PRINCE2: A New Project Management Methodology

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Project management may experience its own version of the British invasion soon, said Ron Cook, a project management instructor at the Boston University Corporate Education Center (BUCEC), which offers professional learning programs to individuals in the work force. PRINCE2, or PRojects IN Controlled Environments, is a method that is widely used by the private sector and government agencies in the U.K. and other nations to manage projects in a range of industries.


“I’m very excited about PRINCE2,” said Cook, BUCEC’s PRINCE2 lead trainer. “My gut tells me that in five years, PRINCE2 is going to be all over the U.S. People are going to see the benefits that it offers as a methodology.”


The PRINCE2 process of project implementation has eight steps. They are:



  1. Starting up.
  2. Directing a project.
  3. Initiating a project.
  4. Controlling a stage.
  5. Managing stage boundaries.
  6. Planning.
  7. Managing product delivery.
  8. Closing a project.


Throughout all these phases, PRINCE2 project managers apply five concepts, which are:



  • Control
  • Quality
  • Planning
  • Lesson learned
  • Risk management


Although these processes and concepts are standard, PRINCE2 is inherently amenable to new ideas, Cook said. “It’s constantly being updated and improved, very much like the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is for PMI (Project Management Institute). It’s open to utilizing any tools and techniques that project managers find useful.”


BUCEC offers two courses and two exams for PRINCE2: the Foundation class and test, and the Practitioner class and test. The former involves a three-day course around the PRINCE2 manual, “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2,” which is published by the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in the U.K. At the end of the class, participants take a one-hour, closed-book exam with 75 questions, which is graded locally upon completion.


The Foundation certification is a prerequisite for the PRINCE2 Practitioner credential, Cook said. This program involves is a two-day, application-based class around case studies. At the end of this course, candidates take a three-hour, open-book written exam with three multiple-part questions that deal with a particular scenario. The Foundation and Practitioner courses are always taught back-to-back so participants can kill two birds with one stone, although they have the option of taking just one or the other.


Although PRINCE2 and PMBOK might be seen by some as competing project management strategies, Cook said that is not the case. “You can’t really compare PRINCE with PMBOK,” he said. “PMBOK and PMI offer knowledge: What do you need to know to be a good project manager? PRINCE is really focused more on what you do to have a successful project. It is truly a methodology.”


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