The History of PRINCE2

PRINCE2 is the third incarnation of the Project Resource Organisation Management Planning Technique, or PROMPT, which was a project management system created in 1975 by Simpact Systems Ltd to assists the UK government in developing and managing the country’s IT support systems. The system proved to be demonstrably effective, and by 1983, was used by all major government agencies.

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However, in 1989, spurred by the explosive growth of the computing sector, the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), known at the time as the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), improved upon the PROMPT framework and released PRojects IN Controlled Environments, or PRINCE.


Nevertheless, the demand for a more comprehensive project management framework grew, which compelled CCTA to develop a superior solution. The agency even sought the contribution of around 150 organisations from the business and training sectors from continental Europe. This eventually culminated with the release of the third and final version of PRINCE in 1996. Called PRINCE2, the new framework incorporated a significantly broader overview of project management, ranging from operations and maintenance to strategic planning and quality assurance.


PRINCE2 earned rave reviews, and its use expanded to beyond government agencies from around the world into the private sector. Even the United Nations and its many agencies and bodies began to adopt PRINCE2 as the de facto project management standard.


However, the change of status of the OGC from an agency into the Cabinet office in June 2010 compelled the government to shift the control of the framework into another entity. Otherwise, its use in foreign governments and international bodies might be affected owing to the perception of impartiality. After an exhaustive review and vetting process, the government and Capita, a private company, established AXELOS to manage PRINCE2 in July 2013.


Since the framework was developed by the government, it was transferred in its entirety to the public domain, free of any license or royalty claims. However, AXELOS remains the sole management and authorised certification body for PRINCE2.


PRINCE2 has undergone four minor updates and revisions since it release; in 1998, 2005, 2009 and another in 2017. On each occasion, the revisions were made to keep abreast of the latest changes in the business and project management sectors. Effective from 1 January 2018, all PRINCE2 exams and certifications will be based exclusively on the updated 2017 syllabus and all previous versions will be deemed obsolete.


In addition to the revisions, AXELOS has also released PRINCE2 Agile extension in June 2018. Agile is designed to provide a similar high quality project management framework for agile, fast moving environments.



Hollie Connolly

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