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What are the reasons why a project manager should select PMP certification rather than Prince 2, or vice versa? Are they complementary or competing?

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PMP and Prince2 are two different things:

  • PMP is based upon the PMBOK, which is a Standard, NOT a methodology. 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.

  • 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.

I would therefore dare to call them complementary. One example would be procurement management, which is not included in Prince2. Google around and you'll find some in depth comparisons between the two.

As to preference, that is personal of course. Just like Yegor, I'm happy to know them both, (but not Prince2 certified). The PMBOK (hence PMP) is more comprehensive of the whole project management field. I can apply (parts of) it on any project, also a Prince2 - project. Prince2 is, well, a methodology. Many companies create their own aligned with pmbok (or other standard like IPMA).

  • 1
    Absolutely support what Stephan has said here. Mike Griffiths just did a blog on why the Agile PMI cert. He uses the exact same argument to explain why you can have a PMP and an Agile PMI cert work together. gantthead.com/content/articles/263079.cfm – Joel Bancroft-Connors Apr 6 '11 at 19:52
  • It is also worth pointing out that PRINCE2 is a government standard in the United Kingdom which spurred it's adoption in UK and Northern Europe. – Venture2099 Mar 18 at 10:22
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I've got them both and can tell that they are competing. 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.

In any case I would recommend to pass them both for your portfolio and your self-education.

  • How Project Coordinator will be different that PM in PRINCE? – Ram Jul 18 at 11:09
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Part of the answer depends on your reasons. To get a job? In the US or UK? PMP in the US (and most of the rest of the world), P2 in the UK. In a specific industry? P2 for more IT related, PMP for more general applications. To increase your knowledge? As Stephan has already pointed out, the PMP gives a broader base, the P2 a more focused.

I'm not sure I see where they're competing as Yegor says though. To me, P2 fits within the processes contained in the PMBoK Guide, just more defined and controlled. Much the same as the Agile concepts could be included in the Guide.

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PRINCE2 is based on a methodology, specifically ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library). The early foundations of ITIL were based on best practices within the British Government and later expanded to be applicable to non-government work. You will find PRINCE2 used mostly in Europe and among government / Crown Corporations. PRINCE2 / ITIL is primarily focused on IT operations and is highly prescriptive. By the way, the L for library is apt as the current version (V3) is down to 5 books (ITIL V1 was over 30 books!).

The PMP is based on standards established by the PMI (Project Management Institute) and embodied within the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge). It is more general in nature and originated to add formal governance and oversight to construction and government / military projects. It has become the mainstream approach to project management and the de facto standard in IT projects. This said, its flexibility allows other methodologies such as Agile and Price2 to fit in while address the holistic needs of an organization (both business and technology).

Bottom line... where will you be applying this? If you want to be a PM for the British government... go with PRINCE2. If you want to be a PM in North America... go with PMP.

A final note... there are additional certifications other than PMP and Prince2 (CPM, MPM, MAPM, CompTIA Project+, etc.).

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In my opinion, PRINCE2 and PMP are competing. Both are based on different approaches and methodologies.

  • PRINCE 2 is Process based – defines What, How , When , and who can do series of management processes. It dictates right process to follow whereas PMP is Knowledge based – Tools & Techniques and best practices that can be applied when managing projects.
  • PRINCE2 defines the roles of everyone involved in a project whereas PMP Focuses on the project manager's role

A professional who is looking forward towards gaining proficiency in project management approach with a project team point of view can opt for PRINCE2 Certification. On the other hand project managers who are looking forward for an individual growth as a project manager may opt for PMP Certification.

This blog might help in understanding better: http://blog.simplilearn.com/project-management/prince2-vs-pmp-the-battle-of-certifications

Disclaimer: I work for this company.

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PRINCE2 has basically the same general ideas and concepts in PMBOK.

In my opinion PMBOK is:

  • More detailed; explains more concepts and processes and in details.
  • More versatile; and covers more concepts and ideas.
  • Discusses almost every aspect of project management.
  • Uses professional and advanced terminology
  • uses charts and visualization extensively.
  • More known and used internationally.

PRINCE2 is:

  • Less detailed, gives you general idea.
  • uses easy terminology and simple concepts
  • Gives you strict directions (especially in Roles and Responsibilities charts)
  • doesn't use charts and flow diagram as much as PMBOK
  • Less known and used mainly in Europe.
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I realise that this question was asked several years back, but it's still relevant today.

There's some misinformation in some of the answers in this thread. PRINCE2 is NOT based upon ITIL. ITIL is a framework for IT service management, PRINCE2 is a project management methodology. The fact that they both emerged many years ago from the UK government does not mean they share the same methodology.

Anyway, to get back to the question. I've been a trainer in PRINCE2 for many years. Based in Asia I get lots of students who have already got PMP and they want to broaden their knowledge by taking PRINCE2.

What I have found is that almost without exception, students find PRINCE2 far easier to understand than PMP (or rather the PMBOK). Students often comment that after doing a PMP course they had no idea what they should do when they returned to work on their project. That was because they found the PMBOK so overwhelming with detail and complexity they found it impossible to see the wood for the trees.

So, to answer your question, which one you should do depends upon your motives.

If you want to learn about project management best practices quickly, choose PRINCE2. There are no pre-requisites to certification other than passing the exam. You can also usually get PRINCE2 Foundation by taking a 2-day course, or Practitioner on a 4.5an-day course. Alternatively you can study online.

If you want a PM certification for your CV/resume, then which one you choose depends upon where you intent to work.

If you intent to work in either the UK, Europe, Australia or New Zealand, then PRINCE2 is the qualification demanded by employers.

Everywhere else in the world, you should probaly aim for PMP. Don't forget though that PMP has some fairly strict requirements in terms of lots of hours of PM experience. That might rule out many people who are considering it.

If you want an in-depth article about the difference between PRINCE2 and the PMBOK Guide then I wrote an article some years back but it's been updated to reflect the latest versions of the Guide and the PRINCE2 manual.

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