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PRINCE2: The 7 Principles

14 August 2014

As discussed in last week’s blog post, ‘Why holding a PRINCE2 qualification matters’, the PRINCE2 project management methodology is made up of seven principles, seven themes and seven processes. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at these three areas and breaking them down so you can begin to understand and appreciate how PRINCE2 projects are structured.

The 7 Principles

1. Business justification - the project must be aligned to the business objectives of the customer at all times. This is monitored by the development of a detailed Business Case. The Business Case describes the reasons for doing the project and forecast of benefits the project will deliver. It is outlined at the beginning of the project and accessed and added to at each Stage of the project. The project and Business Case must be comply with the organisation’s corporate strategy to move the project forward.

2. Learn from experience - time must be created to record and analyse any problems that occur within a project. Previous projects are also accessed for lessons that can be applied to future ones, to avoid making the same mistakes again. These are captured and incorporated into new plans and strategies.

3. Roles & responsibilities - these must be defined and agreed in a structure so all team members know what is expected of them; their level of authority, who they report to and their responsibilities. These can be adapted to suit the needs of the project. Laying out the roles and responsibilities avoids the issue of team members not knowing what is expected of them.

4. Manage by stages - a PRINCE2 project must be broken up into stages. Each Stage must be planned, monitored and controlled. A project must have an ‘Initiation Stage’ where the Business Case, Project Plan and strategies for managing changes, communication, control, issues, products, risk and quality are developed. One or more delivery stages are required for any project. Between each Stage the Business Case is reviewed to determine business justification before a project can continue.

5. Manage by exception - the Project Board will appoint a project manager with agreed ‘tolerances’ i.e. budget, time etc. If a tolerance is breached, the Board intervenes and changes are made until the project can continue or is abandoned.

6. Focus on products - before a project begins, understanding and defining what needs to be delivered from the project must be set out. This is achieved by writing a Project Product Description, done by the project manager. This document focuses attention and the scope of the project, and time and cost estimates can be taken from it. More detailed Product Descriptions are written at each Stage of the project to ensure products are delivered at the right point in the project’s timeline.

7. Tailor to suit the environment - PRINCE2 methodology should be tailored to suit a project’s capability, complexity, environment, importance, risk and size. Control for higher budget projects will be much greater than lower budget ones. More Stages will be needed for higher risk projects. Benefits of using the PRINCE2 method won’t be felt without adapting processes, themes and management products it to the specific project.

To learn more about the 7 Principles, as well as the other structures of PRINCE2 methodology, how to apply the concept to a project and monitor its progress, sign up for a PRINCE2 Foundation course with Total Training Solutions. We have a number of options for studying the course including PRINCE2 evening classes, PRINCE2 eLearning and PRINCE2 virtual classrooms. An advanced PRINCE2 Practitioner course is also available, as well as a combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course.

To book your place, call us on 0800 612 1299 or email us at info@tts-uk.com for more information.

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