PMP®and PRINCE2® – Similarities, Differences and Preferences

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The Project management Professional (PMP®) certification is a professional approach to project management. It is devised and deployed by the Project Management Institute (PMI) in the US. It’s foundation lies in the ‘Project Management Book of Knowledge’ (PMBoK).The book covers the entire range of techniques and competencies required by a Project Manager to successfully handle projects. PMP® is possibly the most renowned qualification, globally, for project management. However, it is very important to note that PMP® is not a method for managing projects.

What is PRINCE2®?

PRINCE2® (acronym for PRoject IN Controlled Environment) is a methodology for managing projects. It was devised and deployed by the OGC promoted by the UK government. An integrated and cohesive project management method, it provides a number of processes that can be adapted and applied to any project from its inception to culmination. It provides a path for project managers to traverse and successfully manage or complete a project.

A publicly available methodology, PRINCE2® since its inception has been applied to projects in the UK. It is now being increasingly used globally and across a wide range of industries and their projects, from IT to construction and more. The process model is a highly developed one and gives a detailed description of the steps a project must undertake in a controlled environment for successful execution. Besides its processes, PRINCE2® clearly defines responsibilities for all project stakeholders, which include the project manager, user, supplier and the project sponsor or executive. Supporting the processes and role definitions, PRINCE2® has comprehensive project management templates for critical documents like the change request or progress report.

Distinct Features

At a first glance, both these standards seem to be diametrically different in their approach to project management. It does create a conundrum for those trying to ascertain which course of project management would better support their career objectives. However, PMP® and Prince2® are both complementary approaches to project management and project managers can leverage a more holistic understanding of project management from their combined knowledge. The salient aspects of both these methodologies are summarized here.

PMP®

  • It describes ‘How’ to manage a project
  • It is specifically designed for those responsible to lead projects
  • It is a detailed assimilation of ‘good practices’ for project management
  • It also lays stress on the importance of interpersonal skills
  • Every topic in PMP can be either individually or collectively applied
  • It contains detailed description of techniques with supporting templates to give direction to the project manager.

PRINCE2®

  • It is a Methodology, which describes for a project manager the ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘Who’ of a project.
  • It encompasses the entire project lifecycle within its large number of integrated processes
  • It includes all roles of project management, right from the project board, going down the ladder via the project manager, team managers, project assurance and finally the support at the front line
  • Being a pure methodology, it refrains from involving interpersonal skills
  • While it refers to various techniques, it neither details them nor provides any templates to implement them

Comparing PMP® with PRINCE2®

To understand how PMP® and PRINCE2® complement each other, let’s illustrate it with the activity of cost planning.

While making the budget of a project, PRINCE2® identifies and stipulates the vital importance of creating a budget and its involvement in many of the project processes. The budget appears in every aspect from the project brief to every report that evaluates the various checkpoints of the project. However, it stops short of providing either the technique or the template for creating and maintaining a budget report that can be used by a project manager.

PMP®, on the other hand, provides a project manager with the technique and template in the PMBoK, but does not traverse the path from project brief to reports and checkpoints with the project manager.

So PMP® creates competence to deliver projects successfully, while PRINCE2® provides detailed roles, responsibilities and processes for the actual execution of the project.

PRINCE2® is a certification that is good for those involved in nuts and bolts of the execution of a process, the actual ‘doers’ of the project. PMP® is an ideal certification for the project manager or project lead that over sees the project execution.

Ideally, the project manager would also be PRINCE2® qualified having done project execution earlier in his/her career. This gives an advantage to the project manager because while PMP® gives an aerial view of the project, PRINCE2® gives them the insight to what happens at the grass root level, therefore improving their efficiency in managing the project successfully.

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