PRINCE2® Professional Qualification: Been There, Done That

Now I know the answer to the PRINCE2 practitioner question “What’s next?” Earlier in February I headed across the Atlantic to be a candidate in one of the pilot sessions for this new offering. The PRINCE2 professional qualification is very, very different from sitting an examination.  Working in small teams, I spent two and a half intense days completing a project scenario using both the method as well as my competencies in managing myself and a team of folks. What a kick!

The assessment center started on a Sunday evening with an introductory “meet and greet” from our moderator followed by dinner. Then we got right down to work, kicking off our scenario project and stepping through some of the tasks and deliverables you would expect to find in your project’s controlled start. During this initial session, we were being observed by an evaluator, who was looking for evidence of our ability to apply the method and to work effectively with our peers. Being watched while you are working as a team is an interesting situation to find yourself in!  The good news is that you get used to it quickly since the evaluator is taking notes but not speaking or participating in the work in any way.

During the afternoon on Sunday, I decided to sit in the lounge and read a book for a bit. Much to my surprise, someone came into the room and said my name.  It was Duncan Wade, the lead PRINCE2 trainer from Learning Tree, coming to attend the assessment center.  What a nice surprise!  I wasn’t expecting to see old friends when I was so very far away from home.

The second day was a long one, and it started quite early. Breakfast, lunch and dinner were provided across the second day.  I suppose you could call this the first full day of the assessment center. I was really pleased to have had a session the previous evening, since I felt like I knew what was happening and how to work within the assessment center framework. We had numerous sessions as we worked our way through the project life cycle.  By the end of the day, we were well into the controlled middle of a PRINCE2  project and working like crazy.  I must admit, I was beginning to feel like our scenario project was the real deal, and I was really enjoying digging into the project and getting work done..

The food and coffee breaks throughout the day were very welcome. I know these refreshments, especially the caffeine, helped me to stay on purpose and to work hard all day long. They also offered an opportunity to spend time with and get to know my fellow candidates.  We were quite the international group of 16 candidates, with folks from the Netherlands, Australia, Germany, Scotland, England and America.

The third day (or the second full day) of the assessment center ended a bit earlier, just before 4 pm. It was very much like our previous long day, but there were fewer sessions to complete.  We worked our way through a controlled end to our scenario project and then got back together to wrap up the experience and provide feedback on what took place.  Like me, everyone else had a blast and found the assessment center and the qualification to be of value to PRINCE2 practitioners who wanted an advanced credential showing they knew how to use this method.

One of the best things about these two longer days in the assessment center was the opportunity to work with team members I had not worked with before. Each session had a different group of players, and oftentimes a different evaluator as well. By the end of the assessment experience, I had been evaluated by each evaluator more than once and worked with most of my fellow candidates.

Everyone in this pilot assessment center was well-versed in PRINCE2.  However, this assessment wasn’t about theory, it was about practice. Getting to do things on a scenario project with a group of experts where we were all striving for a tangible and realistic set of deliverables and a successful project outcome was more fun than I could have imagined.  I am happy to report that this assessment center tested everyone’s knowledge and their ability to actually use it. Now when someone asks me if I can use PRINCE2, I can say “yes” and tell them that in addition to the project work I have done in the past, I have a credential to back up my claim.

I am happy to report I heard back from the APMG and I did pass the qualification (whew!). I stayed on for the next pilot session that same week to qualify as an evaluator, which is another story. I hope to also qualify as a moderator and be able to lead sessions both in the US and elsewhere in the world.

Susan Weese

Learning Tree offers a range of PRINCE2 certification courses in the UK for those who are interested. PRINCE2®: Achieving Practitioner Certification is also available in the US and in Canada.

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