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PRINCE2 and BS 6079:2019 White Paper

White Paper

PRINCE2 and BS 6079:2019 White Paper

White Paper

  • White Paper
  • Business solutions
  • Governance
  • Project management
  • Project planning
  • Roles
  • Skills
  • Training
  • PRINCE2 Agile

Author  Robert Buttrick

September 1, 2020 |

 20 min read

  • White Paper
  • Business solutions
  • Governance
  • Project management
  • Project planning
  • Roles
  • Skills
  • Training
  • PRINCE2 Agile


This white paper shows how PRINCE2® can be used to help organizations ensure their project management approach follows the recommendations given in British Standard BS 6079:2019 Project management. Principles and guidance for the management of projects.


There is scope for confusion regarding the respective uses of standards and methods, and how they are applied in organizations. In simple terms:

  • a standard defines what needs to be done, and why, but not how activities are done;
  • a method, such as PRINCE2, provides not only a set of activities to be done, together with roles, but also techniques for undertaking these activities i.e. it also describes how to undertake the work.

As such, in the context of this paper:

  • a standard is short; it is designed to provide a succinct and commonly understood framework of practice, often used by those designing methods and by auditors as a reference framework;
  • a method is usually extensive and designed for use by practitioners.

Organizational approaches normally fit within the description of a ‘method’, as they are designed for practical use within the organization for which they are designed. They can be derived directly from a standard, such as BS 6079:2019, or from a method like PRINCE2. By including techniques, a method is prescriptive about the way particular activities should be undertaken; for that reason, methods tend to be far longer and more detailed.

Standards can improve the effectiveness of project management by drawing attention to the key principles to be applied and activities needed. This happens in two ways:

  • The content of the standard becomes a ‘checklist’ against which an organization can assess the completeness of its own approaches in terms of both principles and activities. This leads to fewer organizations missing activities which national (or international) consensus deems vital for project effectiveness.
  • By standardising what project management is, people from different organizations are able to work together more easily and with fewer misunderstandings.

Once established, standards can promote continuous improvement by being periodically reviewed and updated to ensure the latest consensus on best practice is included and any omissions or clarifications dealt with. In this way, all users of standards benefit from the collective experience of all other users.


Since 1996, when it was first published, PRINCE2 has grown to become the de facto project management method, not just in the UK but in more than 150 countries worldwide. The core document for PRINCE2 is Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. This is supported by a number of additional texts, including:

  • Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2: this is aimed at sponsors of projects and senior managers: a handbook aimed at project board members to help them undertake their critical role in directing a project.
  • PRINCE2 Handbook: a quick reference guide to the core text for use by practitioners
  • PRINCE2 Agile: guidance on how to use PRINCE2 with agile techniques such as SCRUM, Kanban and Lean StartUp
  • An Executive Guide to PRINCE2 Agile: aimed at senior management, this guide shows how agile techniques and PRINCE2 can be combined in practice.

The growth in the use of PRINCE2 is the result of a number of factors, including:

  • expectations set by successive UK governments, which have an interest in seeing that project performance in both the public and private sectors improves to benefit the UK’s economy as a whole. This lead has been followed by many other governments overseas
  • very little alternative ‘open copyright’ material is available for organizations to draw on; most project management methods are proprietary to the organizations which created them
  • PRINCE2’s scope covers all the roles and processes needed to direct, manage and undertake a project in its entirety
  • PRINCE2 can be used for standalone projects as well as for those which are part of a programme or portfolio. AXELOS provides methods for this which are compatible with PRINCE2
  • training in the PRINCE2 method can be sourced easily
  • there is a growing requirement for ‘accreditation’ to be proven in a supplier/contractor context.

About BS 6079:2019

British Standards can be ‘normative’ or ‘informative’. Originally aimed at promoting trade:

  • normative standards are prescriptive in terms of quality and techniques to be used; they are written as ‘shall’ statements;
  • informative standards provide recommendations, providing their readers with a concise summary of each topic covered; they are written as ‘should’ statements.

The latest British Standard on project management is an informative standard and provides guidance on the key concepts and the activities needed to be undertaken in order to increase the likelihood of a project being successful. Informative standards are not intended for formal compliance or assessment.

BS 6079:2019 does not define any techniques to be used; but stresses that it is for the project manager to select techniques to suit the project’s needs and context. This is where a standard differs from PRINCE2, which does prescribe or recommend certain techniques to be used.

BSI published its first project management standard in three parts in 2000 and 2002. Part 1 was updated in 2010. The latest edition, published in 2019, replaces BS 6079 Parts 1, 2 and 3 with a single document. The new standard takes into account the growing consensus on project management both in the UK and internationally, drawing on publicly available sources such as the UK’s Association for Project Management’s Body of Knowledge and the international standard, ISO 21500:20128.

BS 6079:2019 provides a set of practices which can be tailored to suit any particular organization or project and treats ‘project management’ in an holistic way, including activities undertaken by the sponsor and the project team as well as those undertaken by the project manager. In this respect, it differs significantly from the international standard, ISO 21500:2012, which only covers the role of the project manager.

Comparing BS 6079:2019 with PRINCE2


Due to the different purposes and format, it is not possible to provide a direct comparison between PRINCE2 and BS 6079:2019 for every clause and section. Despite this, a core of common principles and practices runs through both documents. Both documents:

  • are business’ or ‘benefit’ driven and may be applied to any type of project in any sector, using any delivery method. Both are written to be inclusive of agile techniques
  • see projects as vehicles for bridging the gap between the strategic needs of an organization and the realization of benefits by putting in place specific capabilities and delivering specific outcomes
  • use the same approach for project management context or environment in terms of portfolio and programme management
  • use the term ‘planning’ in its widest sense, to include benefits, schedule, costs, resources and scope, constrained by risk
  • include the concept of tailoring as a principle, on the basis that, as projects are unique, the approach used should be adapted to suit the particular circumstances and context.

In this paper, references in:

  • PRINCE2 are called ‘sections’ and are in normal brackets;
  • BS 6079:2019 are called ‘clauses’ and are in square brackets.


PRINCE2 has a glossary which is used consistently throughout, so that particular words are used in a specific way. Whilst BS6079:2019 also uses language consistently, these do not always match the PRINCE2 terms. For example, in BS 6079, uses ‘phase’ whilst PRINCE2 uses the term ‘stage’. Both PRINCE2 and BS 6079:2019 allow terminology to be changed (tailored) to suit the context.

A comparative glossary of the key terms is in section 9.


4.3.1 General

PRINCE2 is itself a system for ensuring good governance, even though the actual term is not used very often within the manual. In PRINCE2, the term ‘governance’ usually focuses on the accountabilities, whereas BS 6079 uses the term more widely and looks at what can affect governance arrangements. Most of the aspects of governance mentioned in BS 6079 are picked up in the tailoring guidelines within PRINCE2.

4.3.2 Roles and accountabilities

PRINCE2 and the British Standard both include roles for:

  • the organization in overseeing a project;
  • the executive/project sponsor in directing the project;
  • the project board in supporting the executive/sponsor;
  • project assurance;
  • the project manager in managing the project;
  • project support, in supporting the project manager and team;
  • the team manager and team members in delivering the project’s deliverables, outputs and outcomes and in realizing the benefits.

The roles and their descriptions are very similar, except that PRINCE2 calls BS 6079’s ‘project sponsor’ the ‘executive’ and is more prescriptive about the use and constituency of a project board. Again, both documents allow tailoring so organizations can choose their own job titles and arrangements.


PRINCE2 and BS 6079:2019 both define a project lifecycle being made up of phases/stages, with a project having at least two phases/stages. In both documents the lifecycle is a means of limiting risk and placing a degree of reality on the planning horizon. The British Standard uses the term ‘gates’, which it defines as decision points to start the next phase/stage of the project, independent of when a stage actually ends. By contrast the equivalent decision points are covered under PRINCE2’s manage ‘stage boundaries process’, and are triggered by the ending of a PRINCE2 ‘stage’; in PRINCE2, stages are assumed to be consecutive; in other words the end of one stage is also the beginning of the next stage. The British Standard does not have this constraint and allows stages to overlap if the planner wants them to.

Stage boundary/gate decisions are dealt with by the project board and executive in PRINCE2 in the ‘Directing a project’ process, whilst in BS 6079:2019 they are dealt with by the overseeing organization, unless delegated to the project sponsor/executive. This results from a difference in assumptions between the two documents:

  • PRINCE2 assumes the executive and project board can make such decisions and elevate them when required;
  • BS 6079:2019 assumes higher level management usually makes such key decisions but can delegate them to the project sponsor/executive if they want to.

Both documents allow tailoring and therefore the users of the document can choose whichever is the appropriate body or individual for each decision.

For a more detailed discussion on project lifecycles see the AXELOS discussion paper, Project Lifecycles and PRINCE2.


The integrative activities in the British Standard are very closely aligned with the PRINCE2 processes, with slight changes in terminology. The main difference are that:

  • The British Standard has an explicit role and set of activities for the ‘overseeing organization’. i.e. the organization to which the project sponsor/executive is accountable; this role is discussed in PRINCE2 but deemed to be outside its scope;
  • The British Standard has an activity for managing a project as a whole [11.2 Managing a project], whereas PRINCE2 has this at stage level (17. Controlling a stage), on the assumption that only one stage of the project is happening at any one time, in line with its concept of consecutive management stages. See 4.4.


The support activities in the British Standard, on the whole, mirror the ‘themes’ in PRINCE2. The PRINCE2 themes, as expected for a method, provide more guidance and include detail on the prescribed or recommended techniques to be used. PRINCE2 does not cover all the topics included in BS 6079:2019 and some are grouped differently. The BS 6079:2019 activities which not directly identifiable in PRINCE2 as explicit sections are:

  • 13.1.2 Managing change – out of scope
  • 13.2.1 Manage processes and methods
  • 13.2.6 Managing information
  • 13.2.8 Managing stakeholders
  • 13.2.9 Managing communication
  • 13.3.2 Managing needs and requirements
  • 13.3.3 Developing solutions – out of scope
  • 13.4.1 Managing procurement – out of scope
  • 13.4.2 Managing contracted suppliers – out of scope
  • 13.4.3 Managing customers – out of scope
  • 13.4.4 Managing finances - out of scope.

Those not marked ‘out of scope’ are, however, covered within the themes or referred to in the processes.


Being a method, PRINCE2 has details of techniques and approaches which are not in the British Standard; these are included within the PRINCE2 themes. Techniques are only described in detail where PRINCE2 specifically recommends that approach is used, or the approach is unique to PRINCE2, such as the quality review technique. The main PRINCE2 techniques relate to:

  • Business case (section 6) – looked at in detail in PRINCE2, but the use of the document and its development through the project lifecycle are identical to the recommendations in BS6079:2019 [clause 9.3.1]
  • Investment appraisal (section 6.4)
  • Exception management (sections 3.5,, 12.2). This is a mandatory technique in PRINCE2 which relies on setting ‘tolerances’ for the project manager’s authority. This is not prescribed in the British Standard but is recommended in clause 13.2.7, Reporting.
  • Quality review (section 8.4)
  • Prioritization, estimation and scheduling (section 9)
  • Risk management (section 10.4)
  • Issue and change control (section 11.4)
  • Progress evaluation and peer review (section 12.4)
  • The concept of a ‘product based planning’ is a mandatory aspect of planning in PRINCE2 which prescribes the use of a product breakdown structure (section 9.1.3 and Appendix D) whereas. BS6079:2019 leaves it for the planner to decide which type of breakdown should be adopted [clause 11.1.5]
  • Healthchecks (Appendix E) – the British Standard does not include checklists.


BS6079:2019 includes an outline of the competencies [14] required for those involved in project management. PRINCE2 does not include these but more generally refers to effective team building (7.3.8).

Comparison with BS 6079:2019 clause by clause

This section lists each clause in BS 6079:2019 and explains if and where it is dealt with in PRINCE2. Note that PRINCE2 references relate to Managing Successful Projects using PRINCE2, 6th edition.


BS 6079:2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
4 Project management context
4.1 ProjectsSection 2.1 What is a project?
4.2 Project managementSection 2.2 What is project management?
4.3 Project contextSection 2.5 Projects in context
4.4 Project organizationSection 7, Organization (Theme)
4.5 Project delivery approachesSection 2.6.3, PRINCE2 and delivery approaches

PRINCE2 also includes, throughout the manual, practical considerations when using agile techniques.

Section shows how delivery approaches and management stages relate.
4.6 Project management activitiesGenerally, the ‘integration’ activities are reflected in the PRINCE2 processes and some of BS6079’s ‘support’ activities are covered by the PRINCE2 themes. See separate comparison.


BS 6079:2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
5 Principles of project management
5.1 Be driven by needs and benefitsSection 3.1 Continued business justification (Principle)
5.2 Engage stakeholders throughout the projectNo explicit principle but covered in Principle 3.3, Defined roles and responsibilities; 3.5, Focus on products 7.3.8, Creating an effective project team
5.3 Having a single point of accountability is critical throughout the projectSection 3.3 Defined roles and responsibilities (Principle)
5.4 Promote collaborative workingNo explicit principle but covered in 7, Organization (Theme).
5.5 Governance and management should be appropriate and proportionateSection 3.3 Defined roles and responsibilities (Principle)

Section 3.7 Tailor to suit the project (Principle)

Covered extensively in each Theme and Process and generally in 4, Tailoring and adopting PRINCE2 and 21 Considerations for organizational adoption
5.6 Experience and lessons should be shared and appliedSection 3.2 Learn from experience (Principle)
5.7 Define working methods for specialist deliverables and outputsSection 3.6 Focus on products (Principle)
5.8 Take a gated approach to projectsSection 3.4 Manage by stages (Principle)


BS 6079: 2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
6 Project governance
6.1 What is project governance?Definition in BS6079 is more explicit than in PRINCE2
6.2 Aspects of project governanceIncluded within the tailoring guidelines in Themes and Processes
6.3 Factors influencing project governance arrangementsIncluded within the tailoring guidelines in Themes and Processes


BS 6079 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
7 Roles and responsibilitiesSection 7, Organization (Theme)
7.1 Typical roles in a project organizationSection 7.1
7.2 Higher level managementSection 7.2.1
7.3 Project sponsorSection
7.4 Project boardSection
7.5 Project assuranceSection
7.6 Project managerSection
7.7 Project supportSection
7.8 Team managersSection
7.9 Project team membersNot explicitly covered


BS 6079:2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
8 The project lifecycle

Section 2.4 Manage by stages (Principle).

Section 6.2 - Figure 6.2

8.1 What is a project lifecycle?Section 13 (Figure 13.1)
8.2 The components of a project lifecycle

Figure 8
Not explicit, but PRINCE2 includes the components listed in BS 6079:2019
8.3 The extended project lifecycle

Figure 9
Not covered
8.4 Recognizing different project lifecycles associated with the same workRecognizes in tailoring guidelines in a commercial context


BS 6079:2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
8 The project lifecycleSection 2.4 Manage by stages (Principle).Section 6.2 - Figure 6.2
8.1 What is a project lifecycle?Section 13 (Figure 13.1)
8.2 The components of a project lifecycle

Figure 8
Not explicit, but \PRINCE2 includes the components listed in BS 6079:2019
8.3 The extended project lifecycle

Figure 9
Not covered
8.4 Recognizing different project lifecycles associated with the same workRecognizes in tailoring guidelines in a commercial context


BS 6079:2019 clause

(with accountability)
PRINCE2 equivalent section

(with accountability)
9 Commissioning a project
(Higher level management
9.1 Preparing for a projectSection 14 Starting up a project (Executive)
9.2 Overseeing a projectNot explicitly covered, but implied in Figure 13.3
9.3 Approving a project phase within a projectSection 15 Directing a project (Executive)
9.4 Reviewing project outcomeNot covered
10 Directing a project

(Project sponsor)
Section 15 Directing a project (Executive)
11 Initiating, managing a closing a project

(Project manager)
11.1 Initiating a projectSection 16 Initiating a project (Project manager)
11.2 Managing a projectSection 17 Controlling a stage (Project manager)

Section 18 Managing a stage boundary (Project manager)
11.3 Closing a projectSection 20 Closing a project (Project manager)
12 Managing delivery

(Team manager)
Section 18 Managing product delivery (Team manager)

Figure 13.2 in PRINCE2 shows the executive accountable for directing, project manager for management and team manager for delivery.


BS 6079:2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
13 Project support activities
13.1.1. PlanningSection 9, Plans (Theme)
13.1.2 Managing changeNot covered
13.1.3 Managing benefitsSection 6, (Theme) Business case
13.1.4 Managing scopeSection Covered as part of product-based planning
13.1.5 Managing schdeduleSections,,
13.1.6 Managing resourcesSection
13.1.7 Managing costsSection
13.2 Control
13.2.1 Manage process and methodsNot explicitly covered but implied in that the project initiation documentation defines how a project is to be managed and is required to be maintained.
13.2.2 Managing risksSection 10, Risks (Theme)
13.2.3 Managing issuesSection 11, Change (Theme)
13.2.4 Controlling changeSection 11, Change (Theme)
13.2.5 Managing configurationSection 11, Change (Theme)
13.2.6 Managing informationNot explicitly covered, although PRINCE2 is controlled through its defined management products (information and documentation) which is referred to throughout the manual
13.2.7 Managing reportingSection 12, Progress (Theme)
13.2.8 Managing stakeholdersSection 7.3.9. Stakeholder engagement
13.2.9 Managing communicationSection 7.2.2, The communication management approach
13.3 Quality
13.3.1 Managing qualitySection 8, Quality (Theme)
13.3.2 Managing needs and requirementsNot explicitly covered, but implied within:

section Specifying quality criteria in product descriptions

section 18, Manage product delivery (Process)
13.3.3 Developing solutionsNot explicitly covered, but implied in 8.3.3 Quality and delivery approaches
13.3.4 Learning from experienceCovered in section 3.2 Learn from experience (Principle) and in a number of activities in the PRINCE2 processes which refer to using lessons from previous work and collecting lessons from the current work
13.4 Commercial
13.4.1 Managing procurementNot explicitly covered, but the role and context of a supplier are referred to, especially in relation to the Senior Supplier role (section

Each Theme and Process includes guidance on how a supplier/customer context can be taken in to account.
13.3.2 Managing contracted suppliersNot explicitly covered; it is assumed organizational processes are used.

Each Theme and Process includes guidance on how a supplier/customer context can be taken into account.
13.3.3 Managing customersNot explicitly covered; it is assumed organizational processes are used.

Each Theme and Process includes guidance on how a supplier/customer context can be taken into account.
13.4.4 Managing financesNot covered; it is assumed organizational processes are used


BS 6079:2019 clausePRINCE2 equivalent section
14 Skills and competencies for project managementPRINCE2 covers this in summary, within each role description in Appendix C

Section Training needs for project teams, covers the need to have trained team members.

Comparative terminology


BS 6079:2019PRINCE2 equivalent
GateStage boundary
Project lifecycleProject lifecycle
Project management
Work packageWork package
Project sponsoreExecutive
Project managerProject manager
Team managerTeam manager
Business caseBusiness case (part of PID)
Change logIssue register
End stage report
Issues logIssue register
Project closure reportEnd stage report

Lessons report
Project management planProject initiation documentation (PID)
Project planProject plan (part of PID)
Risk logRisk register
Cost plan'Costs'
Project planProject plan
Resource profile'Resources'
ReportHighlight reports (for a project)

Checkpoint report (for a work package)


If a person is using PRINCE2, they could be said to be following the recommendations contained in BS6079:2019 provided that those aspects explicitly beyond the scope of PRINCE2, are covered elsewhere, either by an enterprise method or by other programme or corporate processes and methods.

The fact that PRINCE2 does not fully cover the scope of the BS 6079:2019 (as shown in Figure 1 and paragraph 6), and does not group topics in the same way, is not in itself a problem, as there is no recommendation in BS 6079:2019 that its scope should be covered by a single method or process in a particular order or grouping. In many cases, aspects of the standard can be covered by separate corporate processes or methods; the standard does not limit how you implement it. This is especially the case for activities such as information management, configuration management, procurement, supplier management and financial management, where organizations tend to have central policies and processes which apply across the whole organization and not just to projects.

Image Figure 5.1 Venn diagram comparing the scopes of PRINCE2 and BS079-2019

Figure 5.1 Comparing the scopes of PRINCE2 and BS6079:2019.

The scope of PRINCE2 (A+C) and the scope of BS 6079:2019(A+B) are closely aligned. BS 6079:2019 (B) includes the role of the sponsoring organization [higher level management], skills and competencies and a number of additional supporting topics (see paragraph 4.6). PRINCE2 includes detailed techniques for undertaking certain processes (C).

About the author

Robert Buttrick is an independent advisor on portfolio, programme and project management, specialising in business-driven methods, processes and standards. Recent clients include the UK’s Cabinet Office, where he led the development of the government’s new project delivery standard. He is the author of Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 and The Project Workout and is an active contributor to project management methods, best practice, professional journals and conferences. Robert Buttrick received a distinguished service certificate from the BSI for services to national and international project management standards, on whose committees he serves. He is a chartered engineer, a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and an honorary fellow of the Association for Project Management. He currently works as a consultant and is a visiting teaching fellow at the University of Warwick.


BS6079:2019 + C1:2019: Project management – Principles and guidance for the management of projects, BSI, 2010

Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, TSO, AXELOS, 2017 Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, TSO, AXELOS, 2018 PRINCE2 Handbook, TSO, AXELOS, 2017

PRINCE2 Agile Guidance, TSO, AXELOS, 2015

An Executive Guide to PRINCE2 Agile, TSO, AXELOS, 2017

APM Body of Knowledge, 7th edition, APM, 2019

> ISO 21500:2012 , Guidance on project management, International Standards Organization, 2012

Project Lifecycles and PRINCE2 Discussion Paper, Robert Buttrick, AXELOS, March 2019