PMP® or PRINCE2?

05 February, 2014

If you are out of work, or looking for a new role, you might be thinking of getting yourself a recognized project management certification. A quick review of openings on the various recruitment web-sites will discover that “PMP® or PRINCE2 project management certification” is desirable for many employers. However, they never give any indication as to which one you should go for.

Being Registered Education Providers for the Project Management Institute, Velopi is obviously going to recommend the Project Management Professional (PMP®). Our flagship project management courses (run in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway) focus on getting our students successfully through the PMP® exam. Over the years, we have helped hundreds of students obtain PMP® certification, using our Blended Learning Solution.

The PMP® is based on the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®) and concentrates on the role of the project manager. It will give you an appreciation of what a project manager does, rather than a methodology to do it. For practicing project managers, this is an ideal level to work at, because the day-to-day project management tasks are being taken care of using the company’s existing methodology.

PRINCE2, in contrast, is a very prescribed, process-based methodology, providing detailed guidance on managing a project with clear processes, steps and templates. PRINCE stands for PRojects IN Controlled Environments and was originally developed by the Office of Government Commerce in the U.K. PRINCE2 project management certification builds up through several levels – Foundation, Practitioner and Professional.

One way of comparing the two is to look at the PMP® as a reference manual, while the PRINCE2 is a user guide. PRINCE2 focuses on a limited set of processes that usually need to be extensively tailored to suit a given environment, operating at a much lower level than the PMP®.

While obviously favouring the PMP® approach, Velopi would not discourage project managers from exploring the PRINCE2 route. PRINCE2 might appeal to project managers faced with establishing best practice from scratch – the tailoring requirement can make it arduous if an existing methodology is in place.

The British Government’s lucky number must be seven, because PRINCE2 is based on seven principles:
 

  1. Continued business justification
  2. Learning from experience
  3. Having defined roles and responsibilities
  4. Managing by stages
  5. Managing by exception
  6. Focusing on products
  7. Tailoring the process to suit the project environment


It also features seven themes, which broadly correspond to some of the PMBoK’s® processes:
 

  1. Business case (Initiation, Scope Planning)
  2. Organization (Human Resource Management, Stakeholder Management)
  3. Quality (Quality Management)
  4. Plans (All the Planning processes)
  5. Risk (Risk Management)
  6. Change (Perform Integrated Change Control and the Monitor & Control process group)
  7. Progress (Direct and Manage Project Work, Communications Management)


Based on these principles and themes are – you guessed it – seven processes which broadly look like PMP’s® process groups:

  1. Starting up a project. Create the “Project Brief” and appoint a project team.
  2. Initiating a project. Corresponds to the PMP’s® planning processes. However, a business case is also prepared here and approval is sought after the planning is done.
  3. Directing a project. Deals with how the Project Board controls the overall project.
  4. Controlling a stage. Breaks the project down into stages. Defines how the work of each stage is to be controlled.
  5. Managing stage boundaries. What happens when a stage is finished? How work is progressed to the next stage.
  6. Managing product delivery. Ensure that the agreed deliverables are produced and accepted.
  7. Closing a project. Evaluate what was done, free up resources and formally decommission the project.


Just like the Project Management Institute’s project management certifications, PRINCE2 requires you to sit exams too. The Foundation Certificate is given on passing a one-hour, multiple-choice test. There are seventy-five question, but five of them are unmarked (i.e. they are trial questions being field tested). The pass mark is 35 right answers.

The next level, the Practitioner Certificate, requires that you have passed the Foundation exam, but this time you face a two and a half hour, eighty-question exam. Obviously these are more difficult questions and the pass mark is 55%. The interesting thing is that you have to pass a one-hour, thirty-question, re-registration exam every five years to maintain the certificate. Unlike the PMP® exam, the Practitioner Certificate exam is conducted and scored by the PRINCE2 course provider. Given that the exam is given on the last day of the course, it is not as demanding as the PMP® exam.

Finally, the Professional Certificate is awarded after attending a two and a half day residential assessment involving group exercises and activities. You must be a Practitioner before you can do this.

In summary then, if you already work in an organization that has sound project management processes, then the PMP© is the way to go. It will integrate your existing knowledge or project management and place a structure on the work you do. Velopi can help you here, so please visit our training page or contact us directly. If you are not happy with the methodology in place, or are faced with setting up an organization from scratch, PRINCE2 is worth a look.

By Velopi Seamus Collins

 

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