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The project-management methodology PRINCE2 (an acronym for Projects In Controlled Environments, version 2) encompasses quality management, control and organisation of a project with consistency and review to align with project objectives.[citation needed] PRINCE2 is a certification programme for practitioners in the methodology who are accredited, qualified through training. PRINCE2 emphases dividing projects into manageable and controllable stages. The current owner of PRINCE2, AXELOS, originated as a joint venture by the UK government and Capita, with 49% and 51% stakes respectively.[1]


PRINCE derives from an earlier method called PROMPT II (Project Resource Organisation Management Planning Techniques). In 1989 the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) adopted a version of PROMPT II as a UK Government standard for information systems (IT) project management. They gave it the name 'PRINCE', which originally stood for "PROMPT II IN the CCTA Environment". PRINCE was renamed in a Civil service competition as an acronym for "PRojects IN Controlled Environments". However, it soon became regularly applied outside the purely IT environment, both in UK government and in the private sector around the world.[2] PRINCE2 was released in 1996 as a generic project management method.[3] 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.[4] In the 2009 revision, the acronym was changed to mean 'PRojects IN a Controlled Environment'.

In July 2013, ownership of the rights to PRINCE2 was transferred from HM Cabinet Office to AXELOS Ltd, a joint venture between the Cabinet Office and Capita plc.

Since 2006, the method has been revised. It launched as "PRINCE2:2009 Refresh" in 2009. The name "PRINCE2" (instead of "PRINCE3" or similar) remains 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 AXELOS Global Best Practice methods (ITIL, P3O, P3M3, MSP, M_o_R etc.).

PRINCE2 - Structure

PRINCE2 is part of a set of Best Practice products and is closely aligned with a sister product for the management of programmes

  1. 'Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2009 Edition',[5]
  2. 'Managing Successful Programmes' 1999, fourth edition in 2011.

Both the Foundation and Practitioner Examinations are based on the 2009 revision 'Managing Successful Projects' manual

Overview of the method[edit]

PRINCE2 is a process-driven project management methodology.[6] PRINCE2 is based on seven principles, seven themes and seven processes.

The seven principles are: Continued business justification, learn from experience, defined roles and responsibilities, manage by stages, manage by exception, focus on products and tailor to suit the project environment;

The seven themes are: business case, organization, quality, plans, risk, change and progress;

The principles and themes come into play in the seven processes:

Starting up a project (SU)[edit]

In this process the project team is appointed and a project brief is produced.

In addition the overall approach to be taken is decided and the next stage (initiation) of the project is planned. Once this work is done, the project board is asked to authorize that stage.

Key activities include: forming the project board; appointing an executive and a project manager; designing and appointing a project management team; preparing a project brief; defining the project approach; preparing an outline business case, consulting the Lessons Logs of previous projects; and planning the next stage (initiation).

Initiating a project (IP)[edit]

This process builds on the work of the start up process, and the project brief is used to prepare other management documents that will be needed during the project. For example, the approach taken to ensure quality throughout 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. The business case is completed. 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 Documentation.

Directing a project (DP)[edit]

This process dictates when the Project Board (which comprises such roles as the executive or sponsor) should control the overall project. As mentioned above, the project board must authorise the initiation stage and also authorize the project. Directing a Project also dictates how the project board should authorize a stage plan, including any exception 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 the 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 (CS)[edit]

PRINCE2 suggests that projects should be broken down into stages and this process dictates 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 packages; assessing progress; capturing and examining project issues; monitoring and controlling risks; reviewing stage status; reporting highlights; taking corrective action; escalating project issues; and receiving completed work packages.

Managing product delivery (MP)[edit]

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.[7] 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, timescales and quality,
  • 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.

Managing stage boundaries (SB)[edit]

Whereas 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.

Best practice includes the project board, including users, reviewing progress and approving any changes to the project plan at the boundary. This review can include team managers for valid experience based opinions; and the responsibility of the project manager includes presenting their area of work competently to the board.

Closing a project (CP)[edit]

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; preparing a benefits review plan and project evaluation review. The benefits review plan indicates a time when the benefits of the end product may be measured, how and what resources will be required.

Management products[edit]

PRINCE2 maintains several management products throughout the projects, which may be formal paper documents, word processor files, data in specialised PRINCE2 software, informal notes by managers, or even communicated orally. "Registers" are intended to be more formal than "logs". The following are examples of the PRINCE2 management products.

Project brief[edit]

A short explanation of the need for the project, the management team, the structure and goals.

Risk register[edit]

See also: Risk register

The risk register is a table which contains the risks that may threaten the goal of the project. Risks are categorized, named and assigned a risk number. Then, each risk gets a probability score and an impact score. The multiplication of these two results in the risk score. The risks are sorted on descending risk score in order to show the priority of a risk. Each risk is also assigned an owner, a precaution and a response-action in case the risk occurs.

Quality register[edit]

See also: Quality control

This register contains details of all planned quality activities, dates and personnel involved. It will be updated to show the current status of all quality checking activities. It shows whether the delivered products are complete, have met their quality criteria and the agreed processes have been observed.

Issues register[edit]

See also: Issue Log

A set of notes about change requests, problems, complaints and concerns sent by all project members.

Lessons log[edit]

A set of notes of lessons learned (often the hard way) which may be useful to future projects.

Daily log[edit]

A diary about the project written by the project manager, like a ship's log.

Core principles[edit]

Much of the methods above are derived from seven core principles:

Continued business justification[edit]

The business case is the most important document, and is updated at every stage of the project to ensure that the project is still viable. Early termination can occur if this ceases to be the case. At lower levels, use of time and resources should be justified, such as the need to have expensive meetings. (e.g. it is good practice to begin each meeting with a sentence about what its goal is—and if such a statement is hard to find then the meeting may not be necessary.)

Manage by exception[edit]

Regular meetings, especially the dreaded "weekly team meetings" are considered inefficient and unnecessary. Instead, work packages are assigned by team managers to team members including deliverables with time and quality tolerances. If work progresses smoothly then the workers have no need to interfere with the team manager's time. Only if something deviated from the plan is communication and management required from them. Some team managers may request short status updates such as weekly emails or informal chats, to monitor for any exceptions, but no formal management is required unless an exception occurs.

Learn from experience[edit]

Each project maintains a lessons log and projects should continually refer to their own and to previous and concurrent projects' lesson logs to avoid reinventing wheels.

Defined roles and responsibilities[edit]

Roles are separated from individuals, who may take on multiple roles or share a role. By naming and defining roles in the PRINCE2 standard it becomes clear exactly who has what responsibility and decision making powers, avoiding arguments. Roles in PRINCE2 are structured in four levels (corporate or programme management, project board, project manager level and team level). The project manager level includes the project manager but can also include some optional roles like the project assurance authority.

Manage by stages[edit]

The project is planned and controlled on a stage by stage basis. This includes updating the business case, risks, overall plan, and detailed next-stage plan after each stage in the light of new evidence.

Focus on products[edit]

Each work package is defined by one or more deliverable products, preferably with tolerances to time, cost, scope and quality quantified in advance. Even management activities such as stage planning are defined by their final output, such as a physical report containing the new stage plan. This allows all parties to clearly specify what is required, and to allocate responsibility for delivering and controlling it.


PRINCE2 should not be applied blindly in a dogmatic, bureaucratic form. (This would lead to wasted time on paperwork and create false senses of security). Rather it is defined to be a method in need of tailoring to specific projects. Typical adjustments include the replacement of deliverable reports and project documents by informal (verbal or email) equivalents, alterations to the structures of the project board and management team to reflect the goals of the project (e.g. replace majority board voting by sole executive decisions in cases where the project's goal is to serve only the executive's interest rather than users or suppliers); assignment of multiple roles to individuals on smaller projects; and increased emphasis on stage replanning for research-intensive projects which may need to change directions as new findings are delivered. A typical criticism of PRINCE2 is that the deliverable structure can lead to focus on producing deliverables for their own sake, to "tick the boxes" rather than do more useful work. If this is occurring, it demonstrates a failure of management to apply PRINCE2 and tailoring correctly.

Integration with other techniques[edit]

PRINCE2 describes only high-level aspects of project management and leaves the choice of management tools and frameworks within its tasks to the task managers. It specifically mentions the following:

and in passing mentions as possible tools,

PRINCE2 can also be used to manage projects that use agile software development methods.[8]

Quality review technique[edit]

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 Chair, Presenter, Reviewer(s) and Scribe.


PRINCE2 certifications requires passing the requisite examinations.[9]

PRINCE2 Foundation[edit]

The PRINCE2 Foundation certification confirms the holder has sufficient knowledge and understanding of the PRINCE2 method to be able to work in a project management team working with this method.


  • Prerequisites: none
  • Format: multiple choice, 70 questions, 50% marks required to pass, closed book.

PRINCE2 Practitioner[edit]

The PRINCE2 Practitioner certification confirms the holder has achieved sufficient understanding of how to apply PRINCE2 in a scenario situation. He or she will, with suitable direction, be able to start applying the method to a real project.


  • Prerequisites: PRINCE2 Foundation or one of the PMI or IPMA certifications (PRINCE2 Foundation, CAPM, PMP, IPMA Level D®, IPMA Level C®, IPMA Level B®, IPMA Level A®.)
  • Format: objective testing, 8 questions X 10 items, 55% marks required to pass, open book: official PRINCE2 manual

PRINCE2 Professional[edit]

The PRINCE2 Professional qualification confirms the holder is able to manage a non-complex PRINCE2 project across all aspects of the project lifecycle.


  • Prerequisites: PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Format: 2 ½ days in residential Assessment Centre. Group activities and exercises based on a fictional project case study. No written examination.

PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner[edit]

The PRINCE2 Agile qualification confirms the holder is able to apply the project management principles of PRINCE2 whilst combining agile concepts such as Scrum and Kanban.


  • Prerequisites: PRINCE2 Practitioner
  • Format: Objective testing, 50 questions, 60% of marks required to pass, duration 150 minutes, open book: official PRINCE2 Agile guide.

Examinations and training[edit]

Two ways:

  1. Study privately and then book the exam without a training course via one of the PRINCE2 Examination Institutes (Acquiros, APMG, BCS, EXIN, PEOPLECERT)
  2. Sit the exams at the end of a training course with an Accredited Training Organization (ATO) or Accredited Trainer


The APM Group publishes a successful candidate register which can be searched on the web.[10] The register records the details of candidates who have sat PRINCE2 examinations.


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 which assesses their professional knowledge and training capability) every 12 months.[11]


Qualified PRINCE2 Practitioners who go on to study for the APMP qualification of the Association for Project Management (APM) are exempt from certain topics of the syllabus that are covered in the PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification.[12]


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.[13]


PRINCE2, as a method and a certification, is adopted in many countries worldwide, including the UK, western European countries, and Australia.[14]

Advantages and pitfalls[edit]

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. 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, AXELOS claims that the methodology is scalable and can be tailored to suit the specific requirements and constraints of the project and the environment.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reid, Amy (2013-07-30). "Capita acquires majority stake in ITIL and PRINCE2". Association for project management. International project management association. Retrieved 2016-02-22. AXELOS has been revealed as the name of the new joint venture between Capita and the Cabinet Office set up to manage the best management practice training tools and accreditations, including PRINCE2®, and ITIL®. [...] Capita and the Cabinet Office have established a 51:49 per cent stake in the new organisation that will own the intellectual property (IP) of this portfolio of products [...] 
  2. ^ OGC - PRINCE2 - News
  3. ^ "OGC brings its shining quartet back into the limelight" (Press release). Office of Government Commerce. 2005-12-14. 
  4. ^ Official PRINCE2 website
  5. ^ OGC (Office of Government Commerce) (2009). Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 (2009 ed.). TSO (The Stationery Office). ISBN 978-0-11-331059-3. 
  6. ^ About PRINCE2
  7. ^ PRINCE2 manual
  8. ^ "PRINCE2® Agile". Axelos. Retrieved 6 March 2015. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ - PRINCE2 successful candidate register
  11. ^ - PRINCE2 accreditation scheme
  12. ^ - APMP for PRINCE2 Practitioners
  13. ^ PRINCE2 Maturity Model
  14. ^ PRINCE2® - PRojects IN Controlled Environments - Consulting Organisations List
  15. ^ OGC Best Management Practice - PRINCE2

External links[edit]