Despite being an experienced project manager, I keep the PRINCE2® Practitioner book on my desk and refer to it often, especially when starting a project.
I think that’s the important point: If you want to be a project management professional you need the PRINCE2 Practitioner knowledge and certification to complement your experience “in the field”.
While PRINCE2 Foundation provides knowledge of the method, Practitioner level is all about the application, right down to the exam which involves applying your knowledge to a case study. This means translating the theory to a project “environment” and using the principles of the method in context.
Thinking through the lifecycle of a project requires a different mindset and focus by the project manager – and for that you ought to be Practitioner-certified.
The PRINCE2 Practitioner difference
I had been working in project management for many years before taking PRINCE2 Practitioner and it changed the way I worked.
It helped me by focusing on all the principles and, especially, tailoring the method to really make sure it worked for the project in question.
Following the PRINCE2 principles ensures that you are an “all-rounder” as a project manager; not omitting or forgetting to do the things that are important to any project. Again, that’s why I keep the book nearby to challenge myself and check whether I am really running a PRINCE2 project rather than “PRINCE2 in name only”.
Governance for good project “health”
The application of governance from PRINCE2 is about enabling a successful project.
The right governance creates a healthy and safe project environment. For example, ensuring a senior user in the business is represented on the project board is fundamental. This means the right experience is present to offer advice before implementing a change process, as well as guaranteeing management is actively involved throughout the projects and not only passively by means of sterile, written reports.
Often, what happens in projects is not “black and white” but grey, and this level of uncertainty often puts the project manager in a difficult position when it comes to choosing the direction of the project. So, PRINCE2 Practitioner knowledge helps you make decisions based on the available information and assurance that you arrive at those decisions with structured thinking and an eye on the overall good of the project.
A view from the PMO
As a Head of PMO, I run project management training for the company.
Therefore, everyone does the PRINCE2 Foundation certification, whether they are project managers or not. Many of our projects are PRINCE2-based, so it’s important they understand the principles, processes and language we’re working with.
However, our full-time project managers all do PRINCE2 Practitioner. As a result, I’ve observed how they become more aware of being project managers: they’re more diligent, communicate more effectively and – when starting a new project – they really go through the necessary processes.
With the extra level of knowledge and certification, our project managers can enable projects to become more visible and generate better conversations with the project board about any issues that have come up.
Ultimately, the ability to involve the project board means the project manager gets the help, direction and additional resources it needs and at the right time.
Read Andrea Vecchi's previous AXELOS Blog Post, MSP and PRINCE2: structure and seeing change more clearly.