My PRINCE2 Practitioner status expires in six months and I need to decide whether or not to sit the re-registration exam.
PRINCE2 (an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments) has been the de facto project management methodology in the Civil Service for over ten years, but although I’ve worked on large projects for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the UK Parliament I’ve never seen anyone apply it in full.
I took my PRINCE2 exam in 2005 when I was a Development Producer for Culture Online, a DCMS programme to fund innovative projects that combined arts, culture and technology. It had been the first serious studying I’d done since university and I remember it being pretty hard work.
You can understand why the Civil Service likes PRINCE2. There are 45 separate processes each of which warrants several pages of description in the manual but only one of which actually involves producing anything. I wonder if the ratio of Civil Service efficiency is in fact somewhere around 1:45?
At Parliament the project management processes were perhaps the most bureaucratic I’ve ever encountered with massive Project Boards made up of senior managers who could rarely explain why they were there. One told me she’d met the person who wrote PRINCE2 as if this gave her some kind of papal superiority. Others would sit their saying nothing for literally hours on end.
But I know PRINCE2 isn’t all bad. At the DCMS we cherry-picked the best bits for our project commissioning process and it worked pretty well. We had small Project Board meetings with clearly defined roles based loosely on executive-user-supplier triumvirate. We started each project with a comprehensive business case that we’d refer to throughout. And we had the best approach I’ve ever seen to risk management.
Since I qualified I’ve worked on all kinds of complex projects and in those five years no employer or client has ever asked if I’m PRINCE2 certified. But I worry that if I let the knowledge slip completely it will be much harder to get up to speed again should I find myself in a senior project manager or project director role again.
So I need to decide and I need to decide soon: a little PRINCE2 now or an uncertain amount of PRINCE2 later?