With the introduction of PRINCE2 2009, the Cabinet Office has attempted to make PRINCE2 more accessible for all users, and particularly for senior managers who are involved in directing projects.
This article describes what changes have been made to the PRINCE2 method, how they might affect you, and also describes the changes to the examinations. It is aimed at those who already have at least a Foundation level knowledge of PRINCE2. The changes being introduced are categorised, and although there are many fairly significant changes, the PRINCE2 method has not fundamentally changed. It remains based on structured common sense, and still provides Project Managers with an excellent process for ensuring a project starts sensibly, is controlled throughout and is delivered successfully.
The biggest change is that there are now two manuals for PRINCE2: Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2, and Directing Successful Projects with PRINCE2. This is a response to the widespread problem of Project Board members not understanding their roles and responsibilities. Providing explicit focus on directing projects in this way should make educating project board members far easier and more successful.
The Business Case now contains an Executive Summary, Options for Do Nothing/Do the Minimum/Do Something, Expected Dis-benefits (perceived negative outcomes) and a Summary Risk Profile. The Post-Project Review Plan now called the Benefit Review Plan, and is created in Initiating a Project rather than in Closing a Project. There is now mention of Benefit Reviews during the project, for phased releases, which is definitely going to improve the relevance of this area of the method for many organisations.
The Levels of Organisation are now referred to as Directing, Managing and Delivering, and three new areas are covered within this theme; working with project teams, working with the corporate organisation and working with stakeholders. The Change Authority is now shown on the Organisation chart.
The Quality Register is now updated only by the PM, providing more control.
Exception Plans are no longer used to replace Team Plans, instead the Team Manager just raises an Issue. This reflects a more common-sense approach. The previous manual was ambiguous on this point.
There is now a Risk Management Strategy, forcing the Project Manager to agree the strategy for managing risk with the Project Board. It can be stand-alone or part of the PID. Another very sensible change is that Opportunities are now dealt with, along with Threats, ensuring that good opportunities worth exploiting are not missed. For each risk, the Risk Owner, who manages the risk, is not necessarily the same person as the Risk Actionee, who will implement the risk actions. The terminology surrounding the Risk process has changed, including the response types.
The Change theme includes Issue management, the procedure for managing changes and, sensibly, Configuration Management.
Each Process now contains Activities and Recommended Actions, instead of the much-hated Sub-processes. All of the pragmatic contents of each process have been retained, and most of the bureaucracy has been removed.
In particular, Capture Previous Lessons is now included in Starting up a Project, and this process also includes Create Daily Log and Lessons Log (not the Risk Log). Initiating a Project creates three Registers (Risk, Issue and Quality) and the Configuration Item Records. When the Project Board execute Authorising the Project, they now do this on the basis of PID and Benefits Review Plan. At the same time they will of course need to authorise the next Stage Plan, but this is now shown as the Project Board executing Authorise a Stage or Exception Plan. A final Product Status Account is produced in Closing a Project.
The Project Brief now contains the Project Product Description, Project Approach and Organisation Structure. The PID contains the Quality, Configuration, Risk and Communication Management Strategies, plus Tailoring of PRINCE2 (a note of how the method will be tailored for the project). Hopefully this last point will go some way to emphasising that the method must be tailored to be successful – as a lot of myths surrounding the bureaucratic nature of PRINCE2 still exist.
The following PRINCE2 elements have been renamed as follows:
• Project Quality Plan is now Quality Management Strategy
• Communication Plan is now Communication Management Strategy
• Configuration Management Plan is now Configuration Management Strategy
• Post-Project Review Plan is now Benefit Review Plan
• Project Initiation Document is now Project Initiation Documentation
• Quality Path is now Quality Audit Trail
• Quality Review roles are now Chair, Presenter, Reviewers, and Administrator
• Quality Review results are now Complete, Conditionally Complete, and Incomplete
• Risk Log is now Risk Register
• Issue Log now Issue Register
• Quality Log now Quality Register
• Lessons Learned Log and Lessons Learned Report are now Lessons Log and Lessons Report.
All of these changes seem sensible, especially the renaming of the Plans to Strategies, which of course is what they really are. And renaming the PID to make it sounds like a collection of documents rather than a singular document is going to remove confusion. The only Logs are for Lessons and Daily notes, reflecting the highly informal nature of these products, whilst the other items previously called Logs are now Registers, reflecting that they used more formally.
The Appendices have been changed as follows:
Appendix A is now divided into Baseline Management Products, Records and Reports. It now contains 26 Product Descriptions, not 36. 12 minor products have been removed and two have been added (Project Product Description and Risk Management Strategy). All Product Descriptions have been revised.
Appendix B is new: it shows how PRINCE2 address the principles of Governance, based on the Association of Project Management’s definition.
Appendix C (Roles) now has a role of Change Authority, Project Support Office has been removed, and each role (apart from the Project Board roles) has a very useful list of competencies. There is a nod here to the missing element of PRINCE2 – people management.
Appendix D contains a worked example of Product-based Planning, based on the example from the 2005 manual. There are now three different types of Product Breakdown Structure; Hierarchy (the old style), Mind Map and Indented List.
Appendix E contains the PRINCE2 Health Check, revised for consistency. I’m glad they’ve kept this in, as it provides a very useful list of questions to ask other project managers when you are carrying out an audit, or to ask yourself about your own current project to ensure that you’re on track.
Sensibly, Project Filing and Risk Categories have disappeared.
As of 31st December 2009, the PRINCE2 2005 exams were no longer available.
The PRINCE2:2009 Foundation exam will remain at 75 questions per paper, but 5 questions are to be trial questions and will not be counted in scores. The pass mark remains at 50%, so 35 marks are required (out of 70 available) to pass.
The PRINCE2:2009 Practitioner exam is changing quite drastically. It will now be 2.5 hours long (no reading time has been added), with 9 questions per paper. 12 marks are available per question, and all questions will be weighted equally. All questions will be worth 1 mark, making the total number of marks available per paper 108. The pass mark has been raised to 55%, so you will need to score 60 marks to pass. It will still be open-book, but with only the PRINCE2 Manual allowed.
Importantly, the existence of the new version of the method does not imply that you need to retake either exam. You will only need to update your PRINCE Registered Practitioner status five years after gaining it, as usual.
PRINCE2 2009 is a smaller, more streamlined version of the 2005 method. The changes made within it reflect the disparate ways in which PRINCE2 is applied across different industries, making it even more relevant and useful. Most of the changes are cosmetic, and others require only a minimal amount of familiarisation, so there is no need to pay for expensive training to make the transition.
The updated version of PRINCE2 appears to have been designed and implemented by a team who have a deep and extensive knowledge and understanding of practical project management, and have brought that experience into the method.
Vicky Billingham is founder and lead trainer of Projectivity Limited. She works as one of Sysop’s Associate Trainers to facilitate PRINCE2 Training. Vicky has been a certified PRINCE2 trainer for over seven years, working extensively in the UK, Europe and USA.
PRINCE2® is a Registered Trademark of the Cabinet Office in the United Kingdom and other countries
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