|Origin – United Kingdom||Origin – United States|
|Administered by APMG||Administered by PMI|
|Worldwide adoption||Worldwide adoption|
|A process based project management methodology||A knowledge based approach to project management|
|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|
|Prescriptive, but tailorable||Non-prescriptive|
|Defines the roles of everyone involved in a project||Focuses on the project manager’s role|
|PRINCE2 Training organisations are required to comply with the PRINCE2 training syllabus and maintain a quality management system. Trainers must pass an independent trainer competency assessment before certification.||PMP training organisations must comply with the PMI training syllabus. Trainer’s competency to deliver training is not assessed.|
|Certification confirmed within approximately 1 week from the training||Certification typically confirmed within a month or more of the training|
|HiLogic course fees include exam fee as PRINCE2 Accredited Training Organisations are permitted to invigilate exams set by the accreditation body.||Exam fees may not be included in training course fee as exams are often completed at an exam centre specified by the accreditation body.|
We often find papers explaining the differences between PRINCE2 and PMBOK tend to be technical in nature. One example can be found at:
There are however a few key quotes from this paper which we can use to help summarise the ‘core’ differences:
“We believe that the Guide [PMBOK] takes the best approach for purposes of teaching the subject content of each knowledge area, but is not so effective when it comes to providing guidance for running a particular project….”
“PRINCE2 provides a robust easy-to-follow methodology for running most projects…”
“In a life-cycle-based presentation like PRINCE2, it is difficult to do justice to each knowledge area.”
Let’s elaborate on the above quotes.
Firstly, there is considerable misunderstanding in the marketplace about the differences between the two approaches. They are in fact not competing project management standards as many would like to think. If you study these standards you will find PRINCE2 and PMBOK adopt two different approaches to managing a project and by their nature they can complement each other in many ways.
We feel PMBOK can be summarised as an approach that provides information on what a project manager needs to know whereas the PRINCE2 methodology demonstrates how to apply this knowledge in a structured and consistent manner. In fact section 1.1 of the PMBOK guide states that PMBOK is not a methodology and recommends the use of methodology for its application.
An example to illustrate the differences, 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, problem solver, human resources manager and key decision maker. It may be a common belief in some sectors that the project manager is the key decision maker, however organisations today recognise that as the ultimate functional and/or financial authority is not within the project manager but with senior management, key project decisions should be executed by senior management. In many business environments 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.
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 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 across an organization. PRINCE2 ensures consistency of approach whereas PMBOK leaves it open to the project manager to decide on their approach which often means different approaches are adopted throughout the organization to manage its projects. Increasingly larger organisations are seeing the advantages for standardising the management of projects and view PRINCE2 as the solution for this requirement. The other advantage of PRINCE2 is its focus on the Business Case which is a management theme designed to support diligent decision making.
As PRINCE2 is a process based methodology the project team does not need to be highly experienced to apply it whereas as PMBOK is a collection of knowledge areas it requires a team with management experience to design a method to support its application.
In summary, a skilled project manager is one that can apply project management knowledge areas, for example those of PMBOK with the aid of a structured methodology such as PRINCE2. A highly skilled project manager should also have the ‘know-how’ to apply project management controls that are appropriate to the scale, complexity and nature of the project.
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