First Impressions of PRINCE2 2017

Having had the opportunity to review the new PRINCE2 2017 (draft) manual, and as someone who sat the first PRINCE2 2017 (trainer only) examinations – what are my impressions?

Firstly, it’s still the PRINCE2 we know & love……………..but better!

2017 GraphicLet’s start with a little bit of history – PRINCE2 introduced the 7 principles in 2009.  Pre 2009 they were always there really, but weren’t explicitly stated, rather embedded throughout the method.  The 2009 version made them explicit.   Another change in 2009 was that information and tips on tailoring that were previously embedded within each chapter were consolidated into a single chapter (19), but tailoring wasn’t really tested in the exams.

The approach taken by Axelos to the PRINCE2 2017 refresh has been extremely collaborative with the PRINCE2 community.  They ensured as wide a base of people as pragmatically possible were involved, over 100 practitioners and partners from different parts of the globe.   Rather than impose their own ideas on what should change, Axelos sought to understand what improvements and suggestions the consulted community had.

I am pleased to note that PRINCE2 2017 continues with the principles.  The new manual clearly states that “PRINCE2 is principle based rather than prescriptive”.  This is good as I still frequently come across people who are under the (misguided) impression that PRINCE2 is bureaucratic and prescriptive.  If they actually take the time and trouble to either read the new manual or attend a PRINCE2 course, they will find it difficult to maintain that stance.

There is a strongly pragmatic feel to the new manual, with guidance on tailoring back in every chapter!   This isn’t a backwards step.   The community asked for more tailoring and pragmatic guidance and it’s there.  Furthermore, the tailoring guidance now drills down into different circumstances, such as what should be done in a simple project, an agile project, commercial environments, projects within programmes and so on.  This has to be a good thing.

Another good thing is that it’s now much clearer what an individual / organization needs to be doing to be able to claim that they are indeed applying PRINCE2.  It used to pretty much be a case of ‘I’m following the principles’.  Now each theme states clear minimum requirements, which are all sensible, risk minimizing and non-bureaucratic.

Other changes to the method include ensuring consistency with M.O.R. (Management of Risk) for terminology, amending the (un-popular) configuration management guidance and explaining how PRINCE2 helps with meeting other standards, such as BSI and ISO.

The exam structures have changed too.  There are slightly fewer questions in both papers (no more trial questions in the foundation paper) and some of the more complicated styles of question in the practitioner paper have been dropped (no more assertion/reason or multiple response).   Practitioner exam scenarios are shorter, with a brief (3–4 line) preamble within each question and greatly reduced additional information.   I think this is better, especially for candidates who struggle with exam timings.  I would often find a candidate up against time, who turned to the last section or two on the paper only to discover there was a large amount of additional information to read before they could answer a single question in that section.  This meant that they were unlikely to get marks for any of the last few questions.  Now, with the reading more balanced across the PRINCE2 2017 paper, delegates have a better chance of answering more questions towards the end of the paper.   One other change in the practitioner exam is that there is less emphasis on management products and examining what statements should go under particular headings.  I never felt this was the best way of judging if someone could actually apply the method well.

With the changes in the practitioner exam, trainers will be able to spend less time coaching delegates on how to tackle the question styles and more time on giving practical guidance.  I, for one, am looking forward to it!

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