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.
Overview of the method
The above diagram shows PRINCE2 processes. The arrows represent flows of information.
PRINCE2 is a process-driven project management method which contrasts with reactive/adaptive methods such as Scrum.
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 (SU)
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 (IP)
This process builds on the work of the startup 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 (DP)
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 (CS)
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 (SB)
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 (MP)
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 (CP)
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.