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Our complete guide to the Prince2 methodology 12 min read
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The most thrilling thing about writing this article was discovering there was, in fact, a Prince1. Except it wasn’t called Prince1, it was just titled Prince.

Which makes this methodology, the methodology formally known as Prince.

I know, I know. You couldn’t make it up.

Anyhoo — delightful trivia aside — what makes the Prince2 methodology the go-to way of managing projects for 1,000s of organizations?

In this article, we’ll go through all things Prince2, including the 7 principles the methodology is based on, its key benefits, and how you can apply it in your organization.

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What exactly is Prince 2?

Prince2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2. It offers a clear framework for managing successful projects throughout the project life cycle.

The Prince2 method is based on 7 principles, 7 themes, and 7 processes. The principles are the “why”, the themes are the “what”, and the processes are the “how”.

image showing the Prince2 ecosystem of processes, themes, and principles

(Image Source)

7 benefits of the Prince2 methodology are:

  • Flexibility: while the framework provides a helpful structure, it’s highly adaptable and can be used for any type or scale of project.
  • Common language: there are 1 million certified Prince2 practitioners worldwide in many different industries. The shared understanding of the methodology enables work to get done efficiently, with less onboarding required.
  • Clarity: in the Prince2 methodology, roles and responsibilities are defined at the start of the project which helps with clarity and ownership.
  • Risk Management: using the Prince2 methodology, risks are assessed and monitored throughout the life cycle.
  • Designated autonomy: within the framework, responsibility is designated down to the people delivering the output, which speeds up the decision-making process.
  • Stakeholder representation: stakeholders are involved throughout the project, and become invested in its success.
  • Based on real-life: Prince2 is not just a theory, it’s a best-practice framework refined through real-life experiences.

84% of Prince2 practitioners also said that Prince2 certification helped them in their careers.

In case you’re interested in a Prince2 qualification, the training starts with the Prince2 foundation course and foundation exam.

Further Prince2 training can lead to the Prince2 practitioner examination and practitioner certification.

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7 core principles of Prince2

There are 7 key principles that guide and define a Prince2 project.

1. Have a sustained business justification

A business case is created at the beginning of the project and should be a living document, referenced throughout the project to check it’s still aligned with wider organizational goals.

screenshot of how to monitor business justification using project proposal template

2. Learn from experience

The whole Prince2 methodology is based on actual practitioner experience, not some academic project management hypothetical. This filters down to how it’s used day-to-day, too.

Prince2 project teams should be continually learning lessons from previous work in order to deliver a successful project.

3. Maintain clear roles and responsibilities

Prince2 project management teams have a clear organizational structure, and team members’ skills are matched to the tasks they’re asked to do.

There are 3 main roles within the Prince2 methodology:

  • Project board: the project board has representation from senior business executives, product end-users, and suppliers. They’re accountable for project success and responsible for the overall project planning and governance. They approve each stage and authorize work to begin on the next one.
  • Project manager: the project manager is responsible for the day-to-day management of the project team and task delivery. The project board devolves authority to the project manager for all administrative decision-making.
  • Project team: the project team is responsible for the delivery of work. They may also have specialist roles such as project support or quality assurance.

4. Manage by stages

Challenging project work is tackled more easily when it’s broken down into smaller chunks. This is also helpful at the planning stage as it’s easier — and more accurate — to estimate smaller task durations and costs than a whole project.

Using a work breakdown structure (WBS) can be really helpful for planning, monitoring, and controlling work, stage by stage.

screenshot of a WBS in showing individual tasks, their status, cost, and expected timeline for delivery

5. Manage by exception

While the project board has overall responsibility for the project, the day-to-day running of the team is left to the project manager.

The project manager should have the right level of authority and influence to deliver the tasks and to take action if they notice issues in the project.

Only if an issue arises that could significantly impact the project — or affect the wider organization — should the project board get involved.

6. Focus on the product

The key focus in Prince2 projects is the product. The product is clearly defined at the outset, as are delivery and quality standards.

The team’s work activity is planned to deliver against those requirements, not the other way around.

As everyone’s effort is in service of the product goal, it’s important that, from the outset, all members of the project team are crystal clear on what’s being delivered, and the standard of output needed.

7. Tailor to the environment

While Prince2 projects are defined by the 7 principles, themes, and processes, these are not meant to feel rigid, or be applied without consideration for the project’s unique requirements.

They should be tailored depending on the project’s size, risk level, importance to the business, complexity, etc.

This makes the Prince2 methodology suitable for many different project types across multiple industries.

Use case: Agile projects

The classic Prince2 use case is large, high-risk, complex projects that benefit from the staged approach to resource release. It’s the de-facto project management methodology of the UK government, and widely used in the construction and IT industries.

At first glance, the structured approach of Prince2 seems perfectly suited for the Waterfall environment. However, recent updates have emphasized the scalability and flexibility of Prince2.

While the Prince2 methodology defines how the project is governed, it doesn’t specify the delivery approach.

Which means it can definitely handle agile project management methods. In 2013, Prince2 Agile certification was introduced.

A number of the Prince2 principles are actually aligned with the Agile manifesto, such as continuous learning, focusing on the product, managing work in smaller stages — “sprints” in Agile terminology — and trusting team members to get tasks done without micro-management.

For example, the NGO eHealth Africa used the Prince2 Agile methodology to deliver a project to improve its delivery capability.

The project was delivered in a couple of 4-week “sprints” and resulted in the improved turnaround of project life cycles and delivered cost savings through the application of lessons learned.

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The 7 themes of Prince2

Along with the 7 principles, there are also 7 themes. These themes are the “what” of Prince2 and give the core structure to how the project should be managed day-to-day.

1. Business Case

You’re probably pretty clear on the purpose of the business case by now. It should state the reason for the project and how it’s expected to contribute to the wider goals of the business.

If the business strategy, or project environment, changes during the project life cycle, the business case will need to be reviewed.

Using, the business case and continued project justification can be outlined in our project proposal template.

2. Organization

There aren’t many projects where being disorganized is a beneficial trait, and Prince2 projects are no different.

In the Prince2 methodology, the organization theme is focused on ensuring roles are clearly defined, so everyone knows what they’re responsible for, maximizing efficiency.

The Work OS is stellar for all things organization.

Stakeholder analysis can help identify appropriate representation for the project board, whereas our resource allocation tracker makes sure everyone’s doing the right tasks at the right time.

screenshot of resource allocation made easy using

3. Quality

This theme is very much about having a shared definition of quality. Everyone should be aware at the outset of the quality requirements and standards expected, and how those will be measured. is excellent for creating a shared understanding of pretty much anything. Team members can collaborate in-platform, tag other users, and share and review files.

screenshot showing team members collaborating in-platform using

Plus, with in-document tracking, you’ll always be able to see what was originally agreed and who signed up for it.

4. Plans

No surprises for guessing what this theme involves. This part of the methodology gets into the nitty-gritty of putting an effective project plan together.

As well as being clear on the roles, organization and quality standards, the project planning phase will scope the key deliverables, planned project duration, and expected project cost.

5. Risk

This theme is all about the identification, assessment, and management of risk during the project.

In Prince2, risks can be assessed as both negative — called “threats” — and positive — called “opportunities”.

All risks that are identified are recorded in a risk log, along with the likelihood and impact of them occurring.

screenshot of the program risk register template in

By now, it’s not going to shock you to learn we’ve got a template for just that purpose.

6. Change

It’s uncommon (read: unicorn territory) for a project to progress without any changes.

This theme isn’t about preventing changes from happening during the project life cycle but more about managing them effectively.

All changes — and their impact on the project cost and timeline — should be agreed upon and signed-off by the project board. This means change can be handled as efficiently as possible, with good communication and effective resource allocation.

Change request forms are useful to record all the details about the change, including what was requested, what action will be taken, and who the change was signed off by.

7. Progress

This theme is all about tracking the progress of the project. Not following any of the other 6 themes might derail your project, but not paying attention to this one means you won’t even know that disaster is coming, until the iceberg hits.

The 7 processes to effectively run a Prince2 project

Notice a theme here? Like the other 2 elements, there are also 7 processes for effectively running a Prince2 project. Maybe they thought it was lucky?

Here’s a quick look at each of them.

1. Starting up a project

At this stage, a project mandate is submitted, giving high-level details about the project, which should include the business justification and expected output.

2. Initiating a project

At project initiation, the business case should be submitted and agreed. The project board is established, and resources are secured for the initial stage.

Planning for the first stage takes place, and baseline metrics for time and cost are established. This information is recorded in the Project Initiation Document (PID).

3. Directing a project

This process runs throughout the project life cycle and references how the project board monitors and controls the project.

There are decision points during the project where the project board agrees the next step forward: at initiation, at stage boundaries, and at project closure, where they must assure the project outcome has been reached.

4. Controlling a stage

Management and control of each stage make up the main effort of the project manager role. Throughout each stage, they need to authorize work, review and report on progress, and take any corrective action required to keep the project on track.

Pro tip: makes this kind of reporting easy. We’ve got 8 different ways to visualize your data so it’s easy to track your project’s progress against what was expected at each stage.

screenshot of the timeline view in - one of 8 ways to present data

This helps with the early identification of any risks and issues so effective mitigating action can be taken.

5. Managing product delivery

This stage is about ensuring work is authorized, completed, and approved. Part of the approval process will be ensuring the products delivered meet the expected quality standards.

6. Managing stage boundaries

Successfully managing stage boundaries is a joint effort between the project manager and the project board.

The project manager needs to provide the board with evidence of the completion of the expected stage deliverables and any information required to assure the board of the project’s continued justification.

The project board needs to review the information and decide whether to authorize stage completion and initiation of the next stage. Stage boundaries are also an important opportunity to gather feedback on the stage and take those lessons into the next stage.

7. Closing a project

This Prince2 process is about delivering a controlled end to the project.

All deliverables must be signed-off and accepted by the business or customer. Any lessons learned from the project should be captured in a lesson learned report, and an end-of-project report should be prepared.

How do the processes fit together?

For all you visual learners out there, this diagram summarizes how all the different processes fit together over the life of the project.

image showing how the 7 Prince2 processes interact together over the course of the project lifecycle

(Image Source)

Prince2 balances structure and flexibility

In this article, we’ve explored all things Prince2.

Its 7 principles, themes, and processes bring structure and clarity to project delivery, but the biggest benefit is its flexibility, which makes it suitable for several different project environments.

As the world’s most adopted project management method, Prince2 has obviously got something good going on. Why not use our project proposal template to tick off the Business Case theme today?

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