PRINCE2 vs. PMP Exams and Certificates

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What is PMP?

PMP is short name for Project Management Professional. PMP is the a PM related professional certificate from PMI which stands for the Project Management Institute.

PMI is a US based non-for-profit organization founded in 1969 and is focused on project management. PMI has developed and published a number of PM related standards such as:

  • A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (also called the 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 from the list above. The PMBOK has three extensions for the three most popular areas in project management help you use the PMBOK Guide more effectively in certain application areas.

  • 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 the guide: Managing Changes in Organizations: A Practice Guide

These guides are excellent sources of knowledge for everyone involved in project management field

PMP certification

Related Article:

Where can I get PM Experience?

Well, that’s all. Let’s now take a look at PRINCE2.

What are PRINCE2 Certifications?

PRINCE2 is a project management methodology that is now owned by ALEXOS (previously owned by the UK’s Cabinet Office), a new joint venture company in the UK.

This AXELOS “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

AXELOS provides exams and certifications for all of them; usually in two levels of Foundation and Practitioner. However, there are three levels of certification for PRINCE2:

  • PRINCE2 Foundation – it’s the simple one
  • PRINCE2 Practitioner – It’s the important one
  • PRINCE2 Professional – well, it’s just not worth the effort :-)

The most popular are the PRINCE2 Foundation and PRINCE2 Practitioner. The former is easier than PMP and it’s unfair to compare them, while the latter is as hard as PMP, or as some people believe, even harder than PMP as you have understand how each PRINCE2 document is used in the project.

The main source for the both Foundation and Practitioner exams is an official publication named “Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2”.

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Different Viewpoints of the PMBOK Guide and PRINCE2

You should know that there’s a big different between the PMBOK Guide and PRINCE2. The PMBOK Guide is a knowledge, while PRINCE2 is a methodology.

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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.”

And there’s a similar state 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.

Where are They Used in the World?

Well, PMBOK Guide and PRINCE2 are not competitors, but most people do not believe so, and that’s why many people are trying to decide which one is better for them; which is a wrong question! None of them replaces the other one; they are different things.

But anyway, each of them are better known in certain countries.

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How’s the Exams?

And now let’s take a look at the three exams:

prince exam overview

  • Ok, it used to be 61% or 62%, but they use a complicated system now which is not based on a predefined passing score. However, it’s said to be close to a 62% passing score.
  • If you’re not taking the exam in your mother tongue, you will have a little more time to take the exam.
  • You can actually take the exam in any place, given that the place is approved by your training organization and an official proctor is there while you’re taking the exam.

The big different between the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam and the other two is that the Practitioner exam questions are based on a scenario. The exam papers describe a project and you have 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 in the same level; some people believe that the PMP exam is harder, and others believe that PRINCE2 Practitioner is harder.

PMP vs. PRINCE2 – What’s the Prerequisites?

Not everyone can take the exams!

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It depends on the training organization which takes the exam

The formal training can be online in all three cases.

How to Register for the Exam?

OK, let’s say you’ve decided to take the exam and you’re ready; how should you register to take the exam?

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The training organizations have an important role in your PRINCE2 certification process. You cannot take the exam directly from AXELOS. So, be careful with the organization you choose. And by the way, the accelerated training organizations are allowed to set their own prices; that’s why you see different prices in different websites.

Renewing the Certificates

These certificates are not permanent, you should renew them. Both PMI and AXELOS want to be sure that everyone certified by them have enough knowledge all the time.

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PMP vs. PRINCE2 Cost!

And yes, they cost you both time, and money. But don’t worry, it’s worth it.

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  • you would also need to pay a fee for your formal training; usually starts at as low as €50 for the most affordable online training.
  • prices differ among different training organizations, and you might also need to pay a fee for the training, which usually starts as low as €75 for the most affordable online training. Most accelerated training organizations provide you with a package of the training and exam for a total price.

In case of PRINCE2 Practitioner, you should also pay a fee for renewing your certificate by taking a short exam.

You would also like to have the official publications. You should buy the PRINCE2 publications separately, but you can download all the PMI publications for free, once you become a member.

Source of the Exam

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

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.

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OK, I hope you’ve found all the information you were looking for.

If you’re going to decide, I strongly suggest you remember that PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide are not competitors, and you’d better learn both of them. In case of getting certified, why not get both types of certifications? If you would like to, this is my suggestion:

  1. Learn both PRINCE2 and PMBOK Guide in an introductory level
  2. Learn PRINCE2 more seriously
  3. Take and pass the PRINCE2 Foundation exam
  4. Learn PMBOK Guide super-seriously
  5. Take and pass the PMP exam
  6. Learn PRINCE2 super-seriously
  7. Take and Pass the PRINCE2 Practitioner exam

And don’t stop there! There are lots more to learn, including:

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

And you can also improve your theme knowledge and techniques, such as risk management, benefits management, configuration management, scheduling, etc.

Good luck.

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