PRINCE2 stands for Projects IN Controlled Environments. It is essentially a structured, process based system employed for effectual project management. To effectively manage projects, PRINCE2 divides projects into controlled phases or stages. While the system was created originally as an information system project standard for the UK government, it has gained wide recognition internationally. It is currently owned by AXELOS, a joint venture involving Capita (51% stake holding) and Cabinet Office (49% stake holding).
PRINCE was developed from PROMPT II – Project Resource Organisation Management Planning Techniques – a version of which was employed by Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) as a standard of the UK government for project management related to information systems. It was named PRINCE which actually signified PROMPT II IN the CCTA Environment. It was during a civil service competition that it was used as an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments. Subsequently, its use became more prevalent outside just the IT environment; the UK government as well as the private sector across the globe started employing the system. In 1996, PRINCE2 was introduced as a generic method for project management. With time, the popularity of PRINCE2 increased and it came to be used as an essential project management standard by departments of the UK government and the United Nations System. In 2009, the acronym PRINCE2 was modified to signify PRojects IN a Controlled Environment.
The following form the basis of PRINCE2:
- Seven principles – Continued Business Justification, Learn from Experience, Defined Roles and Responsibilities, Manage by Stage, Manage by Exception, Focus on Product, and Tailor to Suit the Project Environment.
- Seven themes – Business case, Organization, Quality, Plans, Risk, Change, and Process.
- Seven processes – Starting up a Project, Initiating a Project, and Directing a Project, Controlling a Stage, Managing Product Delivery, Managing a Stage Boundary, and Closing a Project.
The above-mentioned themes and principles are involved in the seven processes.
Key characteristics of PRINCE2
PRINCE2 is characterized by: emphasis on business justification; defined organization structure for the project management team; product-based planning approach; focus on dividing projects into stages that can be managed and controlled; and flexibility at appropriate project levels.
There are four exams to be cleared for obtaining PRINCE2 certifications:
- PRINCE2 Foundation – This certification states that the individual holding it possesses adequate knowledge of the PRINCE2 system to function in a project management team employing the method. The one hour closed book exam consists of 60 multiple choice questions, and one must obtain 33 marks (or 55%) to clear the examination.
- PRINCE2 Practitioner – The certification affirms the ability of the holder to apply PRINCE2 in scenario situations. It implies that with appropriate guidance, the holder would be able to begin applying the system to an actual project. The prerequisites to appearing for the exam are PRINCE2 Foundation, PMP, CAPM, IPMA-D, IPMA-C, IPMA-B, or IPMA-A. The open book (PRINCE2 manual) examination involves objective testing, 8 questions x 10 items. One needs to secure 55% to pass the exam.
- PRINCE2 Professional – The certification confirms the ability of the holder to manage non-complex PRINCE2 projects throughout features of the lifecycle of the project. For appearing for the exam, one must be a PRINCE2 practitioner. The examination requires a two and a half day stay at the residential Assessment Centre, and involves fictional project case study based exercises and group activities. There is no written examination.
- PRINCE2 Agile Practitioner – The certification affirms the holder’s ability to apply PRINCE2 project management principles in combination with agile concepts like Kanban and Scrum. Prerequisites to the exam are – PRINCE2 Foundation, PRINCE2 Practitioner, PMP, CAPM, IPMA-D, IPMA-C, IPMA-B, or IPMA-A. The exam involves objective testing and comprises 50 questions. The duration of the exam is 150 minutes and 60% is the passing score. It is an open book (official PRINCE2 Agile guide) examination.
One may either opt for an Accredited Training Organization (ATO) online course and appear for the exam online, or take the exam at the end of the training period with an ATO or an Accredited Trainer.
Benefits of PRINCE2
Becoming proficient in PRINCE2 system may provide greater resource control and effective business and project risk management ability. The following may experience significant benefits from PRINCE2 Certifications:
- Individuals looking to enhance leading project management skills and seeking better prospects of employment.
- Individuals responsible for execution of projects.
- Project managers.
Characteristics of PRINCE2 such as formal identification of project responsibilities and emphasis on deliverables of the project offer organizations the following benefits:
- A coherent, structured and common method to project management.
- Laid down procedures for coordination between people and activities in a project.
- Facilitation in designing and supervision of the project.
- Organized and controlled beginning, middle and end stages of the project.
- Efficient use and control of resources.
- Regular progress reviews that can be compared with plan.
- Assurance of continued business justification of the project.