What is PRINCE2?


PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. It is a project management methodology sponsored by the UK’s OGC (Office of Government and Commerce) and supported by the APM Group (APMG). 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 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 APMG qualification course offerings. The most recent refresh was in 2009.

Whilst PRINCE2 is the de-facto standard for project management in the UK, 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 the APMG.

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 not offer lots of different techniques. This is partly because it would take too long to cover every subject (not possible in a week long course!), and because there are already many good techniques and guides available for these subject. The 2 techniques that are included in PRINCE2 are:

  • Product Based Planning
  • Quality Review Technique


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