The PRINCE and the PMP

Working with professional services teams that are running a modified PRINCE2 framework and a development team running Scrum with clients who are running a standard PMI waterfall via their PMPs can make for some interesting debates about the similarities and differences.

Firstly, this is not ‘my paradigm is bigger than your’s’ – this is more thoughts on how the different philosophies of PMI PMBoK and PRINCE2 achieve the same aim by different routes.

Starting with the usage, PMBoK is widely accepted worldwide, but is pretty much de facto approach in North America. PRINCE2 is de-facto for the UK and has been adopted widely in Europe, Australia, and a number of other countries.

Having been stuck in middle of these two on several projects what has become clear is that PMBoK and PRINCE2 play nicely as PRINCE2 covers what I should do and the PMBoK what I should know. For example, PRINCE2 has an explicit requirement not just build a business case but also a stipulation that it must be reviewed and confirmed at key points in the project. As such PRINCE2 and PMBoK should be seen as complementing each other.

PRINCE2 comprises of 8 Components:

  1. Business Case
  2. Organization
  3. Plans
  4. Controls
  5. Management of Risk
  6. Quality in a Project Environment
  7. Configuration Management, and
  8. Change Control

and details a process model to bind these Components together with 8 defined Processes:

  1. Starting Up a Project
  2. Directing a Project
  3. Initiating a Project
  4. Planning
  5. Controlling a Stage
  6. Managing Product Delivery
  7. Managing Stage Boundaries
  8. Closing a Project

I was then going to compare and contrast the two, but since Debra Sunohara did a fantastic job of this over at the Delta Partners blog in her article PRINCE2 vs PMBOK: Comparing Apples and Oranges.

As well as an excellent high-level introduction, Sunohara also shows how PRINCE2 can answer specific needs such as detailing the responsibilities of specific Executives and key stakeholders were responsible for, how to reduce number of status/steering committee meetings, how to define quality in detail and build into a plan, and a few others.

For a formal paper on this subject, PMI members and students can also get Jay Siegelaub’s paper How PRINCE2 can compliment PMBoK guide and your PMP for free ($15 for anyone else) and it is well worth a read.

In the paper, Siegelaub maps the 8 PRINCE2 elements to the PMBoK Areas of Knowledge as follows:

PMBOK Guide Knowledge Area Comparable PRINCE2 Components
Integration Combined Processes and Components, Change Control
Scope, Time, Cost Plans, Business Case
Quality Quality, Configuration Management
Risk Risk
Communications Controls
Human Resources Organization (limited)
Procurement Not Covered

After a review of the PRINCE2 Components and the Process Model, Siegelaub details the strengths of the PRINCE2 process, and before summarizing the benefits of using PRINCE2 to hang the 42 PMBoK project management processes together.

For some other views around PRINCE2, take a wander of to Elizabeth Harrin’s blog for a number of posts on PRINCE2. And while there take a look around – there’s some good stuff to be read in her Inside PRINCE2 series. For example, her post on Fixed Date Projects is particularly useful as the PRINCE2 manuals hardly touch on this subject.

As a final incentive for the PMP, one provider who runs a combined PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner course (5 days including both exams) states this is worth 29 PDUs which will go quite some way to meeting your 60 PDU/3 year Continuing Certification Requirement.

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