The PRINCE2 Foundation Exam

By Dave Litten
About The PRINCE2 Foundation Exam

PRINCE2 Foundation Module 1


The PRINCE2 Foundation Exam

Congratulations – you are just a few steps away from your PRINCE2 Foundation EXAM PASS!


You are now one of the few folks out there who are taking their path to the PRINCE2 2017 Foundation Exam seriously…


If you have checked out the Official “Managing Successful Project with PRINCE2” manual, with its mind-melting 200,000 words, 87 detailed figures, 63 sets of charts and 26 management templates, then you will already be feeling vulnerable to exam failure. I too, was once in your shoes.


I have been teaching PRINCE2 to packed seminars since 1996, so I know a thing or two about PRINCE2, its syllabus, what questions the examiner can ask, and what questions he won’t…


If this was a traditional ‘book’ it would run to about 80 pages covering just the information you need for your Foundation Exam. You see, I’ve filtered out the rest, so you can fast-track to a pass!


Oh yes, and I’ve filled this study aid with 44 large full colour diagrams far better than those you will find in the official manual. But there’s more…


See, I’ve added a full strength PRINCE2 Foundation Exam with questions and answers, so you can test your proficiency. I would suggest, along with your Kindle, that you have a pad of paper to take notes or capture key points if you wish.


Don’t worry about getting everything committed to memory. I would suggest 60 to 80% understanding of the material, along with a similar score in my Sample Exam, shows that you are in good shape for a First-Time Pass!


My intention is to give you an easy read system of the key PRINCE2 2017 Foundation Exam areas that you need to know to ace your PRINCE2 Foundation Exam.


So, I honed the complex Official Managing Successful Projects Manual down to just the essential Step-By-Step PRINCE2 aspects.


To make your Step-By-Step learning so much easier, I have included extensive full color diagrams for your speedy pathway to success.


I’d recommend you skim through this using it almost as an aide memoire – if you find yourself not sure of a topic, then I urge you to review the material again.


If you find these focused lessons helped you to better focus on your revision, then I’ve achieved my objectives.


These Lessons are aligned with the official syllabus will help you on your way to achieve the PRINCE2 Foundation Status and to that goal, do let us know when you PASS!


Good Luck!

Dave Litten – Principal PRINCE2 Instructor

The PRINCE2 Processes

There are seven processes, each containing three or more activities:

Starting Up a Project

Appoint the Executive and the Project Manager

Capture previous lessons

Design and appoint the project management team

Prepare the outline Business Case

Select the project approach and assemble the Project Brief

Plan the initiation stage

Initiating a Project

Agree the tailoring requirements
Prepare the Risk Management Approach

Prepare the Quality Management Approach

Prepare the Change Management Approach

Prepare the Communication Management Approach

Set up the project controls

Create the Project Plan

Refine the Business Case

Assemble the Project Initiation Documentation

Directing a Project

Authorize initiation

Authorize the project

Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan

Give ad hoc direction

Authorize project closure

Managing a Stage Boundary

Plan the next stage

Update the Project Plan

Update the Business Case

Report stage end

Produce an Exception Plan

Controlling a Stage

Authorize a Work Package

Review Work Package status

Receive completed Work Packages

Review the stage status

Report Highlights

Capture and examine issues and risks

Escalate issues and risks

Take corrective action

Managing Product Delivery

Accept a Work Package

Execute a Work Package

Deliver a Work Package

Closing a Project

Prepare planned closure

Prepare premature closure

Hand over products

Evaluate the project

Recommend project closure

PRINCE2 Introduction

The Project Manager has the responsibility to plan the work, delegate the work, monitor the work progress, take corrective action if needed, and update the plan with the current and forecast situation:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Business As Usual (BAU) is sometimes called ‘operational management’, and as such are often the recipients of the end products of a project.

Projects are different to BAU and have the following FIVE characteristics:

  • It uses projects to deliver change

  • Projects are temporary and have a defined start and finish time. After the change is delivered the project is disbanded.

  • Projects use cross functional teams, often from other organizations to work together on a temporary basis

  • Each project is unique, some may be similar, but they are always different in some aspect.

  • Because project deliver change they have risks and hence uncertainty, and this must be managed

Be aware of the differences between Business As Usual (BAU) and a Project:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

It is important to put projects into their context:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The definition and characteristics of a PRINCE2 Project

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

It is important to understand the customer/supplier context on which PRINCE2 is based, including considerations when undertaking projects in a commercial environment.

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

There are many reasons why you should use PRINCE2 2017 for your projects:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Integrated elements of PRINCE2

You will want to recall how the integrated elements of PRINCE2 inter-relate:

  1. The project environment
  2. The 7 Processes
  3. The 7 Themes
  4. The 7 Principles

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Project performance management

There are six aspects of a project that need to be controlled and they are:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Costs. The project must be affordable and needs an agreed budget.

Timescales. Every project has duration – defined as the timescale between start and finish.

Quality. The products that a project creates must be fit for purpose.

Scope. The project scope describes exactly what the project will deliver and therefore describes the scope boundary – the project will deliver nothing beyond that.

Risk. Every project has risks, but we need ensure that the total severity of all risks is acceptable

Benefits. The project is an investment and it is important to understand why the project is being done. It delivers products that will realize benefits, and this must outweigh the project time, cost and risk

Project and Programme differences.

“A programme is a temporary flexible organization structure created to coordinate, direct and oversee the implementation of a set of related projects and activities to deliver outcomes and benefits relating to an organization’s strategic objectives. A programme may have a life that spans several years”

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Benefits of using PRINCE2.

PRINCE2 enables the right information to be available at the right time for the right people to make the right decisions.

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Seven PRINCE2 Principles

These PRINCE2 principles are based on years of experience and lessons learned from both successful projects as well as failed projects. To conform to PRINCE2, your project MUST adhere to these principles.

You will need to be able to explain the seven Principles and understand which aspects of a project can be tailored, who is responsible and how tailoring decisions are documented.

The SEVEN Principles are:

  • Continued business justification
  • Learn from experience
  • Defined roles and responsibilities
  • Manage by stages
  • Manage by exception
  • Focus on products
  • Tailor to suit the project environment

Continued business justification

The justification is documented in the Business Case, and this is used to drive all decision-making processes to ensure that the project remains aligned to the business objectives, and that the benefits and Business Case is viable, desirable, and achievable.

The Business Case must be viable to start the project and remain viable throughout. If the Business Case ceases to be viable, the project should be changed or stopped.

Learn from experience

Everyone involved in the project should proactively seek out lessons rather than waiting for someone else to provide them. The lessons are captured in the Lessons Log when starting the project to see if any could be applied.

Lessons should be included in reports and reviews including End Stage Assessments, the aim being to seek opportunities to implement improvements. When the project closes, the Lessons Report should pass on lessons identified for the use of future projects.

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Defined roles and responsibilities

All projects need resources with the right level of knowledge, skills, experience, and authority. These must be assigned required roles within the project. The Project Management Team structure must have these roles and responsibilities agreed plus a means for effective communication between them.

A project must have primary stakeholders, and all three stakeholder interests must be represented on the project:

Business sponsors – ensuring that the project provides value for money

Users – those who will use the project’s products

Suppliers – they provide the project resources including the specialist team who create the products

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Manage by stages

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

A PRINCE2 project divides the project into several management stages – the minimum being two, the initiation stage and one delivery stage.

These stages are partitions of the project with a control/decision point at the end of each – the Project Board need to approve the next stage plan before work commences.

Shorter stages give more control, and longer stages place fewer burdens on senior management.

There is no point attempting to plan beyond the horizon, as planning effort will be wasted.

PRINCE2 achieves this by having a high-level Project Plan, and detailed Stage Plans that are created for the next stage near the end of each current stage.

The project is released to the Project Manager one stage at a time.

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Manage by exception

Management by exception enables efficient use of senior management time by reducing their time and effort burden – while still having control by ensuring that appropriate decisions are made at the right level within the organization.

It does this by defining distinct responsibilities at different levels for directing, managing and delivering the project with accountability at each level. The situation is escalated to the next management level (up) if the tolerances are forecast to be exceeded.

These levels of authority from one management level to the next is achieved by setting appropriate tolerances (a plus/minus allowable deviation from plan).

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Tolerances can be set against the six objectives and constraints for each plan. They are Time, Cost, Quality, Scope, Risk, and Benefit.

Focus on products

Without product focus projects can be subjected to “scope creep”. PRINCE2 uses Product Descriptions which are created during planning. These include the quality criteria that each product must meet. Once the products of a plan have been defined, then the activities and resources can be planned to create the products.

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Tailor to suit the project environment

PRINCE2 is a universal project management method that can be applied to any project in any industry, organization and culture because the method is designed to be tailored.

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Tailoring ensures the PRINCE2 method relates to the project environment, that the project controls are adjusted to suit the project’s scale, complexity, importance, capability and risk

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

The Process and Themes Relationship

Processes and Themes – how do they work together in PRINCE2?

I am often asked that while there are helpful diagrams showing how the PRINCE2 Processes work together, why are there not any similar diagrams for PRINCE2 Themes? So, to start, just a quick review of the 7 PRINCE2 Processes.

Starting Up a Project and Initiating a Project are done in series with a quick dip into Directing a Project to get authorization for entering the initiation stage.

The Initiating a Project process is used in the first PRINCE2 stage which is always called the Initiation Stage. All remaining stages are ‘delivery stages’.

The Final stage is NOT a separate stage; it is just that after all the specialist products have been completed, then the Closing a Project process is used within that same last stage.

Controlling a Stage and Managing Product Delivery are used in parallel within each PRINCE2 delivery stage.

The Managing a Stage Boundary process is used just prior to the end of each stage – apart from the last stage when the Closing a Project process is used. This simplified graphic will help make that clear:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Controlling a Stage is the process used within each delivery stage by the Project Manager.

There must be at least ONE delivery stage, but there may be many. The actual number is dependent upon the nature, size, risk, and complexity of the project.

Managing a Stage Boundary is the process used at the end of EVERY stage to prepare for an End Stage Assessment, and covers the creation of the next stage plan, as well as updating relevant documents within the project initiation documentation (PID) and creating the End Stage Report.

Managing a Stage Boundary is also used if needed to prepare an Exception Plan ready for an Exception Assessment because tolerance has been forecast to be exceeded, and the Project Board (using Directing a Project process), have requested an Exception Plan. This of course, would happen during a stage.

  • Project tolerances are set by corporate or programme management
  • Stage tolerances are set by the project board
  • The Project Manager can optionally set Work Package tolerances

The Team Manager may decide to create a Team Plan as part of accepting the Work Package.

The Project Plan is created by the Project Manager in the Initiating a Project process (within the Initiation stage).

It contains all the information from the start of the first delivery stage (the next stage) up to and including the end of the final delivery stage.

PRINCE2 states that as you get to the end of ANY stage, a Stage Plan is created ready for the Project Board to review at the end stage assessment.

How Do Processes and Themes interrelate?

There is not a complete diagram anywhere in the PRINCE2 Manual, so this is my interpretation, and certainly captures most of the key relationships.

Your mind-set should be “while I am using this particular process, what management products do I need to create, and therefore, to which Themes should I reference?”

First, let us look at the major products that would be referenced for the Starting Up a Project and Initiating A Project processes:

Suppose the project is to build a house. Let’s say that Stage 4 is to landscape the garden area. In the Project Plan, I will have estimated at a high level the duration, resources and costs for landscaping as a small part of the complete house build.

My Project Plan has now been approved, and I am delivering the project in the series sequence of PRINCE2 delivery stages….

As I get near the end of Stage 3, I create the Stage 4 Plan. I take the high-level tasks from the Project Plan, and for the first time create it in sufficient detail so that I can manage it on a day-to-day basis during Stage 4.

New or modified Product Descriptions and Configuration Item Records will also be generated. This is my stage 4 Stage Plan.

The Stage Plan for stage 4 will need to be approved by the Project Board (along with the updated PID contents and my End Stage Report showing current progress and forecast information for the remainder of the project.

The preparation for all this is done in the Managing a Stage Boundary process and is then brought before the Project Board in the Authorize a Stage or Exception Plan activity within the Directing a Project process.

BUT, for the first time in my Stage 4 Plan, I can now create product descriptions and activities for the water feature, the grassed area, the planted trees, the garden pathway, etc.….

Why? Because I did not know enough detail nor had yet to make my mind up back at the time when we created the top-level Project Plan….so planning in detail at the start of a project can be a waste of time and often leads to setting the wrong expectations and leading to rework later in the project when details are known.

So, in this way, PRINCE2 allows its Plans to be refined as the project progresses through its stages – just like in the real world.

By the way, suppose I have decided to outsource the garden water feature to a specialist local designer/provider. One of the Work Packages detailed in the Stage Plan for stage 4, will now be presented to the external supplier for their agreement (cost, time, materials, resources, etc.).

They then sit down with their experts and do a complete costing etc., this is optional of course, but they are producing YOUR Team Plan (they would see it as ‘their project plan’) and their manager would be your ‘Team Manager’

I have just described the ‘Authorize a Work Package’ activity in Controlling a Stage, and the ‘Accept a Work Package’ activity in Managing Product Deliver process (where the specialist teams live and work!)

View the PRINCE2 processes as your ‘toolkit’ showing the sequence and relationships with each other.

View the Themes as ‘reference manuals’ sitting on your top shelf over your desk illustrating the 7 key ‘approaches’ used in a PRINCE2 project.

As you might imagine there is a lot of interaction between the processes and themes. Don’t worry about ‘memorizing’ the activity names – since you will have access to the PRINCE2 Manual throughout your Practitioner exam…

This diagram shows the most likely Theme references needed in each PRINCE2 Process:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

Okay, what is the first thing that you notice?

What is apparent is that almost all the Themes are used in each of the processes!

There is a temptation to think about the individual roles taking part in each process, and frankly, you could argue that all the Themes are used (or are helpful to reference) in ALL the PRINCE2 Processes!

But I’ve tried to pare that down a little. For example, NO planning is done in the Directing a Project, nor in Controlling a Stage processes.

In Managing Product Delivery, if being used by a third party, they may well have their own business case, but it is not the Business Case owned by the Project Board Executive.

Closing a Project. No planning needed here (the Benefits Review Plan does not use product-based planning, nor does it need to follow the same structure as a ‘standard’ PRINCE2 Plan.

PRINCE2 Foundation Exam The foundation exam is a closed book exam and consists of multiple choice questions. There are FOUR possible questions styles, and the following graphic gives generic examples of each:

The Prince2 Foundation Exam

PRINCE2 Management Products

Management Product Process Created Created By
Benefits Management Approach Initiating a Project Project Manager
Business Case outline Starting Up a Project Executive
Business Case detailed Initiating a Project Project Manager
Checkpoint Report Managing Product Delivery Team Manager
Communication Management Approach Initiating a Project Project Manager
Configuration Item Records Initiating a Project and Managing a Stage Boundary Project Manager/Support
Change Control Approach Initiating a Project Project Manager
Daily Log Starting Up a Project Project Manager
End Project Report Closing a Project Project Manager
End Stage Report Managing a Stage Boundary Project Manager
Exception Report Controlling a Stage Project Manager
Highlight Report Controlling a Stage Project Manager
Issue Register Initiating a Project Project Support
Issue Report Controlling a Stage Project Manager usually
Lessons Log Starting Up a Project Project Manager
Lessons Report At stage or project end, and within the Highlight Report Project Manager
Plan Depends upon Plan level Project or Team Manager
Product Description Initiating a Project, Managing a Stage Boundary, and Controlling a Stage Depends upon management or specialist, project or stage level
Product Status Account On demand Project Support
Project Brief Starting Up a Project Project Manager
Project Initiation Documentation (PID) Initiating a Project Project Manager
Project Product Description (PPD) (PPD) Starting Up a Project Project Manager
Quality Management Approach Initiating a Project Project Manager
Quality Register Initiating a Project Project Support
Risk Management Approach Initiating a Project Project Manager
Risk Register Initiating a Project Project Support
Work Package Controlling a Stage Project Manager


Ready for the next lesson?

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