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What Is PRINCE2? Your Guide to the Project Management Methodology

What Is PRINCE2? Your Guide to the Project Management Methodology

What Is PRINCE2? Your Guide to the Project Management Methodology

Successful project management skills have been required for longer than we realize. But nowadays, we’re able to specialize in the field. 

Now, you can choose project management specifically as a career and then specialize in a field of your choice. 

This is where PRINCE2 comes in. 

If you’re managing a complex project, you’ll need to follow a methodology. But what is PRINCE2? Learn more about this methodology here.

What is PRINCE2?

In 2013 the then PROMPT II (Project Resource Organisation Management Planning Techniques), developed by the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) was commercialized and became PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments).

It is a process-based methodology for project management that provides an easily customized and scaled method for the management of all types and sizes of projects. It has been adopted in many countries worldwide, including the UK, Western European countries, and Australia.

PRINCE2 wraps itself around six aspects, seven principles, seven themes, and seven processes.

The six aspects in PRINCE2 form the basis for the goals of the project and are set out with tolerances:

  • Scope
  • Timescale
  • Risk
  • Quality
  • Benefits and
  • Cost

Each of the six aspects is reviewed at each stage and may be subject to updates. The PRINCE2 teams at all level are measured against these aspects.

Corporate and Programme Management are measured against Project Tolerance; the Project Board against Stage Tolerance, the Project Manager against Work Packages and lastly the team is measured by issues, although this is thought to be onerous and often tailored out.

Why You Should Choose PRINCE2

Although PRINCE2 can be customized and scaled for the organization and project size, it has seven core principles which cannot be tailored.

Continued Business Justification

The business case is the most important document and is revisited and updated if necessary at every stage of the project to ensure that the Business Case remains to be valid.

In cases where the Business Case has gone stale or has become outdated project cancellation will occur.

Learn From Experience

Each project maintains a lessons lo, PRINCE2 projects refer to their own and to previous and concurrent projects’ lesson logs continuously to avoid repeating mistakes.

This process MUST induce changes in organizational practices and delivery of future projects.

Defined Roles and Responsibilities 

PRINCE2 says that a role is not a person, in fact, a person may and can have more than one role or share a role within a PRINCE2 project. In PRINCE2 roles are found at four levels (Corporate or Programme Management, Project Board, Project Manager, and Team).

The Project Management Team does not include Corporate or Programme where business, user and supplier (the primary stakeholders) are represented.

Manage by Stages

This principle is based on the concept of ‘shifting reality’, things and situations change as time goes by.

By planning and controlling a project in stages and introducing a review of the business case, risks, overall plan, and detailed next-stage plan affords stakeholders the opportunity to more frequently consider the validity of the project investment.

Manage by Exception 

It is said good news travels fast but bad news travels faster. Typically Project Managers prefer to report what has gone well and been achieved as opposed to what has not and what was not achieved in a stage.

When planned and established PRINCE projects have tolerances for every project objective. This establishes the terms and levels of decision making (delegated authority) the Project Team has for the project.

If the Project Team feels that any of these agreed tolerances may be exceeded, PRINCE2 dictates that this be escalated to the next management (usually Corporate or Programme Management) for a decision on how to continue or not continue.

Focus on Products 

PRINCE2 projects are highly focused on the definition and delivery of the products (read deliverables), especially the agreed quality statements and acceptance criteria.

Tailor to Suit Project Environment

PRINCE2 is tailored to suit the project environment, size, complexity, importance, time capability, and risk. Tailoring is the first activity in the process Initiating A Project and reviewed for each stage.

What Are The Seven Themes of PRINCE2?

There are seven themes within PRINCE2 that need to be covered. Each of these seven themes related directly to one of the principles discussed in the previous section. 

They are:

  1. Business Case
    – Ongoing Business Justification
  2. Organization
    – Roles and Responsibilities
  3. Quality
    – Roles and Responsibilities
    – Product Focus
    – Lessons Log
  4. Plans
    – Ongoing Business Justification
    – Manage by Stages
    – Manage by Exception
    – Roles and Responsibilities
    – Lessons Log
  5. Risk
    – Ongoing Business Justification
    – Manage by Stages
    – Manage by Exception
    – Roles and Responsibilities
    – Lessons Log
  6. Change
    – Ongoing Business Justification
    – Roles and Responsibilities
    – Lessons Log
  7. Progress
    – Manage By Exception
    – Manage by Stages
    – Ongoing Business Justification
    – Lessons Log

A PRINCE2 project is constructed around seven processes:

  • Starting Up A Project: in this process, the project team is convened and accepts the appointment. This includes an executive and project manager. The primary product coming form the Starting Up process is the project brief.
  • Initiating A Project: here is where the original business case is revisited and updated if required. The Project Initiation Documentation is also drawn up as part of this process
  • Directing A Project: the Project Board convenes and agrees on how the members of the Project Board will oversee the project
  • Controlling A Stage: each individual stage has to be controlled, in this process, this is agreed. In this step of the PRINCE2 processes, the way in which work packages are authorized and distributed has to be agreed
  • Managing Product Delivery: PRINCE2 projects have to be managed. The relationship between the Project Manager and the Team Manager(s) is a critical success factor. To achieve these formal requirements on accepting, executing and delivering project work have to be agreed
  • Managing Stage Boundaries: as previously discussed PRINCE2 project is constructed in stages. Each stage has a formal review, the terms of these reviews are agreed and adhered to here.
  • Closing A Project: including the formal closing of the project, and required follow-on actions and evaluation of the benefits. It may also be that this process has to close an unfinished or incomplete project, the terms of must be agreed and acceptable to all parties.

PRINCE2 Management Products

As with all projects PRINCE2 projects are supported with documentation, in PRINCE2 terms ‘Management Products’. Some examples are:

  • Business Case
  • Project Brief
  • Checkpoint Report
  • Communications Management Approach
  • Change Control Approach
  • Risk Register
  • Issues Register
  • Daily Log
  • Lessons Log
  • Quality Register

In order to Lead and or Implement PRINCE2, it is mandatory for certification.

  • PRINCE2 2017 Foundation
    • To obtain sufficient knowledge to work in a PRINCE2 organization
  • PRINCE2 2017 Practitioner
    • Confirms the holder of this certification has enough knowledge to tailor the method

PRINCE2 exams are not too difficult to find and can be easily accomplished while still maintaining full-time work. 

PRINCE2 is Right for You

You asked us, “What is PRINCE2?” We hope that you’ve received enough information in this article to arm you with the knowledge to move forward and get certified. 

Head on over to our business section if you need further resources on anything career-related!

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