PRINCE2® Principles

The PRINCE2® approach for project management is based on a number of characteristic PRINCE2® principles.

The seven PRINCE2® principles

Continued business justification

Apart from the justifiable reason to start a PRINCE2® project, the justification should remain valid throughout the life of the project. The justification is documented and approved in a business case, which is constantly monitored and revalidated. The goal is to stop the project when benefits are no longer expected. Keep in mind that these benefits not necessarily need to be monetary.

Learn from experience

Learning from experience is important for the success of a project. Project Teams applying PRINCE2® are expected to learn from their own experiences, document them and pass them on. This enables Project Teams to start a project with a review of lessons learned from other projects, and as the project progresses, to keep these lessons in mind to improve the project. As the project closes the Project Team passes their lessons on to other projects for future reference. Identifying lessons learned is the responsibility of everyone involved in the project.

Defined roles and responsibilities

In PRINCE2® projects roles and responsibilities must be clearly described, resulting in a structure that meets the interests of the supplier, the user and the organization. A project will only succeed if the right people are involved and when their responsibilities and authorizations are clear.

Manage by stages

A PRINCE2® project must be planned, monitored and controlled per phase. Everything in PRINCE2® is aimed at providing the project board with sufficient management information and instruments. Phasing is one of them. A Project is cut into manageable phases that have to be completed before the next phase can start. At the end of the phase, the results or a document with the results of the completed phase is delivered. This can then be compared with the starting points (as defined at the start of the phase). This creates the possibility for adjustment and steering. Moreover, the length of a phase will depend on many factors, such as the experience of the project manager, the riskiness and complexity of the project or the circumstances outside the project.

Manage by exception

In a PRINCE2® project tolerances are defined for each project objective in order to set the limits of delegated responsibilities. Only when these tolerances are likely to be exceeded at a certain level, the higher level of management will be used.

Focus on products

A PRINCE2® project must focus on the correct definition and delivery of products and in particular on their quality. PRINCE2® focuses on defining the products that must be delivered, with the corresponding quality criteria that those products must meet. In other words, the “what” is put central and not the “how”. The latter is the responsibility of the person has to deliver a product.

Tailor to suit the environment

The PRINCE2® methodology must be adapted to the environment, complexity, importance and risks of the project. The PRINCE2® methodology offers a large set of resources to manage a project of any size or complexity. This completeness means that the methodology should be tailored for each project in order to meet the needs of that specific project in that specific environment.

After all, PRINCE2® is a tool for managing the project in the best possible way. Depending on the project, certain parts of the method may be applied in different ways. For example, an international project in a dynamic environment might set different requirements for reports than a local project in a static environment. In a highly innovative, risky project, there will be more emphasis on risk management than in a “13-in-a-dozen” project. Anything can be adjusted within PRINCE2®, as long as all 7 principles are met.