Quick Guide to PRINCE2

What It Is
PRINCE2, standing for Projects IN Controlled Environments Version 2, is a widely used project management standard. It is a process-based method, applicable to any type of project and it is used across the UK and internationally in both public and private sectors.

A Short History
PRINCE Version 1, derived from an earlier method PROMPT 2, was established and first published in 1989 for IT projects by CCTA, the UK Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency. It was significantly revised in 1996, becoming PRINCE version 2, designed to be more user friendly and applicable to all types of projects. PRINCE2 is currently owned by the Cabinet Office, part of HM Government. Plans are now afoot for the Government to appoint a Joint Venture partner to lead the exploitation and development of the Cabinet Office’s Best Practice portfolio, which includes PRINCE2.

The latest version of PRINCE 2 was published in 2009 in two volumes:
1.) Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2
-this is designed for people who work on projects
2.) Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2
-this is for people who lead or sponsor a project

Main Features of PRINCE2
– Defined organisation structure for project management team
– Emphasis on managing the project in controllable, divisible stages
– Product-based planning approach
– Focus on business justification
– Flexibility to be applied at appropriate project level.

PRINCE2 includes a set of principles, control themes, a process lifecycle and guidance on applying the method to projects.
Control themes are features of project management that are constantly addressed throughout the project lifecycle and they provide guidance on how processes should be performed. The set of PRINCE2 control themes describe:
-How baselines for risks, quality, benefits, scope, cost and time are established.
-How the project management team controls and monitors the project’s progress.

The organisation themes support the other themes by providing a structure of roles and responsibilities, including clear paths for delegation and escalation.

PRINCE2 Process Model
PRINCE2’s process model for project management contains a group of activities that are necessary for directing, managing and delivering a project.



process model



PRINCE2 Strengths and Weaknesses
– Applicable to any type of project
– Provides a universal vocabulary and approach
– Synthesises easily with industry-specific models
– The product focus clearly defines what the project will deliver and to which approved quality standards
– It is not a complete answer to project management
– Certain topics are either not included or not covered comprehensively, e.g. leadership
– Certain techniques are not included, e.g. network planning
However, these topics and techniques can easily be included alongside PRINCE2.

Official PRINCE2 website
The Cabinet Office website dedicated to PRINCE2 is at

VanHaren Publications
Project Management based on PRINCE 2009 Edition

PRINCE2 2009 Edition A Pocket Guide

Passing the PRINCE2 2009 Edition Foundation Exam- Exam Guide

PRINCE2 2009 Edition- Quick Reference Card

PRINCE2 in Practice: A practical approach to creating project management documents

For information on Quint Group PRINCE2 training please visit http://www.quintgroup.com. For information on other Accredited Training Organisations, please consult the PRINCE2 official site http://www.prince-officialsite.com.

PRINCE2 Take-up: Exams Taken
The following figures from the Cabinet Office of exams taken give an indication of PRINCE2 take-up:

2009 118960
2010 120578
2011 136149
2012 (Jan-Nov) 132790.

These figures make an interesting comparison with published figures on ITIL exams passed, which stood at 216640 for Jan-Nov 2012. See http://www.itil-officialsite.com

Quick Guide to ITIL 2011

ITIL, owned by the UK Cabinet Office, was first conceived in 1987 by officials in the UK Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA). John Stewart, with the late Pete Skinner, came up with the concept out of a realisation that organisations were becoming increasingly dependent on IT. That meant there was an opportunity to develop a standard framework to help organisations to manage their IT infrastructure effectively and efficiently and thereby provide IT services of the quality required by their businesses.

The first ITIL Version 1 publication appeared in 1988. Version 2, significantly reduced in size, was published in the early 2000s and Version 3, with larger scope, in 2007. An ITIL 2011 update (not a new version like Version 3) was released in July 2011.

CCTA was absorbed into the Office of Government Commerce, OGC, in 2000. OGC itself was subsumed into the Cabinet Office in 2011. Plans are now afoot for the UK Government to appoint a Joint Venture partner to take a majority stake in the Best Management Practice business and thereby to lead the development, management and exploitation of ITIL from 2014 onwards. A competition to find the JV partner is under way, with an announcement expected in the spring of 2013.

The ITIL qualification scheme is modular and provides for qualifications at various levels of knowledge: Foundation, Intermediate, Managing Across the Lifecycle, Expert and Master. Full details are available at http://www.itil-officialsite.com .

Quint Wellington Redwood is an accredited training organisation offering courses at all levels. For information please visit http://www.quintgroup.com/en/. Information on other training providers is accessible through http://www.itil-officialsite.com .

Publications by Van Haren
Below is a selection of titles. For a comprehensive list, including publications in other languages, please visit the Van Haren website at http://www.vanharen.net
Foundations of ITIL 2011

ITIL A Pocket Guide

Passing the ITIL Intermediate Exams

Passing the ITIL Foundation Exam

The ITIL Process Manual

Updates and improvements in ITIL 2011

ITIL 2011 Service Strategy:
-clearer concepts
-additional practical guidance
-further examples
There are separate descriptions for Business Strategy and IT Strategy. Business Relationship Management and Demand Management are now defined as processes. Financial Management has also been expanded.

ITIL 2011 Service Design:
-aligns ITIL Service Design and ITIL Service Strategy.
-principles and concepts are clearer, with the addition of the Design Coordination process.
-the five aspects of service design, the service portfolio design and the terminology of the service catalogue have all been developed further.

ITIL Service Transition 2011:
-contains improvements in the flow and integration of several processes, such as change management, change evaluation, and release and deployment management.
-changes have been made to help readers understand key concepts. For example:
• new explanations on how a change proposal should be used
• the evaluation process has been renamed ‘change evaluation’
• the purpose and scope of ‘change evaluation’ have been modified to help understanding of when and how this process should be used
• structure, content and relationships of CMS (configuration management system) and SKMS (service knowledge management system) have been modified

ITIL Service Operation 2011:
-key Principles have been clarified, including guidance around service request models and proactive problem management.
-application management activities versus application development activities have been clarified.
-clarifying problem management by expanding section on problem analysis techniques, procedure flow for incidents and more guidance for escalating problem management incidents.
-there have been updates of process flows for all processes, including, request fulfilment, access management and event management. There is also additional guidance for managing physical facilities.

ITIL Continual Service Improvement 2011:
-has been renamed the CSI approach, rather than the CSI model. The idea of a CSI register has been introduced to record details of all improvement initiatives within an organisation.
-there has also been a greater emphasis on documenting the interfaces from CSI to other lifecycle stages.
-the seven step improvement process and its relationship with the ‘Plan-Do-Check-Act’ management cycle is clearer and minor changes have been made in all sections of the book to enhance meaning, improve readability and thus promote greater understanding.

How ITIL started

How ITIL started

There are many stories circulating about ITIL’s origins. As the person who started ITIL, I’m offering my recollections and perspectives in this blog. I’d welcome comments from anyone who was involved in the early days.

If you think the past is irrelevant, think again: learn nothing from this blog and you may be missing something!

Dependence on IT: some pre-history
As a research student, I needed to spend the occasional Saturday with sole use of a commandeered mainframe; not funny then when something went wrong (usually my program!) after 8 hours at 16.45 and the only option was to come back again the following Saturday! Lesson 1 on the link between dependency and quality.

A few years later, I was struck by the contrast between one employer’s excellent Michigan Terminal System and a subsequent employer’s rather unreliable and slow system: not very good for productivity or patience! Lesson 2 on the link between dependency and quality, this time bringing in responsiveness at the desktop.

The seeds had been sown for a life long interest in IT quality generally and operational service quality in particular. So I was pleased in 1987 to be offered a job in the UK government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) in a section concerned with supplier management and operational infrastructure.

Quality and repeatability
Stung by application development project problems, CCTA had adopted the idea of codifying good practice in System Analysis and Design and project management and thus were created the methods SSADM and PRINCE (a government development based on PROMPT). The intention was to encourage government organisations to use these standardised approaches in preference to reinventing their own wheels.

With these developments having paved the way, my boss the late Pete Skinner and I came up with the idea of a standardised approach to IT infrastructure management. We felt sure the CCTA Board would give us their blessing, as government dependency (and expenditure) on IT was growing and set to grow a lot more. We had no idea just how dependent government and everybody else was going to become! This was a long time before there was a computer on every desk, let alone in most homes!

Our basic philosophy was simple: a standardised approach could be tailored by individual organisations as a basis for their own, repeatable processes. No longer would every unit be on its own doing its own thing and no longer would every project setting up IT management risk being a voyage of discovery. Best practice would be there for the taking.

We took our own medicine on quality through repeatability and became one of the first UK government bodies to obtain certification to the quality management standard ISO9001 for our work developing ITIL.

You don’t have to be crazy
Not everybody on the CCTA Board was convinced of our no-brainer. When I finally got to present to the Board (my elder daughter decided to be born the day originally scheduled) one of the members suggested we might be crazy; I’m not sure it was intended as a compliment.

Nevertheless we were given the go-ahead for the initial development and thus was ITIL conceived.
Getting help
We asked four companies to provide us with advice based on short consultancy assignments: PA Consulting, CSC, IBM and ICL, then a leading UK hardware vendor. The most immediately useful material was from IBM, which provided us with IT service management checklists that they allowed us to freely reuse. From memory, we published these quickly as the first deliverables of what we were going to call the government IT infrastructure management methodology (G I T I M M). To safeguard our position, we issued them on paper that could not be photocopied, rather odd for an organisation intent on promulgating best practice!

But we weren’t going to stop at checklists; Pete wanted to implement the original idea of codified good (best) practice. In terms of coverage, it was clear to me that it had to be about IT service management and not just management of the infrastructure. Mostly under IBM influence, we came up with a set of titles: change management, problem management, capacity management, availability management etc. CSC were keen advocates of service level management as a basis for managing outsourced IT service provision, a subject to which we devoted a special ITIL book with the now-strange title Managing Facilities Management. The service level management thinking in ITIL found its way into government contracts when outsourcing of IT later took off in a big way.

Not just books
When Roy Dibble took Board-level responsibility for our area, he instigated a name-change. Out went the ‘Government’ in the title as being potentially off-putting to non-government users; out went ‘methodology’ as it wasn’t one; and in came ‘IT Infrastructure Library’ , a collection of best-practice books.

I always saw the books as the foundations, not the edifice as a whole. What we were trying to do was to bring about a new, more standard way of doing things. Ultimately that would be down to the competence and actions of IT mangers, professionals and practitioners. By analogy, the manual on how to fly doesn’t make an airline pilot. So a qualifications scheme with training syllabuses supported by effective quality controls would be needed to complement the ITIL publications. There was also an opportunity to develop software support tools.

Open, competitive supply market
We always intended that the publications should be available to the widest possible audience, in the private sector as well as the public sector and internationally, not just in the UK.

We also wanted there to be an open, competitive supply market in services (including training) and products supporting ITIL.

That way, the businesses that would grow by supporting ITIL would act as the main proponents of the ITL message – an important consideration for a small government unit whose purpose was to facilitate better value-for-money from the UK government’s expenditure on IT. We were in no position to go out and act as our own salesforce!

I had a meeting in a Norwich pub, facilitated by ITIL team member Neil Croft, with 2 Pink Elephant employees Alan Nance and Martin van Kesteren, which heralded the start of Dutch interest in ITIL. Dutch companies more than any other fostered ITIL internationalisation, to the point that it’s now in use on every continent on earth.

Strong team
I was blessed with a team of highly motivated, competent people from within CCTA and other government departments. Some are still working in support of ITIL. Of one potential recruit, my boss asked ‘would he fit in?‘ I thought not, so we recruited him!

We supplemented the team with bought-in expertise, some of it excellent but none of it cheap!

Strong user voice
We always had a certain humility; we had a position at the centre enabling us to create ITIL but most of the relevant experience and expertise lay outside CCTA.

We particularly wanted a user group that would champion the cause of the user community. From that desire emerged itIMF. The I for infrastructure was subsequently change to S for service. itSMF now has chapters in many countries. It is to be hoped that itSMF will continue to provide a strong user voice that the owners of ITIL need to hear.

25 years on
We developed ITIL with a modestly sized team. We had a reasonable budget for the task. We tried to focus on quality; we weren’t very good at setting or meeting deadlines and happily weren’t under much pressure to do so!

As a government body, we couldn’t devote resources to sales or support outside UK government. So we worked through others, who acted as our salesforce in the interests of their own businesses.

There’s been a lot of water under the bridge since that early Board meeting in 1987. That’s for another blog another day, if there’s interest.

I’m pretty confident the government will have more than recouped its expenditure on ITIL.

More exciting, though, is the beneficial impact of ITIL on IT providers, clients, users and supporting businesses.

There’s a lot more to do. That’s definitely a subject for another day!

Surely not more Best Practice? by the Founder of ITIL

Surely not more best practice?

Sir Peter Gershon famously compared the amount of ‘best practice guidance’ he inherited when he set up the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), at hundreds of pages, unfavourably with the half page of the ten commandments. He wasn’t impressed. If there was all this best practice available, why was IT providers’ (and clients’) performance on the ground so patchy?

The current British government has also set its face against voluminous best practice. Its approach to procurement, for example, has been significantly ‘Leaned’.

So what on earth is the founder of ITIL, who was also the instigator of PRINCE2, doing foisting more best practice on an unsuspecting world? Some might even say he’s foisted more than enough already.

Correct, not more best practice!

Well, first and foremost I’m not trying to foist any more good practice guidance into the marketplace. There is more than enough of it in existence already.

What I am trying to promote, though, is overview:
• how do all the best-practice frameworks and standards fit together and do they between them cover the ground?
• what do professionals need to know about the big picture outside their own area of specialism with its own framework/s?
• which are the key current and upcoming frameworks where people’s limited time is best spent? which frameworks are just spent forces?

… and cohesion and coverage:
• can we (the IT industry) tackle the overlaps and underlaps?
• can we improve integration and interworking?
• can we plug the gaps?

I see IBPI as a catalyst for bringing about better understanding, cohesion and coverage. IBPI will not of itself be developing or amending frameworks to improve cohesion and coverage.

Do we need all the frameworks and standards? Isn’t it time to prune, not promote?

Yes a case can be made that there are too many frameworks competing with each other and intruding on each other’s space. That’s a very good reason for focusing on those that really matter.

In fact, do we need frameworks and standards at all?

In theory you could leave it to IT professionals to decide their own best practices. And leave it up to intelligent clients to control their providers as best they can based on their intellect and people-skills.

That would make it more difficult to train people and more difficult to assess their skills, harder for people to change employer, and it would generally make failure and disappointment more prevalent.

What the industry needs is greater positive impact from the frameworks that are used; and more coverage in difficult areas that are less amenable to codifying best practice into frameworks and standards.

Portfolio management challenge?

Some effort is already being put into framework coverage and cohesion, notably by ISO and other Standards bodies, as well as by framework owners themselves to some extent.

It’s hard to escape the conclusion, though, that more needs to be done to get the best out of an evolving portfolio of best-practice standards and frameworks.

This is a challenge for the whole IT industry and its clients:
• for framework owners to provide and promote genuine best practice and to work with others to optimise coverage and minimise overlaps and underlaps – collaborating not competing with the owners of other-domain frameworks for the greater good
• for exam institutes and training providers, to focus on growing people’s professionalism, not just on getting them through exams
• for framework owners and exam institutes, to foster cross-disciplinary training to complement the specialist training at which they already excel
• for users (provider and client) to demand and deploy global-standard industry frameworks; to see to it they benefit from doing so and to shout loudly if the frameworks industry isn’t delivering for them.

At IBPI, we aren’t just articulating the challenge – a challenge that exists whether we raise it or not. We’d like your help as stakeholders to shine a torch on the industry’s frameworks and to harness framework provider and user interest in getting up in the helicopter and improving on the landscape below!

What’s in it for IBPI?

IBPI exists primarily to do good: to improve professionalism. If in doing that we also help build our sponsors‘ reputation and standing, so much the better.

I’ve been lucky enough to spend most of my working life on activities intended for the greater good: for better value-for-money for the UK taxpayer, particularly from the government’s expenditure on buying goods and services and on harnessing IT.

I consider it an honour to contribute to IBPI’s drive to add value to IT best practice by catalysing synergy across our industry’s frameworks and standards – and thereby to help improve professionalism and value-for-money for those providing and using IT.

I’d love to hear your opinions.