Good news first: The official PRINCE2 book is about 15% slimmer. Although new content elements have been added, the English version now only has 342 pages.
And now the even better news, PRINCE2 7 focuses more on the core of project management, becoming less strict, more flexible and easier to understand. I know of three versions of Prince2 now, the 5th edition, the 6th edition and now #7. The last version is the best. Before we focus on the changes, let's take a quick look at what remains unchanged.
PRINCE2 stays PRINCE2
Still PRINCE2 is a fully integrated project management method in which all its elements fit together and still make sense when scaled. Furthermore, PRINCE2 focuses entirely on the management of projects and is a generic method applicable to all types of projects, all industries and cultures.
The structure of the method has not changed fundamentally either, the integrated elements of PRINCE2 are:
- The seven principles, which form the basis of the method, are still one of the integrated elements, even if small things in the naming and description have changed.
- The seven practices (formerly themes) still describe the seven central disciplines that are to be controlled in the project. However, there are changes in names and activities.
- Theseven processes still describe the necessary activities in the life cycle of a project. Here are the slightest changes.
- The project context element (formerly tailoring) is still a core element and a strength of Prince2. The treatment and description in the book is completely changed and more understandable
- The fifth integrated element "People" is completely new. We'll take a closer look at that later.
That's the Changes
Die großen inhaltlichen Neuerungen beschreibe ich weiter unten, zuerst aber gehe ich auf die Veränderungen zur bisherigen 6. Auflage aus 2017 ein. Die 5. Auflage aus 2009 ist nicht nur zeitlich sehr weit von dem entfernt, was in naher Zukunft kommen wird. In der neuen Version 7 gibt es einige Änderungen von Begriffen, z.B. werden aus den Themes nun Practices, aber die wichtigen Punkte liegen wo anders.
PRINCE2 becomes more fiendly and understandable
Up until now, Prince2 had a reputation for being a strict method. That's changing. For one thing, the language is less formal and not quite as "British". I very much hope that the German translation, which will be available from the beginning of 2024, will follow suit, because it was also very bulky.
On the other hand, strict demarcations, which have not held up in practice anyway, and rules are no longer applicable. You surely remember the "minimum requirements" in each topic chapter. They were actually tested in the Foundation exams, which meant stubborn learning by heart. They simply disappear. Instead, the adjustments to the method are now explained using five project contexts and four specific project scenarios.
Tailoring is clearly explained now
The presentation and explanation of "tailoring" is drastically better. It was always one of the great strengths of PRINCE2 that the method is extremely scalable, but this is now also well prepared. In the seminars, experienced project managers always easily understood the concept of tailoring, but the project newcomers had great problems seeing the possibilities. Some unclear points have been clarified and the way tailoring is discussed and described using the five project contexts and four project scenarios now makes it clearer and easier to understand.
The Core of Project Management
Prince2 concentrates even more on the core of project management and the central tasks. The prominent example of this is configuration management as part of change control. It's true that I should have an idea of my configuration items when dealing with baseline changes. If I want to change something, I should have clearly clarified what it is that I want to change. But - to be honest - as a project manager, we have always tried to keep the configuration management at the level of the individual products. Who wants too many details in the project. In the 5th edition, configuration management was a big part of the change control theme. In the 6th edition only a small one. But there were still the popular management products "configuration item records" and "product status account". That's history now, configuration management is no longer an issue and there is only a harmless "product list". It must be enough.
Agile approaches are given greater consideration
At no time was Prince2 a waterfall approach. Never. Prince2 has always been a method that dealt exclusively with the MANGEMENT of projects. Being the "King of Governance" among the project management approaches. As soon as the new version is published, nobody will be able to misunderstand it anymore. This becomes clear in the new structure of the description and the good adaptability to different delivery approaches.
There are people who think that Prince2 has always been agile. I think that's exaggerated. But a largely similar understanding of principles and Prince2's focus on pure project management has allowed integration. Years ago, milestone together with cliebnts developed the SCRUMFRAME framework on the basis of the 6th edition of PRINCE2, which enables the control of hybrid projects with SCRUM. We had to intruduce some changes to the Prince2 method, but it worked. The new Version Prince2_7 is even clearer in accounting for different delivery approaches.
Less Management Procucts
I have already mentioned above that one or the other document has been omitted. However, the large saving in documents results from two regroupings. Or let's say through two maneuvers suitable for marketing: All logs and registers are now summarized in one document, the project log. And all management approaches no longer appear as separate management products, but are integrated into the project management documentation. It remains the same work, but looks less. Who cares, other approaches also have thick project manuals.
Completely new Contents
Apart from the clear changes in terms and procedures of the method and the changed structure of the official book, there are also three completely new contents and thus elements of the method.
Digital and Data Managment
The new method takes account of the dramatically increased importance of digitized processes, digital work and the weight of recorded, processed and used data in recent years by the fact that Prince2 wants every project to develop and maintain its data management policy determined with the organization how to deal with it in the project. A separate management product, the Digital and Data Management Approach, is also planned for this as part of the project initiation documentation.
The topic of sustainability is positioned even more prominently. PRINCE2 assesses the current and future importance of this topic so highly that sustainability is even implemented as one of the variables of project performance. In addition to the already known variables benefit, costs, time, scope, quality and risk, sustainability now appears as the seventh variable. In accordance with this importance, the respective sustainability goals are also anchored in the business case.
So far, we've known four built-in elements of Prince2: Core Principles, Themes, Processes, and Customization. Now we have five of them: Principles, People, Practices (formerly Topics), Processes, Project Context (formerly Adaptation). Personally, I've always appreciated that Prince2 doesn't take care of all the soft skills issues. There is so much outdated writing about leadership, motivation and so on in other project management approaches that I found Prince2's approach really refreshing.
The innovation now takes into account, however, that a project not only has a factual level, but is also very much a social event. Thankfully, Prince2 avoids unnecessary discussions about leadership styles and motivational pyramids, instead focusing on three key themes. These areas are described, the respective challenges are analyzed and instructions for processing are given:
- Leading successful change: Every project, whether intentional or just incidental, brings change in the organization. This change and the stakeholders should be intentionally controlled.
- Leading successful teams: Different challenges of working with and in teams are discussed, even including the dissolution of teams.
- Communication: Here the communication management approach for different project situations is discussed.
Even this short overview turned into a long article. Therefore you will find the details of the changes and innovations in a second article within a few days.