PMP certification is the professional project management approach from the PMI in the USA and PRINCE2 Practitioner is a standard project methodology from the UK OGC. On first view these two standards seem to portray dramatically different approaches to project management. This presents a real problem for people who are trying to decide which project management course is the best one for their career. But we think the two approaches are highly complementary and can offer project managers a more rounded appreciation of project management.
What is PRINCE2?
PRINCE2 is a publicly available method for the management of projects which is promoted by the UK government. It is applied in the UK, and increasingly around the world, to a wide range of projects from construction to IT projects. It has a highly developed process model which describes in detail to steps a project should go through to in order to be executed in a controlled environment. In addition to clear processes PRINCE2 also has a clearly defined set of responsibilities. These include the roles and responsibilities of the project manager, senior user, senior supplier and project executive or sponsor. To complement these PRINCE2 full includes detailed templates for the core project management documents such as a progress report and change request form.
PMP Certification is a qualification which evaluates to competence of project managers to deliver project based on their knowledge of project management and experience. The certification uses PMI guide to project management body of knowledge or PMBoK guide as the basis of much of the learning. The requirements for PMP include up to 5 years of project management (reduced to 3 years for those with a degree) and a 35 hours of contact time for training. The PMP is one of the most widely recognised project management qualifications in the world. It is now strong outside the USA especially in Asia and Europe. However it is not a project management method, it demonstrates the competence of the project manager. As such is very different from PRINCE2.
PMP and PRINCE2 compared and contrasted
To illustrate the different we will use cost planning. Prince2 recognised that project budgets are a vitally important part of many project processes and documents, from the project brief to the checkpoint (progress) report; however it does not describe the techniques and approaches that a project manager can use to use to produce and accurate estimate. This is left to the PMBok Guide which describes in detail the different estimating techniques than can be used such a parametric or three point estimating to ensure that the project budget is accurately estimates. In this way we can see that the two approaches are in fact complementary.
So can PMP and Prince2 work hand-in-hand
PMP certification can deliver the competence required to deliver successful projects, while PRINCE2 provides the detailed processes, roles and responsibilities and template. We think that combining the two approaches would give project managers a powerful tool set to deliver project successfully.
Disadvantages of mixing PMP and PRINCE2
For any project team combining the two approaches may have significant disadvantages.
- The team will have to reconcile some of the conflicting language. For example the project charter is called a project brief in PRINCE2.
- This might cause a bit of confusion in the team as to which approach should be followed
- The disadvantage of this combined approach it that the project team have to reconcile the different terminology behind the two approaches.
- Some of the detailed techniques such as the classifications of risk are different.
In practices these differences should not outweigh the benefits of a more balanced approach to project management.