PRINCE2, as we all know, is a standard project management method widely used in the UK, and increasingly being used internationally. PRINCE is a registered trademark but is available in the public domain. PRINCE stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments and is a project management method that helps reduce the risk of failure and increase the chances of success.
A bit from history
The earliest version of PRINCE is PROMPT, created by Simpact for IBM in 1975. Then PROMPT2 was adopted for government information systems projects in 1979. PROMPT2 was developed into PRINCE in 1989 to be applied to all government information systems.
PRINCE2 was released in October 1996 as a generic method suitable for all projects and it was last updated in 2009 and is now used and examined worldwide by an organization known as Accrediting Professional Managers Globally (APMG).
What PRINCE2 is
PRINCE2 defines a best practice approach based on practical experience and research in project management and it enables standardization of approach and terminology for project managers, team members, customers, suppliers, and contractors. PRINCE2 also provides a basis for improvement within an industry sector, organization or in general.
PRINCE2 focuses on the Business Case for the project and does so right throughout the project. The business case is the checkpoint based on which evaluation happens, right from the time of justifying the need for a project to validating the requirements, the design and the developed solution against these needs. PRINCE2 ensures a solid foundation through a thorough initiation to the project and helps divide the project into manageable and controllable stages using product-based planning.
PRINCE2 defines a well-oiled project organization structure for project management including executives from the client organization, senior users from the user community and senior suppliers from the vendor organizations forming the project board under which project managers, team managers, project assurance teams, project support teams, change control teams and team members collaborate and coordinate. This structure thus defines the reporting structure and authority levels of each individual in the project.
PRINCE2 projects are based on control mechanisms defined to ensure quality and to manage changes to products and plans. PRINCE2 is road map to project success & also a scalable and adaptable approach to different project circumstances through a comprehensive process model.
What PRINCE2 does not describe
As explained previously, PRINCE2 is a project management approach. It defines the activities that a project manager needs to perform during different stages of a project and the deliverables that they need to produce in controlling, managing and delivering the project. Hence, PRINCE2 does not describe the actual work to be carried out during different stages of the project, nor does it define the tools and techniques to be used in performing these tasks.
For example, PRINCE2 just mentions the fact that project scope needs to be defined properly and a thorough estimation of effort needs to be done during the planning stage itself. The project manager just needs to ensure that he breaks down the product into manageable chunks of work and uses it as the basis to allocate resources, to estimate effort and to schedule resources. Hence, the Project Manager may decide to use feature-based work breakdown structures to decompose the project, 3-point estimation to estimate the effort required and the network diagramming method or the Gantt chart to schedule the work.
PRINCE2 does not require the project manager to perform a detailed risk analysis, nor does it mandate the project manager to perform risk management diligently. However, risk identification, planning, and control is embedded in PRINCE2 approach such that risks are managed every day and at every stage gate applied in the project.
PRINCE2 also does not mandate the requirement for an organization-wide Quality Management System (QMS). A quality management system will be the one-stop location in an organization that holds the end-to-end process of business analysis, solution design, development, testing and deployment and how project management ensures delivery of the project. Since PRINCE2 does not define HOW project activities should be done, the requirement for a QMS does not exist.
PRINCE2 also does not require detailed financial justification for a project using NPV, IRR, Payback analysis or any other technique, nor does it discuss tracking project progress through Earned Value Analysis. PRINCE2 just expects the project to be executed along the different stages that are defined and for the projects to constantly check whether it is delivering the intended value to the stakeholders.
PRINCE2, as we can see, is a project management method. It is applicable for the duration of the project from its initiation to the time it is deployed and delivered to the customer. PRINCE2 project manager’s scope does not include pre-project idea generation / pre-sales activities nor does it include post-project verification and maintenance or improvement activities. PRINCE2 thus provides a systematic approach for the project manager to better manage projects through to its completion.