PRINCE2 is a commonly sought after project management certification in the UK. There are 2 levels to certification: Foundation (beginner) and Practitioner (standard). But if you’re looking at project management training, you may be wondering – is PRINCE2 worth it? Should you study for PRINCE2 or is there a better option? Read on to find out the pros and cons of PRINCE2.

How to get PRINCE2 certified

There is a clear certification route for PRINCE2. You need to pass an exam to achieve Foundation level. You earn the Practitioner level by passing a second, longer exam. And that’s all there is to it.

However, there is a lot to learn to get ready for the exam. Experience in role won’t necessarily mean that you’re exam ready.

So, you need to invest in training. That’s investing both time and money. You can do the training online or in a classroom based course. The 5 day classroom training costs around £2,000 to £2,200. You’ll also need to study a 425 page manual which explains the various terminology and processes. Finally, the exams – which fortunately can be sat remotely – take 1 hour (Foundation) and 2.5 hours (Practitioner).

So, if you’re asking “is PRINCE2 worth it” then the first thing that you need to know is that it is a reasonable investment in time and money.

Benefits of getting PRINCE2 certified

The principles and themes that PRINCE2 promotes and uses are sound and relevant for project managers. These will give you a good grounding for delivering successful projects.

Axelos manage the PRINCE2 certification and methodology. Axelos have managed to create and maintain a widely recognised certification with stringent pass criteria. You have to pass an exam to gain your certification for both Foundation and Practitioner.

So, if you were to ask Axelos “is PRINCE2 worth it”, (among their biased view) they’d mention:

  • That you can manage any project using their practical step-by-step guide.
  • That their flexible method can be adapted to any business or person who is managing projects.
  • Finally, PRINCE2 is a widely recognised certification. As a result, it can instantly add value to your CV.

For me, that final point is most important. I personally believe if you’re wondering if PRINCE2 is worth it – then the answer is connected to your career plan. Are you thinking of moving jobs or careers soon? Will you plan on going through recruitment agents rather than your network? If you do plan on applying for new jobs through recruiters, particularly if you’re based in the UK, then PRINCE2 is probably worth it. The PRINCE2 certification might stop your application getting filtered out or blocked by recruiters. Especially if that recruiter or hiring company doesn’t really understand project management or what makes a successful project manager.

Reality check: does PRINCE2 work in retail?

However, unless you work in an organisation that uses PRINCE2, you’re unlikely to actually use the PRINCE2 processes in full. The lifecycle is complicated and the processes are admin heavy.

In fact, I recently kicked off a conversation on LinkedIn. There were lots of great comments coming in. However, there was a common theme. PRINCE2 isn’t being used. Some of the interesting comments included:

“I’m PRINCE2 qualified but choose not to follow it because I find the methodology impractical, cumbersome and inflexible. To get the best value, every project needs to be handled with pragmatism…”

A great comment noted one of the challenges with the extensive terminology used:

“The biggest problem is that following any one methodology requires everyone to fully understand it.”

One person suggested that PRINCE2 is too complicated:

“PRINCE2 too complex and too detailed for some business , therefore a simplified tool is more appropriate!”

And I also heard what happened to one company that tried to use PRINCE2:

“One client that tried to follow textbook PRINCE2 but they quickly realised that they had to supplement and replace elements with their own processes to meet the organisational needs.”

So, based on that LinkedIn conversation, people feel that there is little value in the methodology. Especially in a faster paced setting, like retail, where not everyone is a project manager.

What do I think – as a PRINCE2 Practitioner?

Now, for full disclosure, I’m a certified PRINCE2 Practitioner. I do think there are some useful elements in the methodology. However, I do also find the overall package too complicated and slow. Even if strongly tailored like the methodology would suggest. Instead, you must blend elements with a more pragmatic set of tools to get the job done. (And that’s exactly how I’ve planned out my Retail Project Manager Success training course too. It takes the best bits from many different methodologies).

The bottom line – is PRINCE2 worth it?

The key benefit to PRINCE2 is to help you get a new job in a new company. The theory behind the methodology is good but not exclusive to PRINCE2. Essentially all project management methodologies promote the same principles that PRINCE2 proposes. You need a pragmatic set of tools and processes. In turn, this will allow you to quickly:

  • Understand the challenges that the business faces.
  • Plan the timelines and benefits that the project will deliver.
  • Engage and manage stakeholders.
  • Overcome problems and risks along the way.
  • Deliver real changes that result in real benefits for the business, it’s shareholder and it’s customers.

So, are you looking to move jobs or are you on the lookout for delivering change? Let me know in the comments below.

If you’re still interested, you may want to read more about the PRINCE2 Principles and the PRINCE2 Themes.

project management expert Oliver BanksAbout the Author

Oliver Banks is a PRINCE2 Practitioner. He is an expert at delivering retail change projects and programmes. Oliver blends classic project management techniques (including PRINCE2, PMBOK and Lean Six Sigma) with a dose of pragmatism and business reality to ensure retail projects are led, managed and delivered successfully.

project management expert Oliver Banks

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