Connect with us

Guide to PRINCE2 Project Management Certification and Methodology


Guide to PRINCE2 Project Management Certification and Methodology

People often ask whether “PRINCE2” stands for something or is just a brand name. In fact, it’s a contraction of the term “Projects in Controlled Environments”. The 2 comes from the fact that this is the second major issue of what is now the most recognised project management qualification in the world.

The name isn’t just a useful acronym for a qualification though; the PRINCE2 idea of controlling the project environment exists as a distinct project management methodology as well.

The Development of PRINCE2

PRINCE2 was developed in response to the high levels of project failure that were encountered, particularly on large and complex projects in areas such as defence and infrastructure. Lack of control at every level would frequently result in projects exceeding their budgets and taking far longer to complete than was originally envisaged.

One of the important aspects of PRINCE2’s development has been the emphasis on scalability. In the early days, the methodology was criticised for being overly bureaucratic and only suitable for very large scale projects. In response to this, PRINCE2 focused more on the scalability of the method for smaller projects. This flexibility was partly achieved by the introduction of seven principles that helped make the methodology easier to adapt to projects which were shorter and smaller in scale.

Over the last 30 years, the PRINCE2 methodology developed to provide clearly defined project management roles, planning methods and control procedures. As global business has changed and technology has created new priorities and industries, PRINCE2 has adapted whilst retaining its focus on the idea of an end ‘product’ that is being produced for the customer, ensuring that quality levels are properly defined and met.

The methodology continues to be updated all the time. The latest changes to PRINCE2 in 2017 provide enhanced flexibility and make the methodology more intuitive and suited to the continuous technological developments that heighten customer demands, allowing for a more flexible and adaptable methodology.

Now let’s take a look at the fundamental principles of the PRINCE2 methodology.

The Seven Basic Principles of PRINCE2

Think of these golden principles as the pillars of a project. By ignoring any of them, the structure of the project becomes unstable. Whilst PRINCE2 allows for flexibility and can operate in any project environments in any given corporate or organisational structure, the principles that underlie it are sacred. Let’s look at them now.

1. Continued business justification

All projects must be justified at the beginning of their lifecycle as well as throughout implementation and delivery.

2. Learning from experience

Project learning occurs every day and needs to be recorded in a ‘learning log’ so they can be fed back into the project to improve performance. Learning logs can then be used in future projects.

3. Defined roles and responsibilities

Because a project often brings together people who don’t usually work as a team, it’s vital that everybody understands their role, their responsibilities and who to report to.

4. Manage in stages

Projects can be better managed if they are broken down into pre-defined stages in the initial planning phase. These stages will create a roadmap allowing the Project Manager and the project’s steering committee to have an overview of the project’s current progress and direction of travel.

5. Management by exception

In PRINCE2, you first define how much risk or deviation you can tolerate and then only report as soon as that level is exceeded. This provides tight control but also does away with the need for too much reporting and oversight, which can lead to micromanagement and confusion.

6. Product focus

PRINCE2 doesn’t tell you how to produce something – it gets you to specify the quality of what’s going to be produced and works backwards from there. Products should be clearly defined by their purpose, quality criteria, format and composition and the project should be focused on delivering this.

7. Adjusting to the specific environments

To stop PRINCE2 from being too rigid or dogmatic in its approach, the seventh principle is for project plans to adjust to their specific environments. Previous projects and learning logs (see principle 2) should be used as a guide and each project judged on its own unique requirements.

PRINCE2 Qualifications

The PRINCE2 methodology is not complex but it is comprehensive and it therefore requires some work to master. For this reason, PRINCE2 has evolved to become a valued and universally recognised qualification for project managers.

There are two levels of PRINCE2 qualification. The first is Foundation level. This concentrates more on familiarity with the basic concepts of the methodology. The second, Practitioner, shows that the holder can apply Prince2 to real life project situations.

Managers outside the traditional Project Management Office (PMO) structure are showing an increasing interest in PRINCE2 because it helps managers from other parts of the business understand how projects work and how to control them. They may be participating as an end user, for example, but value the insight into the principles underpinning the way in which the project is being managed.

PRINCE2 is a great qualification to have on your CV, because it’s in use globally, so it can pave the way to well paid international project roles.


About the Author: David Baker has over a decade’s worth of experience leading project teams in global projects for infrastructure and internal IT projects. He now works within the training industry for PRINCE2 Training, who provide courses and certification in PRINCE2, Agile, Lean Six Sigma, ITIL, PMP, and Scrum project management methodologies. You can connect with David and PRINCE2 Training on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

More in Business

To Top
Read previous post:
Creating the perfect working environment for your small business

Having a small business can be incredibly gratifying. Handling a workforce and having total control over your day-to-day activities allows...