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Aligning products to PRINCE2 business objectives and tolerances 

 February 7, 2024

By  Dave Litten

Aligning products to PRINCE2 business objectives and tolerances

The links between outputs, outcomes, and benefits seem straightforward, but putting these links into practice is often much more difficult. Some projects have produced products that were never fully used or organizational changes that needed to be fully embedded. 

For benefits to be realized, the outcomes must be achieved, which means that the outputs from the project are used as intended, new capability is defined, and new capability barriers are identified.

A common problem is that projects are often successful from a delivery perspective but fail from an investment perspective. 

Project outcomes and benefits are often only realized after the project has closed; it is easy for project teams to become focused solely on creating products (the outputs). 

The link from the project’s outputs to outcomes and benefits must be identified and made visible to those involved, as the original project purpose can get lost, and the benefits not be realized.

Some products are enablers for other products to generate benefits.

Ultimately, the outcomes and benefits to be achieved from the project need to align with and contribute to the business objectives. These may include the organization’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals. 

The project’s sustainability performance targets and tolerances, documented in the business case, should reference and contribute to the organization’s ESG goals.

PRINCE2 product benefits

The benefits management approach that supports the business case includes the amount and timing of benefits forecast to be achieved by the project and additional guidance relating to the tolerance against these targets (such as a 10–15 per cent increase in sales). 

Forecast benefits are checked throughout the project (at a minimum, at the end of every stage). They should be escalated to the appropriate level for review and action if they fall outside of set tolerances. 

Ensuring benefits are measurable also ensures that they can be demonstrated. If the project includes benefits that cannot be measured, it is impossible to determine whether it has succeeded or provided value for money.

Forecast benefits are checked throughout the project (at a minimum, at the end of every stage). They should be escalated to the appropriate level for review and action if they fall outside of set tolerances. 

Dis-benefits are expected consequences of an activity, whereas a risk is uncertain and may never materialize. 

For example, a decision to merge two elements of an organization into a new site may have benefits (such as better joint working), costs (such as expanding one of the two sites), and dis-benefits (such as limited public transport options to the new site). Dis-benefits need to be valued and incorporated into the investment appraisal.

Establishing business justification

All seven aspects of the project’s performance targets and their relationships with each other should be considered as part of assessing the business justification. Still, there will often be trade-offs between different performance aspects. 

Aligning Products To Prince2 Business Objectives And Tolerances Aligning Products To Prince2 Business Objectives And Tolerances

For example, if in developing the project product description, it is decided that higher quality targets are required, it is likely to impact the cost, time, or sustainability targets.

The business case considers options to achieve the required outcomes (PRINCE2 refers to these as ‘business options’). It selects the option that gives the best balance between the different performance aspects. 

If a project cannot build a business case within the tolerances set for all seven performance aspects, its justification may be questionable.

The business case should include the costs of developing the project product and any changes to operational costs when the project concludes.  Most organizations have policies that define how these costs should be considered in their business cases.

Dis-benefits are expected consequences of an activity, whereas a risk is uncertain and may never materialize. 

Dis-benefits need to be valued and incorporated into the investment appraisal.

Dave Litten


David spent 25 years as a senior project manager for USA multinationals, and has deep experience in project management. He now develops a wide range of Project Management Masterclasses, under the Projex Academy brand name. In addition, David runs project management training seminars across the world, and is a prolific writer on the many topics of project management.

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