What Is PRINCE2? Principles, Aspects, Roles & Processes

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Different methodologies like PRINCE2 work for different projects, industries, tools and teams. These project management methodologies can be approached rigidly, or can be mixed, where a hybrid project management methodology of two or more are used to respond to the unique aspects of a project environment.

Project managers who aren’t based in the United Kingdom might not be intimate with the PRINCE2 methodology of managing a project, which is the UK government standard. Although foreign to some outside of the United Kingdom, there’s still much to be gained from the PRINCE2 project management method, even if it isn’t adopted in its entirety.

We’ll go over the main components of the PRINCE2 project management methodology, which are:

  • PRINCE2 Principles
  • PRINCE2 Aspects
  • PRINCE2 Roles and Responsibilities
  • PRINCE2 Processes

But before we dive into that, let’s define what PRINCE2 is.

What Is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology that is mostly used in the UK, Australia and European countries. “PRINCE2” stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments, because this method focuses on managing resources and risks by dividing projects into smaller stages, defining clear roles & responsibilities and using seven processes to manage the project life cycle.

By organizing the project into logical steps, PRINCE2 demands a project management framework that has an organized and controlled project plan before starting, one that maintains its organization through the project life cycle.

The control is achieved by seven PRINCE2 processes. These project management processes cover all the activities that compose a project, from start to finish. Now that we have an idea of what PRINCE2 is, let’s take a quick look at its origins.

History of PRINCE2

First established in 1989 by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), the PRINCE2 method was originally based on PROMPT, another acronym that stands for Project Resource Organization Management Planning Technique, which was created in 1975 and used by the United Kingdom government for its information system projects. PRINCE2 was finally published as a project management methodology in 1996, and surprisingly, it is in the public domain.

Seven Principles of PRINCE2

There are seven principles that are the basis for PRINCE2 methodology. All must be followed for the project management methodology to be considered PRINCE2. These seven principles are a framework for a PRINCE2 mindset and they are as follows.

1. Continued Business Justification

The most important document in PRINCE2 is the business case, which is reviewed and revised throughout the life cycle of the project. This is done to make sure the project remains viable. If not, the project ends.

2. Learn From Experience

There is a lesson log attached to every project that acts as a repository for lessons learned in previous projects to avoid repeating past mistakes. The lesson log is referred to throughout the project. You can get started with our free lesson learned template here.

3. Roles and Responsibilities Are Defined

Project members can take on multiple roles or share a role. There are four levels that make up the structure of people in a project: corporate, project board, project manager and team.

4. Manage by Stages

PRINCE2 is planned ahead and follows a stage-by-stage process. When transitioning between stages the business cast, risk and project plan are all updated.

5. Manage by Exception

There are what are called tolerances for each project objective. This creates limits and defines how authority is delegated. If the tolerance is exceeded the management team must decide if that tolerance is redefined.

6. Focus on Products

The quality requirements of deliverables are of paramount concern.

7. Tailor to Suit Project Environment

The size, complexity, importance, time, risk, etc., or the project environment, is used to tailor the project in the initiation phase and throughout each stage of the project.

Six Aspects of PRINCE2

The PRINCE2 methodology identifies six aspects or areas that need to be managed in every project. Project managers need to use KPIs to measure performance goals and project tolerances.

Scope

What’s the work needed to complete the project? The details of the project scope should be explained in the project plan.

Costs

How much does your project cost? The project costs are detailed in the project plan as well.

Timescales

How long will it take to complete your project? Each project phase is explained in the project plan, as well as the project duration.

Risk

What are your project risks? You’ll need a risk management approach to determine the mitigation strategies that will be used.

Quality

What are the quality requirements of your clients or stakeholders? You’ll need to have quality control and assurance procedures in place to meet quality standards.

Benefits

What are the expected benefits of your project? Every project needs a business case and a cost-benefit analysis to explain its purpose and financial or strategic benefits.

PRINCE2 Roles & Responsibilities

To create a controlled project environment, roles and responsibilities are clearly defined in the PRINCE2 project management methodology. Here are the main roles which make up a PRINCE2 project management team.

Project Manager

The project manager is the one who is responsible for managing the project planning, execution, controlling and closure phases.

Project Manager Key Responsibilities

  • Assemble a project team and monitor its performance
  • Create a project plan that includes a schedule and budget
  • Communicate with the with the project board and customers

Team Manager

Depending on the size of your project, you might need a team manager to closely supervise team members and report to the project manager.

Customer

There’s also a customer, user or supplier involved in the project. This is the person or organization that is paying for the project and will be impacted somehow by its outcome.

Customer Key Responsibilities

  • Understand important project management documents such as a project plan, project brief, risk register or business case
  • Provide enough funds to cover the project’s resource requirements

Project Board

Finally, there’s a project board, which is made up of the customer and business executives, such as a person who represents the user side and another representing the suppliers or specialists involved in the project.

Project Board Key Responsibilities

  • The project board members are in charge of the high-level decision making process.
  • Communicate with the project manager on a regular basis and approve or reject his initiatives

Seven PRINCE2 Processes

The PRINCE2 project management methodology uses seven processes to manage projects. As PRINCE2 is a controlled environment method, the role of the project manager, project board and customer are defined so everyone’s on the same page.

1. Start Up the Project

This is where it’s determined whether the project is viable. To do so, a project brief, business case and a detailed stage plan must be created.

Activities of this process include the trigger, which is a high-level document stating the project’s mandate. Also, it’s important to do due diligence before the project is executed to save time and money once the project has started.

2. Initiate the Project

During this process, you’ll need to define the project aspects that we mentioned above; scope, costs, timescales, risk, quality and benefits.

3. Direct the Project

This process is to help the project board be accountable to the project through their decision-making. They have authority on initiating the project, delivering its product and closing the project. They also offer direction and control during the project. Additionally, they work with the corporate entities or program management and review post-project benefits.

Activities related to this process include authorizing the initiation, the project itself and the stages of the project. Other direction is offered as needed until project closure is authorized.

4. Control Stages

This is where the project manager assigns tasks, monitors that work, deals with whatever issues arise and reports on its progress to the project board.

Activities in this process include authorizing a work package with the team, reviewing its status and progress, and checking on its quality when complete. One must also review and compare progress to the project plan, capture any issues and risks and act to resolve them.

5. Manage Product Delivery

This process manages the delivery of the project product, controlling the work between the project manager and the team.

Activities associated with this process include accepting the work package, executing the work package and delivering the work package to make sure it’s complete.

6. Manage Stage Boundary

There are two parts to this process: firstly, the project manager provides the project board with an overview of performance, updates the project plan and business case, and creates a plan for the next stage. Secondly, the information provided by the project manager will help the project board review the current stage, approve the next and review the updated plan.

Activities include planning the next stage and reporting on the stage end.

7. Close the Project

This process is about making sure the project achieved its goals and objectives by the deadline. Sometimes project managers prepare the planned closure and the premature closure, but that’s not required.

Mandatory activities include handing over the product, evaluating the project and recommending its closure to the project board to officially close it out.

PRINCE2 Certification

PRINCE2 has a course of study that leads to a certification in the methodology. The course requires the user to take the training with an accredited training organization and then pass an exam. It can be done in person or online.

There are four levels of certification in the PRINCE2 project management methodology:

  • PRINCE2 2017 Foundation
  • PRINCE2 2017 Practitioner
  • PRINCE2 Agile Foundation
  • PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner

Prices for the certification course and exam range from $550 to around $1,000 USD, depending on which level and certified training organization you choose.

PRINCE2 vs. PMP

There are as many project management certification programs and it can be difficult to decide which ones you need as a professional project manager. Without a doubt, one of the most popular project management certifications it’s the project management professional (PMP) title awarded by the project management institute (PMI).

So which project management certification it’s best for you? Basically, these certifications differ in that they offer two different project management frameworks. PMP requires proficiency in the PMBOK Guide to Project Management Book of Knowledge, published by the Project Management Institute (PMI), while PRINCE2 requires knowledge of all the principles, aspects and processes.

Therefore, research both project management methodologies and see which is the best fit for you. Some industries prefer one framework over the other. PRINCE2 is more used in the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia, while PMP is used more in the United States, Canada and the Middle East.

PRINCE2 and ProjectManager

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology to manage projects and bring them in on time, within budget and with a quality deliverable. Whether you use PRINCE2 or a more agile framework to run your project, the goals are the same. It doesn’t matter how you do it, using ProjectManager helps you do it better.

Real-Time Updates for Better Tracking

Our project management software is cloud-based, which means that when statuses are updated that information is instantly reflected across the project management tool. Project managers can make data-driven decisions. There is a high-level view on the dashboard for tracking progress, and reporting features drill down into the data for a more granular look.

Track PRINCE2 projects in real time with project management dashboards

Robust Gantt Chart Features

Before you can monitor the project, of course, you have to plan and schedule it. Our online Gantt chart is a perfect fit for teams using the PRINCE2 methodology. We organize your tasks and chart them over a project timeline. Now you can break project phases into milestones and link dependencies to manage your schedule.

Plan projects and organize schedules with Gantt charts

Multiple Project Views

What if your team isn’t working in PRINCE2? Our software acts like a bridge linking traditional project management methodologies to more agile frameworks. For example, our kanban board visualizes workflow and allows teams to build backlogs and manage sprints, even as project managers control the overall project by using PRINCE2.

A screenshot of the Kanban board project view

Control your project no matter how you manage it. ProjectManager has the flexibility to work with PRINCE2 or any method you prefer to run your project.

Whether you use PRINCE2 or another methodology to manage your project, you’ll need tools to control the work through all of its stages. ProjectManager is a cloud-based project management software that works with multiple project management methodologies. From its real-time dashboard to online Gantt charts, you hold the reins. See how it can help you by taking this free 30-day trial today!

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