PRINCE2 7 - A Process of Evolution

Henny Portman – co-author, PRINCE2 7 

As the world’s leading project management best practice method, PRINCE2 must keep pace with changing times. 

The business world is changing ever more quickly. There’s an increasing focus on agility to allow organisations to respond to developments and change direction swiftly and effectively. 

The feedback we received from the community highlighted the need for a stronger focus on the people elements of any project. Culture, collaboration and communications are all vital aspects of project success, and the new guidance reflects this, with “people” now being the fifth integrated element of PRINCE2 7.

And the new version has incremental, agile and interactive delivery methods now explicitly incorporated into the method – which is even more tailorable than before.

As PRINCE2 7 is a universal method, applicable to all types of projects, it recognises that there is no silver bullet to guarantee a project’s outcomes. Neither agile, waterfall, nor hybrid delivery methods are the only answer, but PRINCE2 7 includes guidance and scenarios to allow project managers to evaluate and select the most appropriate delivery method for their particular project. It’s fully flexible, allowing any delivery method, or combination, to be slotted into the PRINCE2 governance framework.

The 7 processes of PRINCE2 - out with the old?

PRINCE2 has had seven core processes since the 2009 edition, reduced from eight in the 2005 version. 

Feedback from practitioners indicated these were working well, so PRINCE2 7 retains the same seven processes as before. However, the chapters in the book dealing with each process have been significantly revised and given a new format. 

Each process chapter is described using eight paragraphs: the first two, on the purpose and objectives of each process, are comparable to the 6th edition. The third paragraph addresses context. There are several differences here, as each process is described in the context of the other processes and activities that relate to it. The previous edition included a table showing every applicable management product (document) and its inputs and outputs for each process. This has been removed from the new version for the sake of simplicity. A high-level overview of who is responsible for each management product and the related processes is now included in the Appendix. 

The section on how to use and apply each process is similar to the previous version but has been streamlined. The last two paragraphs of each process chapter are completely new and each chapter now includes a RACI (responsible, accountable, consulted, informed) table describing the responsibilities that relate to each process activity. The table lists the key roles in PRINCE2 such as the project manager, project executive, senior user and senior supplier, and maps the process activities against each.

The final section of each chapter addresses the application of the practices and which PRINCE2 practices apply within each process. This is entirely new and clearly summarises how each practice supports the activities within each process.

Other changes to the processes

While the processes themselves have not changed, we have introduced various minor amendments to make them easier to understand and for overall consistency. Various concepts have been rewritten to aid comprehension and remove unnecessary detail. 

For example, in the Initiating a Project stage, the manual is used to list all activities required to create the management approaches (such as risk, change, and quality management) but now the manual simply highlights the requirement to create the management approaches without listing them all in detail. The diagrams and figures used throughout the guide to illustrate key concepts have also been redesigned and are color-coded.

The human element in PRINCE2 7

The changes to the processes in PRINCE2 7 are an evolution, not a revolution. They have been explained more simply, which should be easier to understand for those new to the method. 

The key change with this new edition is the greater emphasis on the human element. Written reports and documentation are not always the answer: the key is to convey information effectively, whether it is via document, software tool, instant message or conversation. The need for ongoing, informal communication is a new and important feature of the guidance.

You can view and download my PRINCE2 7 Quick Reference Card on my blog.