Why is now the right time for a new edition of PRINCE2?
In the six years since the last update, there has been a huge amount of user feedback about the guidance.
What project practitioners still value is that PRINCE2 is applicable to any project or company anywhere in the world and offers an approach that works with other delivery methods, used in different sectors or different types of projects. Having the knowledge of how to manage a project using PRINCE2 is highly valuable for practitioners as the likelihood you’ll be working somewhere on something with other PRINCE2 practitioners is high.
However, users also told us that the minimum rules element in the 6th edition of PRINCE2 made it harder to learn and apply. We had to admit it didn’t reflect the core of what the method is about in terms of being non-prescriptive and allowing practitioners to use their judgement to tailor and apply the method to the project context.
Further, the last six years have seen more socio-economic, environmental and technological change than in the previous few decades and users asked for PRINCE2 to be ready for further change.
The selection of the student scholars was conducted by a five-member evaluation committee, consisting of:
- To remain true to PRINCE2
- To retell the PRINCE2 story to help people understand how to get the best from it
- To imagine the challenges in the coming years in terms of digital, data and sustainability and future proof it as a method.
In addition to user feedback, the research that’s informed PRINCE2 7 has included horizon scanning the world of projects. We also wanted to ensure we went outside our echo chamber and sought opinions of people who don’t use the method –at least not yet – to find out why.
Addressing today’s project management challenges
Having spent nine months identifying and collating ideas to address the challenges in project management, five key themes emerged which have helped us create the latest version of PRINCE2:
- The “Projectification” of businesses
The pace of change today means many organizations see projects as the faster and more responsive way to achieve more. Therefore, management by projects is increasing in a wider range of scenarios across the world.
And this had led to an increase in so-called “accidental project managers”. We think this term is a disservice to people who aren’t career project managers and prefer the term “occasional” project managers. PRINCE2 needs to work for them as much as the project manager by choice.
The need for organizations to operate in a more sustainable way has become more urgent and is permeating everything they do. And a project management method like PRINCE2 can’t be silent on this. Therefore, the latest edition includes sustainability as one of its key performance targets, alongside and equal to time, cost, risk, benefits, scope and quality. PRINCE2 also requires projects to have a sustainability management approach covering sustainability of the project work as well as the whole-life sustainability of the project product.
- Digital and data
Large language models such as ChatGPT are being launched almost every week and the pattern recognition power and understanding of complex relationships within them will be hugely useful to projects. Where, previously, data in PRINCE2 featured in management information and configuration management, we’re now recognizing the criticality of data in projects – where will it come from, how will it be used, how will it be kept safe, how will it be kept safe, how will integrity be maintained and what will happen to it after the project completes?
- Rapid change
Change is happening at an exponential rate, so projects are being delivered at pace to help organizations exploit new opportunities or just to keep up. This requires a project management method which can enable that.
Citizens and organizations today have increasing access to each other. Organizations collaborate more and more and the boundaries between them, individuals and networks or communities is becoming increasingly blurred. How each relate to each other in a project context – while always important – is now critical.
Telling the PRINCE2 “story” better
What’s been vitally important in devising PRINCE2 7 is the need to tell the story of the method better.
While many elements of this story remain the same, it now includes more modern techniques which address a modern audience, whether that’s the career project professional or the occasional project manager.
The storytelling approach enables people to learn and apply the method more effectively and successfully too. The authoring team worked closely with, and in many cases were led by, the examinations team to reduce the cognitive load for the learner whilst ensuring the content was sufficiently detailed to support the syllabus for the Foundation and Practitioner-level certificates. Key points and new concepts are introduced evenly throughout the guidance which also has more linkages between the elements, e.g. the processes and the practices.
In addition, by introducing the learner to five common project contexts, this will make it easier to understand how the guidance can be applied to different scenarios based on project scale, delivery method, organizational context, commercial context and with sustainability in mind.
While its remit hasn’t changed – as the project management method in PeopleCert’s family of best practices – the new edition is clearer about its links with fellow frameworks such as Managing Successful Programmes (MSP). Indeed, practitioners will recognize its closer relationship with Management of Risk (M_o_R), but with a specific project focus.
Having said this, it’s also true that PRINCE2 7 – like its predecessor – will work with any type of product delivery or programme management approach.
So, while the career project professional will continue to benefit from a universal method with a valuable certification used around the world, the occasional project manager will also find PRINCE2 invaluable. And, as either may become a project sponsor in future, having knowledge of this ubiquitous method will equip them to be part of successful projects for years to come.