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

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 Control".[2] 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[3] 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.[4] PRINCE2 also differentiates between technical stages and management stages.[5] Technical 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."[6] 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."[7] 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.[8] 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, [9] 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.[10]

Introduction  Introduction

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