How Does PRINCE2 Apply to Project Management in 2017?


Introduction to PRINCE2 Update video

2017 has been a paradigm shifting year for project management. The American Bureau of Labour Statistics officially recognised project management as an independent practice and granted it its own occupational category. The 2016 AXELOS report noticed an increased trend in cultures and sectors outside of the traditionally sympatico project management industries training in PRINCE2. Out of 2,500 respondents, over 70% were outside of the traditional PMO functions, with just under 5% of respondents in Sales, Marketing, HR, and Business Development respectively.

So, how do the traditional frameworks and methodologies of project management adapt to keep up with the changing topography of project management?

Since it was established in the late 80’s, PRINCE2 has grown to become the world’s most practiced project management method and has been no stranger to making a few updates to meet with the changing needs of the end user.


The History of PRINCE2 Updates

PRINCE2 as we know it today, began with a system called PROMPT II, in 1975. This early ancestor of PRINCE2 was developed by Simpact Systems Limited, in an attempt to mitigate the large number of IT projects that were overrunning their original project deadlines and budgets. The guidelines they set out for the staging of a project flow were adopted by the UK Government a few short years later in 1979, and a decade later formed the embryo of the PRINCE methodology.

Through a defined management structure, control procedures, a focus on products and a method of assuring progress, the basis of PRINCE2 was formed. However, this method was found to be too unwieldy and only truly applicable to large projects, leading to its revision in 1996.

Assured by a committee of around 150 European organisations, the new update, PRINCE2, was made more generic and less IT specific. Allowing itself to be utilised more flexibly, with project teams able to pick and adapt the areas of PRINCE2 that suited their projects, and the rigid assurance procedures were removed.

After a further two updates in 2002 and 2005, in accordance with the needs of the international user community, the first major revision to PRINCE2 was made in 2009. In what has played out as a frequent trend, requests from users lead to the further simplification of the PRINCE2 framework, rendering it far more intuitive.The 2009 revision also introduced the seven basic principles, providing more tools to aid managers in completing projects successfully.


The PRINCE2 2017 Update

In 2017, the demands placed on a project management framework are far different from how PRINCE was expected to react back in the 80’s and 90’s. Over the last few years, project management as a discipline, and now, an occupation, has gone through a number of radical shifts. Now, with rapidly advancing technology and an uptake in the number of industries outside traditional PMO utilizing project management procedures, there is a far greater need for agility and versatility than ever before.

Whilst this trend could be tracked throughout PRINCE2’s history, the demand for flexibility within project frameworks has increased exponentially only within the last few years. In the face of technological developments in AI and the IoT, heightened expectations from customers and stakeholders and the application of project management techniques in industries varying from HR to Marketing, PRINCE2’s global community needed a more malleable approach.

The PRINCE2 2017 update meets these needs with a stronger emphasis and guidance on tailoring the methodology to the specific requirements of the individual project.


How PRINCE2 2017 is Different

The update introduces a far more scalable and flexible PRINCE2. Whilst one of the benefits of PRINCE2 has always been that it can be tailored to the requirements and complexities of a project, the new update makes it easier through the following ways:

The guidance comes in the form of the new Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, updated by AXELOS in collaboration with over 100 project management professionals. Although only currently available in English ahead of the new exams, Managing Successful Projects will be released in other languages in 2018.


How Does the PRINCE2 2017 Update Affect Exams?

The exam for the Foundation level PRINCE2 certification has been streamlined, with an added assessment criteria centered around tailoring to reflect the direction of the update. Certain elements, including configuration management, that aren’t essential to the core of PRINCE2 have been removed. Similarly, the design of the exam itself has been trimmed, with fewer list and negative questions, now totalling 60 instead of 75.

For the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam, candidates should focus more on honing practical skills. The update now tests across all parts of the PRINCE2 method, with less of an emphasis on questions about things like management products. The design of the PRINCE2 exam has improved in parallel, improving the efficacy of the exam in testing required knowledge, wasting less time on additional information like assertion reason. Now the total number of marks achieved is 75, instead of 80.

Until the end of the current year, 2017, English speaking candidates can opt to take the existing or updated versions of the PRINCE2 exam. From January 2018 onwards, all PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner exams will be based on PRINCE2 2017.

Whilst the exact schedule for the switch over of PRINCE2 2017 examinations have yet to be released for other languages, they will begin sometime in 2018. The date announcements are scheduled for late 2017. The planned languages for this update are: Dutch, German, Polish, French, Danish, Norwegian and Italian.


How Does the PRINCE2 2017 Update Affect Current Certificates?

The good news is that none of the PRINCE2 updates, including PRINCE2 2017, will invalidate your earned certificates, and the Practitioner status will still last for 5 years, even if you’ve earned it on the cusp of the switch over. To remain valid, it will need to be renewed before the expiration date, although that itself has not changed.


Is the PRINCE2 Update Waterfall, Agile, or Something Else?

PRINCE2, with its process based methodology, has always been thought to align more with the sequential Waterfall methodology of project management, over the more dynamic Agile. But with the new update delineating some of the more rigid PRINCE2 structures, and with an increased emphasis on adaptability, more project management professionals have been wondering exactly what camp PRINCE2 fits into now.

In the current business environment, the interest in Agile should come as no surprise, but what may be a surprising is the amount of value that PRINCE2 certificate holders placed in Agile uncovered in the 2016 AXELOS report. Rather than respondents being entrenched in traditional Waterfall strategies, 86.2% could see some level of value in working in an Agile way. Whilst there were large disparities between the envisioned value between individuals and organisations, with a larger appetite for working in an agile way in individuals, the changing face of project management may shortly change that. Especially when, when used in a correct way, organisations can see benefit in earlier ROI and delivery.

Essentially, the PRINCE2 2017 Update does lean more towards an Agile way of working than ever before, however its emphasis on adaptability has more to do with driving towards a more beneficial cross-pollination of project management styles and methodologies.

In the current climate project success matters far more than partisan project management politics. If the route to project success if pure Scrum, excellent, but if your next project mandates a more blended approach then that should be equally as actionable.

The PRINCE2 2017 Update, more than anything else, reflects the importance of value and business benefit over the semantics of project management methodologies.

For more information on how to certify in PRINCE2, head to our blog, or contact us on 0800 0355 832, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.