In this month’s ‘Ask the trainer’ session we take a quick tea break with none other than SPOCE MD and PRINCE2® expert Paul Bradley. We get a brief history of PRINCE2® from Paul’s perspective and ask him some of the questions that have been posed about PRINCE2® 2017 by our clients and delegates alike.


Q: So tell us in a nutshell exactly what the changes are Paul:

"Well there isn’t much to improve upon really. PRINCE2® really hasn’t changed that much at all in 21 years. We were the flagship training company for PRINCE2® way back in 1997 when my father Ken delivered the very first course. Where there are 7 components to the Themes Processes and Principles, there were then 8 processes and components and 4 ‘techniques.’ The Principles back then were statements, such things as ‘a project is a finite process; projects always need to be managed; be clear about the how, why and what). It was 2009 however, that some bigger changes were made to the method.

Change 1: The 7 Principles were clearly defined and also interlinked with the 7 themes that we have today.

Change 2: Planning as a process was removed and integrated into the ‘plans theme’ so it was not lost, just moved. Aside from this they remain largely the same and are the 7 Processes that we know and love today. The 2009 update also saw the removal of 45 sub-processes, along with their “code-names” (SU1, SU2, SU3, etc.), and replaced with “Activities”.  These were seen to be the same in terms of content, but less prescriptive in their presentation.

Change 3: While the content of the Components remains largely the same, there have been a few changes and relocations over the years.  In the 2002 update, the Stages Component was moved into the Plans Component, making space for the new “Business Case” component.  In the 2009 update, the Components were renamed to “Themes”, and we saw the “Change” and “Configuration Management” Components combined into the “Change Theme”, and “Controls” renamed to “Progress”.  This brought us down to the 7 Themes we see in today’s version.

Change 4: As for the 4 original Techniques, Product-Based Planning, Quality Review and Change Control all still exist in today’s version, they all exist, but in their respective Theme.  The “Filing” Technique was removed in the 2005 update.  The PRINCE2 2017 version now includes many techniques relating to most of the 7 themes, giving the reader access to the techniques within the relevant chapter of the manual.


1996 Version of PRINCE2®

2017 Version of PRINCE2®


Starting Up a Project

Directing A Project

Initiating A Project

Controlling A Stage

Managing Product Delivery

Managing Stage Boundaries

Closing A Project




Starting Up a Project

Directing A Project

Initiating A Project

Controlling A Stage

Managing Product Delivery

Managing A Stage Boundary

Closing A Project




Quality Management


Risk Management



Change Control

Configuration Management





Business Case







Product-Based Planning

Quality Review


Change Control





Continued Business Justification

Learn From Experience

Defined Roles and Responsibilities

Manage by Stages

Manage by Exception

Focus on Products

Tailor to Suit the Project Environment


Summary table of the chapters from PRINCE2 in 1996 and 2017.

Q: How did you start out in Project Management and what would you say to someone who was just entering the world of Project Management?

"Project Management and the recognition of it is still fairly new. It didn’t exist in the same capacity as it does today when I started working.  So, my start in Project Management came about from another role, something more technical… Network Services to be precise. My role in projects happened almost by accident.  At the time, PRINCE2® didn’t exist, and I actually sat the original PRINCE® course to begin with.  On the plus side, there were no exams, but this meant a lack of industry recognised qualifications.  Today we have a wide spectrum of certifications, exam bodies, industry standards and approaches and as you may be aware, the industry now has chartered status, which is a wonderful and well-deserved accolade."

Having the background that I do I would always recommend that people embark on their Project Management accreditations by including PRINCE2® in some way. My father trained the PRINCE2® author in PRINCE in 1995.

People who are new to project management need to understand a simple structure and the industry standard for this is PRINCE2®. For this reason I would recommend PRINCE2® Foundation for all newcomers to project management.  There are other, equally worthy certifications such as PMI and APM. These are more competence-based, which are perfect for developing skills such as scoping, requirements management, benefits, risk, etc.  Having the PRINCE2® framework to drop these competencies into really does help understand the full lifecycle. So really, it is about embarking on Project Management with PRINCE2® but looking at its compatibility with other methods.

Q: Who should go on a PRINCE2® course?

"Here at SPOCE we see all kinds of people on the PRINCE2® course.  Some people who come on PRINCE2® are seasoned professionals who are looking to secure the qualifications that they have to suit the experience that they have gained. Equally, there are some new people in the industry looking to learn about project management and are just taking their first steps in their new careers.  It’s interesting because the mix of experience on a course is addressed quickly in the initial couple of hours.  We see both experienced PMs and newbies learning from each other.  Some of the more experienced PMs can find it difficult to adapt to PRINCE2® and other methods, and can also be a little rusty when it comes to taking an exam.  Whereas new people in the industry can be flexible in their thinking, taking on more information and being open to ideas. This mix is good for everyone as it gives everyone valuable input to have this mix of passion and experience."

Q: When is the best time for someone to sit PRINCE2® in their career?

The earlier the better. Project management is ubiquitous – it is in everything we do - literally.  The term “project” is used in many different environments these days – sometimes in the correct context, and sometimes not.  I think the sooner someone understands that projects must have a defined start and end; a set amount of resources; and a business reason to drive it on, the more success we will have.  I am a big fan of introducing project management into schools.  Some schools are providing CMI Level 3 qualifications in management and leadership to their pupils.  This can only help with the move of industry taking on the manage by project approach.

Q: What do you think the learning for PRINCE2® will look like in the future? Are courses going to reduce in duration? Will people learn it all online or virtually?

People will always have different needs and learning styles so I don’t think we will ever see everyone using one learning method over another. There is far too much value in face-to-face, personal communication, coaching and learning.  However, online and virtual training provides so much more flexibility, which means people who wouldn’t usually be able to undertake such a commitment of personal development, have a chance to improve their knowledge. 

At SPOCE we offer the whole range of options, from totally flexible virtual classroom, to self-paced e-Learning packages. We also offer traditional face to face classroom training from 30 UK-Wide locations, including PRINCE2® London every week.  We all learn in different ways, so as a leading training provider, we need to continually adapt to cater to everyone’s needs and adapt to the landscape.  I can’t see the learning time reducing dramatically with different learning approaches.  The PRINCE2 syllabi are hefty, and with the terminology, I do feel there will always be a need for committing around 20 hours to learning Foundation level, and a further 20 hours for Practitioner level to be prepared for the exams that follow and to be able to apply the methods to your roles.

Q: As a PRINCE2® expert, what are your top tips for delegates?

Prepare, prepare, prepare!  It is obvious but essentially true that the more you prepare for your PRINCE2® course the more you will understand it! Remember, anyone who is looking at the Foundation and Practitioner course will be faced with a 405-page manual!  Most courses will cover the majority of this manual in less than 3 days, so you need to hit the ground running and have a real feel for the approach ‘before’ you enter the classroom.  Make sure your training provider gives you preparation materials so that you can complete some pre-study.  I recommend that 10 hours is committed to pre-study as a minimum so you have a basic understanding of the processes, themes and principles. Equally, don’t try to read the whole manual and understand it from cover to cover. Understanding the context and the objectives of each process is what will give you a good head start.  Try to complete some sample exam questions also, so that you get an idea how much of PRINCE2® you already understand.  There are plenty of examples available, so this shouldn’t be too difficult to complete.  Just remember though that if you don’t do too well, you do still have a training course coming up to learn from!

About Paul Bradley

Paul Bradley is a leading authority on the PRINCE2® project management methodology. With over 20 years in the industry, Paul's knowledge and experience is respected by clients, accreditation bodies and training organisations globally. Paul has been the Director of Training with SPOCE since 2000, and has been an accredited PRINCE2® trainer throughout this time.

See Paul Bradley present “A Smorgasboard of Project Approaches’ at Project Challenge in London Olympia on Tuesday 6th March 2018.  See for more details.



SPOCE Project Management Limited is a global leader in delivering best practice training for project programme and risk management. They offer a wide range of courses which can be tailored to suit any form of training need. For example, public courses, virtual classroom,e-Learning, blended learning and client workshops.  SPOCE is the flagship training provider for PRINCE2® and MSP®.

Call; 0800 177 7623 / 0800 17 SPOCE