Project Management using PRINCE2: 7 Principles

My expectation before starting to learn the PRINCE2 methodology was that this should only be used for big IT projects that would cost millions, running over a long duration with hundreds of stakeholders. However, that myth went out of the window after the first day of the course.

I didn’t know that you can apply PRINCE2 to any size and type of project as long as the seven principles are applied and you have a sufficient stakeholder / management team in place and in most cases that will be true. This set of seven principles that guide the project manager and the project team during the PRINCE2 project life cycle must be applied to every project if it’s to be called a PRINCE2 project:

  1. Business justification – A PRINCE2 project must at any time have continued business justification. If there is no business benefit, then why start a project in the first place?
  2. Learn from experience – Within a PRINCE2 project, time and lessons need to be created for the acquisition. If a similar project went over budget because of a ‘scope creep’ then what are the lessons learnt from that project to bear in mind for the new project?
  3. Roles and Responsibilities – A PRINCE2 project has defined and agreed roles and responsibilities with an organization structure that engages the business, user and supplier stakeholder interests. The project manager cannot sign-off on the project budget and this is the responsibility of the senior management team (executive role). In companies today, that is absolutely the scenario.
  4. Manage by Stages – A PRINCE2 project must be, for each stage, planned, monitored and controlled. PRINCE2 requires that there should be a minimum of two management stages and shorter stages offer more control while longer stages reduce the burden on senior management.
  5. Manage by exception – A PRINCE2 project has defined tolerances for each project objective as also established ground rules on delegated authority. This could be allowing the extra week for project completion or extra budget that’s pre-approved before going back to justify more.
  6. Focus on products – A PRINCE2 project must address proper definition and delivery of products and in particular its quality. Each product will have a Product Description defining the purpose, composition, derivation, format, quality criteria and quality method.
  7. Tailor to suit the environment – The PRINCE2 methodology should be tailored to suit the project’s size, environment, complexity, importance, capability and risks.

As you can see, these seven principles are logical and have been used in many ways in most of the projects that I’ve managed over the years (even if I wasn’t knowingly using PRINCE2). In the next post, I will be discussing PRINCE2 Themes and what’s involved in each one and how they can apply to the projects you’re working on today.

If you’re new to PRINCE2, how do you find applying this approach in your regular project management environment?

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  1. Pingback: What is Digital Project Management? | Osman Gani

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