PRINCE2 & PMP (PMBOK) COMPARISON


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Roberto Scaramuzza - Linkedin profile

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Firstly, there is considerable misunderstanding in the marketplace about the differences between the two approaches.

They are in fact not competing methodologies as many may think.

PMP and Prince2 are two different things:

  • PMP is based upon the PMBOK, which is a Standard, NOT a methodology (as section 1.1 declares). It contains a truck load of processes and ‘generally accepted’ techniques of project management by which to evaluate or complete the way you run your projects or the methodology you use. It is therefore more theoretical, a reference guide. Is a standard focused on knowledge areas.
  • Prince2 on the other hand is a methodology, with a detailed process model and templates. It gives a step by step guidance on how to organise and run a project. It is more practical than the PMBOK. It still needs to be tailored to your needs but it is more a manual than a reference guide. It focusses on just a limited set of techniques. Is a methodology which can be used to apply project management knowledge areas.
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So better to call them complementary.

The biggest difference I found is the role of project management.

  • In PMP the PM is responsible for the result of a project. If something goes wrong – blame the PM. If the project is behind the schedule or overruns its budget – blame the PM. That’s the fundamental rule of PMBOK. (and I totally agree with it).
  • In PRINCE2 the PM is a middleman between the project and its control board. If something goes wrong the PM has to raise the problem to the board (upper management). Then they make a decision and return it back to PM for execution.
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If you study PRINCE2 and PMBOK you will find they are different with some overlapping elements.

It is for this reason  people who have completed PMBOK training would be strongly encouraged to also attend PRINCE2 training and vice versa for the reasons mentioned above.

PMBOK can be summarised as an approach that provides information on what a project manager needs to know whereas

PRINCE2 demonstrates how to apply this knowledge.

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For example PMBOK discusses the importance of defining roles and responsibilities in a project whereas PRINCE2 provides a model on how to set up a Project Team and standard role descriptions which are suitable for all types of projects. PMBOK is reliant on the project manager to develop a model for a project team structure.

Users of PMBOK are sometimes frustrated as people may incorrectly view the project manager as a ‘superman/superwoman’, that is the planner, decision maker, problem solver, human resources manager etc.

This may be common in some sectors, however, in many organizations the functional and/or financial authority is not with the project manager but correctly with senior management.

In this business environment project managers are not always best placed to make the key decisions.

In PRINCE2 the responsibility of the project is with senior management and the role of the project manager is to manage the project on a ‘day by day’ basis on behalf of senior management.

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If the above can be described as a key criticism of PMBOK it would be fair to say a key criticism of PRINCE2 is that it misses the importance of the ‘soft skills’ needed to manage a project and it could probably provide more detail on knowledge areas such as scope management & contract management which PMBOK provides good guidance on.

It is possible the recent popularity of PRINCE2 is because it provides a standard approach for the management of all types of projects. Every function of an organization can use it, whereas PMBOK leaves it open to the project manager to decide on their approach which often means different approaches to manage different projects.

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Larger organizations have preference for standardising the management of projects and view PRINCE2 as the solution for this requirement.

The other advantage of PRINCE2 is that little project management experience is needed to apply it whereas PMBOK requires time and experience to be appropriately applied.

In summary, a skilled project manager is one that can apply the knowledge areas of PMBOK with the aid of the project management processes of PRINCE2.

A highly skilled project manager should also have the ‘know-how’ to apply these methods appropriate to the scale, complexity and nature of the project and adapt them for those fast paced projects.

Last but not least, PRINCE2 could be considered like an ONG or an OPEN SOURCE matters. In fact it is related, developed and maintained by UK STATE GOVERNMENT AGENCY. 

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PRINCE2 PMBOK for PMP
Levels 3 Levels, Foundation, Practitioner and Professional 1 Level PMP.
Origin United Kingdom United States
Organization APM Group, UK PMI , USA
Recognition Worldwide Worldwide
Approach Process based – defines What, How , When , and who can do series of management processes. It dictates right process to follow Knowledge based – Tools & Techniques and best practices that can be applied when managing projects
A series of management processes defining what must be done, when and how it must be done and by whom over the life of a project Describes core practices and a wider range of techniques that can be applied to manage a project
Highly prescriptive on processes, but tailorable Large descriptive, some places prescriptive, usually Non-prescriptive
Drivers Business case driven Customer requirements driven
Roles Defines the roles of everyone involved in a project Focuses on the project manager’s role
Content Business case, Products/ Project planning, Project Assurance, Management by Exception, Clear roles and responsibility Definition , these topics not fully covered by PMP Covers Procurement, EVM, Critical Path, Communication Management , HR Management, not covered by PRINCE2 . PMP gives details of PM Roles and not much details on other’s roles.
What Practical Project Management Methodology PMP / PMBoK – comprehensive info about all aspects of project management.
Members 70K PRINCE2 Practitioners 240K PMI members and 200K PMP certified
Countries Popular in UK, Europe Popular in USA, India etc.
Training Not Mandated 35 contact hours from Registered education provider
usually course fees include exam fee as PRINCE2 Accredited Training Organizations are permitted to invigilate exams set by the accreditation body. Exam fee typically not included in training course fee as exams are completed at an exam centre specified by the accreditation body.
Trainers Certifications PRINCE2 Training organizations must be Accredited and hold a UK Government licence to train in PRINCE2. Accreditation requires compliance against the UKAS Quality Management standard for training & certification.
Trainers must pass an independent competency assessment before certification and are subject to independent competency assessments on an annual basis.
PMP training organizations must comply with the PMI training syllabus.
Trainer’s competency to deliver training is not assessed.
Questions 75 , 50% passing 200, 61% passing
Hours 4 hours 1 hours
Eligibility Not Mandated 4500 of PM experience
Period needed Certification confirmed within approximately 1 week from the training Certification typically confirmed within a month or more of the training
Price 200 UK £ 555 USD
Recertification  N/A for Foundation. All PRINCE2 Practitioners should be re-registered within 3-5 calendar years of their original certification. Required every 3 years. 60 PDUs needed
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