PRINCE, which stands for Projects in Controlled Environments, is a project management method covering the organisation, management and control of projects. PRINCE was first developed by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) in 1989 as a UK Government standard for IT project management. Since its introduction, PRINCE has become widely used in both the public and private sectors and is now the UK’s de facto standard for project management. Although PRINCE was originally developed for the needs of IT projects, the method has also been used on many non-IT projects.
The latest version of the method, PRINCE2, was designed to incorporate the requirements of existing customers and to enhance the method towards a generic, best-practice approach for the management of all types of projects. The design and development work was undertaken by a consortium of project management specialists, under contract to CCTA, and over 150 public and private sector organisations were involved in a Review Panel which provided valuable input and feedback to the consortium. The development work was completed in March 1996 and the PRINCE2 manual is published by The Stationery Office price £55.
PRINCE2 is a process-based approach for project management providing an easily tailored, and scaleable method for the management of all types of projects. Each process is defined with its key inputs and outputs together with the specific objectives to be achieved and activities to be carried out.
Diagram: PRINCE2 Process Model
The method describes how a project is divided into manageable stages enabling efficient control of resources and regular progress monitoring throughout the project. The various roles and responsibilities for managing a project are fully described and are adaptable to suit the size and complexity of the project, and the skills of the organisation. Project planning using PRINCE2 is product-based which means the project plans are focused on delivering results and are not simply about planning when the various activities on the project will be done.
A PRINCE2 project is driven by the project’s business case which describes the organisation’s justification, commitment and rationale for the deliverables or outcome. The business case is regularly reviewed during the project to ensure the business objectives, which often change during the lifecycle of the project, are still being met.
Diagram: Scope of PRINCE2
There are often different groups of people involved in projects: the customer, one or more suppliers, and of course the user.
PRINCE2 is designed to provide a common language across all the interested parties involved in a project. Bringing customers and suppliers together typically involves contracts and contract management, although these aspects are outside the scope of PRINCE2, the method provides the necessary controls and breakpoints to work successfully within a contractual framework.
PRINCE2 is a structured method providing organisations with a standard approach to the management of projects. The method embodies proven and established best-practice in project management. It is widely recognised and understood, and so provides a common language for all participants in the project.
PRINCE2 provides benefits to the organisation, as well as the managers and directors of the project, through the controllable use of resources and the ability to manage business and project risk more effectively. PRINCE2 enables projects to have :
- a controlled and organised start, middle and end;
- regular reviews of progress against plan and against the Business Case;
- flexible decision points;
- automatic management control of any deviations from the plan;
- the involvement of management and stakeholders at the right time and place during the project;
- good communication channels between the project, project management, and the rest of the organisation.
The Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA)
CCTA is an Executive Agency within the UK Government’s Cabinet Office providing help and guidance to government departments, other Executive Agencies and various public bodies on the efficient and effective use of IT to deliver business objectives.
CCTA has always adopted the principles of public domain for its guidance on best-practice in IS and IT by making the material widely available to both public and private sector organisations. In addition, CCTA has encouraged supplier organisations to provide a competitive range of tools, training and other services to support the users and PRINCE2 is no exception.
With the development of PRINCE2, CCTA is keen to ensure the best package of products and services are available to customers. Accordingly, CCTA has established collaborative partnerships with a number of organisations specifically to provide support for PRINCE2 and the related areas of Programme Management and the Management of Risk.
A training accreditation, registration and examination scheme is provided by the APM Group Ltd, the commercial arm of the Association for Project Management. The Stationery Office is the official publisher of PRINCE2.