PRINCE2 is composed of 4 integrated elements. These elements are: principles, themes, processes and the tailoring of the method to suit the needs of the project environment. Let’s look at each of these 4 elements in turn.
There are 7 principles in PRINCE2. These principles are the bedrock upon which everything else in PRINCE2 is based. These principles are universal in that they can be applied to all projects irrespective of language, geography or culture. They have been proven in practice by thousands of project managers managing tens of thousands of projects to be the most effective ways of planning and managing projects. They are therefore self-validating. They are also empowering to the practitioners who apply them in that they give a project manager a better chance of being successful.
The true test of whether a project is being run according to PRINCE2 is whether or not the 7 principles are being applied. Projects which claim to be PRINCE2 projects but do not apply these principles are PINO projects (PRINCE2 In Name Only).
There are 7 themes in PRINCE2. They are: Business Case, Organization, Quality, Risk, Plans, Change and Progress. A theme refers to one aspect of project management which needs to be constantly addressed throughout the duration of the project.
There are 7 processes in PRINCE2, each containing a number of activities which need to be performed. The processes describe the activities which need to be performed at different points within the project. The processes also describe which of the PRINCE2 project management team roles are responsible for each of the different activities.
Tailor to suit the project environment
Finally, every project is different and every organization is different. Therefore the method must be applied in a sensible way which meets the needs of each project. Simply applying the method in the same way on every project is a sure way to fail because doing things this way takes no account of the different environments in which each project operates. Therefore, to give a project a better chance of success requires the project management team to tailor the framework to suit the needs of the project environment.