PRINCE is a registered trademark owned by OGC (Office of Government Commerce).

PRINCE2 is an unregistered trademark owned by OGC (Office of Government Commerce).

Published here November 2002.

Introduction | Project Life Cycle | Management Levels | Authority Documentation
Special Project Management Roles | Document Description
Planning and Scheduling | Control | Summary | Endnotes


From time to time we are asked to recommend project management systems and methodologies, or to compare them as part of some selection process. This month we have been taking an in-depth look at PRINCE2, a widely recognized de facto standard used extensively by the UK government and in the private sector.[1] As a basis for comparison, and because we are located in North America, we will refer to the Project Management Institute's ("PMI") PMBoK as represented by A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge - 2000 Edition, also known as the PMBOK® Guide ("Guide").

"PRINCE" stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments and is described as a structured method for effective project management for all types of project, not just for information systems, although the influence of that industry is very clear in the methodology. The 2002 version has been through a number of incarnations in the past and is now the result of the "experience of scores of projects, project managers and project teams." The 408-page document, like the Guide (216 pages) is copyright, but the content is clearly generic common sense. The PRINCE2 Introduction lists a significant set of reasons why projects fail, and the methodology sets out to remove these causes.

Figure 1

Figure 1 above shows the knowledge areas and processes of PMI's Guide and Figure 2 below shows the comparable PRINCE2 content and usage.

Figure 2

It must be born in mind that both sets of documentation must be tailored to suit the occasion. For example, the Guide is not intended to tell people how to do any of the techniques or use any of the tools described. It only lays out the processes, how they link together and the tools and techniques that can be invoked. Somewhat similarly, the application of PRINCE2 must be scaled for the size and needs of the project. Indeed, scalability is a topic specifically included in the description of each process.


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