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PRINCE2™ Components (#3 in the series How PRINCE2™ Can Complement PMBOK® and Your PMP)
By Jay Siegelaub – MBA, PMP, PRINCE2

PRINCE2™ is comprised of 8 elements, or “components”. They are: Business Case, Organization, Plans, Controls, Management of Risk, Quality in a Project Environment, Configuration Management, and Change Control. They roughly map against the PMBOK® Areas of Knowledge as follows:

PMBOK® Knowledge Area Comparable PRINCE2™ Components
Integration Combined Processes and
Components, Change Control
Scope, Time, Cost Plans, Business Case
Quality Quality, Configuration Management
Risk Risk
Communications Controls
Human Resources Organization
Procurement Not Covered

Exhibit 1 – Comparison of PMBOK® Areas of Knowledge and PRINCE2™ Components

These components are not as comprehensively defined as the Areas of Knowledge. For example, PRINCE2™ covers PMBOK®’s Time and Cost Management within its discussion of Plans — but only insofar as the development of time and cost information is necessary at the relevant plan level. The following summarizes the PRINCE2™ components:

Business Case: The existence of a viable Business Case (project justification) is the main control condition for a PRINCE2™ project.The Business Case is verified by the Project Board before a project begins and at every major decision point throughout the project. The project should be stopped if the viability of the Business Case disappears for any reason.

Organization: Since the Project Manager often has to direct staff who report to other management structures, some senior management oversight organization is needed to assure that those diverse resources are committed to the project. In addition, viability decisions need to made by management with an investment in the project, and an accountability for delivering it through the Project Manager. In PRINCE2™ this oversight is the Project Board.

Plans: Plans are the backbone of the management information system required for any project, and require the approval and commitment of the appropriate levels of the project organization.The “Plans” component emphasizes the core concepts of planning; the major steps are highlighted in the process model, in “Planning.”

Controls: Control is about decision making: its purpose is to ensure that the project (a) is generating the required products which meet defined Acceptance Criteria; (b) is being carried out to schedule and in accordance with its resource and cost plans; (c) remains viable against its Business Case, and (d) with acceptable level of risk.

Management of Risk: As project work is inherently less predictable than non-project work, management of the risks is an essential part of project management.To contain risks during the project, they must be managed in a disciplined manner, through risk analysis and risk management (as in the PMBOK®).

Quality in a Project Environment: Quality management ensures that the quality expected by the customer is achieved through a quality system (similar to the PMBOK®). Quality requirements of the project’s deliverables (“products”) are based in Product Descriptions, created by the Project Manager and approved by the Project Board.

Configuration Management: Configuration Management gives the project management team control over the project’s assets (the products that it develops), and is vital to any quality system. It provides mechanisms for tracking and controlling the project’s deliverables, and a system for tracking project Issues.

Change Control: Controlling scope change means assessing the impact of potential changes, their importance, cost, impact on the Business Case, and a decision by management on whether or not to include them.

None of the above components will be alien to a user of the PMBOK® – PRINCE2™ simply highlights these elements as being central to project success, often underaddressed by project managers.The PRINCE2™ methodology organizes these components into a process model, recognizing that flow and relationship are critical to successful use of concepts identified in the components (and Knowledge Areas).

Jay Siegelaub has over 30 years of professional experience delivering and supporting projects in information technology, insurance systems, banking, and nonprofit strategic planning, as well as in the pharmaceutical, financial service, consulting, and consumer products industries. As a recognized educator he has trained thousands of project managers over the past 23 years, including 13 years as the Project Management tutorial instructor for the Drug Information Association.

Jay’s recent responsibilities included leading the North American Change Management and Training practices for a UK-based management consulting firm, training corporate consulting professionals in project and program management, and supporting clients in managing the “people” issues of their business change initiatives. He has authored articles on training, project management and information technology for various publications, and often presents at conferences, including the PMI North American Congress (1999, and 2004 – 2007), ProjectWorld and ProjectSummit.

In addition to his PMP® certification, Jay has his MBA in Organization Management from New York University’s Stern School of Business, and is an accredited PRINCE2™ Practitioner, Instructor and Examiner. He has taught and consulted in PRINCE2™ in North America for 10 years (the first US-accredited PRINCE2™ instructor), and worked for the company (and with the authors) that wrote the PRINCE2™ Manual for the UK government.

He has provided Change Management and Project Management consulting and training (including PRINCE2) to companies such as Sun Microsystems, NATO, the United Nations Development Programme, Bechtel, IBM, Philip Morris, Credit Suisse, JPMorganChase and Diageo.

Jay also consults in Organizational and Professional Development.

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