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PRINCE2 (an acronym for projects in controlled environments, version 2) is a project management methodology. It was developed by the UK government agency Office of Government Commerce (OGC) and is used extensively within the UK government as the de facto project management standard for its public projects. The methodology encompasses the management, control and organisation of a project. PRINCE2 is also used to refer to the training and accreditation of authorised practitioners of the methodology who must undertake accredited qualifications to obtain certification.
PRINCE2 is derived from an earlier method called PROMPTII and from PRINCE project management method, which was initially developed in 1989 by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) as a UK Government standard for information systems (IT) project management. PRINCE is an acronym for Projects In a Controlled Environment. However, it soon became regularly applied outside the purely IT environment. PRINCE2 was released in 1996 as a generic project management method. PRINCE2 has become increasingly popular and is now a de facto standard for project management in many UK government departments and across the United Nations system.
Since 2006, the method has been revised and launched as "PRINCE2:2009 Refresh" in 2009. The name "PRINCE2" (instead of "PRINCE3" or similar) is kept to indicate that the method remains faithful to its principles. Nevertheless, it is a fundamental revision of the method from 1996 to adapt it to the changed business environment, to make the method simpler and lighter, to address current weaknesses or misunderstandings, and to better integrate it with other OGC methods (ITIL, P3O, P3M3, MSP, M_o_R etc.).
The main difference between the 2009 version and earlier versions is that there are two manuals: 'Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2009 Edition', and 'Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2009 Edition'. Both the Foundation and Practitioner Examinations will be based on the new 'Managing Projects' manual and will not include material from the new 'Directing Successful Projects' book.
Overview of the method 
PRINCE2 is based on seven principles (continued business justification, learn from experience, defined roles and responsibilities, manage by stages, manage by exception, focus on products and tailored to suit the project environment), seven themes (business case, organization, quality, plans, risk, change and progress) and seven processes. The principles and themes come into play in the seven processes:
Starting up a project (S.P) 
In this process the project team is appointed and a project brief (describing, in outline, what the project is attempting to achieve and the business justification for doing so) is prepared. In addition the overall approach to be taken is decided and the next stage of the project is planned. Once this work is done, the project board is asked to authorize the next stage, that of initiating the project.
Key activities include: Forming project board; appointing an executive and a project manager; designing and appointing a project management team; preparing a project brief; defining the project approach; and planning the next stage (initiation).
Initiating a project (I.P) 
This process builds on the work of the start up process, and the project brief is augmented to form a Business case. The approach taken to ensure quality on the project is agreed together with the overall approach to controlling the project itself (project controls). Project files are also created as is an overall plan for the project. A plan for the next stage of the project is also created. The resultant information can be put before the project board for them to authorize the project itself.
Key activities include: planning quality; planning a project; refining the business case and risks; setting up project controls; setting up project files; and assembling a Project Initiation Document.
Directing a project (D.P) 
This process dictates how the Project Board (which comprises such roles as the executive sponsor or project sponsor) should control the overall project. As mentioned above, the project board can authorise an initiation stage and can also authorize a project. Directing a Project also dictates how the project board should authorize a stage plan, including any stage plan that replaces an existing stage plan due to slippage or other unforeseen circumstances. Also covered is the way in which the board can give ad hoc direction to a project and the way in which a project should be closed down.
Key activities include: authorising initiation; authorising a project; authorising a stage or exception plan; giving ad-hoc direction; and confirming project closure.
Controlling a stage 
PRINCE2 suggests that projects should be broken down into stages and these sub-processes dictate how each individual stage should be controlled. Most fundamentally this includes the way in which work packages are authorised and received. It also specifies the way in which progress should be monitored and how the highlights of the progress should be reported to the project board. A means for capturing and assessing project issues is suggested together with the way in which corrective action should be taken. It also lays down the method by which certain project issues should be escalated to the project board.
Key activities include: authorising work package; assessing progress; capturing and examining project issues; reviewing stage status; reporting highlights; taking corrective action; escalating project issues; and receiving a completed work package.
Managing stage boundaries 
The Controlling a Stage process dictates what should be done within a stage, Managing Stage Boundaries (SB) dictates what should be done towards the end of a stage. Most obviously, the next stage should be planned and the overall project plan, risk register and business case amended as necessary. The process also covers what should be done for a stage that has gone outside its tolerance levels. Finally, the process dictates how the end of the stage should be reported.
Key activities include: planning a stage; updating a project plan; updating a project business case; updating the risk register; reporting stage end; and producing an exception plan.
Managing product delivery 
The Managing product delivery process has the purpose of controlling the link between the Project Manager and the Team Manager(s) by placing formal requirements on accepting, executing and delivering project work. The Objectives of the Managing Product Delivery process are:
- To ensure that work on products allocated to the team is authorised and agreed,
- Team Manager(s), team members and suppliers are clear as to what is to be produced and what is the expected effort, cost and timescales,
- The planned products are delivered to expectations and within tolerance,
- Accurate progress information is provided to the Project Manager at an agreed frequency to ensure that expectations are managed.
The key activities are: Accept a work package, execute a work package and deliver a work package.
Closing a project 
This covers the things that should be done at the end of a project. The project should be formally de-commissioned (and resources freed up for allocation to other activities), follow on actions should be identified and the project itself be formally evaluated.
Key activities include: decommissioning a project; identifying follow-on actions; and project evaluation review.
The PRINCE2 method works with most project management techniques but specifically describes the following:
Quality Review Technique 
The quality review technique ensures a project's products are of the required standard (i.e. meet defined quality criteria). This takes place in a quality review meeting, which identifies errors in the product. The quality review meeting will not attempt to solve the problems it identifies. The meeting brings together people who have an interest in the project's outputs (or products) and people on the project team able to address issues identified.
There are defined roles including a Producer and Scribe.
More about Quality Assurance.
Exams, accreditation and training 
Accreditation is governed by the passing of two exams – the Foundation and the Practitioner. The Foundation exam is a one-hour, single choice exam. The Practitioner exam lasts for 2.5 hours, and was initially an objective-testing essay-based exam, but currently a paper based multiple choice style test, this was changed to allow consistent marks and speed up marking as a multiple choice test can be computer read and scored, whereas an essay based paper had to be individually graded by an examiner. The Practitioner exam consists of classical multiple choice (one answer per question), Two from Five type multiple choice (where both correct answers are needed to get the questions mark) questions where the correct sequence has to be determined/answered, and true/false assertion tests where there is a assertion and a reason given, the two statements than need to be evaluated to be true or false, and if both are true does the reason support the assertion. The need to supply the project scenario as a booklet (usually 10+ pages) means it is difficult to fully move to a computer based system at this time. Around the world, exams are administered by the APM Group. The successful candidate register can be searched on the web.
It is possible for individuals with project management experience to self-study for the exams but a number of training organisations offer courses, many of which also include exam entry in the fee. There is a mandatory accreditation scheme for training providers, run by the APM Group, which provides them with access to the official PRINCE2 examinations.
PRINCE2 Practitioners must retake the Practitioner exam every 5 years to remain accredited. This re-registration comprises a 1-hour examination set at the same standard as the Practitioner examination. Trainers must be re-accredited every 3 years and undergo a surveillance check (either in the form of a visit by an assessor to a training course or a telephone interview of their professional knowledge by an assessor) every 12 months.
Qualified PRINCE2 Practitioners who go on to study for the APMP qualification are exempt from certain topics of the syllabus that are covered in the PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification.
On 19 January 2012, the APM Group announced a new qualification called PRINCE2 Professional would be available from 30 January 2012. This will be based on a two and a half day assessment centre. The APM Group state that this qualification will assess competence at applying the PRINCE2 methodology, in contrast to Foundation and Practitioner, which test knowledge of the methodology.
Project management is a complex discipline and it would be wrong to assume that blind application of PRINCE2 will result in a successful project. By the same token, it would be wrong to assume that every aspect of PRINCE2 will be applicable to every project. For this reason every process has a note on scalability. This provides guidance to the project manager (and others involved in the project) as to how much of the process to apply. The positive aspect of this is that PRINCE2 can be tailored to the needs of a particular project. The negative aspect is that many of the essential elements of PRINCE2 can be omitted sometimes resulting in a PINO project – Prince in Name Only. In order to counter this, APM Group have defined the concept of a PRINCE2 Maturity Model.
PRINCE2, as a method and a certification, is adopted in many countries worldwide, including the UK, Western Europe and Australia. The PMI and its certification, the PMP, is popular in the UK, USA and the rest of the world. PMI Annual Report | Project Management Institute</ref> although as pointed out by the PRINCE2 official website, these two methodologies can complement each other.
Advantages and pitfalls 
PRINCE2 is a structured approach to project management. It provides a method for managing projects within a clearly defined framework. PRINCE2 describes procedures to coordinate people and activities in a project, how to design and supervise the project, and what to do if the project has to be adjusted if it doesn’t develop as planned. In the method each process is specified with its key inputs and outputs and with specific goals and activities to be carried out, which gives an automatic control of any deviations from the plan.
Divided into manageable stages, the method enables an efficient control of resources. On the basis of close monitoring the project can be carried out in a controlled and organised way. Being a structured method widely recognised and understood, PRINCE2 provides a common language for all participants in the project. The various management roles and responsibilities involved in a project are fully described and are adaptable to suit the complexity of the project and skills of the organisation.
PRINCE2 is sometimes considered inappropriate for small projects or where requirements are expected to change, due to the work required in creating and maintaining documents, logs and lists. However, the OGC claim that the methodology is scalable and can be tailored to suit the specific requirements and constraints of the project and the environment.
See also 
- Comparison of project-management software
- Gantt chart
- List of project management topics
- Other certifications:
- PRiSM Projects integrating Sustainable Methods
- OGC - PRINCE2 - News
- "OGC brings its shining quartet back into the limelight" (Press release). Office of Government Commerce. 2005-12-14.
- APM Group - Official PRINCE2 website
- OGC (Office of Government Commerce) (2009). Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 (2009 ed.). TSO (The Stationery Office). ISBN 978-0-11-331059-3.
- "Managing and Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2" (Press release). June 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-05.
- About PRINCE2
- OGC Prince2 manual
- APM Group - Successful Candidate Register
- PRINCE2 Re-Registration Examination
- APM Group - PRINCE2 Accreditation Scheme (accessed 7 August 2010)
- Association for Project Management : APMP
- PRINCE2 Professional announcement press release
- PRINCE2 Maturity Model
- PRINCE2® - PRojects IN Controlled Environments - Consulting Organisations List
- PRINCE2® - PRojects IN Controlled Environments - PRINCE2 in Comparison - PRINCE2 Advantages
- OGC Best Management Practice - PRINCE2
- The official PRINCE2 website
- The APMG-International PRINCE2 page
- The Best Practice User Group (BPUG)
- Guidelines for Managing Projects (fully consistent with PRINCE2) from the UK Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR)
- Book: Introduction to PRINCE2