PRINCE2 Agile 2016
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5.3 The themes

The PRINCE2 themes describe aspects of project management that must be addressed continually (see Table 5.1).

In summary, the set of PRINCE2 themes describe:

  • How baselines are established (in the Business Case and Plans themes). The baselines cover all six project performance targets – benefits, risks, scope, quality, cost and time – and act as key reference points for subsequent monitoring and control.
  • How the project management team monitors and controls the work as the project progresses (in the Progress, Quality, Change and Risk themes).

The Organization theme underpins the other themes with a secure structure of roles, clarifying accountability and offering clear paths for delegation and escalation.

Theme Purpose and description Answers

Business Case

The purpose of the Business Case theme is to establish mechanisms to judge whether the project is (and remains) desirable, viable and achievable as a means to support decision-making in its (continued) investment.

The project starts with an idea which is considered to have potential value for the organization concerned. This theme addresses how the idea is developed into a viable investment proposition for the organization and how project management maintains the focus on the organization’s objectives throughout the project.



The purpose of the Organization theme is to define and establish the project’s structure of accountability and responsibilities.

The organization sponsoring the project needs to allocate the work to managers who will be responsible for it and steer it through to completion. Projects are cross-functional so the normal line function structures are not suitable. This theme describes the roles and responsibilities in the temporary PRINCE2 project management team required to manage the project effectively.



The purpose of the Quality theme is to define and implement the means by which the project will verify products that are fit for purpose.

The initial idea will only be understood as a broad outline. This theme explains how the outline is developed so that all participants understand the quality attributes of the products to be delivered – and then how project management will ensure that these requirements are subsequently delivered.



The purpose of the Plans theme is to facilitate communication and control by defining the means of delivering the products.

PRINCE2 projects proceed on the basis of a series of approved plans. This theme complements the Quality theme by describing the steps required to develop plans and the PRINCE2 techniques that should be applied. In PRINCE2 the plans are matched to the needs of the personnel at various levels of the organization. They are the focus for communication and control throughout the project.


How much?



The purpose of the Risk theme is to identify, assess and control uncertainty and as a result, improve the ability of the project to succeed.

Projects typically entail more risk than stable operational activity. This theme addresses how project management manages the uncertainties in plans and in the wider project environment.

What if?


The purpose of the Change theme is to identify, assess and control any potential and approved changes to the baseline.

This theme describes how project management assesses and acts upon issues which have a potential impact on any of the baseline aspects of the project (its plans and completed products). Issues may be unanticipated general problems, requests for change or instances of quality failure.

What’s the impact?


The purpose of the Progress theme is to establish mechanisms to monitor and compare actual achievements against those planned; provide a forecast for the project objectives and the project’s continual viability; and control any unacceptable deviations.

This theme addresses the ongoing viability of the plans. The theme explains the decision-making process for approving plans, the monitoring of actual performance and the escalation process if events do not go according to plan. Ultimately, the Progress theme determines whether and how the project should proceed.

Where are we now?

Where are we going?

Should we carry on?

Table 5.1 The PRINCE2 themes

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