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PRINCE2® FAQs

By Simon Buehring on 25 Sep 2018

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PRINCE2 is the world’s most popular project management methodology, used by thousands of organisations worldwide. There’s a lot of confusion about PRINCE2 and the benefits it can bring, so this article sets out to answer all your questions about PRINCE2 and more!

How difficult are the PRINCE2 exams?

You can judge how difficult the 2 PRINCE2 examinations are by looking at the pass rates. In the UK, the average national pass rates for the exams are:

  • Foundation - 97%
  • Practitioner - 73%

This tells you that very few people fail Foundation, but on average 1 in every 4 people will fail the Practitioner. In that way, PRINCE2 Practitioner is considerably harder than PRINCE2 Foundation.

How do I pass PRINCE2 Foundation?

As for any exam, thorough preparation and familiarity with the syllabus topics will stand you in good stead. Studying with a reputable training provider can help - either by attending a classroom course or studying online using elearning. Practising sample Foundation exams until you consistently get high scores and feel confident will also help you to pass the exam.

How do I pass PRINCE2 Practitioner?

You cannot sit the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam without having passed the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. Whereas the Foundation exam tests your knowledge of PRINCE2, the Practitioner exam tests your ability to apply your knowledge.

Preparation and familiarity with the Practitioner syllabus is needed. Studying with a reputable training provider helps - either by attending a classroom course or studying online using elearning. Practising sample exams until you consistently get high scores and feel confident also helps you to pass the exam.

How does agile project management compare with PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 is a generic project management methodology. It can therefore be applied on any type of project, including agile projects. One principle of PRINCE2 is that it must be tailored to suit the project's needs. Therefore, tailoring for an agile project requires agile concepts and techniques such as time-boxing or sprints to be incorporated.

Agile project management usually refers to the management of agile projects and for this purpose, PRINCE2 is more than adequate providing it is tailored appropriately.

How does PRINCE2 and PMP certification compare?

Over - far more than sit PMP exams

PRINCE2 PMP (PMI)
100,000 people every year sit PRINCE2 exams No numbers available, but generally acknowledged to be far fewer – possibly around 20,000 a year
Certification is easier to obtain - by passing an exam Certification is harder to obtain - requires passing an exam AND 5 years' experience of project management, plus 35+ hours of formal project management education
Widely recognised in the UK, Australia and Europe PMP is widely recognised in the USA, Middle East and Asia
Best suited to customer organisations Best suited to supplier organisations

How does PRINCE2 and the PMBoK compare?

PRINCE2 PMP (PMI)
Is a project management methodology Is a project management standard
Describes project management roles for the full range of project stakeholders Only describes the project manager role in detail
Describes 2 techniques Describes many techniques
Widely popular in UK, Australia, Europe Widely popular in USA, Asia, Middle East and Africa

How long do PRINCE2 qualifications last?

PRINCE2 qualifications last as follows:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation - this certificate never expires
  • PRNCE2 Practitioner - this certificate expires 3 years after issue. To maintain your registered PRINCE2 Practitioner status after 3 years, you have two options. You can either just take the Practitioner exam again, or you can sign up for AXELOS Membership and renew your status by getting the requisite number of CPD (continuing professional development) points.

Is PRINCE2 agile?

PRINCE2 can be fully tailored to suit the needs of your project. One of its principles is about tailoring. By applying the tailoring principle, you can apply PRINCE2 on agile projects, and use PRINCE2 in conjunction with any of the major agile methods such as Scrum or Kanban.

Is PRINCE2 certification useful?

PRINCE2 certification is very useful because it provides you with understanding of the world's most popular project management methodology. Holding a PRINCE2 qualification can also help you when applying for jobs if it sets you apart from the competition. If you work as a project manager, you really should get PRINCE2 certification along with other professional certifications such as PMI's PMP or the APM’s PMQ. PRINCE2 is also easier to gain when compared with PMP or PMQ because it can be obtained by passing an exam at the end of a classroom or online training course.

Is PRINCE2 still relevant?

This question assumes that somehow PRINCE2 is out of date. It is not. In fact, it is by far the world's most popular project management methodology and is even more relevant today as organisations adapt to survive. People often confuse PRINCE2 with agile methods such as Scrum. However, such agile methods are development methods used by teams and are not project management methods themselves. You still need to decide if a project is (and remains) worthwhile. For that purpose, PRINCE2 is needed on all projects.

Is the PRINCE2 methodology useful?

The PRINCE2 methodology is very useful because it provides organisations with the controls to decide whether a project is and remains a worthwhile investment. It also provides tools to identify and control risks, issues and quality. If focuses on what is to be delivered, and the benefits to be gained. It also provides clarity about the people involved in decision-making and when those decisions need to be taken. It remains the world's most popular project management methodology.

On which environment is PRINCE2 based?

PRINCE2 is based upon a customer-supplier environment. This is where the customer organisation pays for the project, specifies what is delivered, and expects to receive certain benefits in return. These costs and benefits are set out in a business case which drives the decision-making on the project. The deliverables will be designed and built by suppliers.

PRINCE2 therefore is most suited for customer organisations, rather than supplier organisations.

What are products in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 the outputs of the project (deliverables) are known as products. PRINCE2 describes two types of products:

  • Management products - e.g. a project plan or business case. These are artefacts created and used by the project management team to plan, manage and control the project.
  • Specialist products - e.g. a new IT system or new office building. These are project outputs which are specified by the customer and delivered to the customer by the supplier either during or at the end of the project. The customer uses these to realise benefits.

What are project controls in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 there are 2 types of progress controls:

  • Time-driven - e.g. checkpoint report. These occur at regular, defined time intervals. Such controls enable the project management team to monitor and report progress.
  • Event-driven - e.g. end stage report. These occur in response to an event (e.g. the end of a stage, or when an issue occurs) and are used by the project management team to take decisions and to exercise control.

What are stages in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 management stages are a way to break down a project into manageable chunks. Stages form a go or no-go decision point for the project board. At the end of a stage the project board reviews the updated business case and project plan, and if it is still deemed to be a worthwhile investment, approve the next stage plan. In this way, resources are committed to the project on a stage by stage basis. Projects which become unviable after initiation can be stopped and the money and resources which would have been spent on completing the project can be saved and put to other use.

What are the principles of PRINCE2?

The 7 principles of PRINCE2 are:

  1. Continued business justification
  2. Learn from experience
  3. Defined roles and responsibilities
  4. Manage by stages
  5. Manage by exception
  6. Focus on products
  7. Tailor to suit the project

What are the processes of PRINCE2?

The 7 processes of PRINCE2 are:

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

What are the themes of PRINCE2?

The 7 themes of PRINCE2 and the questions they answer are:

  1. Business case - ('why?')
  2. Organisation - ('who?')
  3. Quality - ('what?')
  4. Plans - ('when?' and 'how much?')
  5. Risk - ('what if?')
  6. Change - ('what's the impact?')
  7. Progress - ('where are we now?' and 'should we continue?')

What are the basics of PRINCE2?

The basics of PRINCE2 include:

  • maintaining a business case with a cost-benefit analysis and closing the project if it's no longer worthwhile
  • ensuring everyone on the project management is clear what they are accountable and responsible for
  • managing the project by stages - only authorising one stage at a time
  • managing by exception using tolerances to save senior manager's time
  • learning from experience and ensuring lessons are incorporated into everything that you do
  • focusing on what the project will deliver - ensuring the project only delivers what it needs
  • tailoring PRINCE2 to suit the needs of each individual project.

What are the benefits of PRINCE2 certification?

The benefits of PRINCE2 certification for an individual include:

  • you’ll learn about the world's most popular project management methodology
  • certification is recognised by employers worldwide
  • it helps you understand how to manage projects effectively
  • you'll learn to speak a common and widely understood terminology
  • you’ll gain confidence to take a role in managing or directing projects.

What are the benefits of PRINCE2?

Applying PRINCE2 in your organisation results in several benefits:

  • a project management methodology based upon best practices
  • can be tailored to meet the needs of an organisation and scaled to the size and complexity of any type of project
  • your staff will speak a common and widely understood terminology which promotes consistency
  • it ensures that major stakeholders are involved in decision-making
  • it promotes learning from project experience and helps your organisation continually improve
  • your senior managers will save time because they manage by exception
  • your projects will be managed as means to ends rather than as ends in themselves
  • it is supported by a worldwide network of accredited training companies and experts.

What are the PRINCE2 certification levels?

PRINCE2 has 2 certification levels:

  • Foundation level - this certification is suitable for anyone involved in projects. Certification is gained by passing a 1-hour multiple-choice exam. Students are tested on their understanding of the PRINCE2 methodology and terminology.
  • Practitioner level - this certification is suitable for people managing or directing or providing support on projects. Students are tested on their ability to apply PRINCE2 to a simple project. Certification is gained by passing a 2.5-hour multiple-choice exam.

What are the PRINCE2 certification requirements?

Certification requirements for PRINCE2 includes:

  • Foundation - 33 marks required out of 60 in a 1 hour multiple-choice closed-book exam. Students need to show they know and understand PRINCE2.
  • Practitioner - 38 marks required out of 68 in a 2.5 hour multiple-choice open-book exam. Students need to show they can apply PRINCE2 to a simple project. Re-requisite: PRINCE2 Foundation, or PMI-PMP, or PMI-CAPM, or IPMA Levels A to D.

What are the PRINCE2 practitioner prerequisites?

PRINCE2 practitioner prerequisites include:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation (or higher) - only certificates obtained after 1 January 2009; or
  • Project Management Professional (PMP); or
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM); or
  • IPMA Level A® (Certified Projects Director); or
  • IPMA Level B® (Certified Senior Project Manager); or
  • IPMA Level C® (Certified Project Manager); or
  • IPMA Level D® (Certified Project Management Associate).

What does PRINCE2 stand for?

PRINCE2 stands for:

PRojects

IN

Controlled

Environments

2nd version.

What is a PRINCE2 product description?

A product description in PRINCE2 is a management product which describes the purpose, composition and quality criteria, quality methods and quality responsibilities for a product. Not all products require a product description. They should be used for products which are not well understood or are developed by 3rd party suppliers.

What is a PRINCE2 project board?

In PRINCE2 a project board is similar to a steering group. It directs the project by taking all the big decisions about the project, whilst delegating day to day management of the project to the project manager. It 'manages by exception' using tolerances. It is comprised of an executive to represent the business, a senior user(s) role to represent users and a senior supplier(s) role to represent suppliers. It commits the resources to the project one stage at a time and approves all major plans and strategies.

What is a PRINCE2 project?

To be a PRINCE2 project a project needs to meet these 4 criteria:

  1. it applies PRINCE2’s principles
  2. it meets the minimum requirements set out in the PRINCE2 themes
  3. it applies processes that satisfy the purpose and objectives of the PRINCE2 processes
  4. it either uses PRINCE2’s recommended techniques or uses alternative, equivalent techniques.

What is a project approach in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 a project approach refers to the decision which is taken during start up about how to do the work on the project. Some typical options include:

  1. in-house - the products will be designed and delivered by staff within the customer organisation
  2. outsource - the products will be designed and delivered by staff from an external supplier organisation
  3. off the shelf - this approach suggests there will be no custom-built products, but instead a solution is purchased 'off the shelf'.

What is a project brief in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 a project brief is used by the project board to decide if a project is sensible. It is used to filter out the bad ideas for projects from the good ideas so that only the good ones get initiated. It is written when starting up a project. A project brief needs to answer several key questions about the project including why? what? who? and how? As its name implies it should be brief. It only needs to answer these questions sufficiently so that the project board can take a decision. PRINCE2 does not specify what format it takes. It could be a document, a slide deck, an email, or a flipchart discussed in a meeting.

What is a project in PRINCE2?

A project in PRINCE2 is a temporary organisation created for delivering one or more business products according to an agreed business case. The business case drives all the decisions on a project. Whether to start and to continue with a project on a stage by stage basis require an understanding of the costs, timescales and risks of the project on the one hand, and the benefits to be gained on the other hand.

What is a project initiation document in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 a project initiation document (or PID) is a collection of management products, which when combined together form a detailed and comprehensive view of the project. A PID contains a detailed business case, project plan, and approaches for managing risk, quality, change, communications and benefits. It also contains the project's controls, project approach and project management team structure and responsibilities. It is used by the project board to authorise the project and also at the end of every stage when authorising the next stage. It is updated by the project manager at the end of every stage after revising the business case and project plan.

What is a project plan in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 a project plan is a high-level plan covering the duration of the project. It is used by the project board to monitor and control progress. It is updated by the project manager stage by stage with revised forecasts for time and costs and with actuals from the stage just finishing. It should identify both the project product and the major products to be delivered and their product descriptions.

What is a risk in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 a risk is an uncertain event which if it occurs will affect the project in some way. There are 2 types of risk:

  • Threats - these uncertain events have a negative effect on a project e.g. a server failure on a computer network causes users to go offline.
  • Opportunities - these uncertain events have a positive effect on a project e.g. a strengthening in the currency causes supplies purchased from overseas to become cheaper.

What is a work package in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2 a work package is an agreement between the project manager (representing the customer) and the team manager (representing the supplier) about the work which the supplier shall do. It contains descriptions for the products to be delivered and agreements on delivery dates and costs. It also contains a description of how issues will be raised, the necessary escalation procedures, along with configuration management requirements.

What is PRINCE2 certification?

PRINCE2 certification refers to professional certification in the world's most popular project management methodology. Over 1 million people worldwide have gained PRINCE2 certification, far more than any other project management certification.

PRINCE2 certification exists at 2 levels:

  • Foundation - this certifications tests students' knowledge of PRINCE2, its concepts and terminology.
  • Practitioner - this certifications tests students' ability to apply their knowledge to a simple project scenario.

What is PRINCE2 Foundation?

PRINCE2 Foundation is the lowest of the 2 levels of PRINCE2 certification. PRINCE2 is the world's most popular project management methodology. Students normally attend a 3-day course which includes the 1-hour multiple-choice exam. Students can also self-study be using accredited elearning.

What is PRINCE2 Practitioner?

PRINCE2 Practitioner is the highest of the 2 levels of PRINCE2 certification. PRINCE2 is the world's most popular project management methodology. Students must have passed the PRINCE2 Foundation exam prior to sitting the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam. Students either attend a 2-day Practitioner course which includes the 2.5 hour multiple-choice exam, or they attend a combined 4 or 5 day Foundation & Practitioner course. Students can also self-study be using accredited elearning.

What is PRINCE2 training?

PRINCE2 training refers to classroom-based training courses which follow the PRINCE2 syllabus. PRINCE2 training normally follows the 2 accreditation levels - Foundation and Practitioner. Students either attend a PRINCE2 Foundation course (usually 2-3 days) or a PRINCE2 Practitioner course (usually 2 days). Often people combine the 2 certification levels into one combined Foundation & Practitioner course (usually 4-5 days). PRINCE2 training is also available online as elearning.

One feature of the PRINCE2 training market is the so-called 'grey market'. This is usually cheaper than accredited training but is offered by non-accredited companies employing non-approved trainers. The quality of grey market training is very low, do not come with examinations and are always a false economy.

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 is the world's most popular project management methodology based upon modern best practices. Its 7 principles are the foundation stones upon which everything else in PRINCE2 is based. Within its 7 processes a full project lifecycle is given with guidance about which member of the project management team is responsible for taking decisions and when. Within its 7 themes, it provides guidance on core aspects of project management e.g. risk, change and quality management. One major aspect of PRINCE2 is its flexibility. It can be tailored to suit the needs of any type of project in any industry.

What is the best online PRINCE2 course?

The best online PRINCE2 course is one which meets the following criteria:

  • Is accredited by PEOPLECERT
  • Separates the Foundation and Practitioner so each can be studied independently
  • Is interactive
  • Uses lots of examples
  • Stimulates the student to think in order to promote deeper, long-lasting learning
  • IS NOT a series of Powerpoint slides converted into elearning
  • Uses audio
  • Provides a demonstration for you to evaluate before purchasing

What is the best PRINCE2 online training provider?

The best online training providers meet the following criteria:

  • Is accredited by PEOPLECERT
  • Allows you to buy and study the Foundation and Practitioner parts separately
  • Provides a demonstration to allow you to evaluate the course prior to purchase
  • Has consistently good online reviews.

What is the PRINCE2 approach to planning?

The PRINCE2 approach to planning (product-based planning) involves the following steps:

  1. Format and present the plan - decide which planning tools to use and how the plans will be presented
  2. Define & analyse products - create a product breakdown structure and product flow diagram and write product descriptions for the major products
  3. Identify activities & dependencies - understand the work required to design, build and test the products, and the logical sequence of work
  4. Prepare estimates - estimate resources and timescales
  5. Prepare a schedule - put the activities into a schedule (e.g. Gantt chaert) showing the delivery dates
  6. Document the plan - add the narrative for the reader to understand the plan
  7. Analyse risks - a plan is only a draft until the risks inherent in the plan have been identified and assessed, and the plan modified accordingly.

What is the PRINCE2 lifecycle?

In PRINCE2 a project's lifecycle is described within the 7 processes. The first process is actually pre-project and is where an initial idea for a project is evaluated. There is a process for the project board to direct the project and a process for the team manager to deliver products. The remaining 3 processes are performed by the project manager – a detailed one for planning and preparation, one for controlling a stage and one for planning the next stage. The final process is where the finished products are handed over to the customer to use and become part of business as usual. The project can then be closed.

What roles are there in PRINCE2?

In PRINCE2, the project management team roles and their key responsibilities include:

  • Executive - represents the business, commits the money, has overall responsibility
  • Senior user(s) - represents users, specifies users' needs, tests products against requirements
  • Senior supplier(s) - represents suppliers, responsible for product quality
  • Project board - directs the project - composed of executive, senior user, senior supplier
  • Project assurance - monitors the project and products independently of the project manager
  • Project manager - manages day to day, reports to project board, liaises with team manager(s)
  • Team manager - manages a team, delivers products to the customer
  • Change authority - takes decisions about changes
  • Project support - advises and supports project manager and team manager(s).

What's a PRINCE2 business case?

In PRINCE2 a business case is the most important management product of all. That's because it drives the project's decision-making. A business case must weigh up the pros (the project's benefits) and cons (the project's costs, timescales and risks) to decide if the project is a worthwhile investment. It is updated throughout the project as forecasts for project costs, timescales, risks and benefits change. If the business case indicates the project no longer remains worthwhile it should be prematurely closed. Closing a project prematurely is not seen as a failure but is a positive decision because the organisation can now re-assign resources away from the project towards other more productive investment.

What's the definition of PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 stands for:

PRojects

IN

Controlled

Environments

2nd version.

It is the world's most popular project management methodology. Organisations use PRINCE2 because it gives them better control over projects, enabling them to achieve a return on investment on their projects.

What's the difference between PRINCE2 and agile?

PRINCE2 and agile are two entirely different things. PRINCE2 is a project management methodology. It helps an organisation manage and control its projects thereby enabling a return on its investment.

Agile is an umbrella term to mean a broad range of development methods and techniques which adhere to the agile manifesto e.g. Scrum or Kanban. Agile development methods are renowned for early and regular delivery of products and for being able to respond rapidly to changing requirements. It is possible though for agile development methods to be used by teams on a project managed using PRINCE2.

What's the difference between PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner?

The main differences between PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner are:

  • Foundation - Students need to show they know and understand PRINCE2. 1-hour closed-book multiple-choice exam. Pass mark 55%. Target audience: those taking part in projects.
  • Practitioner - Students need to show they can apply PRINCE2 to a simple project. 2.5-hour open-book multiple-choice exam. Pass mark 55%. Re-requisite: PRINCE2 Foundation, or PMI-PMP, or PMI-CAPM, or IPMA Levels A to D. Target audience: those supporting, managing or directing projects.

What's the pass mark for PRINCE2 Foundation exam?

The pass mark for the PRINCE2 Foundation exam is 55% (33 marks required out of 60) in a 1 hour multiple-choice closed-book exam.

What's the pass mark for PRINCE2 Practitioner exam?

The pass mark for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is 55% (38 marks required out of 68) in a 2.5 hour multiple-choice open-book exam.

What's the pass rate for PRINCE2 Foundation exam?

In the UK, the national average pass rate for the PRINCE2 Foundation exam is 97%. Some accredited training organisations achieve higher pass rates. Knowledge Train's PRINCE2 Foundation exam pass rate is 99%.

What's the pass rate for PRINCE2 Practitioner exam?

In the UK, the national average pass rate for the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam is 73%. Some accredited training organisations achieve higher pass rates.

Where can I take a PRINCE2 exam?

PRINCE2 exams can be taken at the venue of an accredited training organisation. Exams are usually sat as part of a 2, 3 or 5-day PRINCE2 course. However, you can sit your PRINCE2 exam at home using a webcam on a computer. For this option you must show that you are alone at home in the room when you sit the exam.

Which companies use PRINCE2?

These are just a few of the companies which use PRINCE2:

  • Rolls Royce
  • Barclays
  • Vodafone
  • BP
  • DHL
  • Siemens
  • Skandia
  • Visa
  • Standard Chartered
  • And many more!

Non-commercial organisations using PRINCE2 include:

  • UK government
  • United Nations
  • NATO
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Simon Buehring

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

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