PMP Certification and PRINCE2: The Similarities and Differences

Paul Naybour

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

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.

  1. The team will have to reconcile some of the conflicting language. For example the project charter is called a project brief in PRINCE2.
  2. This might cause a bit of confusion in the team as to which approach should be followed
  3. The disadvantage of this combined approach it that the project team have to reconcile the different terminology behind the two approaches.
  4. 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.

PRINCE2 and PMP Certification from Parallel Project Training

Parallel Project Training is one of the few organisations to offer project management courses in both PMP Certification and PRINCE2.

45 thoughts on “PMP Certification and PRINCE2: The Similarities and Differences”

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  2. Hello, Do you have a PRINCE2 course exclusively for those who have cleared PMP exam? As PMPs already have the Project management background, we may pick up PRINCE2 faster or we may have migration problems.

  3. Hello,
    The article is really good and useful.
    Im a PRINCE 2 Practioner certified , and currently working for a US client.
    Should I do PMP, or just focus on PRINCE 2 / MSP (managing successful programmes)

  4. Thanks for creating this useful resource.
    Would it be correct to say that PRINCE2 focusses on the processes and PMP focusses on Project Manager’s role in executing those processes.

  5. Hi, it was a really good read and informative article.
    Can I check if there is any difference in content between PRINCE2 and the Lean Sigma / Six Sigma methodology, as Project Managers can get Green-belt certified on the methodology which focuses on the process as well?
    Appreciate your thoughts and feedback. Thanks.

    1. Hi
      Thanks for dropping by and taking the time to comment.
      I have done both six sigma and PRINCE2 accreditation. They are from very different schools, PRINCE2 is a method to manage change in an organisation, whereas Six Sigma is more about inprovment ment of a production or business as usual process, normally through continuous improvement. I would welcome your views on how they can be used together.

  6. Hi Paul,
    I am an Telecom Engineer working with Swedish organization (ERICSSON) in India for more than 5 years now. As I am interested to get in to projects, so being an expert could you please advice which course out of two i.e. PRINCE2 and PMI should I opt for, as both seems equally important to me.
    Thanks in Anticipation!
    Ankur Vashisht

    1. Ankur
      I would recommend PMP certification in my opinion it has a much higher credibility in the market place and is more applicable to a wider range of projects.
      I hope this helps.

  7. Hi Paul,
    It was a great article and you clear my some doubts for Prince2 & PMP.
    Kindly suggest me, where should i go. I have total 6 years of experience, which 4.5 years as a Network Engineer and 1.5 years as Team Manager and now i am promoting to Project Manager. So now i am more willing to know about Prince2 & PMP. Which certification is best for my career and for long term career perceptive and why?
    One thing more is this necessary to have some Certifications (PMP & Prince2) or just gaining knowledge is the best path.
    Your suggestion/ Advice & Thought are appreciative.
    Thanks you.

  8. Hello Paul,
    I relocate to the uk but had plans to sit for pmp .I need you to advice if i should hold on to pmi or study for Prince ii becos it widely accepted in the uk .I await your reply soonest .

    1. PRINCE2 is much more widely recognised in the UK, but i wont get you a job, load of people have it. I think PMP would differentiate you in the market more effectively.

  9. Hi,
    i am Rajesh from India, totally i am having 9.5 years experience.
    I would like to do certification to boost my package and designation level in IT industry.
    So now i am more willing to know about Prince2 & PMP. Which certification is best for my career and for long term career perceptive and why?
    Thanks in advance.

  10. Hi Paul,
    If I need to start any small business in future, which would help me more, PMI or PRINCE2?
    Appreciate your inputs/advice.
    Best Regards,

  11. Hi Paul,
    Thank you for informative article.
    I have been working for the United Nations in the last five years, and I seek professional growth in the system of international development. I have two quesitons:
    1. Which one would you suggest for my case PMP or PRINCE2;
    2. I have 5-year project coordination experience, 2 MA degrees in sociology but no formal education in PM; do I qualify for PMP?
    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi
      I know some parts of the UN are adopting the IPMA qualifications, but in the absence of further internal guidance I would have thought the PMP route would have the most global recognition. I will depend a bit on the type of project you are managing. PRINCE2 is very good of governance, business case and the operation of the project board, while PMP is much stronger at planning and implementation.

  12. Hi Paul,
    I’m planning to move to Australia on a Permanent Residency visa. Which one of the certifications will work well for me, PMP or Prince2. I’m confused. Can you please guide me ?
    Best Regards,

  13. Hi,
    A very useful article. I am actually at the crossroads, where i am totally confused as to which certification do i take, to enhance my career.
    Initially i thought of PMP, but the language of the PMBOK and understanding the 45 process (5 processes in 9 knowledge areas) is becoming a mental block for me.
    I am thinking of first taking up Prince2 and then later on follow it up with PMP. Please let me know whether this approach is ok.

    1. Robert
      Thanks for stopping buy. I am not sure PRINCE2 will be easier to digest. In depends where you are based. If you are in the UK then the APM Foundation course is a good practical and simple starter. You can follow the APM path all the way to Registered Project Professional for the most complex projects. Outside the UK then I think you are going to have to get a grip with the PM BoK. Any trainer should help you get a feel for the overall road map that underpins the structure. Once you have this you can fill in all the detail.
      I hope this helps.

  14. I am working as a operation Manager in US based insurance company…I am planning to go for certification and a bit confursed which one should I opt for…PMP or Prince2?
    Thanks for your help.

  15. Hi Paul,
    I am 12 years experienced IT professional and managed different kind of projects including development, transition and transformation projects.
    I started to do PMP however could not continue due to project priorities.
    I completed my 35 PDs of PMP workshops in 2011 (when PMBoK 4 version was there ). I want to know if those 35 PDs are still valid or not.
    Also as I have not seen PMBoK 5 version, can you please suggest whats the big difference between 4 and 5. Should I need to buy PMBoK 5.0 when I already have 4 version. I mean if I could save money as PMBoK 5 is quite expensive.
    Any suggestion would be highly appreciated.
    Thanks !

  16. Hi Paul,
    I work in a US based BPO company for past 8 years and got promoted as Team manager 2 years. I do not have not handled any projects as such. Please let me know if I am eligible to do PMP certification
    Antony Paul

  17. Hi,
    I have worked with IT company since 2003, my profile is Oracle DBA. I would like to know which certificate I should do.However, I did ITIL V3 foundation.
    I am working with multinational Bank as Infrastructure Manager in IT Department since 2013.
    Please advice me for the better future prospects.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. I would have thought PMP would have more traction in a multinational bank. Are you based in the UK? If so you might like to consider PRINCE2 as a first step. If you are outside the UK then certainly go for PMP.

  18. hi,
    I am into renewal energy sector in India and the main reason for opting PMP certification was to have excellence in project management and a good salary hike I have completed my PMP certification on Aug-15, but it seems my organisation is not much impressed with my certification.
    pl suggest a way forward.

  19. Hi,
    I have 15 years of experience in telecom projects in India, which certification PMP/ Prince2 is more relevant and recognized world wide and how does this help me.

  20. hello Paul
    I qualified as a Prince 2 practitioner 7 years ago without any project management experience at the time. Since then I have worked as a project manager for the past 4-5 years. I’m now enrolled to do PMP and will be taking the exam in a few weeks. I understand the difference between Prince 2 and PMP. Can you tell me how they compare in terms of exam difficulty specifically?
    thank you

    1. I would say PRINCE2 is the easier exam, you just have to cram in the book to pass and it is open book, 98% of people pass it. The PMP is more challenging mostly because of the scenario questions which are less odious. In the market place however PMP has much more creditability than PRINCE2.

  21. Am a graduate of Building Tech with post-graduate diploma in Financial Management. Having working experience across the two sectors (Construction and Financial industries). Which of these suitable for me.

  22. Thank you for the article. I am wondering if you would also recommmend PMP or Prince2 for the German and French speaking countries. I live in Germany and I am wondering whether I should do the projekt certification for PMP, Prince2 or GPM.

  23. Hi,
    I am having 12yrs experience is construction field in India. Kindly advise which certification is more suitable for me. PMP or PRINCE2

  24. I recently came across your article comparing PMP certification and PRINCE2, and I found it to be very informative and insightful. Your explanation of the similarities and differences between these two project management methodologies was very clear and easy to understand, and your examples helped to illustrate these concepts in practical terms.

    I appreciated that you emphasized the importance of choosing the right methodology for a given project, based on factors such as project scope, organizational culture, and stakeholder expectations. Your discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of both PMP and PRINCE2 was helpful in this regard, as it allowed readers to compare and contrast these methodologies and make informed decisions about which one to use.

    I also liked that you provided practical advice for individuals seeking to pursue PMP certification or PRINCE2 certification. Your breakdown of the certification process for each methodology was clear and easy to follow, and your tips on exam preparation and study materials were very useful.

    Additionally, I appreciated that you discussed the role of project management certifications in career development and advancement. Your insights into the benefits of PMP and PRINCE2 certification for individuals and organizations were informative and practical, and will undoubtedly be helpful for anyone considering pursuing these certifications.

    Overall, I found your article to be very well-written and informative. Your explanations of the similarities and differences between PMP and PRINCE2 were clear and easy to understand, and your practical advice for certification and career development was valuable. Thank you for taking the time to put together such a useful resource for the project management community. I look forward to reading more of your articles in the future.

    1. Thank you for the kind comments and I’m glad you found the comparison of PRINCE2 and PMP useful. We publish new articles every month aimed specifically at the project management community so I’m sure you’ll find some more useful resources in the future.

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