PMP® vs. PRINCE2®: How to select the right qualification?

Globally, projects are considered as one of the important vehicles for achieving organizational strategy and growth objectives. Therefore, it is very essential for organizations to ensure smooth execution and successful results from projects. Every growing organization needs qualified project managers to deliver results.

PMP and PRINCE2 are the two leading and internationally well accepted qualifications of the project management world. Professionals, who want to make their careers in project management, are often confused about which qualification to go for. Therefore, we are presenting commonalities and differences between the two qualifications.

Let’s start with commonalities first.

  • Process Oriented: Both qualifications are process oriented. They focus on following defined set of processes to achieve better results.
  • Common Parameters: Both qualifications agree upon common set of project management parameters, including scope, time, budget, risks, quality, etc.
  • Complementary Concepts: Conceptually, both qualifications complement each other, although few terminologies are different.

However, there are few significant differences also.

  • Standard vs. Method: PMP is based on PMBOK® Guide which is a standard, and PRINCE2 is a method. PMP provides project management good practices, tools and techniques. PRINCE2 is more practical as it provides detailed, step-by-step guidance on delivering a successful project with clear processes, steps and templates.
  • Descriptive vs. Prescriptive: PMP is descriptive. It describes various techniques, e.g. how to develop schedule using Critical Path Method, or how to perform Earned Value Analysis. PRINCE2 is prescriptive. It tells exactly what needs to be done. It makes references to various techniques, however it does not explain them.
  • Body of Knowledge: PMP is based on Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) Guide by the Project Management Institute (PMI), and PRINCE2 is based on “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2” book by AXELOS.
  • Role of Project Manager: PMP considers Project Manager responsible and accountable for a typical project. PRINCE2 considers Project Board accountable for a project. Role of project manager is to execute project stage-by-stage and deliver results, as per the authority provided by the project board.
  • Project Success Criteria: Both qualifications consider scope, time and cost as basic criteria for measuring project success. PRINCE2 adds achievement of project benefits as the most important criterion. PRINCE2 provides a definitive approach to develop effective business cases, and to ensure achievement of project benefits during and after the completion of projects.
  • Project Lifecycle: PRINCE2 follows the concept of project stages, from technical and management perspective. We found this concept very practical and helpful to successfully execute projects. PMP defines the concept of phases, but does not provide any method.
  • Qualification Levels: PRINCE2 offers 3-levels of qualifications – Foundation, Practitioner and Professional. Foundation level tests the understanding of PRINCE2 concepts. Practitioner level tests the application of these concepts. Practitioner level is generally considered equivalent to PMP. Multi-level qualification scheme makes PRINCE2 more attractive. PMP offers only one qualification level.
  • Exam Prerequisites: Prerequisites for PMP exam include 3-year project management related experience with four-year degree, or 5-year experience with high-school diploma. A formal project management training of at least 35-hour duration is also required. There is no prerequisite for PRINCE2 Foundation. Practitioner-level requires PRINCE2 Foundation, PMP or IPMA Level A, B, C or D.
  • Certification Maintenance: PMP expires after 3 years, and PRINCE2 Practitioner expires after 5 years. Both offer procedures for maintaining the qualifications. There is no expiry for PRINCE2 Foundation.
  • Global Preferences: PRINCE2 is preferred in UK, Europe, Australasia & parts of Canada. PMP is preferred in North and South America. Both qualifications are almost equally accepted in Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Should I do certifications?

Yes, you should! Certifications have direct impact on your professional credibility. They significantly enhance the chances of getting better career opportunities, and help you in increasing your paycheck value.

What should I do – PMP, PRINCE2 or both?

Your choice of certification depends on various reasons. Few are as follows:

  • If you are starting your career are a Project Manager, PRINCE2 would be better. Remember, PMP needs at least 3 years of project management experience.
  • If you are looking for job, check for market preferences. Identify target organizations and find out which certifications they value.
  • However, if you want to develop a serious career in project management, do consider going for both certifications.
About the Author

Ikram is the co-founder and CEO at Business Beam UAE and Pakistan. He is also an active corporate advisor, writer, speaker, and workshop leader. In his 22+ years of industry experience, he has successfully completed 80+ consulting assignments related to IT governance, IT service management, project & portfolio management, information security, business & ICT continuity, software engineering, etc. His clients ranked him “excellent” in technical knowledge, capability to deliver, helpfulness and overall value delivered. He is also an internationally accredited trainer for COBIT, TOGAF, CGEIT, CISM, CISA, ITIL, Scrum, PMP, PRINCE2, P3O, DevOps, ISO 27001, ISO 22301, ISO 20000, ISO 9001, ISO 38500 and Six Sigma. He has successfully conducted 250+ training courses and workshops in USA, Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, U.A.E. and Pakistan. More than 5,000 executives and professionals from 600+ organizations have benefited from his training sessions. You may connect with Ikram at LinkedIn.

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