Top Five Reasons Why Prince2 Sucks

Last week it happened again: one of our employees asked me to pay for Prince2 certification courses for our project managers. (I might have to explain this for my non-European readers. Prince2 is a general-purpose project management methodology. It is promoted by the UK’s Office of Government Commerce and over the last 10 years it has spread like a plague among IT companies on the European continent.) It was the third time an employee asked me this question, and my answer was the same as always.


Our company will not pay for Prince2 certification of our employees. Since this is the third time I was asked the same question, I’ve decided to make a list of my motivations. Next time I can simply point to this article.

  1. The name Prince2 stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. The name itself already defies its applicability for almost any project, because there is no such thing as a controlled environment. We cannot control the business environments our customers and users exist in, and we cannot control the social environments the project stakeholders operate under. Only state prisons are (more or less) controlled. And it’s no coincidence that, when Prince2 is applied faithfully and rigorously, employees are reported to feel imprisoned in their processes (many of them having a tendency to lose the will to live).
  2. The Prince2 method –consisting of 8 components, 10 roles, 8 processes, 45 subprocesses and 33 types of artifacts — is so heavy that it generates its own gravitational field. It is like a black hole that sucks up all your energy, and nothing ever comes out of it.
  3. Prince2 does not address Requirements Management or Requirements Development. It does not address the way the Technical Solution should be built nor does it have processes for Verification or Validation of a product. It doesn’t deal with progress measurements, the post-deployment phase, project portfolios, or the scaling of project size. The only thing it does well is to turn a project manager’s job into the equivalent of a controller of a nuclear powerplant. He has to monitor everything continuously, or something might blow up.
  4. Prince2 manages change as something that must be "controlled", not "embraced", as is the preferred approach in agile software projects. All work is managed through Gantt-charts and other top-down management techniques. Self-organization of software developers and other types of knowledge workers, who are (usually) able to think for themselves and to figure out stuff together, is not actively encouraged, and definately not central to its core principles.
  5. There is so much overhead involved in running a Prince2 project, with so many documents to be produced, that aborting all Prince2 projects worldwide might have a significant impact on the projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Figure: Prince2 in a nutshell

Over the centuries many great stuff has crossed The English Channel from the British isles to the European mainland. Stuff like The Beatles, Earl Grey tea, Absolutely Fabulous and Discworld. But the Prince2 method might be the first good reason for IT companies in Europe to cut away the sea floor cables and flood the Channel Tunnel.

  • My Presentation: The Votes Are In
  • Lesson Learned: Automate Project Evaluations
Related Posts
free book
“How to Change the World”