How PRINCE2 has helped big business

Peter Richards
Peter Richards

This is a guest post by Peter Richards.

When considering investing in a training course for yourself, a single staff member or your team, it’s crucial to consider the applications of that course. While PRINCE2® is a carefully-accredited training course, whose original two levels of Foundation and Practitioner have attracted favourable reviews from all over the training and project management industries, it is nonetheless advisable to consider how bigger businesses have used the course. After all, even small business-owners are aspirational, intending to emulate the bigger businesses in our field.

For those interested to know whether an agile, structural project management training course like PRINCE2® could be the perfect way to empower yourself or your staff, consider these case studies. They stand as examples of how established businesses in the public and private sectors have used PRINCE2® to implement change efficiently and transparently.

The challenge of currency conversion

Prominent Irish energy provider ESB was required to implement a major change in 2002 when Ireland converted to the Euro. Clearly, a change in local currency for even a major business requires not only changes of pricing and supplementary pricing, but also changes in the way that currency is handled and payment is taken.

ESB, whose change initiative was spearheaded by Eimear Barrett, their Chartered Secretary, needed to bring their information technology systems into line with the Euro and, crucially, needed to avoid any operational shutdown. Compounding the issue was the fact that Barrett herself was not experienced in the internal IT processes of her company, instead performing only as a user of the systems in question, making editing and managing their performance an added challenge.

Luckily, continuing to deliver a high quality service while implementing serious structural or operational changes, a challenge to any company, is at the heart of PRINCE2®, and the program was perfectly chosen for this situation. PRINCE2® training, recommended by her line manager, allowed Barrett to not only handle the changeover from Irish pound to Euro without leaving customers stranded during the switch, but also empowered her and her team to use the changeover period as a catalyst for change. New health regulation and procedures, more practically efficient working relationships and better information management were all part of the package implemented in January 2002, with the help of PRINCE2®.

In her own words, from a case study widely available, Barrett particularly benefited from PRINCE2®’s practical and engaged approach to delegation. She said:

“Originally, I was doing everything myself. Nor did I really understand the project manager’s role so I took the job description out of the PRINCE2® Manual, tailored it for my circumstances and saw how I could get support from others.”

How Sony Ericsson handled their logistic nightmare

Another example of a large organisation making use of PRINCE2® in the private sector is its implementation within the working strategy of the project management team at Ericsson. This team faces all of the problems unique to such an enormous company; it has many different projects to manage, many diverse teams of project managers, and faces linguistic, cultural and geographical challenges innate in its global nature.

PRINCE2®, however, was equal to the challenge, and was seamlessly integrated alongside the working project management methodologies which existed within the Ericsson network. These were suitable for large projects which made changes to complex telecommunications infrastructure, whereas consumer-based and operational changes demanded the more clearly-delineated project management system embodied in PRINCE2®.

The set milestones and fundamentally inflexible nature of Ericsson’s existing project management procedures tended to alienate collaborating with outsiders and was unsuitable for the iterative software creation projects being spearheaded by the Customer Management Solutions Business Unit at the company. PRINCE2®, then, lived up to the challenges posed by Ericsson, constituting a methodology which was flexible and agile enough to suit all sorts of business software projects while still remaining structured enough to provide support, transparency and accountability.

In the case study, which appears on industry websites and on Ericsson Services Ireland’s website, the business case for choosing PRINCE2® was based on the following:

  • The old methodologies were too inflexible for the projects within the group.
  • The old methodologies did not cater for dealing with sub-contractor management.
  • The rigid milestones and rules did not deal with iterative and overlapping phases of a project.
  • Projects were being delayed by the rules imposed by the old methodology.
  • Improving old methods was taking too much time away from core business activities.
  • Business decisions were being taken at inappropriate milestones.

Do you have these challenges in your organisation? As you can see from these examples, PRINCE2® has proven itself capable of managing large projects in complex environments, so it is worth considering for smaller companies and as a way of developing your teams.

Peter Richards works as a content creator and blogger for a UK project management training company.

Are you interested in doing the PRINCE2® certification and want to find the best online course to suit your learning style? Check out our post here that discusses all you need to know.


  1. This is typical of the rubbish that people who work for PRINCE2 training organisation use to promote PRINCE2 and their overpriced PRINCE2 courses that teach people how to use the PRINCE2 methodology rather than how to be competent project managers.

    1. I think it’s a fair comment that PRINCE2 courses teach people how to use the PRINCE2 methodology. If you go into a PRINCE2 course and expect to come out a competent project manager then you have been misled – the courses (in my opinion, and I’ve said this before) are not designed to do that and instructors on the courses I have taken have made that clear. But PRINCE2 itself is a worthwhile framework for managing projects, and you can’t get round the fact that it is still a factor (or requirement) in recruitment and in many public sector project management jobs.

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