Difference Between PRINCE2® 2009 and 2017

AXELOS have announced that an update to PRINCE2 will be available from May 2017 and this will be known as PRINCE2 2017. The last update to PRINCE2 was in 2009.


This update to PRINCE2 has a much stronger emphasis on scalability and flexibility (being more agile). PRINCE2 has always been tailorable to the complexity and requirements of a project but was perhaps the best kept secret about PRINCE2 and many people see PRINCE2 as inflexible and procedure heavy. The 2017 update addresses the following:

  • More emphasis on the core principles of PRINCE2 : All principles must be obeyed even if doing a project of just a few hours.
  • The themes contain more information on tailoring project and also a new section call minimum requirements.
  • More clarity on how the principles and themes are linked
  • Many more examples, hints and tips on how to apply this new guidance and I hope this will be included in the Practitioner Exam syllabus

Difference between PRINCE2 2009 and 2017: Principles

There is not much change when it comes to the seven PRINCE2 principles which are:

• Continued business justification (have a business case)
• Learn from experience (learn from other projects)
• Define roles and responsibilities (know what to expect from other people)
• Manage by stages (break up a big project into chunks, this makes it easier to manage)
• Manage by exception (allow people to get on with their work)
• Focus on products (agree what the product will look like before development starts)
• Tailor to suit the project environment (use one the parts of parts of PRINCE2 that help you)

PRINCE2 has introduced a key message for each principle and this will make it easy for people who are taking the PRINCE2 Foundation exam. I believe that no extra information will be added on tailoring the principals

Difference between PRINCE2 2009 and 2017: Tailoring

In PRINCE2 2009 the tailoring text was all the way in the back of the book (in the index) but this will now be brought forward to near the front of the manual . The tailoring information will focus on:

• Tailoring the principles
• Tailoring the themes
• Tailoring the roles
• Tailoring the management products
• Tailoring the terminology

Other topics that may be included for tailoring are:
• Who is responsible for tailoring the project?
• What makes a simple project from a tailoring point of view?
• Tailoring for an Agile project
• Tailoring for a commercial customer supplier project
• Tailoring for a project that involves multiple organizations

However the main focus will be on how to adopt PRINCE2 into an organization which includes some topics as:

– Tailoring to fit the organization
– Embedding PRINCE2 into the organization

Tailoring information is also added to each Theme

Difference between PRINCE2 2009 and 2017: Themes

There are still seven themes and the themes will be introduced like the following:

difference between prince2 2009 and 2017 Table

Each theme has two new sections
1) Minimum requirements for the theme
2) A guidance section for each theme

The minimum requirements section for the theme can also be very important for the PRINCE2 Foundation Syllabus. From my point of view, it also contains valuable tailoring information as you just have to obey the recommendation from PRINCE2 in any way you like without making it over complicated.

The guidance sections also give a lot of information that is important for tailoring to the type of project environment you are working in.

Difference between PRINCE2 2009 and 2017: Processes

There are still seven processes in PRINCE2 2017 and the information is very much the same it was in PRINCE2 2009. However there is a new section called: “Tailoring guidelines” for each process. These sections will show how flexible PRINCE2 is as the PRINCE2 2009 official manual gives the impression that PRINCE2 is very stiff .

Some dates
– The official PRINCE2 2017 manual is due in May 2017
– The new exams will be also available from July 2017
– The current exams based on PRINCE2 2009 will be available until the end of 2017


Effects on the PRINCE2 Foundation Exam

The Foundation syllabus and exam has been streamlined in PRINCE2 2017. Some parts have been removed from the syllabus such as:

  • Configuration management, have been removed.
  • Relationship between the principles and the themes

The exam design has also been updated to have few questions (60 instead of 75).  There are also fewer negative and list questions.   Overall the Foundation Exam will be easy to pass and 99% of people will still pass.

The Foundation syllabus for each theme goes as follows

  • Purpose of the theme
  • Purpose of the documents used by that theme
  • Minimum requirements to obey this theme in your project.

Effects on the PRINCE2 Practitioner Exam

The Practitioner exam is supposed to have a renewed focus on the practical side of PRINCE2 which is great to hear but I would like to see some proof  skills. The Practitioner Exam 2017 will now test candidates on all parts of the PRINCE2 method (e.g. all themes) and will have less questions on things like the PRINCE2 management products.

There is also less ‘additional information’ needed, removing assertion reason and multiple response questions and the total number of marks has been reduced from 80 to 75.

Perhaps these changes will make it easier to do the exam online

My hope for PRINCE2 2017

If AXELOS are serious about PRINCE2 being more practical orientated then they should not allow training companies to offer the 5 days combi courses which are only focused on passing the exam and NOT learning how to use PRINCE2.  These combi courses have are one the main reasons that less than 5% of all people that take a PRINCE2 course never use it.

PRINCE2 2017 diagrams

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