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People and PRINCE2 principles 

 December 3, 2023

By  Dave Litten

People and PRINCE2 principles

PRINCE2 is based on seven principles, one of which is that all PRINCE2 projects must define roles, responsibilities, and relationships.

This ensures that people factors are continually addressed throughout the project’s lifecycle. People factors permeate the other principles.

Ensure continued business justification.

Organizations are fundamentally a collection of people interacting with each other around the core purposes of that organization. The business justification for a project must satisfy all three project interests: user, business, and supplier.

Defining a project that aligns all these interests can take time and effort. Therefore, it is essential to consider the dynamics of the critical relationships relating to these interests, as they impact how agreement is reached and determine whether the project continues to be valid.

Moreover, it is crucial to recognize that what is considered justification may change when roles change.

Business justification can be perception-based, so the communication management approach is crucial to ensure ongoing perceived business justification by managing key relationships and showcasing progress to demonstrate value.

Learn from experience.

There is significant value in learning from visible knowledge, such as business books and captured learning, but valuable knowledge is hidden within a project ecosystem. This requires a collaborative environment that encourages knowledge sharing throughout the lifetime of a project.

Knowledge sharing enables people to benefit from each other’s experience.

In particular, people factor such as behaviours, culture, and relationships are difficult to document and are best learned through social learning.

For example, team members connect and learn from people who have worked on an earlier stage or other projects with similar characteristics.

Manage by stages.

The stages of a project often mark a change in the influencers and any key relationships. They are good points to review how the project is planned to deliver, ensuring it remains aligned with how people interact with each other and the broader organizational ecosystem.

Stage boundaries often mark a transition in the organizational design.

Stage boundaries provide a more controlled way to review the skills needed for the following delivery stages and make changes, even to the Project Board. It is better to have the right people managing the project than people who cannot effectively contribute.

Manage by exception.

Decisions should be made locally, where the knowledge needed to create and own those decisions resides. Decisions should be progressed through the levels when a decision has the potential to impact other areas of the project. Therefore, it requires different perspectives to be considered, or it will have a broader impact outside the project boundaries.

The extent of delegation is often dependent on the level of confidence and trust that exists in the key relationships and will adapt over the life of a project in response to the skills and capabilities of individuals. Improving confidence and trust enhances the ability to manage by exception. 

Focus on products.

Co-creating products, with agreed product descriptions, with the business, user, and supplier communities to unite their perspectives. This improves the development and adoption of the products into the industry, reducing handover risks and ensuring that operational and maintenance issues are fully considered.

Tailor to suit the project context.

Tailoring supports adapting the PRINCE2 method to the people and organizations involved rather than attempting to adapt them to the method.

Tailoring is based on capability or project management maturity, which will evolve as people better understand PRINCE2 principles, practices, and processes.

People and PRINCE2 practices

PRINCE2 defines seven practices that are essential aspects of project management that must be applied continually and in parallel throughout the life of the project.

The ‘organizing’ practice explains how people organize within a temporary project management team. In this way, it ensures that the interests of the user, supplier, and business are represented in the project and establishes the design and development of the project organization.

People factors are represented in all the practices. For example, the development of the business case requires multi-layered perspectives from across the organizational ecosystem (business, user, and supplier communities).

This is to provide clarity regarding the project’s purpose and enable a common understanding to develop across the project team.

People and PRINCE2 processes

The PRINCE2 processes are organized into four layers: business, directing, managing, and delivering. People factors such as behaviours, culture, and relationships are included in the processes, explaining how people interface between the layers

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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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