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PRINCE2 methodology

By Simon Buehring on 06 Aug 2020

PRINCE2 certification

What is PRINCE2?

  • PRINCE2 is the worlds’ leading structured project management methodology.
  • PRINCE2 is a proven method based on extensive research and ‘best-practices.’
  • PRINCE2 provides clear guidance on the best possible ways to manage projects and deliver profitable products.
  • PRINCE2 helps businesses govern projects more efficiently and receive better returns on their investments.

PRINCE2 consists of 4 important elements:

PRINCE2 principles

The PRINCE2 Principles form a foundation of important ideas on which the rest of the methodology is built. These principles can be universally applied within any organization on all their projects.

There are 7 PRINCE2 principles in total:

1. Continued business justification

PRINCE2 ensures there is always a return on investment and that the time and resources spent developing a product are justified.

2. Learn from experience

PRINCE2 project teams always make sure to learn from past mistakes. PRINCE2 project managers keep a ‘lessons log’ so that improvements can be made in future projects.

3. Define roles and responsibilities

PRINCE2 ensures all project development team members know exactly what they need to do and what others are doing.

4. Manage by stages

PRINCE2 takes difficult tasks and divides them into smaller, more manageable chunks, or stages.

5. Manage by exception

In PRINCE2 senior managers take major decisions, but delegate authority to lower management levels with certain limits (known as tolerances). This saves their time because they are not involved day to day.

6. Focus on products

PRINCE2 ensures that the starting point when planning is understanding the requirements of products which will later be used to realise benefits.

7. Tailor to the environment

PRINCE2 can be scaled to suit projects of any shape, flavour or size.

PRINCE2 themes

PRINCE2 themes provide insight as to how a project should be managed. They help guide the implementation of the 7 PRINCE2 Principles.

There are 7 themes in total:

1. Business case

A business case help project sponsors decide if a project is worthwhile and will be beneficial to the sponsoring organisation.

2. Organization

To avoid passing the buck when things go wrong, a project requires that its team members know everyone else’s roles and responsibilities. This helps improve accountability and responsibility.

3. Quality

Defining what makes a ‘good product’ before development begins helps teams identify what areas need to be improved and is vital to keeping projects on track.

4. Plans

Project plans focus on the cost, quality and benefits of undertaking projects. A plan written at the right level is always required to ensure a project succeeds.

5. Risk

PRINCE2 project managers must always take the time to identify potential risks to a project. This helps prevent a project failing due to unforeseen circumstances or missed opportunities.

6. Change

Change is essential to the continued profitability of any project. Every project needs to have a protocol in place to handle necessary changes.

7. Progress

Progress on a project must always be monitored. Regular and ad-hoc reports enable a PRINCE2 project manager to measure how well the project is progressing compared with the plan, and then to make informed decisions to get the plan back on track.

PRINCE2 processes

PRINCE2 clearly defines the processes of a project, who needs to be involved in each process and who is responsible for ensuring that each process is performed adequately.

1. Starting up a project

This process explains the purpose of the project, who will carry it out and how to execute it.

2. Initiating a project

This process gathers the details together of what must be done to complete the project. PRINCE2 project managers also clearly define what constitutes a ‘successful’ project so that development teams know what must be achieved in each stage.

3. Directing a project

This process continues throughout the project. It is performed by senior management to direct the project manager and take sensible decisions about the project.

4. Controlling a stage

In this process, project managers delegate work to teams and breakup large tasks into more manageable ‘work packages.’

5. Managing product delivery

In this process, teams do the work needed to complete the products described in the work packages.

6. Managing stage boundaries

In this process, project managers review the progress of the stage at the end of that stage. They provide a report so that senior management can decide whether to continue with the project. Project managers also meet with development teams to record lessons learned to help improve the next stage.

7. Closing a project

Finally, a project is declared ‘finished.’ Teams review their performance, products are delivered to customers and leftover resources are re-allocated. The project is now over and the products are used by business as usual to realize benefits.

Tailoring PRINCE2

No two organizations are the same. For PRINCE2 to work effectively, PRINCE2 project managers need to scale the PRINCE2 method sensibility to suit the needs to each project's unique environment.

The PRINCE2 principles cannot be changed and must always be followed.

All other aspects of PRINCE2 however, can be altered to suit the individual challenges, risks and opportunities identified by PRINCE2 project managers and product owners.

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