I recently followed a 3-day certification training for Prince2 project management. For context, in my daily work as a data scientist, I don’t use Prince2. I had heard of it, but I went into this 3-day course with an open mind.
In this article, I will share my experience and conclude whether I consider it worth the effort.
What is Prince2?
Prince2, short for PRojects IN Controlled Environments, is a project management method that is popular in Anglo-Saxon countries. It is centered around 7 principles, 7 themes, and 7 processes.
The 7 principles:
- Continued Business Justification
- Learn From Experience
- Defined Roles and Responsibilities
- Manage by Stages
- Manage by Exception
- Focus on Products
- Tailor to Suit Project Environment
The 7 themes:
- Business Case
The 7 processes:
- Starting Up A Project
- Initiating A Project
- Directing A Project
- Controlling A Stage
- Managing Product Delivery
- Managing Stage Boundaries
- Closing A Project
Prince2 is a project management method that is focused on control. The processes are focused on reducing risks in order to deliver a product on time and within budget. This makes it appropriate in projects where there is an involvement of clients and suppliers.
Focus on product (delivery within time and budget of the product within specs) is the central goal, rather than the alternative focus on the client (have a final product that is possibly different from the initial specs, but be more flexible in time and budget).
Prince2 certification program
The Prince2 certification program is relatively simple. In the standard path, there is an entry-level certification called Prince2 Foundations and a second level called Prince2 Practitioner. You must have the Prince2 Foundations level before doing the Prince2 Practitioner level.
There is also an Agile path, in which there are the same two levels: Prince2 Agile Foundations, followed by Prince2 Agile Practitioner. Prince2 Agile is a response of Prince2 to the uprising of agile work methods, so to combine the advantages of a controlling environment of Prince2 and a flexible environment of agile.
Conclusion — Is a Prince2 certification worth it?
Great for managers, less good for “team members”
The Prince2 project management method, and hence the certification and training, is very specific and detailed. The goal of this method is to allow top-down control for every part of a project.
There is a very strong focus on the project management layer and the different hierarchical relations and responsibilities. During the course, no attention is paid to about how a product would actually be built.
Due to this focus on hierarchy, administrative procedures, and responsibilities, my first conclusion is that passing this certification is much more relevant for project managers, while for “team members” (those who execute the work) there is not much interest here.
The top-down approach of Prince2 considers project management as a way of moving information and authority from top management to middle management and back. The way in which lower management and the work floor deal with the project is not considered throughout the training or exam.
Great for Prince2 specifics, no general project management
A second conclusion is that I do not believe that the knowledge I gained from the Prince2 foundation course is very generalizable. The Prince2 framework is very heavy in terminology and administrative overhead. This can already be seen from the long list of themes, processes, and principles above.
Although it is always interesting to learn about different ways of managing a project, I do not advise anyone to take a Prince2 course if they expect to learn about general and practical project management.
If you do not expect to work with Prince2, the framework is simply too dense on the specifics of Prince2. For a general course on project management, I am sure that less specific courses exist.
However, if you do expect to work with Prince2, I believe that following a certification course could be very beneficial, because those specifics are likely to come back at you during your Prince2 projects.
I hope that this article was useful to you. Thanks for reading and don’t hesitate to stay tuned for more!