What is PRINCE2?


PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is a project management methodology owned by AXELOS (a joint venuture between the UK’s cabinet office and Capita).   Exams are currently provided through an exam institute called PeopleCERT.  It was created initially to address the issues that were commonly causing UK government IT projects to fail and originated from a methodology called PROMPT II.  Since PRINCE first emerged it has been updated a few times to take account of feedback from the user community and to bring it in-line with other AXELOS qualification course offerings – known as the ‘Best Practice Portfolio’.  The most recent refresh of PRINCE2 was in 2017, and before that in 2009.

Whilst PRINCE2 has been the de-facto standard for project management in the UK for quite some time, the method has now achieved worldwide recognition. This is self-evident in the numbers of people who have taken a PRINCE2 qualification. It is taught in most countries of the world and the examinations are available in many different languages. Courses teaching PRINCE2 are centred on the PRINCE2 manual which is published by TSO (The Stationery Group) and the syllabus as published by AXELOS.

There are two levels of PRINCE2 qualification available:

  • Foundation – which tests delegates understanding of the terminology of the method
  • Practitioner – which tests delegates ability to apply the method using a case study

Delegates must pass the foundation level before they can progress to practitioner and only training companies accredited by the AXELOS (known as ATO’s) may deliver PRINCE2 qualification based courses.

The contents of PRINCE2 are:

7 Principles

These form the ‘bedrock’ of PRINCE2, and are things that you must be doing to be able to say you are running your project in a PRINCE2 way:

  • Continued business justification
  • Learn from previous experience
  • Defined and agreed roles and responsibilities
  • Management by stages
  • Management by exception
  • Focus on Delivery of products
  • The use of PRINCE2 is tailored is tailored to suit the project

7 Themes

Themes are things that project managers need to be continuously doing when managing a project. The manual’s guidance assists project managers with their competency levels in these areas:

  • Business Case
  • Organization
  • Plans
  • Risk Management
  • Quality
  • Change Control
  • Progress

7 Processes

The processes provide detailed step by step activities that guide project managers through the life cycle of their projects. The 7 processes are:

  • Starting up a project
  • Initiating a project
  • Directing a project
  • Controlling a stage
  • Managing product delivery
  • Managing a stage boundary
  • Closing a project

2 Techniques

PRINCE2 does also provide guidance on a few techniques, but does not seek to incorporate every project management technique available.  Two of the main techniques discussed are:

  • Product Based Planning – which helps understand / manage the projects scope / deliverables
  • Quality Review Technique – which is a method for signing-off documents, but can be used for other things too


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