives.

The primary purpose of the issues practice is to ensure that all project-related issues are identified, recorded, analysed, and managed in a way that aligns with the project’s objectives. Issues can range from simple queries requiring clarification to significant problems that threaten the project’s success. By effectively managing these issues, the project team can make informed decisions, implement necessary changes, and mitigate risks, thereby enhancing the project’s chances of success.

A key part of applying the issues practice is the identification and logging of issues. This involves recognising when an issue arises and documenting it in an issues register. The register provides a central repository for all issues, making it easier for the project team to track and manage them.

Once logged, issues are categorised based on their nature and potential impact. The main categories typically include:

  • Request for change (RFC): Proposals for change due to unforeseen opportunities or requirements.
  • Off-specification: Deviations from the project’s agreed specifications or deliverables.
  • Problem/concern: Any other issue that may impact the project but doesn’t fit into the first two categories.

Each issue is then assessed to understand its impact on the project’s objectives, timelines, costs, and quality. This assessment helps in prioritising issues based on their urgency and severity.

Based on the assessment, appropriate actions are decided upon. This may involve resolving the issue internally within the project team or escalating it to higher management levels if it exceeds the predetermined tolerances. The final step is resolving the issue as decided and then closing it in the register. This includes documenting the resolution and any lessons learned, which can be invaluable for future projects.

The issues practice is closely linked to several other elements within PRINCE2, including risk management. Issues often represent realised risks, so the practices of managing issues and risks are inherently connected. Effective issue management contributes to more proactive risk management.

Issues often result in changes to the project. The issues practice works hand-in-hand with change control processes to ensure that changes are managed systematically and with clear governance.

Off-specifications are a key category of issues that directly relate to quality management. The issues practice ensures that any deviations from the agreed quality standards are addressed promptly.

Effective issues management supports the principle of managing by exception, which is central to PRINCE2’s approach to project governance. It ensures that decision-making is escalated to the appropriate level of authority.

Managing issues effectively requires clear communication with all stakeholders. The practice supports the project’s communication strategy by ensuring transparency and keeping stakeholders informed about issues and their resolutions.

In conclusion, the issues practice ensures that projects can navigate the inevitable challenges and changes they face. By providing a structured framework for managing issues, PRINCE2 helps projects remain flexible and responsive, ultimately contributing to their success. The practice’s integration with other elements of PRINCE2, such as risk management, change control, and project governance, underscores its importance in maintaining control and delivering projects that meet their objectives.

Progress

Progress - PRINCE2 practice | prince2-online.co.uk

The progress practice in PRINCE2 is crucial for the successful management and delivery of projects. It serves to monitor and evaluate the project’s performance and viability, ensuring that objectives are met efficiently and effectively.

The primary purpose of the progress practice is to establish mechanisms for monitoring the project’s evolution against its plans and business case. It ensures that the project remains viable and aligned with organisational objectives, providing a structured approach to decision-making based on performance data. This practice facilitates the identification of potential issues and risks, enabling timely interventions to keep the project on track.

The progress practice is applied through continuous monitoring and evaluation processes, employing various tools and techniques to assess project performance. Key elements of the progress practice include establishing baselines for scope, cost, time, quality, risk, and benefits to measure progress against. Regularly reviewing project performance through status reports, end-stage assessments, and lessons learned documentation is also a key element. The progress practice also involves identifying deviations from the plan and managing them through exception plans and escalated decision-making.

There are several monitoring and control mechanisms within the progress practice. These include stage gates which are critical decision points where the project’s continuation is evaluated against its business case and current performance. The progress practice also recommends the setting of tolerances for time, cost, quality, scope, risk, sustainability, and benefits, allowing for flexible management while maintaining control.

The practice provides for regular assessments of progress against plans and objectives, including financial performance, milestone achievement, and risk status.

The progress practice is intrinsically linked to other PRINCE2 practices and principles. The progress practice directly interacts with the plans practice, as the progress practice relies on detailed planning to establish baselines for monitoring and control. Progress works closely with the risk practice, as monitoring progress includes identifying and managing new risks and issues that may impact project objectives. It is also closely related to the issues practice, since any adjustments in the project’s scope, timelines, or resources necessitate re-evaluation of progress and potentially revising plans and expectations.

The effective application of the progress practice offers several benefits including improved decision-making. This is done by providing accurate, timely information to support informed decision-making and project steering. Increased transparency is achieved because the practice enhances the visibility of project performance and progress to all stakeholders, fostering trust and confidence.

The progress practice facilitates early detection and resolution of issues and risks, reducing potential impacts on project outcomes. IT also enhances efficiency by encouraging proactive management and optimisation of resources, timelines, and efforts to meet project objectives.

The progress practice ensures that projects are executed effectively and aligned with organisational goals. Through systematic monitoring, evaluation, and control, it supports informed decision-making, risk management, and adaptive project management. Its integration with other PRINCE2 elements underscores the cohesive, comprehensive nature of the framework, highlighting the importance of continuous progress assessment in achieving project success.

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