PRINCE2 is a process-based approach for project management providing an easily tailored, and scaleable method for the management of all types of projects. Each process is defined with its key inputs and outputs together with the specific objectives to be achieved and activities to be carried out.

Directing a Project (DP)

Directing a Project runs from the start-up of the project until its closure. This process is aimed at the Project Board. The Project Board manages by exception, monitors via reports and controls through a number of decision points.

The key processes for the Project Board break into four main areas:

  • Initiation (starting the project off on the right foot)
  • Stage boundaries (commitment of more resources after checking results so far)
  • Ad hoc direction (monitoring progress, providing advice and guidance, reacting to exception situations)
  • Project closure (confirming the project outcome and controlled close).

This process does not cover the day-to-day activities of the Project Manager.

Starting up a Project (SU)

This is the first process in PRINCE. It is a pre-project process, designed to ensure that the pre-requisites for initiating the project are in place. The process expects the existence of a Project Mandate which defines in high level terms the reason for the project and what outcome is sought. Starting up a Project should be very short.

The work of the process is built around the production of three elements:

  • Ensuring that the information required for the project team is available
  • Designing and appointing the Project Management Team
  • Creating the Initiation Stage Plan.

Initiating a Project (IP)

The objectives of Initiating a Project are to:

  • Agree whether or not there is sufficient justification to proceed with the project
  • Establish a stable management basis on which to proceed
  • Document and confirm that an acceptable Business Case exists for the project
  • Ensure a firm and accepted foundation to the project prior to commencement of the work
  • Agree to the commitment of resources for the first stage of the project
  • Enable and encourage the Project Board to take ownership of the project
  • Provide the baseline for the decision-making processes required during the project's life
  • Ensure that the investment of time and effort required by the project is made wisely, taking account of the risks to the project.

Managing Stage Boundaries (SB)

This process provides the Project Board with key decision points on whether to continue with the project or not. The objectives of the process are to:

  • Assure the Project Board that all deliverables planned in the current Stage Plan have been completed as defined
  • Provide the information needed for the Project Board to assess the continuing viability of the project
  • Provide the Project Board with information needed to approve the current stage's completion and authorise the start of the next stage, together with its delegated tolerance level
  • Record any measurements or lessons which can help later stages of this project and/or other projects.

Controlling a Stage (CS)

This process describes the monitoring and control activities of the Project Manager involved in ensuring that a stage stays on course and reacts to unexpected events. The process forms the core of the Project Manager's effort on the project, being the process which handles day-to-day management of the project. Throughout a stage there will be a cycle consisting of:

  • Authorising work to be done
  • Gathering progress information about that work
  • Watching for changes
  • Reviewing the situation
  • Reporting
  • Taking any necessary corrective action.

This process covers these activities, together with the on-going work of risk management and change control.

Managing Product Delivery (MP)

The objective of this process is to ensure that planned products are created and delivered by:

  • Making certain that work on products allocated to the team is effectively authorised and agreed e accepting and checking Work Packages
  • Ensuring that work conforms to the requirements of interfaces identified in the Work Package
  • Ensuring that the work is done
  • Assessing work progress and forecasts regularly
  • Ensuring that completed products meet quality criteria
  • Obtaining approval for the completed products.

Closing a Project (CP)

The purpose of this process is to execute a controlled close to the project. The process covers the Project Manager's work to wrap up the project either at its end or at premature close. Most of the work is to prepare input to the Project Board to obtain its confirmation that the project may close.

The objectives of Closing a Project are, therefore, to:

  • Check the extent to which the objectives or aims set out in the Project Initiation Document (PID) have been met
  • Confirm the extent of the fulfilment of the Project Initiation Document and the Customer's satisfaction with the deliverables
  • Obtain formal acceptance of the deliverables
  • Ensure to what extent all expected products have been handed over and accepted by the Customer
  • Confirm that maintenance and operation arrangements are in place (where appropriate)
  • Make any recommendations for follow-on actions
  • Capture lessons resulting from the project and complete the Lessons Learned Report
  • Prepare an End Project Report
  • Notify the host organisation of the intention to disband the project organisation and resources.

Planning (PL)

Planning is a repeatable process, and plays an important role in other processes, main ones being:

  • Planning an Initiation Stage (SL16)
  • Planning a Project (IP2)
  • Planning a Stage (SB1)
  • Producing an Exception Plan (SB6).

PRINCE provides a product-based start to the planning activity. It also provides planning framework which can be applied to any type of project. This involves:

  • Establishing what products are needed
  • Determining the sequence in which each product should be produced
  • Defining the form and content of each product
  • Resolving what activities are necessary for their creation and delivery.


PRINCE was established in 1989 by CCTA (the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency), since renamed the OGC (the Office of Government Commerce). The method was originally based on PROMPT, a project management method created by Simpact Systems Ltd in 1975. PROMPT was adopted by CCTA in 1979 as the standard to be used for all Government information system projects. When PRINCE was launched in 1989, it effectively superseded PROMPT within Government projects. PRINCE remains in the public domain and copyright is retained by the Crown. PRINCE is a registered trademark of OGC.

Why use a project management method?

Project failures are all too common - some make the headlines, the vast majority are quickly forgotten. The reasons for failure are wide and varied. Some common causes are...

  • Lack of co-ordination of resources and activities
  • Lack of communication with interested parties, leading to products being delivered which are not what the Customer wanted
  • Poor estimation of duration and costs, leading to projects taking more time and costing more money than expected
  • Insufficient measurables
  • Inadequate planning of resources, activities, and scheduling
  • Lack of control over progress so that projects do not reveal their exact status until too late
  • Lack of quality control, resulting in the delivery of products that are unacceptable or unusable.

Without a project management method, those who commission a project, those who manage it and those who work on it will have different ideas about how things should be organised and when the different aspects of the project will be completed.

Those involved will not be clear about how much responsibility, authority and accountability they have and, as a result, there will often be confusion surrounding the project. Without a project management method, projects are rarely completed on time and within acceptable cost - this is especially true of large projects. A good project management method will guide the project through a controlled, well-managed, visible set of activities to achieve the desired results. PRINCE adopts the principles of good project management to avoid the problems identified above and so helps to achieve successful projects. These principles are...

  • A project is a finite process with a definite start and end
  • Projects always need to be managed in order to be successful
  • For genuine commitment to the project, all parties must be clear about why the project is needed, what it is intended to achieve, how theoutcome is to be achieved, and what their responsibilities are in that achievement.

What is PRINCE?

PRINCE (PRojects INControlled Environments) is a structured method for effective project management. It is a de facto standard used extensively by the UK Government and is widely recognised and used in the private sector, both in the UK and internationally. PRINCE, the method, is in the public domain, offering non-proprietorial best-practice guidance on project management. PRINCE is, however, a registered trademark of OGC.

The key features of PRINCE are...

  • Its focus on business justification
  • A defined organisation structure for the project management team
  • Its product-based planning approach
  • Its emphasis on dividing the project into manageable and controllable stages
  • Its flexibility to be applied at a level appropriate to the project.

Benefits of using PRINCE...

PRINCE provides benefits to the managers and directors of a project and to an organisation, through the controllable use of resources and the ability to manage business and project risk more effectively.

PRINCE embodies established and proven best practice in project management. It is widely recognised and understood, providing a common language for all participants in a project. PRINCE encourages formal recognition of responsibilities within a project and focuses on what a project is to deliver, why, when and for whom. PRINCE provides projects with:

  • A controlled and organised start, middle and end
  • Regular reviews of progress against plan and against the Business Case flexible decision points
  • Automatic management control of any deviations from the plan
  • The involvement of management and stakeholders at the right time and place during the project
  • Good communication channels between the project, project management, and the rest of the organisation.

Managers using PRINCE are able to...

  • Establish terms of reference as a pre-requisite to the start of a project
  • Use a defined structure for delegation, authority and communication
  • Divide the project into manageable stages for more accurate planning
  • Ensure resource commitment from management is part of any approval to proceed
  • Provide regular but brief management reports
  • Keep meetings with management and stakeholders to a minimum but at the vital points in the project.

Those who will be directly involved with using the results of a project are able to...

  • Participate in all the decision-making on a project
  • If desired, be fully involved in day-to-day progress
  • Provide quality checks throughout the project and ensure their requirements are being adequately satisfied.

For senior management PRINCE uses the 'management by exception' concept. They are kept fully informed of the project status without having to attend regular, time-consuming meetings. contact me on