In the UK, the two popular project management methods, APMP and PRINCE2®, have divided opinions in the project management arena for years. Some project management practitioners will view one as being superior to the other and some employers similarly will have a preference over which qualification they prefer their employees to have. Yet each qualification covers things differently so in reality, having both qualifications is beneficial to practitioners more so than just having one or the other.
There is one key difference between AXELOS’ PRINCE2 and the Association for Project Management (APM) Project Management Qualification: PRINCE2 is a methodology – a definitive guide with defined content that covers just project management. APM is a body of knowledge that covers a broad range of concepts included in publications on project, programme, portfolio and risk management, and so on.
To become PRINCE2 qualified to Practitioner level, you only need to be able to apply the method described in the PRINCE2 manual. However, to pass the APMP exam you need to do a lot of further reading in addition to what is supplied in the 6th edition of the APM Body of Knowledge (BoK). Unlike PRINCE2, there is no one single, definitive guide to pass the APMP qualification. Instead, any course you attend will need to cover additional publications referenced in the BoK.
Why will having both benefit me?
A logical path to follow is to take PRINCE2 and then, after a couple of years’ building your project management experience, take the APMP qualification. PRINCE2 will giver practitioners who are new to the industry the big picture of project management; APMP, from a beginner’s perspective, can often be confusing. Once you’ve got the big picture which PRINCE2 will provide, APMP will fill in the middle – the techniques, the alternative options, the soft skills. It’s all important but much easier to wrap your head around after doing PRINCE2.
It would seem that the APMP, too, recognizes this logical path with the APMP4P2 course which allows for practitioners with the PRINCE2 qualification to be exempt from the areas of the APMP syllabus already covered by PRINCE2 Practitioners, showing they acknowledge the complementary nature of having the two.
5 reasons APM and P2 work together
- PRINCE2 very definitively and unambiguously covers the processes, product descriptions, and management of products and so on. It’s guidance that needs to be tailored to your organization but is definitive about what needs to be considered when tailoring the method. The APMP qualification caters to the ‘tailoring’ nature by covering the typical content areas and not giving a definitive description of how something can be done. It implies practitioners need to take the information and tailor it for themselves. This can be difficult for beginners who want to be able use something ‘off the shelf’.
- Where PRINCE2 is strong is procedures and processes, covering the “who, what, where, when” aspect of project management, APMP picks up the “how”. PRINCE2 tends to exclude the techniques required in project management and this is where the two qualifications really complement each other because APM covers techniques in depth.
- The two qualifications cover the same things but differently. PRINCE2 gives you the definitive outline of what to do while APM gives you a lot of options on how to do it.
- As specialist areas and techniques vary by industry, sector and organization, PRINCE2 deliberately excludes these from the guidance. But they are really useful to know as a Project Manager and in order to be excellent in your role you need to know them. APM’s book and further reading show you how to do things that are recommended in PRINCE2. PRINCE2 recognizes the need for these techniques but they’re not covered in the exam while APMP tests practitioners on this knowledge.
- In terms of the exams and how each qualification tests practitioners and their new-found knowledge, PRINCE2 is an objective, complex, multiple choice test that requires candidates to understand the contents of the guidance and the terminology too. The examination is open book, reflecting that when applying PRINCE2 in the work environment, you will have access to your PRINCE2 manual. APMP is a knowledge-based qualification that allows candidates to demonstrate knowledge of all elements of project management. It is a closed-book, essay-style examination. APMP is about testing your broader knowledge based on general understanding of project management, whereas PRINCE2 is about testing very specific, right or wrong answers.
Ultimately these two qualifications work well together for practitioners as they complete the jigsaw puzzle of project management; PRINCE2 is the corners and the outside lines and APM provides the pieces that fill out the middle. One without the other gives you a far less comprehensive picture of project management. Another way of thinking of it would be that PRINCE2 tells you what tools to use when, but doesn’t tell you how to use the tool!
For more information about project management, see our PRINCE2® section.
Have you used both the PRINCE2 and APMP project management systems and did you find them to be complementary, or do you have a preference? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments box below.
More AXELOS Blog Posts from Michelle Rowland
Most common questions from PRINCE2® Foundation training - Chapters 1-6
Most common questions from PRINCE2® Foundation training - Chapters 7-10
Most common questions from PRINCE2® Foundation training - Chapters 11-18