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PRINCE2 Processes

PRINCE2 is a process-based approach for project management providing an easily tailored, and scalable method for the management of all types of projects. Each process is defined with its key inputs and outputs together with the specific objectives to be achieved and activities to be carried out.

Below you will find a diagram and subsequent explanation of the PRINCE2 processes to help guide you when managing projects with PRINCE2. Leading accredited training organisation ILX Group also provide a free comprehensive PRINCE2 process model poster available for you to download and use as a quick reference on your desk or wall!

See the PRINCE2 download centre for many more useful PRINCE2 resources, available for free from ILX Group.

If you require PRINCE2 training there are two PRINCE2 qualification levels you can get accredited for: PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner.

PRINCE2 Foundation level is for those with a requirement to learn the basics and terminology of PRINCE2. A PRINCE2 Foundation qualification can be reached with ILX's renowned PRINCE2 Foundation online learning or a three day PRINCE2 Foundation tutor-led classroom course .

PRINCE2 Practitioner is the highest level qualification and is suitable for those with the need to manage projects within a PRINCE2 environment. A PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification can be reached with the ILX combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner blended package or a combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner five day tutor-led classroom course . If you don't wish to enter the classroom you can purchase PRINCE2 Practitioner Plus which combines both Foundation and Practitioner online learning.

PRINCE2 Process Model

Directing a Project

Directing a Project runs from the start-up of the project until its closure. This process is aimed at the Project Board. The Project Board manages and monitors via reports and controls through a number of decision points.

The key processes for the Project Board break into four main areas:

  • Initiation (starting the project off on the right foot)
  • Stage boundaries (commitment of more resources after checking results so far)
  • Ad hoc direction (monitoring progress, providing advice and guidance, reacting to exception situations)
  • Project closure (confirming the project outcome and controlled close).
  • This process does not cover the day-to-day activities of the Project Manager.

Starting up a Project

This is the first process in PRINCE2. It is a pre-project process, designed to ensure that the pre-requisites for initiating the project are in place.

The process expects the existence of a Project Mandate which defines in high level terms the reason for the project and what outcome is sought. Starting up a Project should be very short.

The work of the process is built around the production of three elements:

  • Ensuring that the information required for the project team is available
  • Designing and appointing the Project Management Team
  • Creating the Initiation Stage Plan.

Initiating a Project

The objectives of Initiating a Project are to:

  • Agree whether or not there is sufficient justification to proceed with the project
  • Establish a stable management basis on which to proceed
  • Document and confirm that an acceptable Business Case exists for the project
  • Ensure a firm and accepted Foundation to the project prior to commencement of the work
  • Agree to the commitment of resources for the first stage of the project
  • Enable and encourage the Project Board to take ownership of the project
  • Provide the baseline for the decision-making processes required during the project's life
  • Ensure that the investment of time and effort required by the project is made wisely, taking account of the risks to the project.

Managing Stage Boundaries

This process provides the Project Board with key decision points on whether to continue with the project or not.

The objectives of the process are to:

  • Assure the Project Board that all deliverables planned in the current Stage Plan have been completed as defined
  • Provide the information needed for the Project Board to assess the continuing viability of the project
  • Provide the Project Board with information needed to approve the current stage's completion and authorise the start of the next stage, together with its delegated tolerance level
  • Record any measurements or lessons which can help later stages of this project and/or other projects.

Controlling a Stage

This process describes the monitoring and control activities of the Project Manager involved in ensuring that a stage stays on course and reacts to unexpected events. The process forms the core of the Project Manager's effort on the project, being the process which handles day-to-day management of the project.

Throughout a stage there will be a cycle consisting of:

  • Authorising work to be done
  • Gathering progress information about that work
  • Watching for changes
  • Reviewing the situation
  • Reporting
  • Taking any necessary corrective action.

This process covers these activities, together with the on-going work of risk management and change control.

Managing Product Delivery

The objective of this process is to ensure that planned products are created and delivered by:

  • Making certain that work on products allocated to the team is effectively authorised and agreed accepting and checking Work Packages
  • Ensuring that work conforms to the requirements of interfaces identified in the Work Package
  • Ensuring that the work is done
  • Assessing work progress and forecasts regularly
  • Ensuring that completed products meet quality criteria
  • Obtaining approval for the completed products.

Closing a Project

The purpose of this process is to execute a controlled close to the project. The process covers the Project Manager's work to wrap up the project either at its end or at premature close. Most of the work is to prepare input to the Project Board to obtain its confirmation that the project may close.

The objectives of Closing a Project are therefore to:

  • Check the extent to which the objectives or aims set out in the Project Initiation Document (PID) have been met
  • Confirm the extent of the fulfilment of the Project Initiation Document (PID) and the Customer's satisfaction with the deliverables
  • Obtain formal acceptance of the deliverables
  • Ensure to what extent all expected products have been handed over and accepted by the Customer
  • Confirm that maintenance and operation arrangements are in place (where appropriate)
  • Make any recommendations for follow-on actions
  • Capture lessons resulting from the project and complete the Lessons Learned Report
  • Prepare an End Project Report
  • Notify the host organisation of the intention to disband the project organisation and resources.


PRINCE2 recommends three levels of plan to reflect the needs of the different management levels involved in the project, stage and team.

Planning is a repeatable process and its activities are included within the seven main PRINCE2 processes, as appropriate. Information about plans and how to plan can be found in the Plans Theme section of the PRINCE2 Manual.

The activities of planning are :-

  • Design the plan
  • Define and analyse the products
  • Identify the activities and dependencies
  • Prepare estimates
  • Prepare the schedule
  • Analyse the risks
  • Document the plan

PRINCE2 uses a technique known as ‘Product based planning’ which requires four activities :-

  • Write the Project Product Description
  • Create the product breakdown structure
  • Write the product descriptions
  • Create the product flow diagram

These four activities are performed within the ‘Define and analyse the products’ activity above.