How AXELOS’ PRINCE2 and PMI’s PMBOK are complementary

How AXELOS’ PRINCE2 and PMI’s PMBOK are complementary

Joseph TierneyIs there room in today’s organizations for both AXELOS’ PRINCE2® method and PMI’s IPECC (Initiating, Planning, Executing, [Monitoring and] Controlling, Closing)* framework described in the PMBOK® Guide?

While PMI* provides an excellent framework for the management and governance of projects within an organization with PMI’s PMBOK Guide, it doesn’t offer a methodology for doing projects. PRINCE2 fills this gap by providing a very precise method for doing projects.

Benefits of combining PRINCE2 and PMBOK

As an independent trainer in both PMP®* certification and PRINCE2 Practitioner certification preparatory courses, I have come to realize that the benefits of combining these certifications are profound. In many ways, the experience of combing these certifications is like being presented with prescription OPTICs. There are few better ways to earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) than to add a PRINCE2 Practitioner certification to your CV. What may be surprising to some is that this certification may have a volumetric effect for their organizations, as the principles and strengths of the PRINCE2 method and PMI’s IPECC framework synergize.

To start, the two systems are compatible: PRINCE2’s methodology may be employed at the Work Package level of a PMI IPECC project. Likewise, PMI’s IPECC project may be employed at the Work Package level of a PRINCE2 project. This encapsulation is not likely to produce the volumetric results that organizations desire, however.

Complementary definitions

So where is the value in combing these two systems? The answer to this question is found by comparing and contrasting the two.

First, PMI defines a project as “a temporary endeavour to create a unique product, service or result” while PRINCE2 calls it a “temporary organization that is created for the purpose of delivering one or more business products according to an agreed Business Case.” Both definitions bring great value to how a project manager may think about a project. The definitions are complementary, with PMI offering a general perspective while PRINCE2 presents a precise definition.

Second, the very strong focus on having those who earn PMI’s PMP certification proves they have a level of expertise using numerous “Knowledge and Skills” based on a Role Delineation Study (RDS) and mentioned within PMI’s “Project Management Professional (PMP) Examination Content Outline”. This list is incredibly generic and yet practical at the same time. Using PMI’s Talent-Triangle as an outline, it includes Technical Project Management skills such as the use of Earned Value Management (EVM) to monitor and control projects, Expected Monetary Value (EMV) based decision trees to weight decision options involving risk, three-point estimating including the beta and triangular distribution methods. It includes Leadership skills such as team development, conflict resolution, negotiation, delegation techniques, diversity and cultural sensitivity. It also includes Strategic and Business Management skills including benefit realization, customer relationship and satisfaction, market awareness and conditions, and strategic planning, analysis.

PRINCE2, on the other hand, clearly defines the templates that should be used for the project’s report documents and clarifies precise roles and responsibilities. Furthermore, PRINCE2 brilliantly addresses project management with four integrated elements of principles, themes, processes and the project environment.

Value to organizations

My point is not that one system is better than the other but that practitioners and their organizations will gain unprecedented value when the two certifications – and the value they represent - are combined, tailored and eventually embedded within an organization as part of a Centre of Excellence organizational function. Concepts, such as PRINCE2’s principle of “Manage by exception”, bring clarity to PMI’s ITTOs* (Inputs, Tools & Techniques, and Outputs) described in the PMBOK Guide.

Though it would be easy for individuals to be distracted if they see the systems as being in competition, it is far better to let the certification systems combine to illumine and clarify the project management best practices.

Read Joseph Tierney's previous AXELOS Blog Post, Leadership, management and governance: the need for best practices.

Read our white paper, PRINCE2®, the PMBOK® Guide and ISO 21500:2012, to learn more about how PRINCE2 and the PMBOK Guide can also work with ISO 21500:2012.

*PMI , IPECC, ITTO and PMP are registered trade marks of Project Management Institute, Inc. PMI is not affiliated with AXELOS. PMI does not endorse any AXELOS Qualifications.

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PRINCE2®, the PMBOK® Guide and ISO 21500:2012 Industry
This White Paper outlines the similarities and differences between PRINCE2, the PMBOK Guide and ISO 21500:2012 as methods to help project managers benefit from the complementary approaches of each. Read