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What Is PRINCE2 Project Management?

PRINCE2 is one of the most popular project methodologies used by businesses and organizations today. What is PRINCE2 project management all about, and how it can be applied to projects? Find out in this guide.

A brief overview of PRINCE2

Short for PRoject IN Controlled Environments, the PRINCE2 methodology was developed in 1989 by the United Kingdom?s Office of Government Commerce. It was devised as a standard methodology for managing information systems-related projects.

There are seven key principles teams should follow when using the PRINCE2 method:

  • Business justification: Projects must address a well-defined need and have a customer set, list of benefits, and cost assessments.
  • Continuous learning: Teams should record the lessons learned from each stage of the project for future references.
  • Roles and responsibilities: Members should know their exact roles and responsibilities in the project, as well as that of their colleagues.
  • Work stages: Teams should divide the project into smaller stages and conduct reviews at the end of each to assess whether it meets the requirements.
  • Focus on quality: Project deliverables are continuously assessed to ensure that they meet the standard requirements.
  • A tailored approach to projects: The project methodology teams use should be flexible and can be easily adapted to different project needs.
  • ?Managing by exception?: The project?s board members should step in and guide it only if there are issues that affect its ability to meet established requirements.

Using these principles as a guide, teams can develop an effective framework of good practice for the project.

prince2 project management project participants

Photo by Prince2, CC BY

Implementing PRINCE2

One important aspect of PRINCE2 project management that teams should be familiar with are the roles that different project participants have. These are the general roles that can be found in such a project:

  • Customer: The one who commissions the project.
  • Users: Those who consume the project deliverables. In some cases, the customer and user are the same.
  • Suppliers: These are the people who provide the needed expertise for the project.
  • Project manager: Oversees the planning and implementation of the project.
  • Team manager: Responsible for the project?s day-to-day operations and reports back to the project manager.
  • Team members: Depending on the project?s nature, members can have more specific roles.
  • Project assurance: An independent body that reviews and assesses project results. The role may be taken by the project board or assigned to a separate body.

By knowing who does which role in a project, the team establishes a more effective means of managing tasks and resolving issues. Below is an example hierarchy of these roles found in a PRINCE2-based project.

prince2 project management hierarchy

Photo by Prince2, CC BY

Project management software like Wrike has activity management and scheduling tools that can be used to oversee the activities of these project participants better.

The various stages of a project

A PRINCE2 project will typically follow these stages :

  • Starting: The team review the project requests submitted by customers, and request a more detailed brief from them when needed.
  • Directing: The project board reviews the detailed brief and decides on how it is to be implemented.
  • Initiation: The project manager creates the project plan and determines how various performance targets will be met.
  • Controlling stages: The manager determines how the work will be divided into smaller components and distributed to teams.
  • Managing product deliveries: The outputs at each stage is reviewed and compared against approved requirements.
  • Managing stage boundaries: The team reviews the project in its entirety and determines whether it should continue in its current form.
  • Closing: The team creates the final project output, including documentation and reports.

Since PRINCE2 is tool-agnostic, most project management software, like Microsoft Project, can be used to plan and oversee the stages. The video below explains each stage in more depth.

PRINCE2 might look like a complex methodology at first glance, but once teams have a good grasp of what is PRINCE project management, it can vastly improve how they work on projects with insights from above leading to clear collaboration below. If PRINCE2 doesn’t seem like a fit, continue reading the project management methodologies series on this website for one which will.


Scott Ellis

Scott is a content manager for PMFoo, a free online resource that quickly matches businesses and individuals to their Project Management software needs. He specializes in project management tips, tools, and tricks . On the rare occasion Scott isn't writing, he's reading comic books, playing video games, or cheering the mighty Blue Jays. No, Scott is not a 12 year old boy. He assures us all he is a grown man.