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PRINCE2 states that themes are the parts of the project that need to be continually addressed throughout the project lifecycle. Another way to explain is by saying that Themes are knowledge areas, so each Theme provides knowledge (how to go about) on a specific area of project management, such as the Business Case, Planning, Quality, etc. Consider the following question for a moment: What activities will you do at the start of the project to set it up, define it and use to monitor and maintain the project throughout its lifecycle?
The answer to this question will be the themes:
- We need a Business Case to define the reason for doing the project and to check to see if this reason is still valid. This is covered in the Business Case Theme.
- We need to know who is who, what they are doing, and what are their responsibilities. This is covered in the Organization Theme.
- We need to create Product Description and then create a Project Plan to guide the project and produce the products. This is covered in the Plans Theme.
- We need to monitor how the intended products will match users’ expectations, and then determine that the users will be able to utilize these products as expected. This is covered in the Quality Theme.
- We also need a way to evaluate and manage uncertainties. This is covered in the Risk Theme.
Remember that Themes are activities that you do at the start of the project to set it up and then use to monitor and maintain the project throughout its lifecycle. We could also say that Themes provide guidance on how things should be done during the project.
Themes should also be tailored to suit the project you are working on. This will depend on the project and the environment you are working in. For example, if you are building a lunar module, you have only one chance to get it right, so the Quality and Risks themes would be used in much detail.
The following are the PRINCE2 themes: