While the PRINCE2 Methodology is not well recognized in the United States, it is a Project Management Methodology that is widely utilized in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe. The term PRINCE2 is actually an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, version 2. Owing to the truly generic and beneficial nature of this evolving method for managing projects, PRINCE2 was officially released in 1996. Various editions of this manual have been released since its inception.

PRINCE2 is a process based methodology for successfully managing projects. While the PMP and IPMA Certifications are well known standards for the Project Management profession, PRINCE2 is a holistic methodological approach for managing projects of any size. There are seven distinct principles, themes, and processes which are the core of the PRINCE2 Method. In this writing, we will examine the seven principles behind the PRINCE2 Methodology.

The Principles:

  1. Continued Business Justification
  2. Learn from Experience
  3. Defined Roles and Responsibilities
  4. Manage by Stages
  5. Manage by Exceptions
  6. Focus on Products
  7. Tailor to Suit the Project Environment


Continued Business Justification:

This is the first principle which is introduced in the PRINCE2 Method. It answers the question “Why are we doing this project?” The answer to this question is outlined in the Business Case, which is one of the most important Management Products in the PRINCE2 Method. The Business Case is a living document, which is continually reviewed and revised throughout the life a project. If at some point during the project, the Business Case is no longer viable, the project is closed. The PRINCE2 Method requires the project to be continually justified, ensuring resources are never wasted.


Learn from Experience:

The second principle introduced is to learn from experience. This requires the review of lessons learned from past projects, prior to starting up a new project. The goal is to avoid what didn’t work in the past, and implement what did work. This principle requires learning throughout the duration of the current project as well; continually making adjustments and executing changes for improvement.


Defined Roles and Responsibilities:

The primary goal with this principle is to ensure only the right people are involved with the project. Many times, projects require cross functional teams, which can lead to conflicts of interests and competing objectives. This may impede the progress on the project. In order to be successful, a fully defined structure with the required people need to be in place. Each person must fully understand their role in the project, and their responsibilities. There are three primary stakeholders identified in PRINCE2: The Business Sponsor, the Users, and the Suppliers. The Business Sponsor funds the project and ensures the monies invested are well spent. The Users are the stakeholders who ultimately benefit from the Project’s product(s) upon completion. The Supplier provides the necessary expertise to create the defined product deliverables. Each stakeholder class needs to be adequately represented on the project in order to maximize the chances of success.


Manage by Stages:

The Manage by Stages principle aims to break the project down into workable chunks. The basic idea is to have a high level long term vision for the project, and have short term Stage Plan(s) which are quite detailed. The Stage Plan enables a great deal of control over the project; at the end of each stage, decision points are added to ensure continued viability and justification for the project.


Management by Exception:

The Management by Exception principle requires the establishment of tolerances against six variables including: Time, Cost, Quality, Scope, Risk, and Benefit. If the project is forecasted to exceed any one of the six, this principle ensures controls are already set in place for escalation. This allows decisions to be made at the right layer in the management structure.


Focus on Products:

The PRINCE2 Method requires the creation of Product Description(s). This Management Product ensures there is clarity and a common understanding of what the project will produce. This principle provides a safeguard to increase the likelihood that stakeholder expectations are met in terms of outputs (products), especially in terms of quality.


Tailor to Suit the Project Environment:

The last principle introduced by the PRINCE2 Method is tailoring to the project environment. The PRINCE2 Method is generic and universal in nature, this requires it to be tailored to not only the organization, but also the individual project. This helps avoid two common extremes: a rigid methodology which is blindly adhered to in every detail, and the “Wild West” approach, where there is very little structure in place for the management of projects. The goal is to obtain a balanced and common sense approach tailored to fit each organization, and an individual project.





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