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What a PMP can learn from PRINCE2 and vice-versa

Blog posted by: Allan Thomson – AXELOS ProPath Product Ambassador, 05 August 2021.

Three colleagues looking at something on a laptop

Managing projects well requires a proper approach: a method that supports you and makes things easier to handle, as change initiatives are difficult enough already.

The choice of project management method for professionals has, traditionally, been based on geography with PRINCE2® popular in the UK, Europe, Australia and South Africa and PMP more prevalent in the US, China and India.

Regional preferences, in reality, shouldn’t be an impediment to seeing the value in having more than one project management certification under your belt – as each offers something different but complementary.

While PRINCE2 takes a common sense approach and provides a foundation for managing any project, the PMBOK (project management body of knowledge in PMP) has tools and techniques useful in areas such as procurement.

Combining a method with knowledge for project management 

A method, such as PRINCE2, gives you the fundamentals of running a project while knowledge – as encapsulated in the PMBOK, an encyclopaedia for project managers – provides supplementary information such as techniques for brainstorming or running workshops.

If you want to develop skills, learn lessons and generally augment your project management capabilities, then the synergy between them is useful. You can’t favour or dismiss one over another; instead, bringing together method and knowledge is a powerful combination.

For example, when I had to change roles from business analyst to project manager in a large, energy sector business, I trained in PRINCE2.

However, my first project responsibility – a market research project – involved procurement practices. As this had board-level involvement, it was even more critical that the project was run properly.

So, for this, I consulted the planned procurement management section of the PMBOK which helped with holding competitive agency bids and contracts while PRINCE2 was used to manage the product delivery, which in this case was the selection of and subsequent management of the chosen agency.

What this combination of project management method and knowledge gave me and the team were the techniques and the confidence to go through the procurement process, without having previous experience of such activities.

Also, despite initial resistance from the head of the PMO to this way of working, it became clear how important it was to get it right. Ultimately, it was recognized as a necessary approach which became a knowledge enhancement and a procurement template for future market research projects in the organization.

Adding PRINCE2 to PMP-led practitioners and organizations

If individual project management professionals or their organizations are accustomed to PMP/PMBOK approaches, there is certainly value in looking to PRINCE2 to enhance project performance.

First, it’s an easy to understand and apply method to deliver projects of any size or complexity. And it gives organizations confidence in adopting a method that will be the foundation stone of change and a way to achieve strategic business objectives.

As PRINCE2 has evolved and developed from a wealth of worldwide, expert experience – including a focus on Agile delivery methods in PRINCE2 Agile – project managers can build a more consistent approach and tailor the guidance accordingly.

Patrick Von Schlag, US-based consultant who recently authored a white paper on Maturing your organization’s project management capabilities using PRINCE2, PMP and Agilesaid:

“For audiences who have traditionally leveraged the PMP credential, PRINCE2 adds meaningful value to PMOs seeking a flexible, proven method that can support all the different projects in their portfolio…ensuring greater likelihood of project success and alignment with business objectives.”


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