PRINCE2 2009 Methodology: Principles, Themes and Processes

PRINCE2® (Projects in Controlled Environments), is a widely used project management methodology that navigates you through all the essentials for running a successful project. It provides project managers with a practical roadmap from conception to close.

At the heart of PRINCE2 are:

  • 7 PRINCE2 Principles
  • 7 PRINCE2 Processes
  • 7 PRINCE2 Themes

7 PRINCE2 Processes

Starting Up a Project

“Is the project worth undertaking in the first place?”.  A short process before the project begins designed to establish if there is sufficient justification to start work.

Initiating a Project

Produces the Project Initiation Documentation – the project baseline or terms of reference.  Defines what is to be produced, when and by whom, before committing to significant time and expense

Directing a Project

A Senior Management (“Project Board”) process: authorizing work, committing resources, giving guidance and managing communication with the environment outside the project boundary

Controlling a Stage

The “daily bread” of the Project Manager – handing out work, making sure it is completed to the agreed quality, dealing with issues as they arise, reporting to senior management

Managing Product Delivery

Where the specialist work of the project gets done – driven by the Project Manager in Controlling a Stage, above

Managing a Stage Boundary

Looking at the big picture – are we still on track?, are the original reasons for the project still valid?  Makes sure the project is focused on delivering business benefits – if not, it can be stopped

Closing a Project

Has everything been delivered as agreed?  Is the customer satisfied?  Handover any loose ends.  Write up end of project reports and record any useful lessons learned

7 PRINCE2 Themes

Business Case

A document which states WHY the project is necessary – specifically what benefits it will deliver to the business.  Keeps the project relevant.  If the project is no longer going to deliver the benefits in the business case, PRINCE2 says it should be ended


Roles and Responsibilities of the Project Management team.  Projects often involve multiple sites or staff from several organizations who may be full or part time on the project.   It is important to be clear who is responsible for what from the start


How to create Plans, when it is appropriate to do so.  There is no value in creating a detailed Plan for Year 2 of a project right at the beginning, so PRINCE2 plans close to the time the Plan will be used


Dealing with uncertainty.  Projects usually have to delivery something unique in a fixed time period using staff who may not have worked together – so a clear Risk Management strategy is essential


May be different for each project – for example your approach to spell checking may be different depending on whether you are producing a daily newspaper or the Oxford English Dictionary. What the project means by Quality needs to be understood by everyone from the start


Your project needs to know what actually happened, against what was planned.  PRINCE2's Progress theme allows the project management team to monitor progress, review achievements, initiate corrective action and authorize further work


Change is inevitable in your project: requests for new features, suggested improvements, problems and concerns - all these must be carefully controlled if your project is to stay on track.  The Change theme helps you assess and control potential and approved changes to the baseline

7 PRINCE2 Principles 

The purpose of PRINCE2 is to provide a project management method that can be applied regardless of project scale, type, organization, geography or culture.  This is possible because PRINCE2 is principles-based.

It is the adoption of theses principles that characterizes whether a project is using PRINCE2, not the adoption of processes and documents alone.  The principles facilitate good use of PRINCE2 by ensuring 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.

Continued Business Justification

A PRINCE2 project has continued business justification

Learn From Experience

PRINCE2 project teams learn from previous experience: lessons are sought, recorded and acted upon throughout the life of the project

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

Manage By Stages

A PRINCE2 project is planned, monitored and controlled on a stage-by-stage basis

Manage By Exception

A PRINCE2 project has defined tolerances for each project objective to establish limits of delegated authority

Focus On Products

A PRINCE2 project focuses on the definition and delivery of products, in particular their quality requirements

Tailor To Suit The Project Environment

PRINCE2 is tailored to suit the project's environment, size, complexity, importance, capability and risk

Useful links

Sign up for our Newsletter

Win a copy of the official guide:  "Passing the PRINCE2 Exams".  Sign up for our Newsletter

NEW - Better Business Cases

Make better decisions, reduce investment costs with Better Business Cases. Training now available

Did you know?

IBM, Microsoft, HP, Morgan Stanley, Siemens - some of the world's biggest brands train with Advantage Learning.  Join them...

Management of Portfolios

How to run the Right Projects and Programmes with MoP. Learn more and gain certification