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PRINCE2 for a Successful Project

~ By Robert Norton

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PRINCE2 is used to manage projects throughout the business world; but what is a project and what constitutes a successful project? This article will define a project, look at the characteristics of an unsuccessful and a successful project, and discuss briefly how PRINCE2 can benefit a business.

What is a Project?

A project can be defined as "any outcome you're committed to achieving that will take more than one action step to complete," or "a project is a management environment that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to a specified business case."

To understand what constitutes a successful project, a lot can be learned by looking at the common reasons for an unsuccessful project.

Some common reasons for an unsuccessful project are:

  • Lack of management support - which can lead to insufficient funding and resources; senior management performance criteria is not linked with the project's criteria, which can lead to conflict.
  • Resource conflicts - can mean there is a lack of dedicated team members in the project; key resources unavailable when required.
  • Lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities - can cause individuals/teams to work inefficiently; deadlines are missed; resolution over issues is delayed; overall there is low morale within the project workforce.
  • Poor communication - lack of information passed to individuals/teams can cause confusion within the project workforce; deadlines missed; concerns of stakeholders or team members are not addressed.
  • Lack of leadership - can be caused by an inexperienced or an untrained project manager; lack of sustained leadership commitment; no clear goals, vision or strategy set; individuals are unclear how the project will alter jobs, processes, etc; there isn't any alignment of measurement and reward system with targeted outcomes.

Some common reasons for a successful project are:

  • Advanced planning of the project - individuals are given defined roles; teams are established; the outcome of the project is defined.
  • Strong leadership - continuous committed leadership; executives show strong support; metrics and incentives are in place to drive desired behaviours; change is seen as an ongoing process.
  • Relationships are maintained - the leaders are "people focused;" relationships are maintained while meeting the needs of the project.
  • Quality delivered - project deliverables have met all functional, performance and quality specifications.
  • Stakeholder expectations met - every expectation of the stakeholders was met; every key stakeholder accepts the project results.
  • Project completed - the project was completed within the set timeframe; completed under the approved budget; the project has achieved its original goals, objectives, and purpose; every participant should be eager to repeat a similar experience.

PRINCE2 for Successful Projects

To ensure projects operate smoothly, PROMPTII, PRINCE, and subsequently PRINCE2 were all introduced to address the common reasons for project failure. PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is recognised as a world-class international product, is the standard method for project management and provides a flexible and adaptable approach to suit all projects.

PRINCE2 training enables people to understand how a successful project operates by covering the processes, components and techniques needed for any size project. It is a project management method designed to provide a structure that covers the wide variety of disciplines and actions required within a project. The focus throughout PRINCE2 is on the Business Case, which describes the rationale and business justification for the project - it is the Business Case that drives all the project management processes, from project set-up through to a successful finish.


There are two ways to operate a project - successfully or unsuccessfully. Every business wants a successful project so they can reap the rewards; the way forward is for personnel to be trained with a "de-facto" standard for project management in the UK and internationally, PRINCE2.

Robert Norton wrote the article 'PRINCE2 for a Successful Project' and recommends you visit the International Institute for Learning for more information on PRINCE2 training courses.


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