The 7 PRINCE2 principles

PRINCE2 is an improvement of the PROMPT II (Project Resource Organisation Management Planning Techniques) technique, a project management technique developed in 1972.

In 1989, the UK government adopted it as a basic IT project management framework to aid the implementation of IT service in the public sector. PRINCE2 quickly proved its’ use in projects outside the IT industry.  By 1996, PRINCE2 has become widely accepted as a generic technique that could work for just about anything. Today, you can discover PRINCE2 training and certifications offered in practically every country in the world.

The cornerstone of the PRINCE2 method revolves around its 7 key principles and 7 key themes. Here, we’ll discuss the 7 PRINCE2 principles and how they are applied to working projects.

1. Continued business justification

As an entrepreneur or project manager, PRINCE2 can help you understand how valuable any one project will be to your organization. Every PRINCE2 project first requires a business case to justify it. A business case is a run-down of all the advantages to be gained from a project and the expenses required to fund it. Building a robust business case is among the very first things a PRINCE2 project manager does and helps ensure your projects remained aligned with long-term business goals.

2. Learn from experience

There’s no point in reinventing every part of a job. While some elements will always be unique to a project, there will always be things that resemble those already solved in the past. When the company doesn’t have experience, it can learn from other companies or people who are willing to share details and provide valuable insights. By learning from the experience of others, PRINCE2 project managers are better able to improve and mitigate risk.

3. Specify roles and responsibilities

This might seem like a fairly self-explanatory principle. After all, you aren’t going to get anything done until everyone understands what to do and who does it. This principle however, includes stakeholder involvement as a key component in personnel management. Sponsors, end-users, and suppliers all need representation on the project management team and its board.

This helps established a management hierarchy, which in turn, ensures everyone associated with the project remains informed and accountable.

4. Manage by stages

The best way to manage complex tasks is to split them up into stages. PRINCE2 stipulates the need for management stages governed by “control points.” Control points are times when the job board will assess the project so far and agree (or not) to proceed to the next stage based on whether the project is still worthwhile. While each project follows a high-level overall plan, each stage also has its own, detailed plan.

5. Manage by exception

Essentially, the management by exception principle enables senior managers to focus on the most important things they need to do, rather than the details of the project. It’s for project managers to manage the nitty gritty details of the day to day work of the project. But they do this within agreed boundaries, known as tolerances. These boundaries are determined by the project board.

If the project manager forecasts the project will go beyond those tolerances (an exception) they must escalate the situation to the project board for a decision. If the project manager can stay within the tolerances, there is no exception and does not need to escalate it.

6. Focus on products

Every project will have an end-product. Stakeholders need to have a clear picture of what a project will produce. Throughout the project, there needs to be a strong focus on producing a satisfactory product which will enable the expected benefits to be achieved. The product description for the project specifies expected quality requirements to be fulfilled.

7. Tailor to suit the project environment

You can adjust PRINCE2 to small or large projects in every different context. The project management team must align the project with project goals no matter the complexity, scale, scope, and risks.

Tailoring PRINCE2 to suit your business needs is a large part of formal PRINCE2 training and is key the successful implementation of this methodology. 

PRINCE2® is a registered trademark of AXELOS Limited. Used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.

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