By Steven Gardiner

It’s not a rule book! This is a phrase I always use on the PRINCE2 courses I teach. Many delegates

arrive on the Monday morning with this big, shiny new book thinking it’s full of rules to be followed

word for word. They couldn’t be further from the truth.


The PRINCE2 manual is quite simply is a reference manual. It is not there to be followed word for

word. During a project it is to be used when you need some guidance on the PRINCE2 treatment of

key project management topics such as risk and planning. The manual is to be dipped in and out of

when needed. The only time it would be read cover to cover is when you are on the course and

that’s only down to the fact that there are exams to sit!


One of the key PRINCE2 Principles is that it is a methodology that needs to be tailored. The Themes,

Processes and Management Products that PRINCE2 provide are there to be adapted. Take the

Management Products. Many people look at those and all they see are documents. One of the

common misconceptions that many people have about PRINCE2 is that they will spend their whole

time writing documents if they use the methodology. This again couldn’t be any further from the

truth. If you are spending your time on the project just writing documents you are doing it wrong.

The Management Products can be documents but that is just one way of presenting that

information. They could be a slide set presentation, an email and even a conversation, although this

PRINCE2 trainer would stay away from that. They only need to be documents if that is appropriate.

Also another question to be asked is do you need them all?


Another misconception that people have is to say that as they are only a small organisation that

PRINCE2 will not work as it is for big projects with large project management teams. People are

always surprised when I tell them that the minimum number of people needed for a PRINCE2 project

is only 2! The roles that PRINCE2 provide are there to be adapted to the size and complexity of the

project. All that is needed for a PRINCE2 project is an Executive carrying out the Project Board role

along with assurance and the Project Manager to do the rest. Also what is not crucial is the name of

the role e.g. say if the Executive is called a Sponsor – that is not an issue. What is important is that

the individual fulfilling the role understands their responsibilities.


As I always tell delegates what makes a project a PRINCE2 project is the implementing of the 7

PRINCE2 Principles. To me the Principles are just sensible project management. Principles such as

Continued Business Justification and Learn from Experience are the kind of things any Project

Manager should be thinking about. Quite simply follow these Principles and you will become a

better Project Manager.


Finally the key to PRINCE2 and good project management is just using common sense. PRINCE2

provides the tools to manage projects more effectively. However it is how you use the tools that will

make the methodology work for you. Treat the manual as a rule book and you will run into trouble.

Use it with common sense and then it becomes what it is meant to be – a great part of a project

manager’s tool box.

Next up

PRINCE2, MSP or MoP – Which one for me?

As part of the toolset offered by AXELOS for the successful delivery of change, three frameworks exist which provide best practice guidance: PRINCE2®, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP®) and Management of Portfolios (MoP®)

The question is often asked of us ‘So what would be the best one for me to certify in?’ It may be that you are looking to enhance your career or alternatively looking for training to develop your skills in the wider aspects of business change.

We would recommend that you start by asking the question ‘What are my objectives for the training?’  Am I looking to develop my skills in delivering change or am I looking to develop skills in decision making with regard to the changes my organisation/department should invest in to support the achievement of its strategic objectives.


Delivery of Change


If I’m looking to develop my skills in delivering change then PRINCE2 or MSP is likely to be the best training for me. 

The PRINCE2 method is focused very much at a project level and provides a method to follow for the successful delivery of projects from start to finish. It contains principles, themes and processes which when integrated together provide a good platform on which you can deliver your projects successfully. The guidance covers key elements of good project management practice including business justification, planning the project, managing risk and what is required to monitor and control a project.

MSP is a practical framework for programme management that contains principles, themes and a ‘transformational flow’ life cycle. None of the principles covered in MSP are particularly new, nor for that matter are the themes (including organization, risk management and leadership and stakeholder engagement) but bringing these ideas together in this framework provides powerful tools to support the delivery of transformational business change through for example a collection of related projects and business change activities. By aligning a number of related projects within a programme it provides the organisation with the capacity to deliver stepped changes in its capability. MSP provides a detailed focus on areas such as benefits management, stakeholder engagement and transitioning of project outputs into the business. MSP training may well be right for you if you are working or hope in the future to be working in transformational change initiatives.

Foundation and Practitioner

Was  £1,295 Now £795.00


Defining, Prioritizing and Selecting Change initiatives.


However, if your role or objective relates more to defining, prioritizing and selecting changes by answering questions like ‘What change initiatives should my organization invest in?’ and ‘are these the right ones?’ then certainly training in MoP is what you should consider.  MoP is a set of principles, practices and techniques which provide guidance in determining what are the right programmes and projects an organisation should invest in and how they link to the delivery of the organisation’s or department’s strategic objectives. This training is suitable for people at various levels in the organization from the CEO right through to programme and project managers.

It is worthwhile to note that these are excellent frameworks which contain best practice guidance. So in answer to the question ‘What should I train in?’ is your focus now or likely to be about ‘doing projects and programmes right’ or ‘doing the right programmes and projects’? Which one is right for you?

MoP Foundation and Practitioner

Was  £1,895 Now £1,595.00

MoP Foundation and Practitioner

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