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The Prince2 Approach to Project Management

Are you aware that there exists a project management methodology that is employed in more than 150 countries? With a vast community of over a million certified practitioners, PRINCE2 stands out as one of the most renowned and universally acknowledged approaches to project management.

What is Prince2?

PRINCE2 revolves around developing products in controlled environments

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) represents a process-based approach to achieving effective project management. Widely recognised and practiced in both the UK government and the private sector, both domestically and internationally, PRINCE2 has emerged as a de facto standard.

Before delving into the specifics of PRINCE2, it’s important to understand some general aspects of project management that provide valuable context. Whenever embarking on a venture, whether it involves creating, building, accomplishing, or travelling, certain fundamental questions need addressing:

  • What is the objective we seek to achieve?
  • When is the appropriate time to commence the project?
  • What resources are necessary for its realisation?
  • Can we accomplish it independently, or do we require assistance?
  • How long will the undertaking take to complete?
  • What financial resources are involved?

These fundamental inquiries constitute the building blocks of project management, setting the framework for what is to be achieved and the optimal means of accomplishing it. The essence of structured project management lies in organising the project into well-defined stages to ensure logical and organised progression. PRINCE2 provides a comprehensive written description of this approach.

Experience has taught us that disorganised and poorly controlled projects are prone to disastrous outcomes. Notably, incidents like the London Ambulance and Channel Tunnel failures exposed public system failures and substantial overspending. Structured project management methodologies exist to avert such calamities.

The PRINCE2 framework stipulates that a project should undergo:

  • An organised and controlled initiation phase, involving meticulous planning before undertaking the actual work.
  • An organised and controlled middle phase, maintaining proper organisation and management throughout the project’s execution.
  • An organised and controlled closure phase, ensuring that loose ends are tied up once the desired objectives have been achieved and the project is concluded.

To guide and describe the appropriate steps a project should take and when to take them, PRINCE2 employs a series of processes. These encompass all the essential activities required for a project, from its inception to its successful conclusion.

Prince2 offers an alternative to the agile development approach, which you can learn more about here.

Where Did Prince 2 Come From?

The roots of this project management methodology can be traced back to 1989 when it was initially established by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA). Originally, it was built upon a methodology known as Project Resource Organization Management Planning Technique (PROMPT), which the United Kingdom’s government used predominantly for information system projects. At its inception, it was referred to as PRINCE, with a primary focus on managing IT projects.

However, as the 1990s progressed, project managers began to recognise that the techniques employed in PRINCE could be adapted and applied to a wide array of projects beyond just IT-related endeavours. In response to this realisation, a thorough revision was undertaken to remove any specific IT jargon, leading to the birth of PRINCE2 in 1996. This revised version of the methodology encompassed a more versatile approach, suitable for managing various types of projects, regardless of their nature.

Why Should I Use The Prince 2 Framework?

PRINCE2 is widely used due to its flexibility

The popularity of the PRINCE2 methodology in project management is not without reason. Numerous teams opt for PRINCE2 to ensure the success of their projects, and here are some compelling factors behind their choice.

Widely Used

With millions of PRINCE2 practitioners worldwide, this method has garnered extensive recognition. The Project Management Institute (PMI) acknowledges PRINCE2 as a compatible methodology with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and the esteemed Project Management Professional (PMP) certification.

For those eager to delve into the PRINCE2 project management method, numerous training courses and diverse PRINCE2 certifications are available, providing valuable insights. If your aspirations revolve around becoming a proficient project manager, mastering the PRINCE2 process and obtaining certification can significantly enhance your long-term career prospects.

Easy To Use

If your team lacks experience with project management methodologies, PRINCE2 offers an excellent starting point. Its simple yet well-defined process provides clear steps to follow, even for teams new to project management practices. Moreover, PRINCE2 serves as an effective educational tool, guiding team members through essential project management skills like project planning, time management, and communication.

These skills are not exclusive to PRINCE2 but are universally valuable across all project management methodologies. Therefore, even if your team eventually decides PRINCE2 isn’t the best fit for them, the acquired skills can be applied to any project management approach.

For teams considering an Agile approach, PRINCE2 Agile presents a favourable entry point. Building upon the foundational principles of standard PRINCE2, PRINCE2 Agile seamlessly integrates Agile methodology, offering a comprehensive framework for managing projects with an Agile mindset.


While the original PRINCE technique primarily focused on IT projects, PRINCE2 was designed to be adaptable to any project across various industries. One of its fundamental principles is to serve as a flexible framework rather than imposing rigid rules. This allows teams to tailor PRINCE2 to suit the specific needs of their projects effectively.

Leveraging work management software, the PRINCE2 methodology seamlessly integrates with digital tools, enhancing project efficiency. The process-driven structure, when combined with appropriate software, enables teams to create clear tasks with specific deadlines and designated owners. This streamlined approach allows team members, stakeholders, and the project board to access and track project progress at their convenience, promoting asynchronous collaboration. By employing a collaborative workspace, the team ensures constant access to up-to-date project information and essential updates, facilitating better project management overall.

Prince 2 Roles

Project Manager

In the realm of project management, the Project Manager assumes a vital role in organising and controlling the project’s activities. This involves carefully selecting capable individuals to carry out the project tasks, ensuring their adherence to high-quality standards and timely completion. Additionally, the Project Manager plays a key role in crafting comprehensive project plans that outline the team’s activities and establish expected timelines for project milestones and completion.

Customer / User / Supplier

In any project, the customer or executive serves as the entity responsible for financing the endeavour. The user, on the other hand, represents the individual who will directly utilise or be affected by the project’s outcomes. It’s possible for the customer and user to be the same person in certain projects. Additionally, the supplier or specialist plays a crucial role by offering the expertise and skills necessary to carry out the project work, such as designing and building the desired outcome.

To ensure the project’s success, effective organisation and coordination among all these stakeholders are essential. By harmonising their efforts, the project can deliver the intended results within the designated timeframe, budget, and quality standards. You can learn more about how to do this by closing your customer feedback loop here.

Project Board

Within the PRINCE2 project management framework, every project is overseen by a project board comprising key stakeholders. This board typically consists of the customer (or executive), a representative from the user side, and someone representing the supplier or specialist input. In PRINCE2 terminology, they are referred to as the customer, senior user, and senior supplier, respectively.

The Project Manager is accountable to the project board and regularly reports on the project’s progress, highlighting any potential issues on the horizon. The project board stays informed about the project’s advancements and is involved in making essential decisions. These decisions play a crucial role in determining the project’s course of action and devising strategies to overcome any challenges that may arise along the way.

If you’d like to compare the Prince2 roles to the Agile / Scrum roles, click here.

Prince2 Project Management Techniques

Providing support is one of the key techniques of PRNCE2

Project Assurance

Project assurance in PRINCE2 offers an impartial evaluation of the project’s progress. Three distinct views of assurance are considered: business, user, and specialist, each aligned with the interests of the three project board members.

Business assurance primarily focuses on ensuring the project’s viability in terms of costs and anticipated benefits. User assurance centres around verifying that the project meets the specified requirements of the end-users. Meanwhile, specialist or technical assurance concentrates on affirming that the project delivers a suitable and effective solution.

Depending on the project’s complexity and scale, assurance may be carried out by a dedicated project assurance team. Alternatively, individual members of the project board can assume the responsibility of conducting assurance activities. In either case, the ultimate goal remains to ensure the project’s success and adherence to its intended objectives.

You can measure project success and project assurance using different metrics. You can learn more about how to do this here.


In many projects, a substantial amount of administrative work is necessary to ensure smooth operations. This includes tasks such as keeping all stakeholders informed, scheduling and organising meetings, updating project plans, following up on tasks, and maintaining project files. Project Managers often find themselves handling these responsibilities, especially in the case of smaller projects.

However, when multiple projects are being executed simultaneously, the workload can become overwhelming. In such scenarios, organisations may establish a Project Support Office to alleviate some of the administrative burden. This dedicated office takes on various administrative tasks, enabling Project Managers to focus more effectively on project execution and strategic decision-making.

Characteristics of a Prince2 Project

In every PRINCE2 project, the Project Manager diligently tracks six essential characteristics as the project progresses. Some of these aspects directly align with key PRINCE2 principles, while others provide vital information for the team’s awareness throughout the project journey. Here are the six fundamental aspects present in every PRINCE2 project:

  • Project Scope: This aspect clearly outlines the project’s goals, deadlines, and deliverables, providing a comprehensive understanding of what the project aims to achieve.
  • Costs: The cost aspect involves determining the financial resources required for the project’s successful execution. Accurate cost estimation is crucial to prevent budget overruns.
  • Timescales: PRINCE2 projects typically have predetermined deadlines set by the project board. The timescales aspect provides an estimated timeline for completing each task, enabling team members to manage their work efficiently.
  • Risk: Every project entails inherent risks that cannot be entirely controlled. PRINCE2 incorporates a risk management process to proactively identify potential risks and establish measures to mitigate any arising issues.
  • Quality: Within PRINCE2, it is essential to create a quality register that clearly defines the production standards for all project deliverables. This ensures that the final outcomes meet the highest standards of the team and align with customer expectations.
  • Benefits: PRINCE2 mandates that every project must have a clear and justifiable business case. This is similar to a project charter and is subject to the project board’s requirements before project approval.

By carefully monitoring and addressing these six characteristics, PRINCE2 projects are better positioned to achieve success, meet objectives, and deliver high-quality outcomes.

The 7 Phases of Prince2 Development

In addition to the seven principles of PRINCE2, the project journey is guided by seven distinct phases that lead the team from project initiation to project closure:

  • Starting up a Project: During this phase, the project team submits a project plan based on a project mandate, which provides a preliminary outline of the project’s scope. This plan defines the project’s general direction and business case. Once approved, often by the project board, the team proceeds to create a more detailed project brief.
  • Directing: In this phase, the project board reviews the project briefs and makes decisions on the necessary actions for the project to advance. Adjustments may be made to the project brief to accommodate resources or time constraints.
  • Initiating a Project: Here, the project board appoints a project manager to lead the team and develop a comprehensive project plan. This plan includes baselines for time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits. The project can officially commence once the project board grants full approval of the manager’s plan.
  • Controlling: During this phase, the project manager breaks down the project into manageable parts and delegates specific tasks to individual team members. This ensures a smooth workflow and successful completion of various project components. You can learn more about how to do this here.
  • Managing Product Delivery: The project manager oversees the project’s progress, ensuring that deliverables meet the quality standards defined in the quality register. The project board then reviews the deliverables and decides whether to approve the work or request any changes or additional work.
  • Managing Stage Boundaries: At the end of each project stage, the project board conducts a review to determine whether the project should continue or if adjustments are needed. This ensures that the project remains aligned with its objectives and overall strategy.
  • Closing: In the final phase, the project manager completes any remaining documentation, outcomes, and reporting before formally concluding the project’s lifecycle.

These seven phases in the PRINCE2 methodology provide a well-structured framework for effective project management, ensuring clarity, control, and successful project outcomes.

How Does Prince 2 Define Scope?

In modern projects, various groups of individuals are typically involved, such as the customer, one or more suppliers, and the user. Defining the scope in project management entails determining the project’s objectives and devising the approach to achieve them. However, this task can become challenging due to the presence of multiple stakeholders with diverse interests.

PRINCE2 offers a unified language that bridges the communication gap among all the parties involved. While bringing customers and suppliers together often involves contracts and contract management, these aspects lie outside the scope of PRINCE2. Nevertheless, PRINCE2 acknowledges the importance of implementing project controls and setting breakpoints, which enable projects to succeed within a contractual framework. By incorporating these vital elements, PRINCE2 ensures that projects can effectively manage and navigate contractual obligations, facilitating successful project outcomes.

How Does Prince 2 Adapt To Change?

How does the PRINCE2 model adapt to change?

PRINCE2 goes beyond merely outlining the different project stakeholders and their roles; it also provides comprehensive guidance on managing risk, maintaining quality, and controlling changes within the project. Risk management involves identifying potential pitfalls and devising contingency plans to address them effectively. Meanwhile, Quality Management entails assessing the work performed on the project, either through testing or thorough reviews, to ensure high standards are maintained.

Projects inevitably undergo changes throughout their lifecycle, be it due to changing requirements or unforeseen circumstances. PRINCE2 incorporates techniques to manage the impact of these changes, preventing the project from veering off course or becoming useless to the customer (see waterfall).

Moreover, PRINCE2 Agile takes the concept further by integrating methodologies that enhance project flexibility and responsiveness to evolving situations.

In essence, PRINCE2 serves as a method for effective project management, guiding project managers on stakeholder engagement, responsibilities, and processes. It offers a structured approach, advising on essential information to gather along the project journey. However, while PRINCE2 is a valuable tool, it does not guarantee project success. The ultimate success of a project lies in the capabilities and dedication of the people involved, from the Project Board to individual team members, in delivering quality results, on time, and within budget. The commitment and expertise of these individuals play a pivotal role in ensuring the project’s ultimate success.

What Should You Document When Using Prince2?

Within the project management context, several essential registers and documents play a vital role in ensuring project success:

  • Business Case: This comprehensive document provides a detailed rationale for the project, outlining the reasons for its necessity and the anticipated benefits it will bring to both users and the business.
  • Risk Register: A crucial tool that identifies potential risks and opportunities, the risk register assesses the probability of occurrence and the potential impact of each risk on the project.
  • Quality Register: This ongoing log meticulously tracks quality checks, ensuring that project deliverables consistently meet the expected standards and requirements.
  • Issues Register: The issues register acts as a central repository for listing and addressing problems and concerns raised by members of the project team, allowing for timely resolutions.
  • Lessons Log: This valuable record captures insights and lessons learned throughout the project’s duration, facilitating their application in subsequent work stages and future projects.
  • Daily Log: Compiled by the project manager, the daily log serves as a diary, reporting daily activities and progress, offering a comprehensive overview of the project’s ongoing developments.

These registers and documents collectively contribute to effective project management, providing valuable information and facilitating proactive decision-making to achieve project objectives and deliver successful outcomes.


What Is The Framework of Prince2?

PRINCE2, which stands for “PRojects IN Controlled Environments,” is a project management methodology renowned for its emphasis on organisation and control. This linear and process-based framework is designed to guide projects through distinct and predefined stages, ensuring a structured and systematic approach to project execution.

What is Prince2 As Used In Project Management?

By integrating methodologies that enhance flexibility and responsiveness, PRINCE2 proves to be an effective approach for managing projects. This method aids project managers in determining the right individuals to involve and clarifies their respective responsibilities. Additionally, PRINCE2 offers a well-defined set of processes to follow and provides guidance on the necessary information to gather throughout the project’s journey.

What Are The 7 Principles of Prince2?

The PRINCE2 methodology is built upon seven fundamental principles, which serve as guiding pillars for successful project management:

  • Continued Business Justification: Projects must maintain a clear and ongoing justification for their existence, ensuring that they align with the organisation’s objectives and remain valuable throughout their lifecycle.
  • Learn from Experience: The approach of learning from past projects, both successes and failures, enables continuous improvement and informed decision-making for current and future endeavours.
  • Defined Roles and Responsibilities: Assigning clear roles and responsibilities to project stakeholders fosters accountability, effective communication, and efficient collaboration within the project team.
  • Manage by Stages: PRINCE2 advocates dividing the project into manageable stages, allowing for periodic assessments, reviews, and strategic adjustments.
  • Manage by Exception: Empowering individuals to make decisions at their level while escalating significant issues to higher management ensures efficient project governance without hindering progress.
  • Focus on the Product: The methodology centres on delivering tangible products, ensuring the project remains product-oriented and outcome-focused.
  • Tailor to Suit the Project: PRINCE2 is adaptable and can be tailored to suit the unique characteristics and requirements of each project, promoting a customised approach for optimal project outcomes.

What Are The 4 Elements of The Prince2 Methodology?

PRINCE2 comprises four interconnected elements: principles, themes, processes, and tailoring. This study guide specifically delves into the PRINCE2 principles, which form the foundational core of the methodology.

What Are The 6 Objectives of Prince2?

In PRINCE2, the project’s objectives are defined by six key performance targets: time, cost, quality, scope, benefits, and risk. Risk management activities encompass the measures taken to identify, assess, and effectively control potential risks throughout the project’s lifecycle.


PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is a well-established project management approach that empowers organisations to consistently deliver successful projects. Its strong foundation, clear guidelines, and flexibility have made it a widely adopted and reliable methodology worldwide.

Now that you understand the fundamentals of the PRINCE2 method, check out our detailed guide to lean product development and see our list of the best places to launch your product when you’re ready to show your work to the world. You can also learn how to perfect your business plan here.

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