As a project manager, you will be keen to have the appropriate skill set and certifications to lead your projects successfully. Two certifications exist, PRINCE2 and PMP, however, which should you follow to gain the best results?
PRINCE2 (Projects in Controlled Environments) is a globally recognised project management methodology. It is the standard method in the UK and is also popular in Europe and Australia.
It is a waterfall methodology, following a step-by-step process which is practical and scalable. It allows organisation and control over the whole project from beginning to end, with clearly structured stages and a neat conclusion.
Principles and Phases
PRINCE2 follows 7 principles and 7 phases:
There must be a clear need for the project and achievable benefits
Learn from every stage
Every step is recorded and used to improve subsequent projects, enabling all team members to learn from each stage.
Clearly define roles and responsibilities
Each team member should know both what they, and other team members’ responsibilities are.
Plan work in stages
Each project is split up into individual phases. The team confirms that the project is on track to meet its objectives with periodic reviews where lessons learned are recorded.
Management by exception
The Project Board decide the baseline requirements of the project and then pass the day-to-day running to a Project Manager. Whilst the Project Manager has the authority to make some decisions, if a baseline requirement is impacted then the Project Board will decide how to proceed.
A quality register is used to constantly check deliverables against the requirements of the project.
Approach tailored to the project
This method is adjustable to fit the needs of the project and can be changed depending on the size of the project and the team members involved.
Starting the project
A brief project mandate is submitted explaining why the project is needed and what it will achieve. The mandate is checked against organisation capability and once approved, a more detailed project brief is submitted.
Directing the project
The project board review the justification and viability of the brief and decide whether to approve or disapprove. They identify how the project will be organised and executed and how they will delegate it to the Project Manager.
Initiating the project
The Project Manager compiles a Project Initiation Document. This provides a detailed plan and baselines for performance targets and is sent to the Project Board for final approval.
Controlling a stage
The project is broken down into “work packages” and assigned to teams to complete. The Project Manager who steps in to solve any issues or mistakes oversees each stage.
Each team has a team manager who coordinates the work and provides a line of communication between the Project Manager and the team members.
Progress is checked against the project brief to ensure it matches the quality expectations of PRINCE2. Completed work packages are reviewed by the project board who ether approve or request changes.
To ensure that the project is progressing and that requirements are being met, the Project Board and Project Manager review each stage. They identify whether the project can continue to the next stage and identify if any improvements need to be made going forward.
Closing the project
After completion, the Project Manager finalises the project by completing PRINCE2 documentation, outcomes and reporting.
PMP (Project Management Professional) is accepted worldwide, but it most prevalent in the USA and Canada. It is considered the industry standard.
Rather than providing a methodology, PMP provides a framework, you’ll learn about the tools and techniques used in project management, but it will then be down to you to choose the most appropriate options for your project.
5 Process steps
The 5 process steps of PMP are outlined in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). They are:
Determining the beginning of the project or phase
Identifying the scope and objectives of the project and how they will be achieved.
Undertaking the work defined in the project plan.
Tracking and reviewing progress and performance to make sure the project is on track.
Completing all of the activities within the project or phase, bringing it to a successful completion.
PMP is considered a theoretical framework which will help you understand the standards, conventions, best practices, terminology and guidelines that are used in project management.
PRINCE2 vs PMP: Which should I use?
Both processes will give you the knowledge and skills to complete projects successfully and are of equal reputation.
The practical nature of PRINCE2 and the theoretical aspects of PMP are considered as complementary to each other and are often used in tandem rather than two separate approaches.
As PMP isn’t an actual methodology it is used more for best practice rather than implementing to a project.
What it is important to remember is that having a structured approach will increase the probability of success.