What is PRINCE2? A Project Management Guide

What is PRINCE2 project management, and why is it so popular worldwide? We look at how PRINCE2 works and what it can do for your business.

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When it comes to project management, working within a framework is crucial. Managers and team members must have well-defined roles and responsibilities, as well as tangible goals, processes, and best practices. This keeps the project lifecycle as efficient and aligned as possible while also helping managers to avoid unnecessary delays and expenses.

PRINCE2 6th Edition (PRojects IN Controlled Environments 2), formerly known as ‘PRINCE2 2017’, is a process-based project management methodology and a trade-mark of AXELOS Limited. The original framework was established in 1989 by the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA), now known as the Office of Government Commerce (OGC). Originally based on PROMPT, PRINCE soon superseded it in UK government projects. Following its initial success in the United Kingdom, PRINCE2 quickly spread across the globe and now sees widespread use in both the public and private sectors.

The original framework was released in 1996, having been created by a consortium of 150 different European organizations. This range of expertise and experience resulted in a concise yet flexible approach to managing successful projects. Since then, PRINCE2 project management has been adapted to suit businesses and organizations across multiple industries. Not only that, but regular updates have ensured that the methodology has stayed relevant even as markets, industries, and business practices continue to evolve.

So, what exactly is PRINCE2? How does it work? What are the perks of PRINCE2 training, and do the financial benefits of PRINCE2 justify the price of getting qualified? In this article, Good e-Learning looks at everything you need to know about PRINCE2!

Contents:

  • How Does PRINCE2 Work?

  • How Can PRINCE2 Certification Benefit My Business?

  • Why Did AXELOS Rename PRINCE2 2017 as PRINCE2 6th Edition?

  • Do PRINCE2 Certifications Expire?

  • How does PRINCE2 Recertification Work?

  • Is PRINCE2 Worth it?

  • Why Study PRINCE2 With Good e-Learning?

How Does PRINCE2 Work?

So, what should you expect from using the framework? Generally, a PRINCE2 project plan is characterized as having:

  • A well-defined project lifecycle

  • Defined and measurable business products

  • A corresponding set of activities for successfully creating business products

  • A specified and well-defined set of resources

  • An organizational structure with defined responsibilities for the management of the project

PRINCE2 works by dividing projects into manageable and controlled stages, focusing on the delivery of satisfactory products rather than simply carrying out a standardized list of activities. This ensures that managers can deliver projects on time and within budget while still periodically reviewing their progress in order to check that the project remains relevant in relation to high-level business strategy as well as the all-important 'PRINCE2 Business Case'.

Each project will have a ‘Project Board’, usually made up of customers, users, suppliers, and company representatives. Project managers will report to the Project Board throughout the project, with the Project Board deciding when the project should proceed and when it should be paused so that issues can be addressed.

PRINCE2 projects generally follow eight key processes:

  • Startup - A project manager is appointed, as are the key decision-makers. They then work together to define why the project is necessary (in terms of PRINCE2 stakeholders, clients, efficiency, etc.) and how it will be executed.

  • Direction - The Project Board is established. Its members will then charge the project manager with organizing the various details of the project.

  • Initiation - The project manager prepares the ‘Project Initiation Document’, which is then submitted to the Project Board for approval. It can later be revised if necessary.

  • Stage control - The project is broken down into distinct manageable stages. Exactly how many will depend on the project’s size and risk level. The stages of the project each contain plans for the succeeding stage and must be completed before the team can progress.

  • Stage boundary management - The current stage is reviewed, and the process for the next stage is then developed. The project can continue once the Project Board approves the execution of the current stage, as well as the plan for the next stage.

  • Planning - Decisions will be made based on the products to be produced, the activities required to produce them, and what resources will be required. This stage will also involve PRINCE2 risk management and analysis, activity scheduling, and process streamlining.

  • Product delivery management - The project manager will make sure that the right products are being produced in accordance with the planned schedule.

  • Closing - After the project is finished, the project manager will conduct the ‘Post Project Review’ to evaluate its outcome. Once this document has been approved by the Project Board, the project will be closed down.

How Can PRINCE2 Certification Benefit My Business?

Studying PRINCE2 can enhance project management practices throughout your business, not just now but in the long term. PRINCE2 project teams have well-defined responsibilities within a project, as well as a clear vision of what is to be delivered, when, why, and for whom. The framework also offers demonstrably effective processes for managing resources and expenditure, with the end result being more well-structured projects that deliver much higher ROIs.

Crucially, the framework will also help you to maintain the correct perspective when carrying out your projects. Several reviews will take place to ensure that work is proceeding in line with established business goals, and any errors will be addressed and resolved before work can continue.

Some of the biggest benefits of PRINCE2 project management include:

  • Greater flexibility in making decisions

  • Better project control and use of resources

  • Regular reviews of progress against project plans and business cases

  • More effective risk management

  • Early visibility of possible problems

  • Ensuring projects continue only when they have tangible business justifications

  • A concise mechanism for managing any deviations from the set project plan

  • Good communication between the project team and other PRINCE2 stakeholders

  • A clear process for capturing lessons learned so that they can be incorporated into future projects

The biggest and most clear advantage of PRINCE2 and its processes is that they can enable businesses to save time and money while also optimizing project value. The proven success of the framework has made PRINCE2 a staple of worldwide corporate project management. It has also created a thriving practitioner community where members are happy to discuss applying the framework and how it is evolving to meet new challenges.

Why Did AXELOS Rename ‘PRINCE2 2017’ as ‘PRINCE2 6th Edition’?

As of January 2020, PRINCE2 2017 was renamed ‘PRINCE2 6th Edition’. Nothing about the framework changed in practice, including the PRINCE2 certification requirements.

The purpose of the alteration was simply to make sure that the PRINCE2 language was better aligned with other frameworks. At the same time, AXELOS felt that the new name would better reflect the legacy, heritage, and authority of the framework’s best practices.

Do PRINCE2 Certifications Expire?

One of the biggest selling points of managing successful projects with PRINCE2 is that it is updated on a regular basis. This ensures that its best practices reflect the latest capabilities, challenges, and priorities of project and program management. However, it can also mean that, over time, a practitioner's PRINCE2 knowledge becomes outdated.

On to the most important question, 'Do PRINCE2 certifications expire?' The answer is, thankfully, no. The qualifications themselves remain completely valid regardless of how much time passes.

When a candidate passes the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam, they become a 'Registered Practitioner'. This status expires after five years. After this point, a candidate can no longer advertise themself as a Registered Practitioner.

How does PRINCE2 Recertification Work?

A candidate can take the re-registration exam three years after successfully passing the Practitioner exam. It can also be taken even after the five-year period has ended.

The PRINCE2 Re-Registration Exam also has its own format:

  • Objective Testing

  • Three questions, with 10 question items per question

  • Each question is worth one mark

  • Candidates must score at least 17/30 marks (55%) to pass

  • The exam lasts 60 minutes (one hour)

  • The exam is open-book (only the official PRINCE2 manual may be used)

Is PRINCE2 Worth it?

PRINCE2 qualified practitioners are extremely sought after in Europe, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The framework is also building in popularity in Asia, the USA, and elsewhere, especially with AXELOS continuing to update PRINCE2's controls and certification syllabuses. As we have previously mentioned, the framework is also flexible and generic enough to be applied to virtually any sector, industry, or location.

PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner certification verifies more than a candidate's knowledge of the framework; it also demonstrates an ability to apply and adapt it in practice. As a result, getting certified can help candidates unlock new career opportunities.

According to PayScale, PRINCE2 certified candidates earn an average base salary of:

  • $98,000 in the USA

  • £47,000 a year in the UK

Salaries can increase with experience, with positions like Senior Project Manager, Program Manager, Information Technology (IT) Director, and Operations Director earning much higher pay.

Remember, PRINCE2 practitioner certification is not a guarantee of reaching a higher salary. As much as it can help, candidates are also required to have a certain level of experience applying the framework in practice. Even so, with the sheer number of businesses applying PRINCE2, finding experience in a project management office (PMO) should not be difficult.

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Why Study PRINCE2 With Good e-Learning?

Good e-Learning is an award-winning e-course company. We are a fully accredited PRINCE2 training provider, and our portfolio also extends into other popular corporate standards such as TOGAF, ITIL, Agile, and DevOps.

What really makes us unique is our focus on delivering engaging content. Rather than endless slides or documents, we offer highly engaging PRINCE2 training assets, including interactive videos, motion graphics, instructor-led videos, gamified quizzes, and more. Candidates can also access free PRINCE2 training resources from our Library.

To help with PRINCE2 certification costs, our courses come with FREE vouchers to let candidates take the PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner exams free of charge. We also offer free resits with Exam Pledge!

Our support team is fully qualified to answer questions on the framework and can even help manage corporate training programs via our LMS, the ‘Learning Ecosystem’. Students can also access our courses via any web-enabled device thanks to the free Go.Learn app, making it easier than ever to study any time, anywhere.

The Good e-Learning team also specializes in corporate training. We work with global bluechip organizations to provide bespoke courses perfectly designed to achieve training objectives based on the structure, capabilities, and learning preferences of the businesses in question. With our active reporting system, we can also take a proactive approach to helping both individuals and teams succeed.

Want to find out more? Try out a PRINCE2 course free trial, or contact Good e-Learning today!