18 Apr 2011

7 PRINCE2 Principles

Posted by Paul Atkin

The PRINCE2 Principles

The purpose of PRINCE2 is to provide a project management method that can be applied on any project.  This will be regardless of project scale, type, organization, geography or culture.  This is possible because the method is based on 7 key PRINCE2 Principles.

It is the adoption of these PRINCE2 principles that characterizes whether a project is truly using PRINCE2 or not.  Not the adoption of the processes and themes alone.  The PRINCE2 Principles facilitate good use of PRINCE2.  They ensure that the method is not applied in an overly prescriptive way or in name only, but applied in a way that is sufficient to contribute to the success of the project.

The 7 PRINCE2 Principles are:

  1. Continued Business Justification.  A PRINCE2 project has continued business justification.  If there is no valid reason for starting or continuing with the project it should be stopped. The justification would be documented in the Business Case.
  2. Learn From Experience.  PRINCE2 project teams learn from previous experience: lessons are sought, recorded and acted upon throughout the life of the project.  This allows us to continue with what has worked well and also not to make the same mistakes again.
  3. Defined Roles And Responsibilities.  A PRINCE2 project has defined and agreed roles and responsibilities within an organization structure that engages the business, user and supplier stakeholder interests.  This stops people from passing the buck.  Everybody involved in the project knows who is responsible for what.
  4. Manage By Stages.  A PRINCE2 project is planned, monitored and controlled on a stage-by-stage basis.  This allows you to plan detailed work closer to the time that you are actually going to deliver it.  As I always say there is no point trying to plan in detail what you will be doing in 1 year’s time. Better to do that closer to the time.
  5. Manage By Exception.  A PRINCE2 project has defined tolerances for each project objective to establish limits of delegated authority.  This allows for effective use of senior management time but ensures that decisions are made at the right level in the project team.
  6. Focus On Products.  A PRINCE2 project focuses on the definition and delivery of products, in particular their quality requirements.  This will help the project deliver a “fit for purpose” product (output).
  7. Tailor To Suit The Project Environment.  PRINCE2 is tailored to suit the project’s environment, size, complexity, importance, capability and risk.  This is key.  Every project is different so you must use the PRINCE2 framework with a bit of common sense.

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