Project Management 101: What is PRINCE2?
PRINCE2 is a process-driven project management method that stands for Projects In a Controlled Environment. It’s the method of choice in UK government projects, and within the United Nations as well. Unlike reactive methods such as Agile and Scrum, PRINCE2 is highly structured.
What makes PRINCE2 different from other process-based methods like Waterfall is that it also dictates a set of themes and principles by which project managers should operate, in addition to dividing the project into processes/stages.
Success Through Consistency
PRINCE2’s highly structured methods allow for a common, consistent approach to project management. It breaks the work down into stages, each of which contain their own batch of sub-processes that dictate how each stage should be controlled, how work packages are authorized and received, and how progress is reported.
PRINCE2 makes use of frequent quality and progress review sessions, and even prescribes defined roles for such meetings such as a Producer and a Scribe. PRINCE2 places great importance on the project rationale to ensure that the project is still valuable to the business and that continued execution is justified.
Strict Yet Scalable
Most projects will not be able to make use of every PRINCE2 principle and process, and PRINCE2 practitioners understand this. That’s why every process has guidelines on how to scale, and how much of the process to apply to a given project. This allows PRINCE2 to scale to the project’s needs, while still retaining the structure and order that makes PRINCE2 such a valuable tool.
Sometimes, however, scaling it back too much loses most of PRINCE2’s essential elements. When this happens, the project is called PINO, or PRINCE2 in Name Only. This usually occurs for very small projects or those with a very fast turnaround time.
There are several levels of PRINCE2 certification, each with its own set of exams and courses: PRINCE2 Foundation, PRINCE2 Practitioner, and PRINCE2 Professional. All of them are overseen by an accreditation body, the APM Group.
Image credit, Flickr, Solomon Kibriye
Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.