Prior planning prevents poor performance

Recently, I became a PRINCE2 Practitioner. Hurrah! It was quite the path, so I thought I’d share the journey in case you’re thinking of joining me in the PRINCE2 world.

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 (an acronym for PRojects IN Controlled Environments) is a de facto process-based method for effective project management. Used extensively by the UK Government, PRINCE2 is also widely recognised and used in the private sector, both in the UK and internationally. The PRINCE2 method is in the public domain and offers non-proprietorial best practice guidance on project management. (Source

Basically, it’s an internationally recognised project management methodology which helps keep your project on track. There are two levels, Foundation and Practitioner.

About the course

I opted to do a course, rather than self-study. The course I chose was through CC Learning (Recommended to me by a couple of people, just don’t judge their website!), was one week long and covered both the Foundation and Practitioner exam certification. That’s a lot of book work!

Pre-reading and course preparation

The text and workbooks arrive in the post with a letter than gives you 3 options for the pre-reading, depending on your experience. I chose to do all of the pre-reading and watched the videos sent in the email registration confirmation, which was supposed to take 10-20 hours. It took me closer to 30 hours. The books are very waffly, and I found that the instructions actually say to re-read sections (good for me).

Foundation days

It would be fair to say I showed up on Monday morning slightly overwhelmed already, and we hadn’t even begun yet.

The first two days were really full-on, there’s so much to take in and not a lot of time to do it in. Homework each night was supposed to take 2 hours, really took 4.5 hours.

The Foundation exam was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, and it was only by mid-morning Wednesday that I thought I would pass OK – the practice exams we had done had me tracking that way, and I found my result reflected those scores. One exam down!

Practitioner days

Pretty much all of Thursday was dedicated to exam techniques, and figuring out how to answer the question and using your resources wisely (like a good Scout). This exam does multi-choice questions in ways I’ve not seen them done before, and you’ll do well by putting effort into figuring out how to answer them.

I found Thursday and Friday to be less stressful than the first few days. Was the information sinking in? Practice exams were suggesting I’d scrape through on a bad day. Homework that night was only two hours, with the suggestion that we spend some time with family, or go for a run.

Friday morning was spent filling gaps of knowledge, then sitting the practitioner exam after lunch. We were told that we should receive our results sometime in the next 48 hours, and when I was enjoying a beer later that afternoon, mine came in – PASS!

Tips for you

Now I’m on the other side, here are some tips you might find useful in the lead-up and during your PRINCE2 journey:

  • Don’t self-study, do the course.
  • Make sure you have a good trainer, mine certainly made the difference between passing and not. Dennis Pienaar was just amazing.
  • Pay for your course early, so your text and workbooks arrive early, and make the time to do all of the pre-reading. It will help a lot in the first 3 days (even though it might not feel like it!)
  • Trust the process
  • Write and draw everything in your textbook. Remember your Practitioner exam is open book.
  • Remove all extra-curricular activities from your schedule that week, except Friday drinks.