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Difference Between ISO 21500 and PRINCE2®

Difference Between ISO 21500 and PRINCE2®. For understanding the difference between ISO 21500 and PRINCE2®, we need to separate between PM frameworks, like PMBoK®, IPMA ICB & APM BoK, and PM methods like PRINCE2®, PROPS and others. PM methods goes one level down, and also contain templates, which a framework doesn’t. The ISO 21500 only have tried to align existing PM frameworks, like ANSI PMBoK and the British standard. It’s still a framework.

The basic hierarchy is:

  • ISO 21500 sets the overall framework and creates a common ‘language’
  • National standards expand the framework for local conditions and may provide more guidance (eg, the PMBOK® Guide, BS 6079, Etc)
  • Methodologies define how the standards are applied effectively in specific situations (eg, PRINCE2®).

So, ISO 21500 is an overarching standard that helps to bridge the various methodologies, bodies of knowledge, models and baselines for project management. Although the chapter on processes resembles the PMBOK presentation of project management processes, which were taken as starting point for developing ISO 21500, a Dutch Special Interest Group (SIG) with experienced PRINCE2® practitioners concluded that the PRINCE2® processes are perfectly covered. Although this could be expected, since all popular sources for project management are based on similar practices, it emphasises that ISO 21500 represents our common ground and will help to identify the added value of each of these project management sources. And a clear(er) picture of these added values will help organizations in choosing which (combination of) project management source(s) to implement, and if they should be implemented to the full or not. Hence, PMBOK, PRINCE2®, ICB, etcetera, become complementary sources rather than competitive sources. And if we have the courage and wisdom to travel along that collaborative road, our profession will profit from that.

The Dutch SIG did a comparison with what is IN the ISO 21500 and not a check of what is OUT of the ISO 21500. The standard is not developed to be a method, nor as a body of knowledge (eg PMBOK® or APM BOK), model (eg P3M3, OPM3 or IPMA Delta®) or baseline (eg ICB). The check by the Dutch SIG was mainly performed to ease the minds of those suspecting that ISO 21500 was leaning towards one source for project management more than to another. It doesn’t, also because of the wide spread of inputs from all around the globe during the past four years.

Finally, I let you a Whitepaper on PRINCE2® and the National and International Standards. I hope you enjoy it! 

What is your view on the diference between ISO 21500 and PRINCE2®?

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