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PRINCE2 v PMBOK: What’s the difference?

By CCIWA Editor 

The problem comparing the PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) methodology with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is that you are comparing an apple and an orange.

PRINCE2 is a methodology but The Project Management Institute’s PMBOK guide is not, and never has been, a methodology.

PMBOK is a collection of knowledge areas and needs a team with management experience to design a method to support its application whereas PRINCE2 is a process-based methodology and the project team does not need to be highly experienced to apply it.

PRINCE2 emphasises dividing projects into manageable and controllable stages. It is adopted in many countries worldwide, including the UK, western European countries and Australia.

The PMBOK Guide is intended to be a “subset of the project management body of knowledge that is generally recognised as a good practice”.

‘Generally recognised’ means the experience and practices described apply to most projects most of the time, and there is a consensus about their value and usefulness.

Project Engineer Amir Sargheiny – from management and delivery company Johnstaff Projects – has traditionally used PMBOK, but more recently started using PRINCE2 in government work.

He says they are similar in many ways but take widely different approaches to project management.

“Because both of them are process driven, they each provide a controlled environment to manage the project,” he says.

“However, they are a little bit different when it comes to integration and their approach towards scope and quality.

To him, the key difference lies in their approach towards volatility and integration.

“For instance, Prince2 focuses on the result of quality by the consolidation of the scope at the start of the project,” he says.

“On the other hand, PMBOK is generally accepted good practices that apply to most projects most of the time.

“This may be the foundation for a proper project management methodology, but of itself, the PMBOK guide is not, and cannot ever be, a methodology without adaptation.”

PRINCE2’S seven principles

  • Continued business justification
  • Learn from experience
  • Defined roles and responsibilities
  • Manage by stages
  • Management by exception
  • Focus on products
  • Tailor to suit the project environment

PMBOK’s nine elements of project management

  • Project integration management
  • Scope management
  • Time management
  • Cost management
  • Quality management
  • Human resources management
  • Communications management
  • Risk management

 

The problem comparing the PRojects IN Controlled Environments (PRINCE2) methodology with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is that you are comparing an apple and an orange.

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