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PRINCE2® - Basics

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The information contained on these pages is taken from our classroom presentations and workshops.
They are not designed as 'stand-alone' preparation for either the PRINCE2 Foundation of Practitioner examinations.

Business Case Development
Plans - Approach to planning
Product Based Planning
Risk Management Procedure

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PRINCE2 - The Basics


PRINCE2 is a structured project management method which can be used
when undertaking projects of any size or scale. The method is made up of
4 elements:

Principles - Themes - Processes - Tailoring



PRINCE2 defines 7 principles which provide a "framework of good practices"
and must be followed:

  • Continued Business Justification
  • Learn from Experience
  • Defined Roles and Responsibilities
  • Manage by Stages
  • Manage by Exception
  • Focus on Products
  • Tailor - to suit project requirements

prince2 principles


prince2 Themes


The principles are supported by 7 Themes which are designed to link together and be used continually throughout a project.

  • Business Case
  • Organization
  • Quality
  • Plans
  • Risk
  • Change
  • Progress

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prince2 processes

A PRINCE2 project is delivered through 7 Processes.

  • Starting up a Project
  • Directing a Project
  • Initiating a Project
  • Managing a Stage Boundary
  • Controlling a Stage
  • Managing Product Delivery
  • Closing a Project

A process is simply a set of structured activities that
are used to achieve an objective. Think basics - if you have followed a Jamie Oliver recipe then you have followed a process!

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Each Process contains a range of activities which include things as diverse as creating and updating documents, monitoring and controlling work or authorising plans.

prince2 starting up a project process

Starting up a Project


  • Appoint Executive and Project Manager
  • Capture Previous Lessons
  • Design and Appoint Project Team
  • Select Project Approach and Assemble Project Brief
  • Plan next (initiation) Stage

For PRINCE2 Foundation level knowledge, the names of the various activities and the order in which they take place are very useful to learn.

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prince2 processes - directing a project

Directing a Project


  • Authorise Initiation
  • Authorise Project
  • Authorise Stage or Exception Plan
  • Give Ad-hoc Direction
  • Authorise Project Closure

For PRINCE2 Practitioner level knowledge, as well as being aware of the activities and their order, the names of any documents that are produced or updated should also be familiar to you along with the composition of the key documents.

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prince2 processes - initiating a project

Initiating a Project


  • Prepare Risk Management Strategy
  • Prepare Configuration Management Strategy
  • Prepare Quality Management Strategy
  • Prepare Communication Management Strategy
  • Set up Project Controls
  • Prepare Project Plan
  • Refine Business Case
  • Assemble Project Initiation Documentation

This is when a PRINCE2 project is fully planned; the Starting up a Project process being used to produce only enough information to assess if the project is worthwhile undertaking.

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prince2 processes - managing a stage boundary

Managing a Stage Boundary


  • Plan next Stage
  • Update the Project Plan
  • Update the Business Case
  • Report Stage End
  • Produce Exception Report

For PRINCE2 Foundation level you do not need to learn every detail taking place in the processes - their purpose and when the main documents are produced should be enough.

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prince2 Processes - controlling a stage

Controlling a Stage


  • Work Package
    • Authorise
    • Review
    • Receive (completed)
  • Monitoring and Reporting
    • Review Stage Status
    • Reporting
  • Issues and Risks
    • Capture and Examine
    • Evaluate
    • Take Corrective Action

Within a PRINCE2 project this is the process where the Project Manager completes their day-to-day work of planning, monitoring, controlling, delegating and motivating the project team.

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prince2 processes - managing a stage boundary

Managing Product Delivery


  • Accept a Work Package
  • Execute a Work Package
  • Deliver a Work Package

This is the process in which all of the products are produced within a PRINCE2 project. This is the domain of the Team Managers and their teams, physically doing their work to ensure products are made exactly as the customer requested.

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prince2 processes - closing  a project

Closing a Project


  • Prepare Planned Closure
  • Prepare Premature Closure
  • Hand Over Products
  • Evaluate Project
  • Recommend Project Closure

As the name suggests this is the final processes in a PRINCE2 project; this is where the acceptance of the project's products would be acknowledged and provides a defined 'end' to the project.

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No two projects are the same; projects might be part of a programme or might be part of some corporate strategy. Tailoring is adjusting, or 'fine tuning', the PRINCE2 method in order to adapt it to each individual project being undertaking.

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Business case development within a prince2 project

Business Case Development in PRINCE2 Projects

As well as being a Theme, a Business Case is also a PRINCE2 management product (a document) which plays a vital role in the on-going motives and justification for the project existing.

Both PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner students require knowledge of the development and maintenance of this document from its pre-project beginnings as a 'Project Mandate', through its development and regular verification, to its ultimate utilisation at the final 'Closing a Project' stage of a project.

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PRINCE2 Approach to Change

prince2 approach to change

In the Change theme, the PRINCE2 project management method introduces the 2 Procedures of 'Configuration Management Procedure' and 'Issue and Change Control' Procedure.

The purpose of these procedures is to ensure that all issues that might arise during the project, and any changes to the project's products or plans that have to be made, are made in accordance with the strategy written and agreed on at the beginning of the project.

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prince2 organisation chart

Organisation within PRINCE2

One of the PRINCE2 Principles is 'Defined Roles and Responsibilities; in the Organisation Theme the structure of accountability and responsibilities are defined.

The PRINCE2 Foundation level examination requires knowledge of the responsibilities and characteristics of each role within a project while the Practitioner level adds the composition of the Communication Management Strategy and how the levels in the management structure apply to the process model.

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prince2 approach to plans


Good planning is essential. Everyone involved in the project must know what the product is, how the result will be achieved and who is responsible for delivering the project's products.

PRINCE2 is known for its 'product-based approach' to project management; putting the product at the forefront of planning. The purpose of this theme therefore is really defining: where, how, by whom and how much!

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Product Based Planning within prince2

Product Based Planning

PRINCE2 describes in detail one of the techniques involved within the Plans Theme; this being 'Product Based Planning'.

This is nothing more than a logic progression through several steps to obtain both flow charts and diagrams in graphic form and also well written plans for every stage of the project as well as clear Product Descriptions.

At the Foundation level the different levels of plans must be known by students, while Practitioners are expected to know the composition of some key documents and be able to identify responsibilities within the Plans Theme and whether the 'Product-based Planning Technique' is being used correctly within the project.

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prince2 approach to progress

PRINCE2 approach to Progress

Are we on time or behind schedule? How much of the budget remains for this stage? Is the project worth finishing? All these questions, and more, are answered in the PRINCE2 Progress theme.

This theme, with the aid of the 2 Principles 'Manage by Stages' and 'Continued Business Justification', aims to keep the project on track by comparing 'actual achievements against those planned'; or in easy to understand language "where are we and where should we be".

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Quality in a prince2 project

Quality in a PRINCE2 Environment

Focusing on the product and ensuring that the project's products are 'fit for purpose' is the purpose of this theme. Delivering a product on time and within the budget is of limited use when the product is not quite what the user wanted!

The PRINCE2 approach to quality is to focus on the product from the beginning of the project by identifying all the project's products, defining them clearly and ensuring all quality methods are undertaken. Within this theme the PRINCE2 technique of 'Quality Review' is a core element.

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prince2 risk management procedure

PRINCE2 Risk Management Procedure

Nothing in life is 100% certain; to cover the 'uncertainties' that may/might/will occur requires the project to have a systematic approach to risk management.

PRINCE2 achieves this with its 'Risk Management Procedure' - a 5 step path form identifying and accessing risks through to planning responses to each risk and implementing the response should anything occur.

PRINCE2 Foundation students need to be aware of the steps in this procedure, the correct method of describing risk and the use of a risk budget. Practitioner level knowledge includes, among other things, the structure and usage of the various Risk Register and Risk Management Strategy documents.

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