Got PRINCE2? So What? Now What?

Last month I was invited to participate in an APM roundtable discussion on the future of project management qualifications, the discussion will be published in the May edition of Project magazine. I jumped at the chance to join in, partially because I was interested to meet others who were passionate about the subject and listen to what they’ve got to say but also because I’ve been despairing at the PRINCE2 dominant world we’ve come to live in (especially over the last 3-4 years) and wanted to know how we’re going to “fix” this.

PRINCE2 Juggernaut

I actually came up with a little phrase during the roundtable discussion; “the PRINCE2 juggernaut” because to me, that’s what it feels like, an unstoppable machine that keeps churning out PRINCE2 Practitioners. I’ve also been witness to over the last few years of an ever increasing number of people who want to be project managers and yes, you guessed it, they’ve just taken their PRINCE2 exams and are now ready to find a job as a project manager. Arrrgghh!

We also get a number of calls every week from people looking to get into project management, asking the question “If I take my PRINCE2, will it be easy for me to find a job in project management?”. I also ask the question back, “So why do you think PRINCE2 will enable you to get a job as a project manager?” Invariably the answers are normally “because that’s what all the job specifications ask for, therefore it must be the de facto standard for project management”  (OK so it’s not always put as eloquently as that!). What normally follows is me having to briefly describe PRINCE2 as just being one methodology, one way to run a project and what it doesn’t give you is the “how” of project management i.e., how to put together a schedule, how to put together a risk management plan etc

In other words, we end up talking about the APM courses and qualifications because in the UK these are the best for learning the how, and are definitely the ones to do (the Introduction Certificate and APMP) if you are relatively new to project management. But, invariably people have already spent their money on the PRINCE2 course and now I’m saying well, you know, you should have spent it on this instead! It actually makes me feel bad for them because in a way they’ve been won over by the PRINCE2 juggernaut marketing machine and not  got the right advice at the right time.

So, I was quite surprised when I received a new whitepaper from OGC called “APMP for PRINCE2 Practitioners” (PDF). Written by Graham Williams, it’s main purpose is to; “explain why any individual who has the PRINCE2 Practitioner qualification, or any organization which employs PRINCE2 Practitioners, should consider the merits of the APMP qualification“. Now this is interesting, it is the first time I have seen anyone attempt to provide a clear distinction between the two and more importantly it comes from OGC, the home of PRINCE2.

The key point here is that whilst PRINCE2 provides a step-wise framework within which its themes are applied, it does not describe the detailed techniques and leadership capabilities that will need to be applied during the project lifecycle for the project to be successful. Also, whereas PRINCE2 explains what needs to be done, the APM Body of Knowledge provides more guidance to how it is done.

The whitepaper goes on to give a clear distinction between the two; taking important areas like risk, change, business case etc and also highlighting which core competencies are not even covered by PRINCE2

There is also a “APMP for PRINCE2 Practitioners” book available, which dropped on to my desk this week. “The purpose of this publication is to provide a study guide for PRINCE2 Practitioners to prepare for the APMP examination. It describes and explains the APMP topics in the context of PRINCE2, and at the end of each chapter there are several sample questions to help you prepare for the APMP examination

So it looks like this might be the solution for all those PRINCE2 Practitioners out there that need to continue studying to gain more knowledge in the mechanics of project management, the how of project management. The APMP for PRINCE2 is especially suitable for PRINCE2 Practitioners that don’t actually have any experience yet of managing projects but would like to pursue project management as a career path. Of course, you could just take the APMP course, but I think this is a great way to learn the core competencies of project management whilst building on what you already know from your PRINCE2 Practitioner studies.

It mentions in the whitepaper, near the end, about what individuals could do next; enrol on a APMP course, self study for the APMP exam or enrol on an Open University module which covers the APMP syllabus.

I think there will be more news shortly about an APMP for PRINCE2 Practitioners course, watch this space.

Image © graymalkn and used with permission.

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  1. As a PRINCE2 and APM accredited organisation this is something that the majority of our delegates ask, even more so in our current climate with many people looking to re-skill and improve their CVs.

    We hope that the new APMP for PRINCE2 guidance and qualification will help PRINCE2 Practitioners make that leap into a ‘wider’ project management qualification.

    1. I have been in IT since the 1970s where there was no real project management methodology and we seemed to manage projects OK!! I think these methodologies are vastly overrated and people believe that because they have a piece of paper this qualifies them as being a good project manager. To me it’s all common sense, get the job done on time, in scope, under budget.

  2. Hopefully some good news coming then. The ongoing devaluation of Prince2 is of continuing frustration to me. I always knew that Prince2 was a tool to help me through my day job rather than the solution to all my problems but I was still proud of my achievement in gaining the accreditation/recognition but now…not so much.

    Completely agree that Practitioners seem appear out of nowhere these days. When commenting on the lack of available project managers on my programme a few weeks ago I had a random contractor say “I can do that for you. Didn’t anyone tell you I’m a Prince2 Practitioner?” A point he kept making over and over (obviously trying to prove his worth). Sorry to be harsh but all that tells me is that you’re good at taking an exam! Two weeks later I can safely say that he is no Project Manager.

    Personally I’m looking more to the MSP angle for my own career development these days however anything that helps people separate the diamonds from the cut glass will be a very welcome change.
    .-= Chris Warren´s last blog ..Warchc: NO!!! RT @philallely: brutus beefcake says he is ready for tna, but brutus do they or the fans want you? =-.

  3. I agree in part with Chris, for a while the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam was very much a formality to pass and thus perhaps reduced it’s overall value to the industry. Since the latest PRINCE2 guidance was released last year, exams have been made more testing which is probably a fairer balance.

    As for MSP, it really is a good method and we see great feedback on our courses. The problem comes convincing people they are actually running a programme and not a project!

  4. I unfortunately have come from the other end of the scale. After many years (20+) of managing small to medium projects and also working in ITIL environments I find that now I’m out of work I’m having trouble securing any decent positions because I have no formal qualifications. Companies seem more interested in taking on people who have qualifications but little experience. I have now self funded my own courses and gained P2 Practioner and ITIL Foundation and suddenly agencies are calling me!!

  5. I hear you, I am a P2 Practitioner and I have been a project manager since 1989. I believe in applying Pragmatic Prince2 based on the project specifics.

    I also encourage new PM’s that the core principles of P2 are fine and the PMI’s PMBOK provides further knowledge on Project Management. But learn to focus on requirements management, deliverable tracking and issue management and you will have more success than slavishly following any one methodology / body of knowledge.

  6. I think that good qualifications such as Prince2, MSP and APMP are great for laying the foundations of knowledge for new PPM practitioners. They are also useful criteria for sifting during recruitment exercises. However there is so much more to a good programme / project manager than a few pieces of paper. Applying the prince2 / MSP / APMP theory in practice is way different from sitting the exam. Furthermore, these methodologies / frameworks dont cover all of the soft skills that good PMs need…

    great article – got me thinking!

  7. There has always been the ongoing debate about APM vs PRINCE2, which is best, and which one should I have? The answer is neither, and both!

    My view is that APM gives the PM a wide breadth of understanding and a number of tools and techniques to help spec, plan, manage and control a project. P2 gives a structured framework for the project, and focusses on process rather than technique. The combination of both of these approaches is very advantagous!

    As always, my view is that PM (and their host organisation) need to use APM/P2 with a degree of flexibility (something that has always plagued P2) – i.e. apply as required by the project as opposed to rigidly sticking to a pre-set methodology.

    I am please to see that APM & P2 are begining to align themselves, perhaps we can begin to put the spate behind us and focus on utilising both approaches to the benefit of our projects.

  8. P2 is as much a right of passage as it is a fundamental for anyone setting off down the Project Management road. APMP however will give a much wider view of that road and its surrounding area. If you want to be a better Project Manager then APMP will provide a greater understanding and both breadth and depth will be improved. As for MSP, version 5 has come of age and is now the natural evolution of the Project management journey.
    I am glad that they are now moving in the same direction and supporting each other, instead of being marketed at odds and competing for market share.
    While I have the above set, I am always open to learning, what would profesionals recommend next?….

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