What is PRINCE2®?
Originally published, July 2018 - updated September 2021
PRINCE2 is one of the world’s most popular project management methodologies. It is a reliable, flexible, and scalable way to manage almost any kind of project.
This article and its accompanying PDF Guide aim to answer the question "What is PRINCE2?" as thoroughly as possible.
We will take you through the origins, characteristics, and benefits of the PRINCE2 approach to project management. We will also guide you on how you can become PRINCE2 certified, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the methodology along with the confidence to implement it in your workplace.
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In This Article:
Origins of PRINCE2
PRINCE2 stands for PRojects In a Controlled Environment. This gives you a clue to one of the key characteristics of PRINCE2: Control, which is is also a major benefit of PRINCE2.
PRINCE2 originated in 1989 at the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), now the Office of Government Commerce (OGC).
What does the 2 in “PRINCE2” stand for?
PRINCE2 was based on PROMPTII, an older project management system developed in 1975. The “II” in PROMPTII is the reason we have a “2” at the end of PRINCE2.
PROMPTII was adopted for use in all government projects in 1979. When PRINCE2 was established in 1989, it took over as the primary project management methodology for UK government projects.
In 1996, PRINCE2 was published as a project management methodology. Since then, it has been widely adopted worldwide, in both in the public and private sectors.
PRINCE2 as a Project Management Methodology
There are so many elements and stages to consider within any project. As a project manager, you’ll need a methodology that supports your need to manage these elements, and guides you through each stage.
PRINCE2 makes a project ordered and structured. It sets out clearly defined roles, responsibilities, processes, and stages. It does this while remaining versatile and scalable - easy to apply to any industry or project.
Let’s take a closer look at the characteristics of PRINCE2 Project Management...
8 Characteristics of PRINCE2
PRINCE2 places great emphasis on business justification. Each PRINCE2 project must have and maintain a strong business case for carrying it out. At every stage, you must assess the value of the work you’re doing.
The ability to adapt and customise PRINCE2 to your project and work environment is one of the main reasons this project management approach is so widely utilised worldwide. It is applicable to projects of all sizes, in any sector.
PRINCE2 is definitely about keeping your eye on the prize.
"Project Deliverables" is a complimentary characteristic to “Business Justification”, as both pay close attention to the project's ongoing value.
This characteristic is focused on defining the project deliverables and then determining how and when they will happen.
As mentioned above, "Control" is a very important element within PRINCE2.
Each step along the PRINCE2 journey works towards gaining a higher level of control over the project, lowering risk and reducing mistakes.
The clearly defined roles and responsibilities, common language and processes all contribute to consistent performance across a PRINCE2 project.
PRINCE2 projects are broken down into stages, facilitating regular reviews of progress, and enabling adjustment where needed.
High Level of Stakeholder Engagement
Regular reviews contribute to a high level of stakeholder engagement, as does the frequent communication dictated by the PRINCE2 framework.
Continuous Learning = Continuous Improvement
PRINCE2 teams have a culture of self-evaluation, reviewing projects throughout and at closing stage. They learn from mistakes and successes, carrying that knowledge into the next project to continually improve performance.
What are the benefits of PRINCE2?
You may have understood many of the benefits of a PRINCE2 approach to projects from reading through the characteristics above.
Here are the top 4 benefits summarised:
The combination of PRINCE2’s highly structured approach to projects, along with its international reputation enables you to feel confident in its reliability for your project work.
Although a very structured approach to project management, PRINCE2 is designed to be customised for different working environments and projects.
This flexibility means that you can utilise PRINCE2 for almost any kind of project.
PRINCE2 can be scaled to work on projects of all sizes. It will be just as effective for small, team level projects as for grander scale endeavours.
PRINCE2 is known for its compatibility with other project management techniques and methodologies. For example, it pairs exceptionally well with Agile and Scrum approaches.
Want to dive deeper into the benefits of PRINCE2?
Take a look at our article, "Benefits of PRINCE2", which looks at the benefits to both the organisation and the individual.
Elements of PRINCE2
To understand how PRINCE2 works, it’s essential to be familiar with its 3 cornerstone elements:
- 7 Principles
- 7 Themes
- 7 Processes
These principles, themes, and processes drive the “why”, “what”, and “how” of every project managed by the PRINCE2 approach.
The Fourth Element
In addition to the 7 Principles, Themes, and Processes, a fourth element must always be considered for PRINCE2 projects: the project environment.
When undertaking a PRINCE2 project, the methodology must be tailored to suit the particulars of this individual project and its environment.
Learn More About How PRINCE2 Works
Head over to our article “How does PRINCE2 Work?” for a detailed breakdown of the 7 Principles, Themes, and Processes.
Read "How Does PRINCE2 Work?"
PRINCE2 certifications are recognised and respected all around the globe.
There are two well-established PRINCE2 certifications and a third, newer qualification focused on PRINCE2 and Agile.
The Foundation certification is your starting point for the PRINCE2 methodology. The syllabus for PRINCE2 Foundation covers the 7 Principles, 7 Themes, and 7 Processes.
PRINCE2 Practitioner is needed to truly understand how to tailor PRINCE2 to specific projects and environments.
Although conventional PRINCE2 (Foundation and Practitioner) works alongside Agile, PRINCE2 Agile takes this to the next level. It is a qualification focused on combining PRINCE2 seamlessly with Agile concepts.
Interested in PRINCE2 Agile?
Our PRINCE2 Agile Course is currently under development. Join our early bird mailing list to get information on this course as soon as it is available.
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The best way to get PRINCE2 certified is by attending a high-quality PRINCE2 course and completing your exams in a short, focused time period.
We are an Accredited Training Organisation (ATO) with PeopleCert, one of the largest AXELOS Examination Institutes (EI).
This means that our PRINCE2 courses have been reviewed and quality-approved by PeopleCert.
Quick Facts About Our PRINCE2 Courses
Dates Available All Year
We run live virtual (online) PRINCE2 Courses throughout the year.
Live Online Classroom
Our PRINCE2 Courses are not pre-recorded. Live virtual training gives you a real-time, trainer-led classroom experience online.
To support your certification success, our approach to PRINCE2 training and certification is focused and intensive.
Delivered by Experts
Our trainers are qualified, experienced PRINCE2 experts. They will offer guidance and support during training.
Exam & Certification Included
We also incorporate both Foundation and Practitioner certification with our 5-day course. Exam and Certification costs are included in your course fees.
Standalone Certification Options
If you are only seeking either Foundation or Practitioner certifications, we have flexible, standalone options, focused on single certification.
No Experience Required
It is certainly helpful to have some experience within a project management environment or role before beginning the PRINCE2 training and certification process.
However, experience is not an eligibility requirement. Many who are completely new to project management have had success achieving PRINCE2 certifications.
A Combined Certification Solution
PRINCE2 Foundation & Practitioner
5 Days - €1, 225 (including exams and certification)
This is our most popular PRINCE2 training option. It covers both Foundation and Practitioner certification in 5 days.
This is a live online classroom course led by our expert PRINCE2 trainers. No element of the course is pre-recorded. Both exams and certifications are included in your cost.
Further Advice & Resources
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