PRINCE2® Themes

The 7 themes are aspects of project management that the Project Manager must pay attention to during the project and for which the PRINCE2® method provides tools and tools to support that Project Manager in this.

The 7 PRINCE2® themes are:

Business Case

A theme that has always been the heart of PRINCE2® projects. The objective of the Business Case is to set up mechanisms to assess whether the project is (and will remain) desirable, feasible and viable enough to support the decision whether or not to continue investing.

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The Business Case theme is about answering the “why” question. Why should the project be started, why should it be carried out, why are the project products useful to the organization?

It is about balancing the efforts (in time, money, resources, etc.) that the project requires, and the benefits it will bring. Not just once, but during the entire life cycle of the project. Every time a phase of the project is completed, the Business Case is updated and an assessment is made as to whether it is still useful to continue the project.

Organization

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The figure shows the organizational structure of a Project Management Team (PMT) in accordance with PRINCE2®. The smallest possible PMT consists of two people: the Executive (client) and the Project Manager. Project Assurance can be added as a kind of internal watchdog to relieve the Project Board. Project Support can be set up to support the Project Manager. Corporate management is not part of the PMT. It is, however, an essential part of decision-making, because the objectives of the PMT compared to other projects / PMTs and the strategy of the company must be optimized.

The theme organization is all about determining the structure of powers and responsibilities in the project. Where in the Business Case focuses on the “why” question, the organization focuses on the “who” question. Although the project structure is key, the organization outside the project must also be taken into account, in particular with regard to its influence on the project.

The Project Board is not a democracy, by the way: the Executive is ultimately responsible for the project and takes the final decisions.

The project manager is not part of the Project Board. The Project Management Team (PMT) makes all decisions in the project as long as the project remains within the limits set by senior management.

Planning

Planning and rescheduling is a continuous activity within projects. The theme Plans is about recording the way in which the products are delivered (the “how”, “where”, “when” and “by whom”). PRINCE2® has different levels of planning (Plan). The Project Plan covers the entire project, and describes in which phases the project is divided, and which products each phase must deliver. Every phase or stage has a Stage Plan, describing the planning of that specific stage.

Besides, there can also be a Team Plan for every team that the PRINCE2 team leader uses. The Project Plan and each Stage Plan must be approved by the Project Board, before it can be implemented.

Planning within PRINCE2® is product-based, meaning that the products and the corresponding quality criteria that must be delivered are described first. Only then the activities required to deliver those products are determined.

Progress

The Progress theme contains the methods to monitor the progress of the project in relation to the planning enabling timely adjustments in the event of deviations. For example, agreeing on tolerances reduces the risk of projects exceeding the estimated time and costs, or failing to deliver the desired results without notice.

Implementing stages, the decision phases of the project, is an important control mechanism as well. A project is divided into stages to get small parts that are easier to manage. Every transition to the next stage includes a decision moment for the Project Board. In addition, this phasing makes the distinction possible between the global project plan and the detailed stage plans. The frequency and method of reporting to the Project Board is also a way to keep the project manageable.

Risk

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By definition, a project entails more uncertainty (= risk) than daily activities. Risks can be both opportunities and threats. Within the project, constant attention must be paid to keeping those risks manageable. Risk management aims at identifying risks that threaten the project and then manage them. It is not necessarily necessary to strive for the elimination of a risk (or all risks), as that will probably take a disproportionate amount of effort.

Some common project risks are:

  • not being clear who the client is;
  • not having a clear goal;
  • not having a good project plan.

Quality

The Quality Management theme aims at defining and implementing the means for the project to create and control the products that must be delivered.

This component contributes to achieving the quality expectations and acceptance criteria formulated by the customer. For example, products must meet quality requirements specified in the product descriptions. A product is only finished when it meets the requirements.

Change (including configuration management, change control, and change control technique)

Issue management and change management focuses on identifying, reviewing and controlling all potential and approved changes. Change control is carried out by the Change Authority, an institution that can provide a budget for minor changes in scope and / or functionality.

This means that with such a change, the project manager makes a Change Request with the Change Authority, rather than handing in an Exception Report. If the Change Authority approves the change, an extra budget will be made available, in order to change the margins for the completion of the phase in a way that the planned delivery date and the planned expenditure remain within these new margins.

All products, including project documentation, must be managed in order to work efficiently. Configuration management includes the identification, registration, monitoring and securing of products during the project. These activities prevent loss of products, incomplete distribution of modified products and different versions of product copies.