PRINCE2 vs PMP

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What is PMP?

PMP stands for Project Management Professional and PMP a professional certificate from PMI (Project Management Institute). PMI is a USA based non-for-profit organization focused on project management, which has developed and published a number of standards, including:

  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) : PMBOK
  • The Standard for Program Management
  • The Standard for Portfolio Management
  • Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®)


And also a number of practice standards and frameworks:

  • Practice Standard for Project Risk Management
  • Practice Standard for Earned Value Management
  • Practice Standard for Project Configuration Management
  • Practice Standard for Work Breakdown Structures
  • Practice Standard for Scheduling
  • Project Manager Competency Development Framework


The PMBOK guide is the most famous standard among these, and its worldwide use led to the development of three extensions for it, which allows for a more effective use in certain areas of application:

  • Software Extension to the PMBOK Guide
  • Construction Extension to the PMBOK Guide
  • Government Extension to the PMBOK Guide


PMI has recently added a line of practice guides, which includes:

  • Managing Changes in Organizations: A Practice Guide


PMI Certifications

PMI has a number of popular certifications and these are globally recognised. Getting one of these certification is an easy way to prove your knowledge later on, but is also beneficial as preparations for the exams will give you the chance to learn more and fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

These are the PMI’s certifications:

  • Project Management Professional (PMP)® – Although based on the PMBOK Guide, the exam questions are about the project management body of knowledge in general, and the PMBOK Guide is just a part of it; well, an important part.
  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® – a simple form of PMP
  • Program Management Professional (PgMP)®
  • Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP)SM
  • PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® – There is no standalone publication for this yet, but there is a syllabus and they award certifications
  • PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)®
  • PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)® – A certification useful for project planners
  • OPM3® Professional Certification

PRINCE2

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology previously owned by the UK’s Cabinet Office. PRINCE2, among other “Best Practices” are now owned by AXELOS, a new joint venture company in the UK.

This “Best Practice” family consist of the following:

  • PRINCE2 : Project management
  • MSP : Program management
  • MoP : Portfolio management
  • M_o_R – Risk management
  • MoV – Value management
  • P3O – Project, program, and portfolio management offices (PMO)
  • P3M3 – Project, program, and portfolio management maturity model
  • ITIL : IT service management

And of course, there are exams and certifications for all of them; usually in two levels of Foundation and Practitioner.


PRINCE2 Certifications

There are three levels of certification for PRINCE2 however:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation – the simple one
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner – the important one
  • PRINCE2 Professional – just too hard! (don't bother with this)

When people are talking about PRINCE2 certifications, they usually refer to the PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner. The former is easier than PMP and it is unfair to compare them, while the latter is as hard as PMP or, as some people believe, even harder than PMP.

The main source for the both Foundation and Practitioner exams is an official publication named “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2” however the official guide should not be used if you are just preparing for the PRINCE2 Foundation Exam as it makes it to difficult.

Pmbok-vs-prince2.png

You should use the PRINCE2 Foundation Training Manual if you are just studying for the PRINCE2 Foundation Exam.


Different Viewpoints of the PMBOK Guide and PRINCE2

There is a significant difference between the PMBOK Guide and PRINCE2. Thus, the PMBOK Guide is a knowledge, while PRINCE2 is a methodology.


PMBOK Guide PRINCE2
Knowledge (explains what you should know) Methodology (explains what you should do)
Descriptive (explains the good practices) Prescriptive (tells you what to do)
Answers HOW questions Answers WHAT, WHEN, and WHOM questions

So, which one do you need? Obviously both of them!

Just take a look at the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition, page 2: “This standard is a guide rather than a specific methodology. One can use different methodologies and tools (e.g. agile, waterfall, PRINCE2) to implement the project management framework.”

A similar statement is found in the official PRINCE2 manual, pages 230 and 231, which also mentions the PMBOK Guide.

Therefore, these two standards are not competitors - you need both of them (or similar replacements for each of them) to be able to manage your projects successfully.


Use

Although PMBOK Guide and PRINCE2 are not competitors, most people are not aware of it. For this reason, many try to decide which one is better for them. However, that is a wrong question given that none of them replaces the other one, that they are different things.

Still, each of them is better known in certain countries.


PMBOK Guide PRINCE2
USA, Canada, Middle East, Australia UK, Europe, Australia


Examination

Here is a comparative look at the PMP Exam, PRINCE2 Foundation exam, and PRINCE2 Practitioner exam:


PMP PRINCE2 Foundation PRINCE2 Practitioner
200 questions 75 questions 8 x 10 questions
Multiple Choice Multiple Choice Objective Testing
Abstract Questions Abstract Questions Scenario-based questions
Multiple Choice Multiple Choice Objective Testing
62% pass mark[1] 50% pass mark 55% pass mark
240 Minutes 60 Minutes[2] 150 Minutes[3]
Closed book Closed book Open Book
Multiple Choice Multiple Choice Objective Testing
Exam center Exam center[4] / Online Exam center[5] / Online

The main difference between the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam and the other two examination is that the Practitioner exam questions are based on a scenario. The exam papers describe a project and the candidate needs to answer different questions based on that scenario. The other two exams are a collection of normal, abstract, multiple choice questions which are completely independent.

Passing the PRINCE2 Foundation exam is the easiest among these three. The PMP and the PRINCE2 Practitioner are at the same level of difficulty. While some people believe that the PMP exam is harder, others believe that PRINCE2 Practitioner is harder.


Prerequisites

Both candidates who wish to take a PRINCE2 and those who are interested in a PMP certification need to fulfill some requirements.


PMP PRINCE2 Foundation PRINCE2 Practitioner
At least 3 years of experience in the project management field (5 years if you do not have a four-year degree) Formal training might be required[6] Being certified as PRINCE2 Foundation
At least 4500 hours experience in leading and directing projects (7500 hours without a four-year degree)   A formal training might be required[7]
35 hours of formal project management education    

For both the PMP and the PRINCE2 certifications the formal training can be online.


Registering for the exam

Having decided to take the exam, here is what you need to do in order to register for the examination:


PMP exam PRINCE2 exams
Register at PMI.ORG, and take the exam in Prometric exam centers around the world. Register with an accelerated training organization and take the exam online (wherever you are), at an exam center or any other place you’ve arranged with your training organization.

The training organizations have an important role in the PRINCE2 certification process, as the exam cannot be directly taken with AXELOS. It is advised to be careful regarding the organization you choose. Also, the accelerated training organizations are allowed to set their own prices, which is why different websites display different prices.


Renewing your certificate

The PMP and PRINCE2 certifications are not permanent and therefore need to be renewed. Both PMI and AXELOS want to ensure that those they certify have enough knowledge all the time.


PMP PRINCE2 Foundation PRINCE2 Practitioner
Every 3 years It doesn’t expire Every 3 to 5 years
By PDUs[8]   By a relatively shorter exam


PRINCE2 vs PMP cost

Both examinations involve financial costs. Below you can find estimate costs for each examination:


PMP PRINCE2 Foundation PRINCE2 Practitioner
€465/$555[9] €270/$365[10] €360/$485[11]

In the case of PRINCE2 Practitioner certification, a fee for renewing your certificate by taking a short exam should also be paid.

In addition, the official publications are needed. The PRINCE2 publications are bought separately, but all the PMI publications can be downloaded for free once you become a member.


PRINCE2 vs PMP - Source of the exam

The source of the PRINCE2 exams is the official manual, Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2.


P2M.jpg


The main source of the PMP exam is the PMBOK Guide, but the exam is not limited to the guide and you need to have a broader knowledge. Therefore, you should read a PMP exam preparation book or/and take a good-enough online/classroom course.


Pmbok.jpg


Conclusions

Hopefully, this article has provided all the information you were looking for.

It's strongly suggested to remember that PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide are not competitors and that it is to your advantage to learn both. Below is a suggested step-by-step approach to getting your PMP and PRINCE2 certifications:

  1. Learn both PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide at an introductory level
  2. Focus on learning PRINCE2 more seriously
  3. Take and pass the PRINCE2 Foundation exam
  4. Learn the PMBOK Guide very seriously
  5. Take and pass the PMP exam
  6. Learn PRINCE2 very seriously
  7. Take and Pass the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam


Acquiring these certifications doesn't mean you have reached the end of the road! There is much more to learn, including:

  • Agile methods such as Scrum
  • Program management
  • Portfolio management

Reference

PRINCE2 Courses

PRINCE2 Exams

Other PRINCE2 Links


PeopleCert runs the PRINCE2 Foundation exam and PRINCE2 Practitioner exam for the accredited training organisations (ATO) and these can be provided in the classroom or online.

PRINCE2® is a registered trade mark of AXELOS Limited, used under permission of AXELOS Limited. All rights reserved.
  1. The system currently used is not based on a predefined passing score. Nevertheless, it is considered to be close to a 62% passing score
  2. Extra time is provided if the exam is not taken in the mother tongue of the candidate
  3. Extra time is provided if the exam is not taken in the mother tongue of the candidate
  4. PRINCE2 exam centres can be organized anywhere, provided that they are approved by a training organization and that an official proctor is there during the examination
  5. PRINCE2 exam centres can be organized anywhere, provided that they are approved by a training organization and that an official proctor is there during the examination
  6. Depending on each training organization
  7. Depending on each training organization
  8. A PDU (Professional Development Unit) is an activity which increases your project management knowledge/capabilities or others (reading or writing books and articles, attending seminars, train others or get trained, etc).
  9. a fee for your formal training, usually starting at as low as €50 for the most affordable online trainings, will be added.
  10. prices differ among different training organizations and an additional fee for the training (as low as €75 for the most affordable online trainings) may be added. Most accelerated training organizations provide a package including the training and exam for a total price.
  11. prices differ among different training organizations and an additional fee for the training (as low as €75 for the most affordable online trainings) may be added. Most accelerated training organizations provide a package including the training and exam for a total price.