What is the PRINCE2 project management 2017 update?

The project management world has given a warm welcome to the PRINCE2 2017 update. The refresh has brought a welcome flexibility to this leading project methodology, with an emphasis on tailoring projects to different business environments and organisations. It’s also clarified the link between the underlying PRINCE2 principles and the themes that run across the methodology.

The refresh makes the PRINCE2 qualifications more relevant than ever. Some people baulk at the amount they need to know to pass the PRINCE2 Foundation course, never mind the more advanced Practitioner level. And it’s true that these are fairly demanding assessments. But that’s why qualified PRINCE2 project managers and administrators can earn premium day rates or land permanent jobs. Not everyone has the motivation to gain PRINCE2 certification – and that means that the qualifications retain their value in the employment market.

Even organisations that don’t use PRINCE2 like to see the qualification on a CV because it indicates that someone has a professional approach to project management. Before PRINCE2, this discipline was bedevilled by amateurism – the arrival of PRINCE2 changed that forever.

Real world learnings and guidance now included

The PRINCE2 2017 update has also seen a change in approach. Previous versions of the methodology guidance concentrated on the structure and had less to say about real world project implementation. New project managers sometimes felt that they had the theory but weren’t prepared for the everyday practicalities of running a project.

That gap is filled by the real world project guidance included in the update. The guidance on the minimum requirements for running a PRINCE2 project has been changed to be more flexible. There’s more emphasis on the judgement of the project manager in scaling a project up or down.

A new flexibility for PRINCE2 certification

As business becomes more global and as more projects involve collaborative working, PRINCE2 provides a standardised method that ensures alignment with the project’s aims. Managers with demonstrable competence in the method will continue to be in demand because they are qualified to manage project teams wherever the team members are located.

PRINCE2 isn’t rooted in any particular business discipline – such as IT. It can be used equally effectively by a small media start-up, a coaching consultancy, or a car manufacturer. So PRINCE2 qualified managers aren’t confined to one industry and don’t find themselves “stuck” doing a particular type or size of project.

With increased regulation and demands for accountability, business and the public sector are placing more emphasis on audit and compliance. In the past, projects were often excluded; now they’re very much included. Qualified PRINCE2 project managers are preferred because they can run a compliant project. Auditors are used to auditing PRINCE2 projects, and the very fact that this structured methodology is in place is a tick in the box as far as internal and external auditors are concerned.

Refresh your knowledge

The PRINCE2 2017 update gives those who’ve been meaning to update their Practitioner status, a new impetus to do so. As more project managers come through with the new qualification, employers will begin to look for it.

Gaining the updated qualification shows that you have a commitment to Continuing Professional Development (CPD). The pace of change in the business world continues to increase and an updated certification proves that you are able to stay current and develop further.

Lastly, just a word about interviews. For new project managers, the updated qualification will mean that you are more up to date than many people in the field and is a useful extra to be able to put on your CV. Although you may be new to PRINCE2, it’s worth noting the main changes from the previous qualification, just in case you get asked at interview. A standard response might be “I didn’t qualify under the previous PRINCE2 version, but I understand that the 2017 update provides more flexibility in tailoring projects, and more real-world guidance”.

You’re likely to be using PRINCE2 for many years to come, so it’s definitely worth keeping up with the latest developments.


David Baker is marketing manager at PRINCE2 Training, who provide courses and certification in PRINCE2, Agile, Lean Six Sigma, ITIL, PMP, and Scrum project management methodologies. You can connect with David and PRINCE2 Training on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.