Project Life Cycle and Major Processes
The first difference to notice is that PRINCE2 is clearly project life cycle
based with six out of eight major processes running from "Starting up a
project" to "Closing a project". The remaining two, "Planning"
and "Directing a project" are continuous processes supporting the other
six. Each of these have their respective sub-process totaling 45 in all. Then,
feeding into the system, are six "Components" some of which are documents
and others that are themselves processes. Finally, PRINCE2 describes three techniques
namely: "Product Based Planning", "Quality Review" and "Change
The whole document is presented as an easy-to-follow narrative, bulleted checklists,
process diagrams and timely "Hints and Tips". By comparison, the Guide
consists of twelve chapters describing function-based knowledge areas
with illustrations of their respective project management processes and narrative
descriptions in the form of inputs, tools-and-techniques, and outputs.
There are a number of interesting differences between the Guide and PRINCE2
philosophies. PRINCE2 speaks of "stages" rather than "phases"
and states that while the use of stages is mandatory, their number is flexible
according to the management requirements of the project.
PRINCE2 also differentiates between technical stages and management
stages are typified by a particular set of specialist skills, while management
stages equate to commitment of resources and authority to spend. The two may
or may not coincide. The Guide defines a project phase as: "A collection
of logically related project activities, usually culminating in the completion
of a major deliverable." It does not distinguish
between phases and stages and in the text uses either indiscriminately.
The PRINCE2 project life cycle does not start with original need, solution
generating and feasibility studies these are considered as inputs to the
project life cycle, perhaps as separate projects in their own right. For example,
PRINCE2 describes a product's life span as having five phases: Conception, Feasibility,
Implementation (or realization), Operation and Termination but, of these, only
Implementation is covered by PRINCE2. Indeed, the manual states "Most of
what in PRINCE2 terms will be stages will be divisions of 'implementation' in
the product life span."
Thus, PRINCE2 is an implementation methodology, somewhat akin to construction
management, rather than a whole project management methodology.
Indeed, PRINCE2 assumes that the project is run within the context of a contract
and does not include this activity within the method itself.
However, it suggests that since contracting and procurement are specialist activities
these can be managed separately using the method. The Guide, on the other hand,
recognizes that the project needs assessment or feasibility study may be the
first phase of the project,  although it also
defers to other life cycles used in various industries. The presumption in the
Guide is that Project Procurement Management, where required, is part of the
overall project management process and is viewed from the perspective of the
buyer in the buyer-seller relationship.