PRINCE2 Frequently Asked Questions

Downloads

History and Benefits of PRINCE2 (PDF)

Official OGC Brochure for PRINCE2 (PDF)

Comparison with PMBOK (PDF)

Reasons for Project Failure (PDF)

 

What is the difference between Foundation and Practitioner certification?

A PRINCE2 Foundation Certificate indicates an understanding of the fundamental concepts of PRINCE2. It is awarded after passing an examination of 1 hour consisting of 75 multiple choice questions.

The Practitioner Certification shows that not only are the concepts understood but that the person is able to apply them in different situations, to projects of different sizes and taking into account the special nature of the project. PRINCE2 Practitoners are expected to be able to scale PRINCE2 and tailor it to meet particular needs. The Practitioner Exam is a 2.5 hour Objective Test. It is misleading to call it a multiple choice paper, although answers are selected in a separate answer booklet. The questions are based on a scenario and require a solid knowledge of PRINCE2 as well as the ability to apply it to a particular situation.

 

Where can I get a copy of the PRINCE2 manual?

The best and cheapest way to obtain any of the Cabinet Office publications is from the Book Depository.  Delivery is fast.

 

I have several years experience as a project manager, can I just book in to do an Exam?

With project management experience, it is possible to give yourself a basic understanding of PRINCE2 by reading the manual. This level of study may be sufficient to pass the PRINCE2 Foundation Examination. In the UK, public examinations are conducted. In Australia, candidates may arrange examinations through offices of the British Council.

Accredited Training Organisations (ATO) conduct courses which have been approved by the APMG (the PRINCE2 governing body) and which ensure a thorough understanding of the basic concepts. Approval of PRINCE2 instructors is a lengthy and rigorous process. There is also some administrative work in ordering and paying for examinations, marking them, liaising with the APMG on results and forwarding certificates. Most ATOs would be reluctant to have their delegates subsidising the overheads of ‘walk-ins’.

Sitting for the PRINCE2 Examination at the Practitioner level without a training course is not recommended for any candidate. The desire to do so usually indicates a lack of appreciation of the level of training provided in applying PRINCE2 to real world projects. The PRINCE2 Practitioner Examination is not an easy examination and more than one-third of candidates fail.

Adaptive Frameworks will only offer examinations to delegates who have completed one of our accredited courses online or in the classroom.

 

How does PRINCE2 compare with PMBOK?

Both PRINCE2 and the Project Management Institute’s Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge are based on best practice in project management. There are no contradictions in the two approaches but there are different emphases. Experienced project managers can effectively integrate both approaches. Some fundamental differences are listed below. More information can be obtained from the articles provided on the download section of this page.

PRINCE2
PMBOK
The approach to be taken by a project and its final deliverables are known at the start. If the approach is not clear, then there may be a preliminary project with a deliverable of a feasibility report.
Projects may include a feasibility study.
The Product Based Planning Technique of PRINCE2 is used to define project outcomes as ‘products’. Activities are derived from the product flow. The focus is on the project’s deliverables.
A Work Breakdown Structure is used. The focus on activities occurs at the start.
A Customer/Supplier environment is assumed with the focus on the customer’s Business Case. It is the customer’s Business Case which drives the project.
No assumption is made on the organisation in which the project manager sits.
Projects are controlled by a small Board representing the interests of the Customer, Supplier and End-user of the project’s products. The Board is a decision making body chaired by an ‘Executive’ who is ultimately responsible for the delivery of the business benefit.
Steering Committees tend to be larger and meet on a regular basis.
In the initial planning for the project, it is divided into ‘Stages’ based on management reviews or decision points. Approval to proceed is given on a stage-by-stage basis. During a stage, the project manager has full authority for the day-to-day management of the project. The Board requires only short reports provided the stage remains within agreed tolerances. A review of viability occurs at the end of each stage or if the tolerances are forecast to be exceeded. This is the concept of ‘management by exception’
Projects are seen as following certain pre-defined phases aligned to the project life-cycle. The project manager is responsible for delivering the project and reports regularly at meetings of the Steering Committee.
Recent articles in the PMI journal have referred to an Adaptive Project Framework which in some part, incorporates the PRINCE2 idea of ‘Stages’.
Apart from the Product Based Planning technique, PRINCE is not prescriptive on the tools to be used or on areas such as leadership qualities, procurement processes etc. PRINCE2 takes the view that these aspects are well covered by proven methods or possibly affected by organisational standards or cultural differences.
PMBOK includes several skills and specialist areas in the tool set of the project manager including Earned Value Analysis and Procurement principles

 

Is it true that PRINCE2 is very bureaucratic?

This is one of the most irritating misconceptions about PRINCE2. It is based on a shallow analysis of the methodology and is more often an excuse for avoiding a structured approach.

PRINCE2 has been developed for use with any size of project. It is obviously not necessary to throw the book at small to medium sized projects. Indeed each of the PRINCE2 processes includes a section on scalability and the architects of the methodology stress that each process needs to be approached with the question, “How extensively should this process be applied on this project?”

 

What are the other Best Practice methodologies?

The APMG works closely with the UK Cabinet Office to administer the full suite of Best Practice methodologies on their behalf. Please click here to view the list of products available in Australia on the official APMG website.

 

Are templates available?

Templates can be found on the official PRINCE2 website.

We have also found other excellent sites for obtaining templates for project documents. Our favourite is the Tasmanian Government website.

 

Where can I get more information?

The official PRINCE2 website and Cabinet Office website contain further information and you will also find information on PRINCE2 and other Best Practice products at the official APMG website.