13 Myths About PRINCE2
05 October 2021 | Produced by Kandy Shaw
As one of the top 5 most popular project management certifications, there are many myths regarding PRINCE2®. I say myths, but I prefer the word misconception and have used myth in the title only because that is what people more commonly call it. So, in keeping with my 13 Myths About Agile Project Management post, I have come up with 13 ‘myths’ about PRINCE2, the first of which you may find surprising…
Myth 1: PRINCE2® is a waterfall methodology
PRINCE2® is often referred to as a waterfall method of project management, (I’ve called it this myself), but it is not! It is rather a methodology that can be adapted to either a waterfall or an agile project. A waterfall approach sees requirements for the project being approved before the product moves to the design stage, the development/build stage and finally to the testing stage. PRINCE2 is a flexible approach that helps with the management of these different stages of a project regardless of type or scale, but as I said, it is not a waterfall methodology.
Myth 2: PRINCE2® can only be used with waterfall projects
During the ‘80s and ‘90s most projects were waterfall in nature as the agile way of working had not then been introduced. This is possibly the reason why the misconception that PRINCE2® is a waterfall method, or that it can only be used with waterfall projects came about. As AgilePM came into existence, however, more and more projects began to use this methodology and PRINCE2® can easily be adapted to an agile environment. So, no PRINCE2® is not only for use with waterfall projects.
Myth 3: PRINCE2® is only for IT projects
It is true that PRINCE (Projects in Controlled Environments) originated from PROMPT11 as a government standard for IT systems. It was so effective a model that its potential to support any kind of project was recognised. With the arrival of the updated PRINCE2® in 2017, the original methodology had been tailored to accommodate many different project environments. Now, as a generic project management method, PRINCE2 can be utilised in any sized project and any industry, not only IT.
Myth 4: PRINCE2® is a project management software
Wrong! PRINCE2 is a generic project management methodology, not a computer software. It can, however, be implemented alongside project support and management software.
Myth 5: PRINCE2® is document-driven and bureaucratic
PRINCE2, when used correctly, is not document-driven but is more about discussing and collaborating. Overly detailed documentation, or documentation that is not detailed enough is less effective to the success of the project. Collaboration; at least points taken from collaborations can be useful when documented, but the document needs to be short and to the point, rather than long-winded.
The principle of tailoring and focusing on results is more important when using PRINCE2 than internal requests to provide documentation. Some managers may complete template documents because they think they must and for no other reason. In these cases, documentation may not contain either project objectives or plans and can therefore be not only time-consuming but irrelevant. When used correctly, and documentation is only produced when necessary, PRINCE2 is neither document-driven nor bureaucratic.
Myth 6: PRINCE2® is inflexible
Again, this is a misconception. PRINCE2 can be utilised by any industry or organisation as it facilitates the customisation of the project during the early stages. It can also be used alongside other project management methods as I have already explained, so to say it is an inflexible method of project management is unfair.
Myth 7: PRINCE2® is only for large companies
Whilst PRINCE2 can easily cater for a large company, it can also be tailored for a smaller one. Many organisations want to break projects down into stages, so that budgets can be managed, and quality control maintained. Because not every aspect of PRINCE2 applies to every project, it is easily scalable and will therefore suit both small and large companies.
Myth 8: PRINCE2® is only useful for project managers looking for a job
This is so not true! Yes, PRINCE2 is a good certification to have if looking for a project manager role as most companies prefer certified to non-certified candidates. However, the skill set obtained with a PRINCE2 certification will teach the candidate how to control and organise the beginning, middle and end of a project. So, as a certification, PRINCE2 is much more than a means to finding work.
Myth 9: You need project management experience to attend a PRINCE2® training course
It would be an advantage to have project management experience before embarking on a PRINCE2 course, but the truth is that there are no prerequisites to the Foundation level. This is an ideal level if you are interested in project management as it shows that you understand the PRINCE2 approach to managing projects. If you then wish to pursue the Practitioner course, however, the only prerequisite is to have passed the Foundation level. So, whilst experience in a project management environment would be an advantage, it is not a necessary requirement for a PRINCE2 training course.
Myth 10: It takes a long time to prepare for a PRINCE2® course
Once you enroll on a PRINCE2 course at NILC, you will gain access to online pre-training material. This is a variety of learning resources that includes suggested reading material, interactive videos, and online quizzes. It will take in the region of 7-10 hours to go through, and it is highly recommended that you do so before starting the course. So, again, no; it does not take long to prepare for a PRINCE2 course.
Myth 11: You write an essay for PRINCE2® Exams
There is no essay-writing required for either PRINCE2 Foundation or Practitioner. Both certifications are multiple choice question-based exams. The original Practitioner certification did require an essay, but with the PRINCE2 update in 2017, essays were replaced by the more favourable multi-choice questions (See: PRINCE2® 2017 Update and Examination Changes). Even if you passed the essay-based Practitioner several years ago and wish to re-register, you will not have to write an essay.
Myth 12: Every 5 years you must re-sit the PRINCE2® training course
Again, this is a misconception. It used to be that you had to re-sit the PRINCE2 training course every 5 years, but again, with the PRINCE2 update in 2017, you no longer have to do that. Instead, once you have your certification, you can maintain PRINCE2 Practitioner status by becoming a PRINCE2 member and claiming your digital badge. If you complete 45 Continuing Professional Credits (CPD) then it will be renewed every 3 years (See: PRINCE2 Roadshow: Qualification and Examination Update).
Myth 13: PRINCE2® training makes you into a competent project manager
As stated earlier, there are no prerequisites to enrolling on a PRINCE2 training course. It follows then, that you may not have experience of project management roles before you embark on such a course. Once you have completed the Foundation and then the Practitioner level, you will have mastered the PRINCE2 terminology and framework, but that does not necessarily make you a competent project manager. PRINCE2 training merely gives you the tools to become one, but competency can only be gained through experience and that is something that only time can give you.
To sum up…
As one of the top 5 most popular project management certifications PRINCE2 is surrounded by several misconceptions. That PRINCE2 is thought to be inflexible and only for larger industries is not true. Not only is it flexible enough to be used in both large and small industries of any sector it can also work with both waterfall and agile projects.
PRINCE2 is said to be document-driven and bureaucratic, but this is only true if it is used incorrectly and documentation is created because it’s deemed necessary, rather than being necessary.
That a PRINCE2 certification is said to only be useful in terms of job hunting and that you need experience before enrolling on the course, again are examples of ‘myths’ surrounding the certification. That it takes a long time to prepare for the course is also not true (unless you consider 7-10 hours to be a long time). To say that it will make a competent project manager out of you, again is not true. You are who you are and whilst PRINCE2 will give you the necessary skills to organise and manage projects, that is not to say that it will make you into a competent manager.
Finally, the misconception that you must re-sit the PRINCE2 course every 5 years to remain certified is incorrect. With the update in 2017, you can now claim a digital badge once qualified and providing you gain 45 Continuing Professional Credits over a 3-year period, then your badge will automatically be renewed every 3 years and you will not have to re-train.
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