In this article we will discuss the pros and cons of APM, PMI and PRINCE2 for individuals and organisations wishing to develop competence in project management and how they can be combined into a common approach which delivers a holistic approach giving organisations who deliver project for clients a real competitive edge and a more effective approach to project management.

Project managers have a wide range of choice for project management trainingincluding certification and non certification courses. In the certification arena that have choice between
1. PMP qualification from the USA based Project Management Institute (PMI)
2. PRINCE2 which is the project management method sponsored by the UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC)
3. Qualifications from the International Project Management Association (IPMA), which vary from country to country but are represented in the UK by qualifications from the Association for Project Management.

A range of other project related qualifications exist targeted at the needs of specific sectors, such as ITIL.
As an alternative many organisations develop their own bespoke training programmes which are targeted at the specific needs within that organisation. Often these are supplemented by top up certification courses.


  1. A range of qualifications from introductory to advanced project management.
  2. A pragmatic approach to project management based on a published Body of Knowledge.
  3. Competences include leadership and management of teams.
  4. Very strong within certain sectors in the UK including defence, infrastructure, telecoms.
  5. Links to professional development.

  1. Most widely recognised global project management qualification.
  2. Computer based test can be administered from anywhere in the world.
  3. Detailed comprehensive body of knowledge (PMBoK) available in many languages.
  4. Requirement for experience and formal training add value to qualification.
  5. Formal requirement for CPD to maintain certification.

  1. Most widely recognised project management in the UK.
  2. Increasing value in the international market.
  3. Clear and simple step by step process to follow.
  4. Detailed and comprehensive PRINCE2 manual.
  5. Need for ongoing certification to maintain credibility

  1. Only recognised strongly in the UK and other parts of the commonwealth.
  2. Examinations and certification are not computer based making logistic more difficult outside the UK.
  3. Body of knowledge lacks the detail in the PMBoK and PRINCE2 manual

  1. Not widely recognised in the UK.
  2. Highest level of qualification in the PMP with no options for further development beyond this knowledge level.
  3. Need to learn the PMBoK way for working which may not reflect practice in your organisation.

  1. Method only works in a PRINCE2 environment. It can be hard to apply PRINCE2 to general project management.
  2. Excludes the important area of people leadership and management.
  3. Only strongly recognised in the UK

Looking to the future it would be good to see these different standards combined into one common approach. Parallel Project Training recently did this for one of its international programme management consultancy clients with offices around the world. It can be relatively easily done, especially since the release of the new 2009 PRINCE2 manual.
Combining the best of all three approaches into one common method?

It is relatively simple to produce a combined method that meets the requirements of all three approaches. A detailed analysis of the APM and PMI BoKs reveals that they have much in common. The high level nature of the APM Bok is helpful here because its knowledge areas are very similar to the PMI BoK. The fourth edition of the PMI BoK increased this similarity because many of the changes brought it is much closer to the APM BoK in the areas such as risk management.

PRINCE2 is slightly more difficult to integrate, because it has a much wider definition or project management and views the project from the perspective of a client organisation. It is much more concerned with the formulation and management of the project business case, governance structures and interface to the users in client business to ensure the benefits are realised. This is understandable because of its roots in national government. It pays less attention to the mechanisms for the delivery of the project.

The PMI Bok however views the project as more of a delivery process for the scope defined on the project charter. It pays less attention to the processes used to formulate the project charter in the first place and the governance of the project by the client. PRINCE2 is however very weak on the delivery mechanisms such as resource planning
However these two approached (PRINCE2 and PMBoK) form a useful complement, with PRINCE2 clearly describing the processes for the formulation, governance and control of the project charter (project brief) and business case. The PMBoK described in more detail the processes to turn the project charter (project brief) into deliverables. By the way the APM BoK covers both these processes although at a high level.

Any multinational organisation that can demonstrate compliance to all three of the major international standard for project management has both a real competitive edge but also a more holistic approach and effective approach to project management. For more information contact Parallel Project Training.


  1. vrenfors says:

    I would recommend at least PRINCE2 for anyone working with projects. Before that, one does not really know what to do, unless you have a strong process and guidance setup in the organisation. But, after you are done with the training (be other PM certifications for that matter) you are able to relax and run with projects with much more confidence. A definite must in your tool-belt. -V

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