Axelos, Capita and the PRINCE2 Joint Venture

From 1st January 2014, PRINCE2, MSP and the Best Practice products will be owned by a new company, Axelos. Axelos is joint venture between UK Government and the business outsourcer, Capita. This post explains the what, why and when of the new deal and how this will affect your PRINCE2 qualifications.  The situation is changing regularly so we'll add new information as we get it.Axelos logo

What is the current situation?

Every 4 or 5 years the Best Practice contract comes up for renewal. The winner becomes the organization to administer PRINCE2, MSP and the 'Swirl' products including P3O and MoP. The winner has always been APMG. This time, the Government tender said that the winner would form a joint venture with HM Government and would need to put money into the JV from the start.

In April it was announced that the winner was Capita. The joint venture company, known as Axelos, would be 51% owned by Capita and 49% by HM Government. Axelos was formed on 1st July and takes over from 1st January 2014.

How are Axelos going develop Best Practice?

Axelos have published 5 Routes to Growth

  1. Grow International Markets, including emerging economies
  2. Invest in existing products, including integration to other frameworks
  3. Develop new Best Management Practice Products
  4. Build an online community supported by a collaborative / social platform
  5. Offer solutions for major employers and industry players

There's been a lot of talk about using social media, collaborative working and engagement with the community and Capita CEO, Paul Pindar, said that "we have detailed plans in place" during the official announcement. As Axelos moves from listening to doing, these should emerge in the run up to 1st January.

What happens next then?

A new CEO, Peter Hepworth, has been appointed and some Cabinet Office staff have transferred to Axelos.  Axelos has set up a Twitter account and a Google+ Page and is actively seeking the views from all interest groups through these channels - so now is your chance!   Two workshops were held in London for Project, Programme and Portfolio (PPM) stakeholders as well as those interested in IT Service Management (ITSM).

Axelos have also confirmed their high level operating model:  they will be the overall Accreditor for PPM and ITSM products.  This means they will be responsible for product development, the exam syllabus and questions.  Axelos will manage a 9 Examination Institutes who will run things day to day.

So, is Axelos a good thing?

It's early days yet and nothing is going to change before 1st January. Advantage Learning can see Wins, Worries and Woes


Axelos are part of a major commercial organization; Capita. They have a clear mandate to develop Best Practice worldwide. As this happens the value of your qualifications will increase. HM Government never did anything to promote Best Practice internationally - it was all done by ATOs, like Advantage Learning, and APMG.

The level of consultation and transparency so far is encouraging. There's a real prospect of a new broom and fresh energy.  Axelos are taking in a lot of views from across the community.


From 1st January Axelos will own 51% of the intellectual property in the Best Practice portfolio. What they don't have are the processes, presence or technology to run thousands of exams every week across the globe. That belongs to APMG. Capita tried to buy APMG but were turned down.  After initially saying that they would be an Exam Institute Axelos seem to have accepted that the process is complex and put the job out to tender among existing EIs.  This is a sensible move.

We are always sceptical when hearing promises of shiny technology that will change the world.  The initial announcements were full of it.  If Axelos are to extend the global acceptance of best practice they need to do it in countries which often lack reliable electricity, never mind broadband.  Low tech versions that increase the reach of the brand are perfectly acceptable.  In our opinion, the first priority is a smooth transition

And the numbers don't add up. Capita have said that Axelos will triple revenues in 10 years.  This represents 12% year on year growth.  The Government said that the deal would "boost returns for taxpayers by £500 million over 10 years".  If that's £500 million profit for the Government's 49% shareholding there has to be £1 billion in total profit.  It's optimistic to say the least.  Neither statement is attributed and no-one seems to know how the figures are calculated.


Capita have a record of failed Government contracts. They are regularly cited by Private Eye as "the world's worst outsourcing company." Axelos need to convince the community that they can deliver tenders as well as win them.

To be fair to Axelos on this point:  they would point out that they are a new company which is being built afresh.  Peter Hepworth, their CEO, and most of their personnel will not come from Capita

How does Axelos affect me and my qualifications?

It could be a very good thing: Axelos have a mandate for change.  The chance to certify in new subjects,  to gain improvements to existing ones and get even greater global acceptance are all going to make your CV look better.

Should my company keep using PRINCE2?

Definitely. Axelos is simply a change to who owns and administers PRINCE2. It's back end stuff.  In the UK, major organizations rely on the methodology and that is not going to change. It's still the most important qualification for UK project managers

Will PRINCE2 be updated?

In time, but there won't be a PRINCE3, ever. PRINCE2 was the generic version of PRINCE, which was IT specific. There will be updates in the light of innovations and best practices.  Nothing has been said about the next update to PRINCE2, which was last revised in 2009. The 2009 edition of PRINCE2 was a good one and there's no pressure for change at the moment. Axelos first job is to run things smoothly, then think about improving them.

I am due for Re-certification soon - should I wait?

No, don't let it lapse off your CV. PRINCE2 is not going anywhere.

So what about APMG?

For the past 2 or 3 years, APMG have been coming out with some very interesting products of their own.  For them, necessity has been the mother of invention and Advantage Learning will be offering courses in Better Business Cases and Managing Benefits.  These are really useful qualifications which complement PRINCE2 and the other best practice products

Why did the Government sell 51% of PRINCE2?

If I was a betting man, I would have laid money on APMG winning the bid, again. They have run PRINCE2 forever and have the global offices and experience to keep doing so. They probably had the best technical bid.  So I think the short answer is money.  Capita are a FTSE 100 company with revenues of £3 billion and could probably afford to outbid the others.  It is a tribute to the UK Civil Service that, in ITIL, PRINCE2 and the others, they have created standards which the rest of the world relies on.  So there was a great asset waiting to be monetized.

What did Capita pay for Best Practice?

Capita paid £10 million up front and will pay a further £9.4 million per year in preferred payments to HM Government. The aim is to triple revenues in the next 10 years and produce a profit for the taxpayer of £500 million in that time by exploiting new markets.  The Government makes £10 million a year from the current arrangements with APMG, so the Axelos JV is, at worst, a no-lose contract.

How do I stay up to date about Axelos and the changes?

This information was first shared at The Pint and Project - Advantage Learning's regular networking events in Edinburgh and Glasgow.


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