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Project Manager’s Toolkit: PRINCE2 OR PMP

For any aspiring professional project manager, there is always a choice to be made – should I go for PRINCE2 or PMP certifications? As a project manager, you need at least one of these in your toolbox.

Before we go into that, it is important to understand why these frameworks exist.

Projects can get messy, precisely because the major objective is to introduce some kind of change. And change is never easy. Not matter how simple the project seems, there is always some kind of risk or several risks to navigate.

The trick therefore is to find the most optimal path to minimize the risks and uncertainties, and maximize the chances of bringing about the desired change.

Step up, project management. You can read up on what project management is here. In general terms, project management is the practice of managing projects so that they are delivered on time, within budget and to meet quality specifications. It involves planning, delegation, execution, monitoring, control and closing and everything else in-between.

Now we know what project management is. Two questions arise from this. First, how do you achieve it? (1), and secondly, can you repeat the same process to achieve similar results on a different project? (2)

Therein lays the crux of the matter, and the reason for the existence of both frameworks/methodologies. To be sure, there are various approaches to project management – aside PRINCE2 and PMP – including Agile, PRISM, Event-chain, Lean, Critical Chain, etc.

However while most recognized project management methodologies answer the first question – how to manage a project effectively – PRINCE2 and PMP were deliberately developed (and continue to evolve) to address both the first and second questions – repeatability and applicability to different projects/scenarios to achieve similar results. In case you are wondering, that is a major reason for their popularity.

Both approaches have strong merits – solid foundations, a large (global) community of practitioners, learning materials, global appeal and acceptance by employers, ongoing revision, and certifications. In that regard, there is little between them, if anything.

In terms of origins, PMP (1983) was launched by the Project Management Institute (PMI) just over a decade before PRINCE2 (1996) was introduced as a generic project management methodology by the United Kingdom Office of Government Commerce (OGC).

In terms of their approach to project management, there are notable differences. Whereas PRINCE2 sees every project the same way (prescribing the steps to be taken in project management broadly), PMP addresses the minutiae of managing projects (providing tools, techniques and procedures that can be deployed to achieve project success). In a manner of speaking, PRINCE2 deals with project management strategy and PMP deals with tactics.

With regards to how widely-accepted they are, there is no question that both methodologies have equally high acceptance by employers, globally. PRINCE2 is a product of the UK government (though currently managed by an independent organization), so its appeal in the UK is considerably higher. However, that’s taking nothing from PMP which has existed for far much longer.

While both methodologies aim to achieve the same thing, clearly they are also highly complementary. For a project manager, there’s no reason to get stuck on choosing between the two, which methodology to adopt (and importantly, which certification to acquire).

You can start with one and then the next. Better still, you’ll lose nothing and be much better off acquiring knowledge (and certifications) of both PRINCE2 and PMP.

Because, why not?

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