Monthly Archives: September 2016

PRINCE2 Foundation

I’ve attended Prince2 Foundation training last week. Want to share my experience and impressions.

Intro

A bit of background story first and what the Prince2 is about. PRojects IN a Controlled Environment. Prince. Version 2.

Prince2 is a methodology (not a method, but a science! – as some source love to point out) for Project Management.

Now, what’s a project – it’s any organizational change aimed to achieve a set goal. Quite sure, there are better definitions out there, I want to avoid copy-pasting them from Wikipedia.

Prince2 can be applied in any industry, in any area. Not to be confused with ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). ITIL is a set of best practices and a rules for managing services (mainly tuned to IT needs).

Prince2 loves to draw attention to its language, practices and principles are precise and are not to be compromised.

Communication has to be structured and worded in a clear and precise manner, much like legal documents.

Prince2 Foundation is a basic training, it’s about theory, definitions and understanding the approach. There’s also the Prince2 Practitioner level that I will not be talking about.

The instructor

We had a Polish instructor with extensive experience (over 25 years) both in practical and theoretical aspects of Project Management.

Because of his language, manners and structure of speech a non-native English speaker could confuse him with a UK citizen.

You could easily tell he has been doing “this” for a long time now.

The training

The course itself is 3 days, 8 hours each day with very few coffee breaks and almost non-existent lunch.

There’s also homework. Which typically will take from 2 to 3 hours after each day, depending on how deep you want to dive in.

And there’s the 160+ pager pre-course material. I would say that at least browsing through it is a requirement. The course is rather time-constrained to do it after training.

I’ve browsed through several Prince2 quick-introduction videos on youtube before the course started to get a basic idea of what’s going to happen. I highly recommend doing that for everyone who wants to attend.

The content

Prince2 requires a set of principles to be met for any given project to be called “Prince2 certified”. There is no compromise here. 🙂

There is no democracy in Prince2, all roles have strictly defined responsibilities, only one person is accountable for the overall success and failure (which may come as a surprise, but some other project management methodologies seem to miss this out) of the project – executive.

There is a strict hierarchy established for each project.

Acceptance criteria and acceptable “levels” of delivery are defined at project initiation, monitored and controlled throughout the whole cycle.

And one that might come as a surprise – projects have a fixed end and a start date. They are temporary, not perpetual.

The exam

Exam is 75 theoretical questions with 4 choices. Closed book exam, pencils. You have to colour in the right oval on a separate paper and you have to do it right.

Standard time is 60 minutes. 15 minute extension is granted to non-native speakers.

Time is tight, I’ve finished my paper and passed the exam in 57 minutes after all the checks.

Questions are tricky, although the official exam statement states precisely the following – “there are no trick questions”.

Questions are tricky in a sense you have to pay attention to details, read and precisely understand what is required. Those 15 extra minutes are very welcome for a non-native speakers as I had to re-read questions multiple times.

On average 80% of the people pass the exam, only 35 out of 75 (5 random questions do not count and are just there for experimental purposes). It’s not as bad, but not easy. Just the perfect amount of a challenge. 

Conclusion

I’ve enjoyed learning about this methodology and recommend attending the course. Some information there you intuitively know from experience and seeing it mentioned in a strong reference material certainly boosts your confidence and gives you the much needed foundation on what you base your work on.

You may use or may not use best practices described in Prince2 – it’s your own choice. But I come to think of these a set of rules written by other people’s mistakes and failure, but also good experiences and successes.

Much like the road traffic laws where each line is written with blood. I’d rather not test every single line and rely on a proven approach.