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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, from start to finish. This means every project starts with a thorough project plan, each stage of the project is clearly structured, and any loose ends are tied up after the project is complete. But what is PRINCE2 Project Management in practice? Keep reading for details on the underlying principles and 7-step process of this popular project management approach.

The 7 Principles of PRINCE2 Project Management

The PRINCE2 method is built on these 7 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, so that everyone knows exactly who’s responsible for what.
  4. Work is planned in stages. Large projects are broken up into phases, with time in between to review and 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 then 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, tailoring the amount of oversight and planning to fit the scope, number of people involved, and so on.

The 7 Phases of PRINCE2 Project Management

The PRINCE2 process follows these 7 phases:

  • Start-Up. A request for a new project is submitted in the form of a project mandate, which defines the business justification for the proposed project. If approved, a more detailed project brief covering resources, deliverables, etc. will be created.
  • Directing. The project board reviews project briefs for approval and determines what would be required to execute the project.
  • Initiation. The project manager is appointed and created a comprehensive project plan, including baselines for time, cost, quality, scope, risk, and benefits. Once the project board approves, work begins.
  • Controlling. The project manager breaks the project down into smaller “work packages” and assigns them to the project team to complete.
  • Managing Product Delivery. The project manager ensures the project is progressing as planned and that deliverables meet expectations. The project board then evaluates completed work packages to either approve or request additional work.
  • Managing Stage Boundaries. The project board reviews at the end of each stage and decides whether to continue to the next stage, or abandon the project. Project managers conduct a retrospective with their team to record lessons learned and improve processes for the next work stage.
  • 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.