PRINCE2® & PMBOK® – Complementary rather than in competition

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A lot of debate is generated about which of PRINCE2® and PMBOK® is the best, as if they are in competition.  An excellent case can however be made for organisations to use the two approaches together to complement one another’s strengths and weaknesses.  By using both PRINCE2® and PMBOK®, the project managers are using the best project management approaches from both worlds.

Essentially PMBOK® provides a comprehensive knowledge base for effective project management (the “What”), while PRINCE2® provides a more “How To‟ approach.

Comparison of PRINCE2® & PMBOK®

Broad collection of ‘good practices’ for project managementA project management method
Each topic area can be referred to in isolation from othersAn integrated set of processes & themes that should not be applied selectively
Targeted at project managersCovers all project management roles
Covers interpersonal skillsDoes not cover interpersonal skills
Describes techniquesReferences techniques

Processes Comparison:

InitiatingStarting up a project, Directing a project, Managing Stage Boundaries
PlanningInitiating a Project, Managing a Stage Boundary, Managing Product Delivery
ExecutingControlling a Stage, Managing Product Delivery, Directing a project
Monitoring and ControlControlling a Stage, Managing a Stage Boundary
ClosingManaging Stage Boundaries, Closing a Project

Knowledge Area Comparison:

IntegrationPlans, Change control
ScopeBusiness Case, Plans
TimePlans, Change control
CostPlans, Change control
QualityQuality, Configuration Management
RiskManagement of Risk
CommunicationsProgress, Communications Management, Stakeholder Engagement
Human ResourcesOrganisation – only Roles & Responsibilities covered
ProcurementNot covered by PRINCE2®

Both approaches can be tailored to suit an organisation’s specific circumstances and environment.  This allows for better integration into the level of project management maturity the organisation is currently at and wants to move towards in the future.  An optimal tactic for success would therefore be to adopt both, i.e. create an organisation-specific framework based on the PMBOK® standard, as well as the “How to‟ guide based on the PRINCE2® methodology.

By combining PMBOK® and PRINCE2® to establish an integrated solution, organisations can take advantage of the best of the two most respected project management approaches in the world today. Such a strategy should allow those organisations to achieve better performance on all project outputs and business outcomes.

Companies that are using both PRINCE2®and PMBOK®:

IBM, HP, Sun Microsystems, Getronics


1.      Managing Successful Projects with PRINCE2®, TSO, 5th ed, 2009.

2.      The Marriage Proposal of PRINCE2® and PMBOK®, Dr A Yeong, 2009.

3.       Providing Clarity on PMBOK® and PRINCE2®, Project Plus Ltd, 2008.