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What You Need to Know About PRINCE2 2017

Axelos announced that there will be a new update to PRINCE2 later this year. The last change, in 2009, had quite a big overhaul, but what about this one?

According to Axelos, the guidance has been updated – the principles, themes and processes remain the same – to concentrate on the application of PRINCE2 and how best to tailor it. It’s always been there – the principle that PRINCE2 should be tailored for specific projects or to an organisation’s specific way of managing projects.

Judging by the update, that principle is one that needs more attention – perhaps that comes as no surprise to anyone who works in project management because PRINCE2 being used in its entirety, letter by letter on a project is unheard of. In fact it wouldn’t be PRINCE2 if you did*

What the new update to PRINCE2 does provide you with is further guidance on how PRINCE2 can be tailored to maximum effect – with examples on how to do that and which elements of PRINCE2 should definitely not be tailored.

“The 2009 version of the PRINCE2 guidance devoted an entire chapter to tailoring, but it came towards the end of the guidance.  The 2017 update introduces the whole concept at a much earlier stage, explaining exactly why it is so important in today’s working environment. It also aims for complete clarity on striking the right balance between the required and recommended elements of PRINCE2, which is crucial when it comes to tailoring the method to optimum effect.” Mike Acaster from Axelos

PRINCE2 2017At Project Challenge the other week, I picked up a small booklet which covered an extract from the new version of PRINCE2, it was about the principle on tailoring PRINCE2.

So what can be tailored?

According to Axelos these are the main parts of PRINCE2 that can be tailored:

  • The processes – they can be combined or adapted
  • The themes can be applied by using techniques appropriate to the project
  • The roles can be combined or split (but there are some restrictions – accountability must be maintained and no conflicts of interest)
  • Management products can be combined or split into any number of documents etc
  • Terminology can be changed to suit the organisation – but its got to be applied consistently.

That seems like an awful lot of PRINCE2 that can be adapted or tailored – in fact the only part that can’t be tailored and that’s the essence of PRINCE2, which are the principles.

The PRINCE2 principles are:

  1. Continued business justification – is there a justifiable reason for starting the project that will remain consistent throughout its duration?
  2. Learn from experience – PRINCE2 project teams should continually seek and draw on lessons learned from previous work.
  3. Defined roles and responsibilities – the PRINCE2 project team should have a clear organizational structure and involve the right people in the right tasks.
  4. Manage by stages – PRINCE2 projects should be planned, monitored and controlled on a stage-by-stage basis.
  5. Manage by exception PRINCE2 project have defined tolerances for each project objective to establish limits of delegated authority.
  6. Focus on products – PRINCE2 projects focus on the product definition, delivery and quality requirements.
  7. Tailor to suit the project environment – PRINCE2 is tailored to suit the project’s environment, size, complexity, importance, capability and risk.

*So if you’re not tailoring PRINCE2 – that means you’re not adhering to the PRINCE2 principle of number seven – therefore you’re not ‘doing’ PRINCE2.

So PRINCE2 will be updated mid 2017:

The main changes to the guidance are characterised by an emphasis on:

  • tailoring PRINCE2 to the needs of organizations and project environments;
  • the principles that underpin PRINCE2;
  • clarifying the link between the themes and principles;
  • the restructuring of the ‘Themes’ guidance to accommodate specific examples of tailoring;
  • the practical application of the method and guidance, with numerous examples, hints and tips.

An important point if you’re considering taking the course:

From the launch of the updated exams, and until the end of 2017, candidates may take either the existing or updated English version of any PRINCE2 examination. From January 2018, all Foundation and Practitioner exams in English will be based on the updated version of PRINCE2, while existing exams in other languages will continue to be valid.  The rollout schedule for the guidance and exams in other languages will be announced in late 2017; the versions currently in preparation are Dutch, German, Polish, French, Danish, Norwegian and Italian and versions in other languages are currently under consideration.

If you are a current PRINCE2 Practitioner, your certificate will remain valid until the end of its five-year period.

Find out more by visiting Axelos’ PRINCE2 website.

About Lindsay Scott

Lindsay Scott
Director of Arras People, the programme and project management recruitment specialists. You can find out more about Arras People and follow me on Twitter and Google I also write the careers column for PMI's Network magazine and other project management organisations too. Recently created the first PMO Conference and currently running the PMO Flashmob

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