Back about 8 Years ago I posted a blog with the title: Prince2 – the next wave to reach North American project management
It’s strange that I used the word “wave’. Waves come and go… die out in the very short term. I certainly did not believe this back 8 years ago.
Prince2 tried to land in North America back around 2000. I was a huge supporter in my role with The Schulich Executive Education Centre and as the Managing Director of ProjectWorld Canada. I, my colleagues and a few competitors in the training business saw Prince2 as exciting new potential.
We were right. But potential does not always equate to results. Prince2 has remained a relatively unknown project management tool in North America with very little potential for a turnaround.
First of all, for any reader who needs a Prince2 crash explanation…
Prince2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a simple, easy to understand, easy to teach, methodology that can be adopted to any project environment in any industry managing any type of project. It is basically available at no cost though templates and documentation on the internet. It was created by the UK Government IT group and then used throughout all government projects. Once its value was established outside IT the decision was made to take it outside the Government walls and offer it to the rest of the world though a new entity called the APM Group. The APM Group makes its money on training and certification.
Prince2 has over 200,000 users around the world. In 2000, this was mostly the UK and Australia with a fair presence in Europe. Nothing in North America. Today, these numbers are only slightly different with a very small number of US and Canadian organizations adapting Prince2. When I say small, I mean less than 5 large organizations in Canada! Small.
So what happened? Here are five reasons that I think have led to the current state of Prince2 in North America:
1. Confusion between PMBOK and Prince2. Regardless of how much APM Group and Prince2 training vendors tried, most people still think these two are competitors. They are far from it. The PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) is NOT a methodology. It is a GUIDE to the body of knowledge that the Project Management Institute thinks is required for project managers. I often refer to it as the “What you know”. The stuff we all learn before college or university.
Prince2 is a methodology – a step-by-step, gate-based process for managing projects. The “How do you do it” part. The stuff we learn during college and university or on the job.
Together they are brilliant. Thus my enthusiasm ‘many’ years ago. But no one really understood this on this side of the Atlantic.
2. It takes one very powerful person in an organization to make the decision to standardize on Prince2. So far, in all of these years we have only seen a few of them courageous enough to take the leap. I have seen many incidents when the investigation creates a committee and that very powerful person meets up with a clear lack of support – for reasons mentioned in 3 and 4 below. I have also observed the exit of that original champion and the quick exit of Prince2 along with him or her.
3. Prince2 is deceivingly expensive. If you decide to standardize on it, you are all in. There is no small step. Everyone in your project management community needs to be educated – from senior management to all project management resources. Not easy.
4. Prince2 is expensive on an on-going basis. Because of the lack of up-take in North America, every project manager you hire will need to be certified in Prince2. If you have already done the mass training, each one of these new resources needs to attend a public program – 5 days at $3,000 – $5,000 each.
5. Prince2 is perceived to be ‘old school’ against a more modern option called Agile. Both are true methodologies with very different applications. In fact I think they are very complimentary but one is certainly getting more press these days than the other. If I were a CIO looking at options, I think I would invest in Agile over Prince2.
So 2015 and Prince2 is nowhere near a standard in North America. In fact, sadly, not even understood well enough to be considered.