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What Is PRINCE2 Project Management?

PRINCE2, or PRojects In Controlled Environments, is a popular project management methodology used in over 150 countries. It’s a process-based approach that focuses on organization and control throughout the entire project. Every project starts with a thorough project plan, each stage of the project is structured, and any loose ends are tied up after the project is complete. But what is PRINCE2 project management in practice? Keep reading for the underlying principles and seven-step process of this approach.

The seven principles of PRINCE2 project management

The PRINCE2 method is built on seven key principles:

  1. Projects must have business justification, including a clear need, defined customer, realistic benefits, and detailed cost assessment.
  2. Continuous learning is essential. Lessons are sought and recorded at every step in the process and used to improve future work.
  3. Roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, and everyone knows who is responsible for what.
  4. Work is planned in stages. Large projects are broken up into phases, with time in between to reflect on lessons learned and ensure the project is still on track to meet its goals.
  5. Project boards establish baseline requirements for essentials like deadlines, cost, risk, and scope and delegate day-to-day management responsibilities to a project manager.
  6. Teams use a quality register to check deliverables against requirements.
  7. The PRINCE2 method should be adjusted to suit the specifics of each project. The amount of oversight and planning can be tailored to fit the scope, the number of people involved, etc.

The 7 phases of PRINCE2 project management

The PRINCE2 process follows these seven phases:

  1. Start-up: A new project request is submitted in the form of a project mandate, which defines the proposed project’s business justification. If approved, a more detailed project brief covering resources, deliverables, etc. will be created.
  2. Directing: The project board reviews project briefs for approval and determines what is required to execute the project.
  3. Initiation: The project manager is appointed and creates a comprehensive project plan, including baselines for time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits. Work begins once the project board approves the plan.
  4. Controlling: The project manager breaks the project down into smaller “work packages” and assigns them to the project team to complete.
  5. Managing product delivery: The project manager ensures the project progresses as planned and that deliverables meet expectations. The project board evaluates completed work packages to either approve or request additional work.
  6. Managing stage boundaries: At the end of each stage, the project board holds a review to decide whether to continue to the next phase or abandon the project. Project managers conduct a retrospective with their team to record the lessons learned and improve processes for the following work stage.
  7. Closing: Once the project is complete, the project manager completes any necessary documentation, outcomes, and reporting.

Curious about other popular project management methodologies?

To learn more about PRINCE2 and other common project management methodologies, download our free guide: The Beginner’s Guide to Project Management Methodologies.