A short PRINCE2 history

The Journey from PROMPT to PRINCE2

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology that came from the UK originally. The PRINCE2 history started with former IBM project managers who created a basic method based on their own experience. It came out in 1975 and was called PROMPT which stands for Projects Resource Organisation Management Planning Technique. One of IBM’s clients was the UK’s CCTA (central Computer and Telecommunications Agency) whose mission was to supply material and IT support to various British government departments.

Finding that PROMPT added a great deal of value to their own projects, the CCTA adapted it in 1979 and called it PRinCE (PROMPT in the CCTA Environment) which became Projects in Controlled Environments.  At the time, the method was still mainly used in IT projects in the public sector. However many businesses in all sectors of the economy were hearing about the method and wanting to use it. And so it underwent another transformation to adapt it to new use for new users. It thus became PRINCE2, more flexible, more generic, applicable to any project, public or private regardless of size or complexity.

As for CCTA, it was integrated into OGC (Office of Government Commerce) in 2000. OGC was part of the Treasury (British Ministry of Finance) but it too was merged with the Cabinet Office, another Government Department, and responsibility for PRINCE2 now sits here.

The initial insight on which PRINCE2 is based hasn’t changed despite the various revisions described above: Its value is to ask how a client can effectively manage a supplier; it’s all down to project management.

Many methodologies exist in perfect complementarity to PRINCE2.  More technical methods and methodologies are concerned with project management on the supplier side whereas PRINCE2 is concerned with project management on the client side.

However, it is of course true that any client will find it a huge advantage to have his or her supplier speak the same language and understand his or her logic (PRINCE2’s that is). It’s the main reason why many PRINCE2 clients ask their suppliers to use PRINCE2 even if the technical delivery is managed by a different method (DSDM, SCRUM or something else).

Today, over 1.000,000 professionals have sat the PRINCE2 Foundation exam which is available in 18 languages. Register for one of our courses here and find out how your business can benefit.


PRINCE2 has its origins in the massive IT projects set in train by the privatisation of British Telecom in the late 1980s, after undergoing a major adaptation in 1996 and again in 2009 it is now widely used across the private and non-profit sectors in small and large projects, reaching far beyond its original technology focus.

It is a truly international methodology – exams are available in 18 languages - and over 1,000,000 project managers around the world have sat the exam. Register for one of our courses here and find out how your business can benefit.

Read all the final developments of the method by viewing the PRINCE2 HISTORY MODULE below.


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About the Author

John helps organisations blend Best Practices in their management systems to improve the way Portfolio of Change Initiatives are run.

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