As a long-standing project manager already qualified in PRINCE2® Foundation, I’ve found that taking PRINCE2 Practitioner has made a positive difference to the way I approach my role in a number of important ways.
First of all, and perhaps most significantly, I have come to see PRINCE2 as a highly-flexible method. For many years, I think people have wrongly believed PRINCE2 to be some type of behemoth rather than this incredibly adaptable tool that can be used according to the circumstances of every individual project.
PRINCE2 Foundation was invaluable in giving me a pre-defined list of actions that I could think about as I was progressing through a project lifecycle. But, with PRINCE2 Practitioner, I gained the confidence to use this knowledge to achieve the best outcome. I realized that I could pick and choose the things that made sense and felt better able to flex a basic project management method to the unique aspects of each project in my care.
In fact, I think that gaining this confidence to adapt the PRINCE2 methodology to their unique change project is one of the most important reasons project managers should consider advancing to PRINCE2 Practitioner. Furthermore, it exposes the project manager to recognizing that their initial plans, projections and approach can change.
Every organization should have a constantly-evolving strategy. So, if I put a forecast together it is only ever an estimate – a prediction of the future – and is highly likely to change. What is a sound investment today may not represent the best place to allocate resources tomorrow.
And this is where PRINCE2 Practitioner helps project managers bring together the business case, plan and progress themes by punctuating activity with regular “stop points.” Call them stages, phases or timeboxes, the principle is the same; a review at the end of any of these time-limited slices of the project provides an opportunity to ask – is this change initiative still a worthwhile use of the organization’s limited resources? Is it still on track to achieve the anticipated outcome?
If not, we need to think again, to change our initial plans. The project needs to be re-directed, re-defined or closed down. Arriving at this realization has been a real eye-opener for me and I think it’s important that we, as a profession, talk more openly about it. Closing down a project before completion should not be viewed as a failure – far from it. It doesn’t mean the decision to commission the work was wrong; it was right at that time and in those circumstances, but things have now moved on. Far better to sacrifice the project than waste valuable resources seeing it through to the end when it’s no longer relevant.
In the driving seat
For me, PRINCE2 Foundation is the theory, while PRINCE2 Practitioner is the practical application of this knowledge. Much the same as learning to drive in the UK: you take the written test before demonstrating this knowledge on the road. As a project manager, I felt I needed both certifications to build confidence in the fact that I could get in a “car” and drive it safely to its destination, perhaps altering the route along the way.
Read Mark Sutton's previous AXELOS Blog Posts
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Achieving the endgame: product-based planning in PRINCE2®
When Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) goes back to school