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Matching PRINCE2 with PMBOK, Unlocked!

Matching PRINCE2 with PMBOK, Unlocked! If you are coming from the world of PMBOK as a PMP, and now you are interested in learning more about PRINCE2 methodology, this is definetely the article for YOU. Or if you don’t know much about both, NOW is the perfect moment to learn about these two Project Management frameworks.

Both, PRINCE2 and PMBOK are process-based approaches for Project Management.

In PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) by PMI, there are 5 Process Groups and 10 Knowledge Areas. In PRINCE2 there are 7 Processes (equivalent to the PMBOK’s 5 Process Groups) and 7 Themes (equivalent to the 10 Process Groups).

In the following I reveal the relationship between PMBOK’s 5 Process Groups with PRINCE2’s processes:

  • INITIATING: “Starting up a Project” and “Initiating a Project”
  • PLANNING: Planning is considered a Theme, instead of a Process.
  • EXECUTING: “Managing Product Delivery”
  • MONITOR & CONTROL: “Directing a Project”, “Controlling a Stage”, “Managing Stage Boundary”
  • CLOSING: “Closing a project”

With regards to the relationship between the 10 PMBOK’s Knowledge Areas and PRINCE2’s 7 Themes, there are only 2 that coincide: Quality and Risk.

PMBOK’s Knowledge Areas are: Integration, Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Human Resource, Communications, Risk, Procurement and Stakeholder.

PRINCE2’s Themes are: Business Case, Organization, Quality, Plans, Risk, Change and Process.

A BIG difference between both is that PRINCE2 is a methodology, whereas PMBOK isn’t. A methodology not only tells you WHAT to do, but also HOW to do it. We can say that PMBOK is a framework based on processes but not a complete methodology. Earlier versions of PMBOK were recognized as an Standard by the ANSI (American National Standards Institute).

With regards to Deliverable-Centered Project Management, we can say that PRINCE2 is truly centered on deliverables (“products” in its terminology). On the other hand, PMBOK is very focused on a complex interrelationship of processes that are executed along the Project Lifecycle and where the product is not in the center of this body of knowledge. PRINCE2 uses a technique known as ‘Product based planning’ that makes it a great Deliverable-Centered Project Management methodology.

In my opinion, in PMBOK there is a gap between customer requirements and deliverables, it seems that what was requested is what must be done. So PMBOK goes directly to Planning (estimating, sequencing activities, scheduling, budgeting, etc.).

In PRINCE2 after requirements are gathered, a clear Project Product Description document is built. The Product in this document is what finally must be constructed. The Business Case (the original reason for the project) and the Project Product Description are the main guideline along the project. Processes are the path, but not the focus of a PRINCE2 project. The Business Case (or business outcome) and the Product are the focus of a PRINCE2 Project Manager.

This is all done during the PRINCE2 process of Starting up a project (SU) where the Project Brief is created. The Project Product Description is part of the Project Plan, and the Project Plan forms part of the Project Initiation Documentation. In Directing a Project Process (DP), Executives will make a decision to go or not to go ahead with the project based on the Decision Making Criteria.

The Project Product Description contains several points, from which in my opinion there is one that it is critical: the Product Acceptance Criteria. At we have published many articles, but Acceptance Criteria for Project Management are the ones that we have received more consultations, on that point that I am considering creating an specific webinar for going deeper into this critical topic that finally makes or breaks a successful project. People really have problems when it comes to Project Acceptance. It doesn’t matter if they are on the Customer Side or the Consulting side. Both need to have clear Acceptance Criteria agreed upon the initiating phase of a project, having included them in the Project Product Description.

In conclusion, PRINCE2 and PMBOK are both great frameworks for Project Management, each of them have strong points. But when it comes to Deliverable-Centered Project Management, PRINCE2 makes the difference.

I hope you like this article and see you very soon. Happy projects!