An Overview of PRINCE2

All organisations both large and small need to change and move on in order to survive in the competitive business world. In order to continue successfully, an organisation must carry on with everyday business operations whilst also change and upgrade those operations to match the direction and strategies needed for the future. These changes are made by projects.

PRINCE2 is a scalable, flexible project management method that is suitable for use on any type of project. It has been derived from professional project managers' experiences and therefore refined over the years. PRINCE2 is now owned by the British Cabinet Office (Formerly OGC) and is available free of charge. Many professionals decide to take the PRINCE2 training course which gives individuals the knowledge they need to conduct a project using the PRINCE2 methodology.

PRINCE2 provides an organisation with the following;

  • A controlled management of change by the business in terms of its investment and return on investment
  • Active involvement of the users of the final product throughout its development to ensure the business product will meet the functional, environmental, service and management requirements of the users
  • More efficient control of development resources

A key approach to this method is that it firmly distinguishes management of the development processes from the techniques involved in the development process itself.

PRINCE2 believes that there are 5 characteristics of project work that make a project different to regular business operations;

  • Change
  • Uncertainty
  • Temporary
  • Unique
  • Cross-functional

If any project is to be successful there are 6 performance variables to control;

  • Control
  • Time
  • Quality
  • Scope
  • Benefits
  • Risk

During the PRINCE2 training course individuals are taught what is unique about the PRINCE2 methodology. The most unique concept of PRINCE2 are its key principles. The 7 key principles are interwoven into the methodology and themes to form a sound structure;

  • Continued business justification
  • Learn from experience
  • Defined roles and responsibilities
  • Manage by stages
  • Manage by exception
  • Focus on products
  • Tailor to suit the project environment

Moreover, there are 3 parts to the structure of the PRINCE2 method including; principles, themes and processes. PRINCE2 offers a set of processes that provide a controlled start, project and a controlled close to any project. These processes explain what should happen and when it should occur. The themes to PRINCE2 explain the philosophy behind the methodology about various project aspects and why they are needed along with how they can be used. This philosophy is implemented throughout the processes. PRINCE2 offers only a few techniques. The use of most of them is optional as many organisations may already have a technique which they prefer to use. Overall, PRINCE2 is a process based approach to project management.

The themes of PRINCE2 are;

  • The Business Case – Every project should be driven by a need by the business. If it has no justification in terms of the business then it should not be carried out. The project board should check the existence of a valid business case before the project begins and at every stage of the project.
  • The Organisation - PRINCE2 provides the structure of a project management team along with a definition of the roles, responsibilities and relationships of all staff involved in the project.
  • The Plans – PRINCE2 also offers a series of plan levels that can be tailored to the size and needs of a project along with an approach to planning based on the products rather than the activities
  • The Progress – PRINCE2 has a set of controls which facilitiate the provision of key decision making information allowing the organisation to predict any problems and find a resolution as soon as possible. For senior management PRINCE2 controls are based on the concept of ‘management by exception’. A project is split into stages as a way of defining the review and commitment points of a project in order to promote sound management control of risk and investment.
  • Risk – Risk is a major factor to be considered during the life of a project. PRINCE2 defines the key moments when risks should be reviewed, outlines an approach to the analysis and management of risk. It also tracks these through all processes.
  • The Quality – PRINCE2 recognises the importance of quality and incorporates a quality approach to the management and technical processes. It begins by establishing the customers’ quality expectations and follows these by laying down standards and quality inspection methods to be implemented.
  • Change – This theme covers all change control and configuration management.

Professionals and businesses alike choose the PRINCE2 method because due to its position as a generic framework rather than a specific set of instructions it can be tailored to any business at any time.


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