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This year, AXELOS announced the first major update to PRINCE2 since 2009. Referred to as PRINCE2 2017, this update affects certain parts of the methodology, the exams and how to maintain your registered PRINCE2 Practitioner status.

Whether you want to take a PRINCE2 course for the first time or already have the qualification, read on to discover more about this important update and how it affects you.

Why has PRINCE2 been updated?

The institute that owns the PRINCE2 copyright is called AXELOS. They are responsible for accrediting training providers and managing the development of PRINCE2.

During a period of consultation between AXELOS, their partners and expert PRINCE2 users, it was agreed that PRINCE2 needed to change in order to become more practical and more relevant to the modern project management world.

How has the methodology changed?

The PRINCE2 method is described in detail in the official PRINCE2 manual ‘Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2’. Because of the update this year, the revised manual is now the 2017 edition, and you’ll be pleased to know this edition of the manual is much more user friendly and readable.

There is now a much greater emphasis on tailoring PRINCE2 to suit the organization or project environment. The PRINCE2 Themes chapters in particular now have additional information about tailoring with examples included.

The manual also has more clarity concerning the link between the Principles and the Themes, as well as practical examples of how to apply PRINCE2. Throughout the manual, there are also numerous tips, hints and definitions to enhance your understanding of the method.

Finally, to keep up to date with modern project management trends, the manual also makes reference to agile methods and there is guidance on how agile and PRINCE2 can be used together.

How have the exams changed?

Both the PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner exams have been changed to reflect the changes to the methodology. The Practitioner exam question style has also changed to be more straightforward, something considered long overdue by many in the PRINCE2 community.

The PRINCE2 Foundation exam now features questions on tailoring and there are also more questions regarding the Principles. The number of questions has also been reduced from 75 to 60 and the pass mark has increased from 50% to 55%. However, it is still a multiple choice exam for 1 hour.

The PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is still a 2.5-hour multiple choice exam. However, there are now questions from all parts of the PRINCE2 method, with particular emphasis on the Principles. The ‘assertion-reason’ style questions have now been removed and the number of questions has been reduced from 80 to 68. The pass mark has also increased from 50% to 55%.

Perhaps the most major change, however, is that the PRINCE2 Re-registration exam no longer exists. This is due to the introduction of AXELOS Membership and the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) scheme. Please read the next question for further details.

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How do I maintain my PRINCE2 status?

Before the 2017 update, your registered PRINCE2 Practitioner status would have lasted for 5 years after passing the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. When your status expired after 5 years, you would have been able to renew your status for 5 more years by doing a PRINCE2 Re-registration exam.

AXELOS have changed the way PRINCE2 Practitioners keep their registered PRINCE2 Practitioner status up to date. The PRINCE2 Re-registration course and exam have been scrapped and your PRINCE2 Practitioner status now lasts for 3 years, as opposed to 5 years.

You now have two options for renewing your status after expiry. You can either:

a) Simply take a PRINCE2 Practitioner exam again after 3 years.

b) Join AXELOS Membership and keep your status up to date by accruing 20 CPD points per year over a 3-year period. CPD (Continuing Professional Development) points are gained by logging project management related activities in your Membership account. By gaining 20 CPD points per year, you will not have to take the Practitioner exam again.

Upon successfully passing a PRINCE2 exam, AXELOS will contact you regarding the membership scheme. It is up to you whether you sign up or not, but we recommend that you do. Alongside access to the CPD recording tool, you will also gain access to a host of useful resources.

How does all this affect me?

If you have a 2009 PRINCE2 Foundation certificate

All PRINCE2 2009 certification is still valid, it has not been made void. You can go ahead and do the 2017 Practitioner exam, even though you have a 2009 Foundation exam. If you join our Practitioner course, we’ll ensure you are prepared for the 2017 exam with pre-course study and in-class training.

If you have a 2009 PRINCE2 Practitioner certificate

For those who have the PRINCE2 Practitioner 2009 qualification, please rest assured that your status is still valid for 5 years. However, when it does expire, you will need to take the PRINCE2 Practitioner 2017 exam, as the PRINCE2 Re-registration exam will completely cease to exist by the end of 2017.

I am completely new to PRINCE2. Which version should I do – 2009 or 2017?

If you are new to PRINCE2 and want to know which version is ‘better’, please be advised that no version is better than the other. Gaining either the 2009 or 2017 certification will be recognised by employers and the changes are not major. However, some benefits to doing the 2017 version are:

  • You will gain the most up to date version of the qualification
  • The changes in the manual are useful, as you learn more about tailoring PRINCE2 and there are numerous hints, examples and tips. Agile methods are also mentioned.
  • The exams have less questions, which is definitely a plus! Also, the Practitioner exam has much more straightforward questions.
  • If you join AXELOS Membership and simply accrue 20 CPD points per year, you won’t have to sit a Practitioner exam again to maintain your status.

Some people, however, might prefer to do the 2009 version if they want their Practitioner status to last for 5 years as opposed to 3 years. If you still want to do the 2009 exams, please be aware that all 2009 exams will cease to exist by 31st December 2017.

All of our classroom PRINCE2 courses now follow the 2017 syllabus. However, our eLearning courses will remain as the 2009 syllabus until autumn. As the 2009 exams are to be scrapped at the end of the year, we are able to offer our eLearning students the option to do either the 2009 or 2017 exams until 31st December 2017.

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Simon Buehring

Simon Buehring is the Founder and Managing Director of Knowledge Train.

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