PRINCE2 – Is It Any Good?
By Chris Croft
I get asked this so often so here is, officially and undisputably, my views on the subject:
Is PRINCE2 any good…
– as a qualification to have on my CV?
– to actually use on our projects at work?
As a qualification?
Five to ten years ago PRINCE2 was absolutely the thing. Now the verdict is mixed – some people love it, some people loathe it. So if you put it on your CV there is a risk, though I would say it’s probably still more positive than negative, but the scales are slowly tipping all the time, and people are starting to think that if they recruit a PRINCE2 person they will be bringing bureaucracy into their organisation, particularly if it’s a small private company. Larger companies and public sector organisations still tend to me pro PRINCE2.
The difficulty is that PRINCE2 is still the only well known project management qualification, so although it’s generally felt to be too bureaucratic it’s better than nothing. Certainly it shows that you know a bit about project management – though really it’s only proof that you’ve been on the course and learned the terminology in order to pass the test at the end, you don’t have to actually run a project in order to get your PRINCE2 accreditation.
There are other qualifications, such as the Chartered Management Institute’s ‘Certificate in Management’ which can be based on project management modules, and which has a proper QCA level assigned to it (it’s level 5) unlike PRINCE2. Also, maybe the best of all, there’s the APM (Association of Project Managers) who run an excellent course.
A final thought – PRINCE2 courses are pretty expensive, and many people reckon they are pretty boring – lots of forms and terminology to learn. These should only be small considerations, but don’t say I didn’t tell you!
To actually use?
PRINCE2 is brilliant for some things and hopeless for others, so it depends on what you want. It’s great for giving a high level control of all projects, since it’s philosophy is based on gateways which projects have to pass through. Projects cannot be started without fitting the overall goals of the organisation, and without a proper plan, for example. Of course, this means that if you are a project manager, just trying to do your project, then you might find that PRINCE2 feels like a burden, an obstruction – and it will be if you’re not doing your project properly! And maybe some paperwork is the price we have to pay to keep all projects under control.
Amount of paperwork: PRINCE2 can be very burdensome if you do everything by the book. Many people are using cut down versions, which can work well but need a bit of thinking through, and to some extent the whole integrity of Prince is compromised if you don’t do it all. But versions where you do less paperwork if your project is smaller can work well.
However, if you are expecting a PRINCE2 course to tell you how to do your project you will be disappointed. PRINCE2 has an official list of exclusions which include estimating, planning, monitoring quality and cost, and all people aspects. So PRINCE2’s attitude is that of course you have to submit a plan with Gantt charts and critical paths etc, and you can’t progress to the next gateway if you don’t (I completely agree with this!) but it’ s up to you how you do these, you can learn them somewhere else, but this level of detail is below PRINCE2.
I find this disappointing – they could so easily have done the whole thing properly rather than leaving this huge gap at the operational level. There are PRINCE2 courses where there isn’t a single Gantt chart in the whole 5 days, and I’ve had people on my two day project management course who have told me that there was absolutely no overlap between my course and the PRINCE2 course – they didn’t cover a single thing about project planning and management on the PRINCE2 course!
So if you are going to learn about project management you can do Prince but you must also do a course in how to plan and run a project – provided by me or many other trainers!
Evidence of Prince’s complexity: just type in “Prince2” to google images and have a look.
I’m going to have a lie down now.
Chris Croft runs one day and two day project management training courses all over southern england. You can find more of his Project Management tips at http://www.cc-training.com/project_management.html, you can read about his DMS (Diploma in Management) programmes at http://www.croftcentre.co.uk/lecturers.html, and you can get free emailed tips on all sorts of subjects at http://www.free-management-tips.co.uk
Chris started out life as an Engineer from Cambridge University, then worked as a manager (not fun enough) then as a University Lecturer (lots of fun but not enough money) and is now a freelance trainer (not bad for both). His dog, Marmite, is 17.