PM² vs. PRINCE2

Date: 10/01/2023| Category: FAQ| Tags: ,

Project management is the use of specific knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to deliver something of value to people. The development of software for an improved business process, the construction of a building, the relief effort after a natural disaster, the expansion of sales into a new geographic market—these are all examples of projects.

Every aspect of every professional role can be considered part of project management and/or its implementation. In order to acquire the skills necessary for a successful future, it is therefore important to invest in training and professional development.

There are many methods and certifications in the world of project management, but among these today we will hightlight PM² and PRINCE2®. We very often receive questions about the difference between the two certifications, so we decided to give you all the information by comparing the most important elements of both.

What is PM²?

PM² stands for Project Management Methodology. Its purpose is to enable Project Managers to deliver solutions and benefits to their organisations by effectively managing the entire lifecycle of their projects.

The PM² Methodology was developed in 2007 and the first version was published internally within the European Commission in 2008. Since 2018, the methodology is open to all.

PM² offers:

  • A Project Governance Structure
  • Process Guidelines
  • Artefact Templates
  • Guidelines for using the Artefacts
  • A Set of Effective Mindsets

The PM² Methodology is light and easy-to-implement and is characterised by:

  • Its EU-focus
  • Practical templates and tools freely available
  • Inexpensive open-source material and a lifetime certification
  • Evolutive domains and tools

What is PRINCE2?

PRINCE2 is an integrated project management method that provides a set of processes applicable to the management of a project from start to finish. PRINCE2 is product-based and provides a model of what needs to be done, who needs to do it, and when it needs to be finished. Every project starts with a project plan, each stage of the project is clearly structured. It provides a common language across a project and provides breakpoints within a contractual framework.
PRINCE2 can guide professionals and organisations through the essentials for managing successful projects, regardless of type or scale. It provides a framework that focuses on organisation and control throughout the entire project.
PRINCE2 was developed by the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) in 1996 and is a registered trademark of Axelos. The current version is the PRINCE2 6th Edition.

The Differences between PM² and PRINCE2

Both PRINCE2 and PM² are applying several Project Management Best Practices that project teams can tailor to their specific needs.
The PM² Methodology Guide has created the House of PM² which covers Best Practices for project items such as:

  • Governance
  • Lifecycle
  • Processes
  • Artefacts

These 4 pillars are held together by the PM² Mindsets:

house-of-PM2

The PRINCE2 Methodology exists in 4 Integrated Elements, consisting of:

  • The Project Environment
  • PRINCE2 Principles
  • PRINCE2 Themes
  • PRINCE2 Processes
PRINCE2-4-integrated-elements

PM² and PRINCE2 Comparison

Below we look at the 4 PM² pillars: Governance, Lifecycle, Processes and Artefacts as a starting point and compare them to equivalent elements in PRINCE2, if any.

Governance

PM² PRINCE2
9 Main Roles Principle: defined roles and responsibilities (also 9)
4 Governance Layers:
Steering, directing, managing, performing
(no strict tolerances defined between layers)
Principle: manage by exception

  • Distinct responsibilities for directing, managing and delivering a project
  • Defined tolerances to establish limits of delegated authority
RASCI Table (Responsible, Accountable, Supports, Consulted, Informed) indicates responsibilities per Artefact or Activity Table of responsibilities per management product
Business case is one of the selection criteria for projects Principle: continued business justification
Business implementation emphasis Principle: focus on products
No specific business implementation focus

Lifecycle

PM² PRINCE2
4+1 Project Phases:
Initiating, Planning, Executing, Closing
Monitor & Control
Principle: manage by stages
(minimal 3 stages: initiation, delivery stage(s), final delivery stage)

Processes

PM² PRINCE2
Each of the 4 Project Phases has a number of specific activities (30) which need to be performed 7 processes provide the activities to direct, manage and deliver a project
(outline descriptions, no ready-to -use templates)

Artefacts

PM² PRINCE2
32 Artefacts (templates and guidelines) 26 Management Products
(outline descriptions, no ready-to -use templates)

Conclusion

In conclusion, we can see that there are similarities between the two project management methods, but also clear differences.

The PM² Methodology applies

    • Processes, Artefacts, Tools and Techniques, to manage the project dimensions in terms of time, cost, scope and quality
    • Mindsets to present those attitudes and behaviours which help us focus on what is really important in achieving our project/management goals

Together they help us navigate through the complexities of managing PM² projects and make PM² more effective and complete.

For a project to be following PRINCE2, as a minimum it must be possible to demonstrate that the project is:

        • Applying PRINCE2 principles
        • Meeting the minimum requirements set out in the PRINCE2 themes
        • Applying project processes that satisfy the purpose and objectives of the PRINCE2 processes
        • Is either using PRINCE2 recommended techniques or using alternative, equivalent techniques

PM² and PRINCE2 certifications are certainly different from each other but they have a common goal: to improve the success of projects. The choice of one over the other must be based on several factors which may include your personal professional needs. Of course, the two certifications are compatible: if you have the PM² certification it might be useful to learn the PRINCE2 method. Likewise, after obtaining the PRINCE2 certification, you could become PM² certified.

Also read: The PM² Story and The first paperless meeting of the EU Commission

We would like to thank Laurent Kummer for his contribution to the content of this article!

Looking for Project Management Training? Contact Us

Do you have more questions about the differences between PM² and PRINCE2? QRP International offers training in the PM² methodology and in PRINCE2. Write to us if you would like to have more information!

QRP International is an official launching partner of the PM² Group.

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