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How PRINCE2® helps to avert project failure

The number of reasons why projects fail is almost endless. Even with the best of intentions and carefully crafted plans, projects can head south if they are not managed properly. Applying the world-renowned PRINCE2® methodology on your projects can go a long way in ensuring project success.

The table below sets out how PRINCE2® counters some of the most common reasons for project failure.



Poorly managed

Poorly defined roles and responsibilities

Project Management Structure for project created in pre-project Start Up process.

Clear role descriptions for each person in the Project Management team setting out their responsibilities, goals, limits of authority, relationships & reporting lines

Lack of a solid project plan

Project Plan for project as a whole created during Initiation Stage, reviewed & updated by Project Manager at the end of each management stage.

Lack of pro-active management initiatives to combat project risk

Risk Management Strategy compiled in Initiation stage includes procedure, timing of risk activities and roles & responsibilities.

Executive & Project Manager must drive pro-active risk management

Poor communication

Communication Strategy with proper Stakeholder Engagement Plan compiled during Initiation Stage, revised at the end of every management stage

Overruns of schedule and cost

Business Case compiled to ensure business justification for project during Initiation Stage based on Project Plan, reviewed at each management stage boundary; plans done for each stage of the project; project tolerances set for time and cost

Scope creep

Undefined objectives and goals

Project Brief created pre-project in Start Up process; expanded into detailed Project Initiation Document during Initiation Stage to clarify scope

Ignoring project warning signs

Project Manager must review stage progress continuously in Controlling a Stage Process

Reviews done at the end of each project stage by Project Board before authorising next stage

Lack of user input

Inadequate or vague requirements

Meeting end-user expectations

Senior User on Project Board assists in specifying user requirements

Customer Quality Expectations defined in Project Brief with measurable Acceptance Criteria in Start Up process

Eventual Users involved in quality control activities

Unrealistic timeframes and tasks

Estimates for cost and schedule are erroneous

Plans compiled for each Stage of the project – shorter planning horizon

Project Assurance advisors to advise whether plans are realistic

Project Board must approve project - & stage plans

Well-defined planning procedure applied, utilising the Product-based Planning technique

Insufficient resources (funding and personnel)

Appointees to Project Board must have necessary authority to commit resources to project – both (financial & personnel);

Executive responsible for project funding arrangements as set out in Business Case

No change control process

Configuration Management Strategy created in Initiation Stage contains formal Change Control Process

Inadequate testing processes

Quality Management Strategy created in Initiating a Project stage contains testing processes/methods that must be applied to each product to be delivered by project

Lack of management commitment

Corporate/programme management appoints Executive for project

Executive looks after business interests & must ensure project gives value for money

Lack of organisational support

Project Executive must take care of Business interests on project

Universal templates and documentation

PRINCE2® not template driven; supports tailoring of documentation to project needs

Stakeholder conflict

Stakeholder Engagement Procedure implemented

Competing priorities

Cost and risks weighed up against benefits to ensure continued business justification for project; benefits defined at Initiation Stage

Business politics

Project Board has responsibility and authority for the project within the instructions from corporate/programme management in Project Mandate

Lack of prioritisation and project portfolio management

Projects prioritised based on Cost/Risks vs Benefits-analysis of project to client as set out in Business Case

Bad decisions

Project Board is main project decision-making authority

Tolerances set for project board (by corporate/programme management), project manager (by project board) & team managers (by project manager)

If any tolerance is forecast to be exceeded, the problem must be escalated to higher management level


  1. Why projects fail - Oracle
    1. Reasons Why Projects Fail - Tom Carlos


Madisakwane, Phalenyane P
2017-01-11, 10:49
Hello Abigail

Compliments to the new year. I hope you entered well and looking forward to the opportunities presented in 2017.

I would like to … read more
Mphoza Masemola
2015-05-21, 17:22
Afternoon Matium,

Thanks again Matium for you excellent method of training….there is no ways I would have passed without following your … read more
Segomotso Matswiri
2015-03-13, 09:25
The instructor was very articulate of issues and was very easy to follow and understand.
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