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How does PRINCE2 Work?

How does PRINCE2® work?

Published September 2021

PRINCE2 is a globally-popular project management methodology that can be used for projects in almost every environment.

You can gain a strong introduction about the origins and benefits of PRINCE2 in our article, “What is PRINCE2?”. In this article, we focus on the 4 key elements that make PRINCE2 work so well:

  • 7 Principles of PRINCE2
  • 7 Themes of PRINCE2
  • 7 Processes of PRINCE2
  • The Project Environment
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This guide includes all of the information in this article, plus: benefits and origins of PRINCE2 and your path to PRINCE2 certification.

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7 Principles: Why are we undertaking this project?

7 Principles of PRINCE2

“Why are we undertaking this project?”


The principles are the “why” of the project. These are the starting point for any project, as unless a project ticks all of the 7 principles or requirements below, it’s not a PRINCE2 project.

  • 1. Continued business justification:


    Is there a valid business purpose for running this project? Unless the answer is ‘yes’, it is not a justified PRINCE2 project.
  • 2. Defined roles and responsibilities:


    Does the project team have a clearly defined structure, with each member aware of their areas of responsibility?
  • 3. Learn from experience:


    Is the project team learning from previous project successes and failures? Are they applying this learning to ongoing work?
  • 4. Focus on products:


    Is the project keenly focused on the product, including both the quality and delivery requirements?
  • 5. Manage by stages:


    Will this project be broken down into manageable stages to enable continuous monitoring and review?
  • 6. Manage by exception:


    Are the project team members given enough scope to work effectively within the project?
  • 7. Tailor to the project environment:


    Has consideration been given to the unique requirements of the project and its business environment?
7 Themes: What must we do to run a successful PRINCE2 project?

7 Themes of PRINCE2

“What must we do to run a successful PRINCE2 project?”


Once you determine the “why” through the 7 Principles, your next step is to determine the best way to proceed.

The 7 themes focus on the “what” of a PRINCE2 project - “what must we do to run a successful PRINCE2 project?”.

The themes are like guiding lights as you work through the project, keeping you aligned with what you need to do at all times.

  • 1. Business Case:


    You will need to create and maintain a detailed business case for the project.
  • 2. Organisation:


    You must clearly define the roles and responsibilities within your PRINCE2 project team.
  • 3. Quality:


    Determine the quality requirements of your product or project, and set out your path to achieving them.
  • 4. Plans:


    Plan your project and decide what PRINCE2 techniques you will use to achieve success in your plans.
  • 5. Risk:


    Risk management is a crucial step in any project plan. You must work to identify any potential risks within your project and implement a contingency plan for avoiding or managing these risks.
  • 6. Change:


    Projects are ever-increasingly subject to change. Devising a strategy for responding to change is now just as important as your risk management strategy.
  • 7. Progress:


    This is closely linked to Business Case and Plans. You will need to continually refer to and review your plans, ensuring that the project is progressing well and remains a valid business project.
7 Processes: How will we manage this PRINCE2 project?

7 Processes of PRINCE2

“How will we manage this PRINCE2 project?”


The 7 Processes are perhaps the most crucial element of the framework, as they are the “how” of any PRINCE2 project.

The 7 Processes drive a project from start to finish. Once you look at the Principles and Themes, you’ll use the Processes to travel through the project and navigate each stage with ease.

The Processes outline what should be done, and when.

The 7 Processes are:

  1. Starting up a Project (SU)
  2. Initiating (IP)
  3. Directing (DP)
  4. Controlling a Stage (CS)
  5. Managing a Stage Boundary (SB)
  6. Managing Product Delivery (MP)
  7. Closing a Project (CP)

The Project Environment

The Project Environment is the fourth element of PRINCE2. All other elements (Principles, Themes, and Processes) take place within the project environment.

Tailoring is a key characteristic of the PRINCE2 methodology, and with each project the approach is customised to fit the project environment.

Project Environment

Getting Started with PRINCE2

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If you would like to learn how to apply a PRINCE2 approach to your projects, getting trained and certified is the right option.

Our 5-day PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner Course will give you a comprehensive introduction to PRINCE2 principles, themes, processes, and cover tailoring for the project environment.

This live, online course is delivered in real-time by PRINCE2 experts. It includes both Foundation and Practitioner exams and certification.

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