In this article, we’re going to look at the world’s most widely practiced project management methodology, which is also the most recognised certification as well – PRINCE2. Before we look at the certification and its relevance in the modern workplace in more detail, I want to give you a little background on PRINCE2.

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 is both a project management methodology and a universally recognised project management accreditation. The acronym PRINCE stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments and was developed by the UK Government in 1989, building and improving off the previous PROMPTII methodology, which was developed in 1975.

The  origins of project management as a discipline can be dated back to the post war period in Britain, which saw large and pioneering structural and civil engineering projects becoming commonplace. The need to develop systems and processes to coordinate huge projects like took root and soon became adopted across different industries, notably the British Government’s Central Computing and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA).

The PRINCE methodology improved to PROMPTII by adding, amongst other things, a more defined management structure, a system of control procedures and a focus on deliverables and end products. PRINCE was subsequently adopted as a project management methodology, across a number of industry sectors but was seen as too rigid by many, leading to the development of PRINCE2 in 1996.

Development was contracted out to a committee of over 150 European organisations and bodies, with the end result being PRINCE2. This was a more flexible and adaptive methodology, better suited to fit and flex to a wide range of commercial environments. Since 1996 the PRINCE2 methodology has gone through four significant revisions, the most recent of which was in 2017 (more on that later).

How does PRINCE2 Certification Work?

PRINCE2 is unique in that it functions as both a methodology and a certifiable standard for project managers. So far I’ve discussed the evolution of PRINCE2 as a methodology but now I want to turn our attentions onto PRINCE2 qualifications and how they work.

PRINCE2 is a global standard in project management expertise, with over 300,000 qualified project managers in more than 57 countries. There are two courses available to aspiring PRINCE2 students, which we’ll look at now.

  • PRINCE2 Foundation Qualification: The PRINCE2 foundation is an entry level course designed for those without any prior knowledge of project management. You will learn in detail how the methodology works, including PRINCE2’s seven project management principles and associated terminology. This qualification will give you the requisite skills to be in a project team but isn’t sufficient to get you leading projects. The Foundation course usually takes around 3 days with an hour long multiple choice exam at the end.
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner Qualification: The practitioner course is open to all those with the foundation qualification or a similar recognised qualification such as Project Management Professional (PMP)®, Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® or IPMA® Levels A to D. The practitioner course will take what you’ve already learnt and equip you with the skills to apply it to real world situations. Training usually takes around two days with a two and a half hour exam at the end.

For those looking to fast track their way into project management, there are combined Foundation and Practitioner courses available, which usually take five days, during which both exams have to be sat and passed (Foundation exam on day 3 and Practitioner exam on day 5).

As I’ve mentioned PRINCE2 certification has gone through several changes (2002, 2005, 2009 and 2017) so qualified practitioners need to either take a re-registration exam or resit the Practitioner exam, depending on when they originally qualified.

Do all Project Managers need a PRINCE2 Qualification?

Although there is huge value in holding a PRINCE2 qualification, there is no mandated requirement for project managers to be PRINCE2 qualified. That being said, the development of project management as a profession since the 1950’s has required a working knowledge of distinct and recognised frameworks, schedules and principles.

Despite some criticising the place of a recognised project management methodology in our increasingly automated and shifting global workplace, PRINCE2 has remained flexible, going through several iterations. The most recent of these was in 2017, which put more emphasis on flexibility and agility to adapt project management principles to fit with unique environments.

From a career point of view, anyone looking to get into project management or fields requiring similar skills would do well to consider a qualification from PRINCE2 (60% of PRINCE2 qualified candidates recently surveyed said it had helped further their career).

With PRINCE2 the most widely recognised project management qualification and methodology in the world today, the question should be why wouldn’t you want your project manager to be PRINCE2 qualified.

About the Author: David Baker has worked within the training industry for many years with PRINCE2 Training. Working on courses such as PRINCE2, ITIL, PMP, Agile, Scrum, Lean Six Sigma. PRINCE2 Training delivers world-class accredited training solutions to thousands of organisations and individuals throughout the world. You can connect with PRINCE2 Training on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.


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