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Prince 2 or PMP?

A question I was recently asked was which of these two is the most effective Project Management Methodology.

Prince2 is very formulaic – some might say bureaucratic – and most be followed strictly if it is the defined methodology for the project.  PMP is more of a guide of best project management practice.

All good Project Managers will follow a good project management methodology, even if it is their own.

But a good methodology will not make a good project manager. This person will need a broad range of skills. On small projects they will have to play many roles themselves, such as activity planning, estimating times and resources, progress tracking, etc.

On a large project the real skill the project manager needs is to be able to select a team with all of the aforementioned skills.

On IT projects a project management methodology on its own will not guarantee success. An essential ingredient for success is a good Development Life Cycle. Without this success will be elusive. It is of little use to effectively manage the wrong activities!

The methodology will, as a minimum, have four stages:

  • Analysis and Modeling
  • Design
  • Build
  • Implement.

The project methodology must be able to effectively execute each of these phases in order to produce the required quality deliverables.

Some development methods will try to merge all of these stages together under some ‘exotic’ name but they all must be done.

If the team has not got the skills to get it right first time you will need to use an ‘iterative’ method.

This only happens in the world of IT where you are allowed to build the wrong thing first time and then spend the rest of your time putting it right – not only that, such an approach is now described as ‘advanced’!

Can you imagine if builders always built the wrong house in the wrong place first time and then charged you more money on an ongoing basis to move it and turn it into the right house.

Oh, yes, they would also blame you, the customer / user saying that you were not bright enough to tell them what you wanted!


One Response to “Prince 2 or PMP?”

  1. Mark McGregor March 16, 2009 10:20 pm #

    Thanks John

    I would like to add that very often people get bogged down in the “method” they see it as a crutch or an excuse when things go wrong. Instead I suggest that we would do better looking at the essence. I am not particularly familiar with the PMP approach, however I am familiar with Prince2.

    I think one of the key points in Prince2 that could be applied to all approaches and methods is the principle of “Management by Exception”. The idea that if things are going in accordance with the agreed plan, then we do not need review reports or meetings, we can simply get on with the job in hand. However, if we are having problems or seeing deviation then we do need to have meetings or look at escalations.

    Think how much money the world could save if we just took on this simple practice and applied it in our everyday business.



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