2.2 Principles


 Figure 2.2: PRINCE2 principles


Continued business justification.

What is the justifiable reason for doing the project?

  • What are the expected benefits?
  • Document them in measurable terms

Is it worth to do / continue the project?

  • Are the expected benefits above the tolerances? Why? What are the reasons?
  • Yes → Ok, continue the project
  • No → Stop the project! What was the problem? Document lessons learned!

The reasons have to be approved and to be documented in the Business Case document

  • Continuously
  • At each stage’s end (Project Board use it for assessing the project)

The reasons are the driving force of the project, therefore

  • These have to be clear for everybody
  • These have to be strong to be followed by everybody

Example: “I will have an informatics-chemistry BsC diploma and basic knowledge that will be very valuable on the market and on the top of that I really like to deal with these fields. It is absolutely worth to continue. “


Learn from experience.

Humans tend to do mistakes

Aim: avoiding the repetition of previous mistakes again

Learn from previous experience (or from others experience)

  • Both from failures and successes
  • Learn from previous projects: both internal and external/public field, e.g. case studies, etc.
  • Hire experts with a lot of experience in the domain / field

Record current lessons

  • Identify, document and disseminate lessons learned
  • Create Lessons Report at end of each stage / end of overall project (Closing a Project process)

Example: “during the last semester I misunderstand the teacher and prepared for a theoretical exam (theorems, lemmas, proves) but it was a practical one (exercises, laboratory). Therefore I got only 4. Moreover, I should ask my cousin who has graduated 5 years ago and has several experience on this field.”


Defined roles and responsibilities.

Clear responsibilities:

  • everybody have to know what is expected from her/him

Three groups of people are defined:

  • Business/Corporate: ensuring that the project provides value for the investment
  • User: members of the Business who will use the project’s result, i.e. the product
  • Supplier: providing the resources and expertise (internal/external)
  • User and Business together represent the Customer

All three groups must be represented to succeed.

Management hierarchy:

  • 1st level: Project Board with three roles:
    • Executive – the project's sponsor (exactly one people):
      • represents the Business
      • decision maker in case of disagreements, conflicts
    • Senior User: any number of people (0 or many)
    • Senior Supplier: any number of people (0 or many)
  • 2nd level: Project Manager: daily management of the project (teams)
  • 3rd level: Team Manager: daily management of the team’s work package

Example: “at first sight it seems that it is not applicable to our (a little bit artificial) example. However, considering the basic motivation that we want to achieve a valuable degree and knowledge, i.e. the final product will be our knowledge (and the degree), the Project Board could be our potential future employer. If our cousin has such a degree and experience in this field he could be our potential Project Manager with her advices and guidelines, etc.”


Manage by stages.

PRINCE2 describes two stages at least:

  • first stage is fixed: Initiation
  • arbitrary number of further stages (at least one)

Each stage must to be planned, monitored and controlled:

  • Initiation:
    • cost and time forecasts
    • Project Initiation Document (PID)
    • Project Board: GO / NO GO decision
  • Further stages:
    • End of a stage is a control point for reviewing the project’s progress: “can we deliver the Business Case?”
    • Project Board: GO / NO GO decision

Planning horizon: plan only to a manageable and predictable level of detail

Three level of plans (according to management levels):

  • Project Plan:
    • Stage: Initiation
    • Management level: Project Board
  • Stage Plan
    • Stage: Further Stages
    • Management level: Project Manager
  • Team Plan (optional)
    • Stage: Further Stages
    • Management level: Team Manager

Example: “the university defines my stages in forms of semesters.”


Manage by exception.

Tolerance level: a limit for an objective that should not be exceeded during the project

Tolerance levels must be given for performance targets: time, cost, quality, scope, risk, benefits

Three levels of tolerance levels:

  • Project tolerances are set up by Business stakeholders
  • Stage tolerances (Project Manager)
  • Work Package tolerances (Team Manager)

Immediate upper level has to be informed through:

  • Regular Highlight Reports
  • Exception Report: if tolerance levels are exceeded or forecasted to be exceeded

Example: “I have to achieve at least 80% results during preliminary exams to be able to achieve 5 during the final big exam”


Focus on products.


  • delivering products meeting all quality criteria
  • defining project scope
  • reducing the chance of scope creep
  • decreasing the chance of user dissatisfaction and denial

Everybody must agree and fully understand the desired outcome, i.e. product:

  • identifying products
  • product descriptions:
    • purpose, composition, quality criteria, etc.
    • basis for estimation, scheduling and planning

Example: “What is my product? Degree or knowledge? Both, because I need the degree as a requirement for my dream job but I absolutely need the knowledge as well. Moreover, I need some experience to be hired therefore I have to look for an internship.”


Tailored to suit the project environment.

PRINCE2 is a general method but it is adaptable, because projects are different in several aspects:

  • geographical location
  • cultural context
  • complexity level
  • size (budget, resources, etc.)
  • experience
  • risks
  • team, employees

Therefore it has to be tailored to such specific needs:

  • Differences to the original method should be described in the Project Initiation Document to be compliant with PRINCE2
  • All parts of the method should be adopted somehow but not ignored completely
  • PRINCE2 ­prefers information to documents, and decisions to meetings
  • Embedding PRINCE2: a whole organization adopts PRINCE2 for all projects

Example: “I have a Project Manager (my cousin) and Project Board (my contact person during the internship) but these are not really corresponds to the PRINCE2 definition.”