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PRINCE2 Methodology Overview: History, Definition & Meaning, Benefits, Certification

Mary Lewinson
August 10, 2011

Learn the basic information about the popular PM approach

PRINCE2 PM methodology overviewThe PRINCE2 methodology regards project management as a series of logical processes and procedures to create a well-controlled project environment. It provides a process-based approach that is applicable to all types of projects. Being originally developed in the United Kingdom as a standard of IT project management, today the method is widely used in many countries over the world because it provides the standardized suite of processes and procedures for safe, controlled and efficient planning and implementation of projects. Let’s learn more about the PRINCE2 methodology.


PRINCE2 is the second education of the earlier PRINCE method which was initially announced and developed in 1989 by CCTA (the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency), a UK government support agency. The first edition of the method was regarded as a set of standards for IT project management (PM). Later the PRINCE method demonstrated high effectiveness in managing various projects in different environments (outside the purely IT environment). More and more companies began using the method to plan, implement and control their project efforts and endeavors.

The second edition was announced and released in 1996 as a generic PM methodology. Since that time, PRINCE2 has already become increasingly popular among multiple UK organizations involved in various types of project, and today the methodology is actually regarded as the standard for project planning and management in the United Kingdom. More over, the use of this methodology has extended beyond the UK borders to more than 50 other countries of the world. Today PRINCE2 reflects a rapidly growing international interest, incorporating the requirements and experiences of existing users around the world.

Since the PRINCE2 release date, there have been several updates of the methodology (in 1998, 2005, 2008-9). Up to 2010, The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the UK took the primary responsibility for updating and developing the methodology, including the Best Management Practice (BMP). In June 2010, the BMP functions has been moved into Cabinet Office. You can find helpful information about the BMP and the future plans on the Cabinet Office website.

Definition & Meaning

PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments, 2nd edition) is a systematic project management methodology which consists of a series of high-level processes (steps) to plan, implement, control, and review a project through creating a well-structured and clearly described environment. It is a world-class international standard for project planning and implementation that provides a flexible and adaptable approach to suit the project to its generic requirements and address the initial business need. The purpose of the PRINCE2 approach is to design a framework of managing projects in well-controlled environments.

Using the PRINCE2 approach means following the best practices that have been developed and tested since the late 1980s by multiple organizations. The PM methodology embodies many years of best practices in project planning and implementation and provides a complete and logical set of processes to ensure that all important aspects (such as business problem, requirements quality, time, HR) of a project are addressed. The Business Case drives the implementation process guiding the team through justification.


What are the benefits of deploying PRINCE2 in a project environment? Well, the key benefit is that the PM methodology provides project stakeholders with greater control of available resources (such as time, money, human, technology etc.) and also the ability to manage risks and uncertainties more effectively. Project managers, executives and directors, and performing organizations are the recipients of the core benefit.

The methodology gives a sense of managing a typical project through providing common systems, procedures and language. It allows stakeholders to make as fewer mistakes as possible, while saving resources and effort. PRINCE2 has established and proven best practice of project planning and implementation across the wide variety of organizations that have contributed to the methodological development of the method since the 1980s. Thereby, by adopting PRINCE2 as the primary PM methodology of your working environment, you are likely to benefit from the lessons learned from those organizations. Additionally, right now you can go to ProjectManager.com and view one of the best libraries of tips, video tutorials and webinars for project managers.

In summary, the PRINCE2 approach is recognized by many countries over the world because it provides the following benefits:

  • Well-controlled and organized launch, middle and end of the project management process.
  • A process-based mechanism of reviewing the project against the plan.
  • Assurance that the project is being implemented under business justification.
  • Tracking of any deviations from the plan.
  • Good communication channels established between the team, project manager and other stakeholders.
  • Involvement of stakeholders
  • Capturing and sharing of lessons learned.
  • Possibility to plan and arrange staff training prior to and during the project course.


Because the PRINCE2 methodology is non-proprietary and easy-to-learn, your organization can easily deploy it and start following the basic concept and principles. It uses the quality review technique as the core method for controlling project resources. Deployment of the method requires PRINCE2 certification for all personnel involved in the project. The personnel should pass two exams – the Foundation and the Practitioner. The Foundation examination means 1-hour, multiple choice testing. The Practitioner exam is a 3-hour, essay-based test.

If your organization decides to use and deploy PRINCE2, it needs to get the necessary certification. The APM Group administers international PRINCE2 training and provides certificates. Your company can use the APM Group service to obtain PRINCE2 certificates. Please visit the APM Group website to learn how to pass the exams. There’re also other training organizations and agencies (e.g ILX Group) providing PRINCE2 training and certification. All those “trainers” have obtained APMG-UK training accreditation. If you like, you can look for an accredited PRINCE2 training provider in your place.

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