Understanding the Prince2 Principles

  • Prince2
  • Published by: André Hammer on Feb 23, 2024
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Have you heard of the Prince2 principles but aren't quite sure what they are all about? Look no further! In this article, we will explore the fundamental principles of the Prince2 project management methodology. By understanding these key principles, you'll be well on your way to mastering the art of effective project management. So, let's dive in and uncover the principles that underpin the Prince2 approach.


History of Prince2

Prince2 has a rich history in project management. It originated from the UK government standard initiated by the CCTA. The framework was developed to address the shortcomings of traditional methods. Over time, Prince2 has become widely recognized as a standard for project management.

Its structured approach to project management includes clear roles and stages. This ensures successful project delivery. Prince2 emphasizes creating a robust project plan, defining project management products, and managing project environments. These aspects are now essential for organizations worldwide.

Certification at both Foundation and Practitioner levels ensures that project managers have the necessary knowledge and skills. This is crucial for effectively controlling project costs and benefits. Prince2 has adapted to the changing project management landscape by incorporating elements such as Agile methodologies and Gantt charts.

Thorough training, examinations, and courses like PMP ensure that project managers are equipped to handle the complexity of modern projects across industries.

The 7 Key Prince2 Concepts/Principles

The Projects in Controlled Environments methodology is the most widely used project management methodology across the globe. It  is based on key concepts. Its basic tenant is organization and control from beginning to end of a project. In other words, projects are planned before starting and every stage of the process is well structured. The Prince2 method is based on the following seven core principles:

  1. Justification/Business Case: Each project must be clearly necessary and have a defined customer. It should have realistic benefits and a proper cost assessment must be done.
  • A detailed business case is important in project planning. It outlines the costs, benefits, and risks of the project.
  • A strong business case guides resource allocation, risk management, and decision-making.
  • Factors such as project complexity, size, and the project environment need to be carefully considered when developing a business case.
  • The business case ensures alignment with the organization's goals and objectives. It also helps the project board, team, and stakeholders understand the rationale behind the project.
  • It provides clarity and support throughout the project stages. Including a well-defined business case increases the likelihood of successful project outcomes and meeting quality standards.
  1. Learning: Teams and individuals must learn from all stages of the project with the goal of improving future work.
  • By analysing successes and failures, they can adjust their management strategies. This helps enhance project quality and boost delivery success.
  • Feedback from previous projects can be used to optimize plans, reduce risks, and enhance team performance.
  • Learning from past mistakes ensures they are not repeated and best practices are consistently applied. This continuous improvement culture leads to more successful project results.
  1. Defined: Team members’ roles and responsibilities must be clearly set out before starting.
  • Defining roles and responsibilities in a Prince2 project is about setting clear expectations for team members. The project manager, project board, and project team each have specific roles in the Prince2 methodology.
  • Everyone understands their responsibilities in the project plan when these roles are defined. This contributes to effective project management, avoids confusion, and ensures efficient control of processes.
  • When conflicts or overlaps in roles happen, communication within the team is crucial to resolve these issues promptly.
  1. Planned Stages: The work is planned in phases with each being assessed before moving on.
  • When creating project plans in the Prince2 methodology, project managers should consider factors like project size, complexity, costs, and benefits. These plans act as a roadmap for the project team. They outline roles, stages, and management products.
  • Project plans are crucial for successful project delivery. They guide how to achieve business case objectives, manage risks, and ensure quality. Throughout the project lifecycle, project plans should be monitored and adjusted to align with the project environment and organization's standards.
  • Monitoring and adjusting project plans are essential tasks for the project manager and project board. Tools like Gantt charts and quality review techniques help track progress and make necessary adjustments.
  1. Management by exception: The board lays down initial requirements such as scope and budget. Project managers are then put in charge of the project. They have been delegated authority by the board.

  2. Focus on quality: High standards are maintained by using a quality register.
  • In a Prince2 project, quality of deliverables is ensured using methods like quality review techniques. These techniques help assess and verify management products' quality in the project.
  • The Prince2 framework addresses quality management by emphasizing a quality plan within the project plan. This plan defines how quality will be controlled and ensured throughout project stages.
  • Continuous improvement is a key part of Prince2. It involves regular review and update of quality standards, fostering a culture of ongoing enhancement. This approach adapts to project environment and organization needs, maintaining high standards.
  1. Change/Tailored approach: The Prince2 method is adjusted depending on the particular project.
  • Prince2 understands that change is inevitable in a project. It offers structured stages and effective project management techniques. This helps project managers plan and control changes during the project lifecycle.
  • Managing change is vital to the success of a Prince2 project. It allows teams to adapt to evolving requirements and maintain project quality. The principles and processes of Prince2, like the focus on business case, project board, and quality review techniques, can help implement and manage change effectively.
  • Following the Prince2 methodology and certification standards, project managers can handle the complexities of change management. This ensures projects are completed within budget, on time, and meet stakeholders' satisfaction. Embracing change while sticking to established project processes is crucial for project success in a dynamic environment.

Importance of Prince2 Principles

The main purpose behind these seven principles is to help project managers simplify their lives and maintain control over all aspects of a project such as scope, budget, and quality. The principles create structure that makes it easier to manage projects.

The principles are universal and standardized. They apply everywhere and for projects in any industry. They’re a great reference guide for project managers who switch sectors or industries.

The principles are also self-validating. Project managers can know for themselves if they’re adhering to the principles or not.

Perhaps the most important thing about the seven principles is that they’re empowering. They give project managers a sense of control and assurance.

Starting Up a Project

When starting a new project with Prince2 methodology, consider the following:

  • Establish a clear project plan with key stages, business case, costs, and anticipated benefits.
  • Define roles within the project team with clear responsibilities for all members.
  • The structured framework helps control the project environment, manage risks, and deliver quality management products.
  • Conduct regular quality reviews and use Gantt charts to track progress.

Directing a Project

Project directors in Prince2 have specific responsibilities. They oversee project plans, manage the project team, and keep the project board informed. Using the Prince2 framework, they can control project stages, business case, costs, benefits, and quality effectively.

Knowledge of project management principles and processes is crucial for a successful outcome. Communication with stakeholders and making good decisions are essential in Prince2 projects. This involves regular quality reviews, stakeholder consultations, and tools like Gantt charts. Managing project risks and collaborating with the team to address issues promptly is also important.

Initiating a Project

Starting a project in Prince2 involves laying the groundwork for successful project management. This initial phase has a few main goals:

  • Defining the project broadly.
  • Identifying the project manager and project board.
  • Developing a strong project plan.
  • Ensuring the business case is viable.

One important aspect of this phase is establishing roles and responsibilities early on. This helps the project team efficiently control and monitor the project as it progresses. It's also crucial to outline the project environment by considering factors like complexity, size, knowledge, and risks.

Controlling a Stage

The project manager uses tools like Gantt charts to track progress. Quality review techniques help manage risks. Prompt II assists in making adjustments during a project stage. By monitoring these elements closely using all available tools, the project manager ensures the project stays on track, meets objectives, and stays within budget.

In Prince2 methodology, this level of control is vital for successful project delivery. Effective stage control contributes to overall project success by aligning team members with the project plan. It also keeps the project board informed of progress and promptly addresses any deviations from the plan.

Managing Product Delivery

A project manager can effectively manage product delivery. They do this by creating a detailed project plan that clearly outlines the team’s stages, roles, and responsibilities.

Communication with stakeholders is essential for successful product delivery. It ensures alignment with the project's business case, benefits, and risks. Quality review techniques help maintain high standards throughout the project.

Managing a Stage Boundary

Managing a stage boundary in a Prince2 project involves several key activities:

  • Updating the project plan
  • Assessing risks
  • Reviewing the business case
  • Producing management products

Stakeholders can be effectively involved in the decision-making process by:

  • Ensuring open communication
  • Providing timely updates on progress
  • Seeking feedback on decisions

The key outputs that should be produced at the end of a stage boundary process include:

  • An updated project plan
  • Quality review technique results
  • A revised business case if necessary

Closing a Project

To ensure all project tasks are finished before closing, the project team needs to review the project plan and management products thoroughly. They should check if all planned stages and roles have been done, if the business case and benefits have been achieved, and if the quality standards set by the project board have been met.

After closing, any remaining work and responsibilities should be transitioned properly. This requires a structured handover process to smoothly transfer tasks to stakeholders or other teams. It involves documenting outstanding tasks, updating project documents, and clearly communicating with those taking on the responsibilities.

Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner

Licensing Requirements

To obtain Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner certifications, individuals need to meet specific requirements. These include understanding project management principles like planning, control, and team management.

Candidates also need knowledge of the Prince2 methodology, project environment, project team roles, and project stages. They should understand concepts like project plans, business case development, cost-benefit analysis, and quality review techniques.

To prepare for certification, individuals should take formal training courses from accredited partners. These courses cover the Prince2 framework, project management processes, and exam preparation. Partnering with recognised organisations like Capita can help individuals gain the knowledge and skills needed for successful project management.

Study Material

When preparing for Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner exams, focus on study material that covers the project management methodology in-depth.

Understand project management, project manager roles, stages in a project, project plan, quality, certification, framework, standard, foundation, practitioner, planning, controlling, team dynamics, project board, quality review techniques, risk management, and business case.

Familiarise yourself with concepts such as project environment, management products, method complexity, size, benefits management, cost, software, knowledge, and certification exam content.

Knowing the history and evolution of Prince2, including its prompt II history, CCTA origins, and adoption by the UK government as a standard for information systems projects, can enhance understanding.

Partner with reliable training providers or use accredited course material for a comprehensive grasp of the content. Also, understand Agile methodologies, Gantt charts, the role of the project team, and managing risks to enhance exam preparation.

Final Thoughts

The seven Prince2 principles are guiding philosophies in the Prince2 project management methodology. They are essential for successful project delivery. Adhering them helps project managers deliver projects within budget, on time, and up to quality standards.

Readynez offers a 4-day Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner Course and Certification Program, providing you with all the learning and support you need to successfully prepare for the exam and certification.

Please reach out to us with any questions or if you would like a chat about your opportunity with the Prince2 Foundation and Practitioner certification and how you best achieve it. 


What are the Prince2 Principles?

The Prince2 Principles are guidelines that determine if a project is being managed effectively. They include continued business justification, learn from experience, define roles and responsibilities, manage by stages, manage by exception, focus on products, and tailor to suit the project environment.

Why are the Prince2 Principles important?

The Prince2 Principles are important because they provide a framework for project management success, ensuring projects are justified, controlled, and well-organized. For example, the principle of continual business justification helps stakeholders stay focused on project objectives and benefits throughout the project lifecycle.

How many Prince2 Principles are there?

There are seven Prince2 Principles, which provide guidance on what makes a project successful. Examples include Continual Business Justification, Defined Roles and Responsibilities, and Focus on Products.

How do the Prince2 Principles guide project management?

The Prince2 Principles provide a framework for project management by emphasizing key areas such as continued business justification, managing by stages, and learning from experience. For example, focusing on business justification ensures that projects remain aligned with company goals.

Can the Prince2 Principles be adapted for different projects?

Yes, the Prince2 Principles can be adapted for different projects by tailoring them to fit the specific requirements and characteristics of each project. For example, the principle of managing by stages can be adjusted based on the project's size and complexity.

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