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PRINCE2 examinations

  • How are the PRINCE2 examinations structured?

    27 September 2011

    Any organisation offering PRINCE2 training courses must be accredited by the Association for Project Management (APM) Group. The APM set out strict examination guidelines that training providers must adhere to.

    The structure of PRINCE2 examinations are two-fold. A candidate can choose to sit a course, like the ones offered by Total Training Solutions, and examination or they can teach themselves the course content and then sit the exam via an Open Centre. Your learning style will dictate your studying preference but the advantages of studying with an Accredited Training Organisation include supported learning and the guidance of a qualified teacher.

    The PRINCE2 courses offered by Total Training Solutions include separate Foundation and Practitioner options, a five day combined course and even a Virtual Classroom PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course amongst others. The advantage of the Virtual course allows the participant to study in their own environment and is spread out over five to six weeks, ending in the Practitioner exam. The course combines the best of trainer led workshops and independent learning as the webinars can be taken around other commitments and has the advantage of allowing time between modules for content to be digested before the next week.

    The PRINCE2 Foundation examination is made up of 75 multiple choice questions. Five questions are trials and the exam mark is out of 70. A 50% score is needed to pass the course meaning 35 points are required. The Practitioner course consists of 9 questions, each worth 12 marks. Of the 108 marks available, 59 (55%) are needed to pass the exam. The exam is 2.5 hours long and it is an open book exam.

    The Foundation course MUST be passed before a candidate can sit the Practitioner course. It is possible that both exams can be sat on the same day or, more commonly, on separate dates. If taking the TTS five day combined course, the Foundation exam is sat in the afternoon on the third day. There is then the option to sit the Practitioner exam on the final day or at a later date. If picking a later date, the delegate also has the choice to differ the final two days of the course too.

    An advantage of taking a combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course mean both exams can be sat in the same week. If this is the case, a Practitioner Certificate will be received, but not a Foundation Certificate. As you cannot sit the Practitioner exam without first having passed the Foundation, it is not necessary to send a separate Foundation Certificate.

    The PRINCE2 Qualification Scheme is based on Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2 - 2009 Edition.

  • Project Management Knowledge v. Technical Knowledge

    10 July 2012

    Project Managers are mutli-taskers, often managing various responsibilities and team members at one time to complete a project. To do this the PM will flit between their project management knowledge and their technical knowledge of the sector, industry or project type.

    These lines can blur but a good project manager will know when to use his PM expertise and when his technical know-how should take over. PM skills are primarily introduced at the beginning of a project when structures, practices and objectives are put into place. In the event of a problem arising during the project; unexpected results or underperformance from one of the project team for example, it is then that the PM’s technical skill will kick in to resolve the situation.

    It’s important to tread carefully here, as the leadership role of a PM demands certain behaviour. Instinct from previous experience will kick-in to come up with a solution to and get the project back on track with the minimum of fuss but as the person in charge you will need to use your PM knowledge to best guide the project as a whole through the setback . This may involve tweaking working practices, responsibilities, deadlines, budgets or objectives.

    Some PM industry experts believe the process of working at one extreme, Technical or PM, is typical of junior PM’s and those new to an organisation as they haven’t yet developed their management style or learnt the new companies way of working yet.

    To get your PM knowledge up to scratch and ensure you are equipped with a recognised qualification, why not complete a Project Management course from Total Training Solutions? There are a number of programme options for you to pick from including PRINCE2 and APM certificates. If you’re unsure which certificate route is the right one for you take a look at our handy PM Qualifications blog post, email us at info@tts-uk.com or call 0800 612 1299.

  • Do the best project managers go beyond PRINCE2?

    19 July 2012

    PRINCE2 is great in theory, but how do we apply it to real life?

    PRINCE2 goes into detail about control and governance and the theories behind them. However, the course does not go into the people skills, techniques and tools required to implement these theories or, at least, not in any great detail.

    While these are clearly important, the aim of PRINCE2 is to teach theoretical knowledge and control processes. But to be a successful project manager, the required skill set must go beyond theory.

    In order to build on the theory learned in a PRINCE2 course, project managers must have the skills to communicate their ideas. Therefore, people skills are important. Leadership, team building and the ability to deal with conflict are all crucial for effective project management.

    As well as people skills, a good project manager will need skills to help him or her to deliver and control their products. Some of these are detailed in PRINCE2, but the very best project managers will go the extra mile; making use of budget and schedule estimation, critical path analysis and project control techniques.

    So, in summary, PRINCE2 can provide you with the knowledge basis for becoming an excellent project manager, but you need to develop further skills in order to make use of that knowledge.

    If you’re looking to build your project management knowledge and get a qualification to prove it, Total Training Solutions offer a full range of PRINCE2 courses both in person and via the web. To enquire or book a course, call: 0800 612 1299 or email: info@tts-uk.com.

  • Is project management the key to economic recovery?

    01 August 2012

    Business secretary Vince Cable MP claims that project management could, indeed, be the key to reviving the British economy. The ability to deliver projects on time and on budget is clearly important in keeping your head above water in this difficult time. However, Cable’s argument suggests that good project management can do more than just keep your business ticking over.

    He used the Olympic Park as an example of the powerful positive effects that excellent project management can have, and also stated that we British are more efficient project managers than we give ourselves credit for. If he is correct, we need to place more emphasis on project management and use it as a tool that can help work towards reviving the economy.

    “It is no good hoping that random, individual brilliance will suffice. The Chinese, the Russians, the Germans and others have taught us that without organisation, planning and training our achievements are likely to be modest.”

    Cable’s words can be applied to all types of project management from a small scale assignment to a large, time-consuming government project. Therefore it is important for project managers from all walks of life to perform well. Not just for the sake of their own companies, but for the entire economy. Sticking to budgets and time constraints can now be seen as a powerful tool rather than an inconvenience that a project manager has to work around.

    To get your PM knowledge up to scratch and ensure you are equipped with a recognised qualification, why not complete a Project Management course from Total Training Solutions? There are a number of programme options for you to pick from including PRINCE2 and APM certificates. If you’re unsure which certificate route is the right one for you take a look at our handy PM Qualifications blog post, email us at info@tts-uk.com or call 0800 612 1299.

  • Why holding a PRINCE2 qualification matters?

    08 August 2014

    PRINCE2 (PRojects IN Controlled Environments, version 2) is a structured project management methodology that was created in 1975, known back then as PROMPT. Today, PRINCE2 is considered the leading project management training resource and its interest is widely recognised.

    It entails managing a project while taking into account changing factors in its environment such as time and budget constraints, risk or benefit, that are likely to influence its success.

    The PRINCE2 methodology is composed of seven principles, seven themes and seven processes to follow in order to successfully lead the management, control and organisation stages of a project. Highly practical, this structured approach can be easily understood when the methodology is carefully followed.

    PRINCE2 is primarily focused on IT operations but can be applicable to any type of project. There is a clear process model and templates to the PRINCE2 structure, making it easy to adopt for every kind of operation.

    Total Training Solutions offer many PRINCE2 courses and certifications. We have a number of courses available at all levels, from Foundation to Advanced. Along with PRINCE2, you will find many other project management courses and qualifications, such as Agile or PMP.

    We are specialist training providers who can help steer your personal or company development through the knowledge, understanding and certification of industry standard qualifications. For the individual, adding an approved project management qualification to your CV will improve your employment prospects. A company which invests in project management training for its employees will save time and money in the long-run through efficient project planning, execution and completion.

    To learn more about PRINCE2 or other project management qualifications available from Total Training Solutions, visit our course directory or call us on 0800 612 1299. You can also email us at info@tts-uk.com for more information.

  • PRINCE2: The 7 Principles

    14 August 2014

    As discussed in last week’s blog post, ‘Why holding a PRINCE2 qualification matters’, the PRINCE2 project management methodology is made up of seven principles, seven themes and seven processes. Over the coming weeks we will be looking at these three areas and breaking them down so you can begin to understand and appreciate how PRINCE2 projects are structured.

    The 7 Principles

    1. Business justification - the project must be aligned to the business objectives of the customer at all times. This is monitored by the development of a detailed Business Case. The Business Case describes the reasons for doing the project and forecast of benefits the project will deliver. It is outlined at the beginning of the project and accessed and added to at each Stage of the project. The project and Business Case must be comply with the organisation’s corporate strategy to move the project forward.

    2. Learn from experience - time must be created to record and analyse any problems that occur within a project. Previous projects are also accessed for lessons that can be applied to future ones, to avoid making the same mistakes again. These are captured and incorporated into new plans and strategies.

    3. Roles & responsibilities - these must be defined and agreed in a structure so all team members know what is expected of them; their level of authority, who they report to and their responsibilities. These can be adapted to suit the needs of the project. Laying out the roles and responsibilities avoids the issue of team members not knowing what is expected of them.

    4. Manage by stages - a PRINCE2 project must be broken up into stages. Each Stage must be planned, monitored and controlled. A project must have an ‘Initiation Stage’ where the Business Case, Project Plan and strategies for managing changes, communication, control, issues, products, risk and quality are developed. One or more delivery stages are required for any project. Between each Stage the Business Case is reviewed to determine business justification before a project can continue.

    5. Manage by exception - the Project Board will appoint a project manager with agreed ‘tolerances’ i.e. budget, time etc. If a tolerance is breached, the Board intervenes and changes are made until the project can continue or is abandoned.

    6. Focus on products - before a project begins, understanding and defining what needs to be delivered from the project must be set out. This is achieved by writing a Project Product Description, done by the project manager. This document focuses attention and the scope of the project, and time and cost estimates can be taken from it. More detailed Product Descriptions are written at each Stage of the project to ensure products are delivered at the right point in the project’s timeline.

    7. Tailor to suit the environment - PRINCE2 methodology should be tailored to suit a project’s capability, complexity, environment, importance, risk and size. Control for higher budget projects will be much greater than lower budget ones. More Stages will be needed for higher risk projects. Benefits of using the PRINCE2 method won’t be felt without adapting processes, themes and management products it to the specific project.

    To learn more about the 7 Principles, as well as the other structures of PRINCE2 methodology, how to apply the concept to a project and monitor its progress, sign up for a PRINCE2 Foundation course with Total Training Solutions. We have a number of options for studying the course including PRINCE2 evening classes, PRINCE2 eLearning and PRINCE2 virtual classrooms. An advanced PRINCE2 Practitioner course is also available, as well as a combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course.

    To book your place, call us on 0800 612 1299 or email us at info@tts-uk.com for more information.

  • PRINCE2: The 7 Themes

    22 August 2014

    As seen in previous posts, PRINCE2 is a project management methodology which consists of seven principles, seven themes and seven processes. Last week we covered the 7 principles, which are the first step of the methodology. Today, let's look at the case of the second step:

    The 7 Themes

    1. Business Case - this theme is the heart of each PRINCE2 project. The Business Case justifies initial and continuing investment in the project. Its goal is to ensure it remains viable and achievable in every stage along the way. Created at the very start, the Business Case drives the entire project, describing the reasons for doing the project and forecast of benefits the project will deliver.

    2. Organisation - defines and establishes project roles and responsibilities for a PRINCE2 project as well as its structure of accountability. It clearly identifies the three project interests: business, user and supplier. Organisation's roles consist of a programme executive, the project board, a project manager, team managers, project assurance, change authority and project support.

    3. Quality - ensures that the project’s products or services are 'fit for purpose'. Its focus is on each product's ability to meet its requirements, which are defined in the project's Quality Management Strategy. PRINCE2 contains product-focused elements of quality planning, quality control and quality assurance.

    4. Risk - the PRINCE2 method ensures that risk management is planned and integrated into the project management from the beginning so potential risks can be identified, assessed and controlled in order to improve chances of success. The five steps for managing risks are:
    - Identify the cause, event and effects of each risk
    - Assess their probability and impact
    - Plan the specific management responses
    - Implement the risk responses as required
    - Communicate risk information internal and external to the project.

    5. Plans - planning is crucial for the project to succeed. Plans are used to define how, where and by whom the project’s products will be delivered. There are three levels of plans in a PRINCE2 project: Project plan, an overview of the whole project; Stage plans, one for each management stage and Team plan, for creating products. A backup plan exists, called Exception plan, which can replace any of the previous plans in case of failure.

    6. Change - every project involves change, that can be related to expectations and requirements. The objective of this theme is to identify, assess and control any potential and approved changes to the base-lined objectives. A project needs an approach to controlling how those changes affect the configuration management.

    7. Progress - monitors and evaluates actual project progress and performance compared with planned achievements in order to provide a forecast for the future objectives, including the continued viability of the project.

    To learn more about the 7 Themes, as well as the other structures of the PRINCE2 methodology, sign up for a PRINCE2 Foundation course with Total Training Solutions. An advanced PRINCE2 Practitioner course is also available, as well as a combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course.

    To book your place, call us on 0800 612 1299 or email us at info@tts-uk.com for more information.

  • PRINCE2: The 7 Processes

    29 August 2014

    PRINCE2 is a process-based approach to project management. Each process is defined by key inputs and outputs, objectives and activities. Here we attempt to delve a little deeper into each of the 7 Processes to better understand PRINCE2 methodology....

    1. Directing a Project - aimed at the Project Board who manage and monitor the process from initial start-up to Project completion. The Project Board direct a project by initiating it, setting out the Stage Boundaries, giving directions and closing a project. This is done through authorising documents and management strategies including the Business Case, Project Briet, Stage Plans and Project Plans.

    2. Starting up a Project - this pre-project process ensures everything is in place to successfully conduct a PRINCE2 project. Here reasons for undertaking the project are set out, as are the desired outcomes. Information for the team is gathered, the Project Management Team is appointed and the Initiation Stage Plan created. Other documents including the Business Case, Project Product Description and Project Brief are created.

    3. Initiating a Project - before a project can be initiated, the Project Manager must develop an Initiation Stage Plan which is sent with the Project Brief, to the Project Board. Once authorised, the initiation process can begin.

    Project tasks are set out including, what will be done, why it will be done (benefits), how it will be done and how risk will be managed and controlled. Control over the entire project will be determined, communication plans (by who, with who, why and how) and roles and responsibilities for carrying out and monitoring tasks are agreed.

    Management Strategies are prepared during this process including; Risk, Configuration, Quality and Communication Management Strategies. Project controls such as the number of stages, reporting requirements and tolerances are set out, the Business Case is reviewed and the Project Initiation Documentation is compiled for the Project Board, along with the next Stage Plan, in order for the Project to move to the next step.

    4. Controlling a Stage - this process sets out the activities of the Project Manager within each stage of the Project.
    Activities include:
    - authorising and monitoring project work, usually in the form of a Work Package, which describes what must be produced, how much it will cost, how long it will take etc,
    - monitoring and reporting progress is carried out by reviewing management documents at each stage to ensure control over the project. The Project Board should be kept up-to-date with progress by the Project Manager via a Highlight Report.
    - managing issues and risks is done by keeping various logs and registers up-to-date so the Project Manager can examine them to assess risk and change anything that threatens the progression of the project. The risks and changes are sent up to the Project Board for comment, where corrective action is determined.

    5. Managing Product Delivery - the objective of this process is for the Team and Project Managers to ensure that planned products are created and delivered by accepting and checking Work Packages and ensuring all work conforms to the requirements of the Work Package. The process ensures that the work is completed and meets quality criteria, progress and forecasts are accessed, and approval is obtained for completed work.

    6. Managing Stage Boundaries - Here the Project Managers prepares for the next management stage. He will create a Stage Plan (or an Exception Plan), update the Project Initiation Documentation, Project Plan and Business Case and produce a Report End Stage. Once this relevant information has been gathered it is presented to the Project Board who will decide on whether to continue with the project or not.

    7. Closing a Project - a controlled closing of a Project is essential for PRINCE2. In this process relevant documentation in gathered to present to the Project Board for them to authorise a project’s closure. An End Project Report is compiled and submitted to the Board. Only when they are satisfied will a PRINCE2 Project formally end.

    The many Principles, Themes and Processes of PRINCE2 project management are complex and vast. How they all fit and work together, and are applied to move a project forward (or not) are explained through professional qualifications and training programs, like those offered by Total Training Solutions. You can find out more about our range of PRINCE2 courses via our website. Specialist PRINCE2 Foundation, PRINCE2 Practitioner and PRINCE2 combined courses are available. Please call us on 0800 612 1299 or email info@tts-uk.com to book your place or if you have any questions about any of our courses.

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