Project Management

Nails and Screws: The PMP vs. PRINCE2 Debate

Mike Griffiths is an experienced project manager, author and consultant who works for PMI as a subject matter expert. Before joining PMI, Mike consulted and managed innovation and technology projects throughout Europe, North and South America for 30+ years. He was co-lead for the PMBOK Guide—Seventh Edition, lead for the Agile Practice Guide, and contributor to the PMI-ACP and PMP exam content outlines. Outside of PMI, Mike maintains the websites www.LeadingAnswers.com about leading teams and www.PMillustrated.com, which teaches project management for visual learners.

The two big project management certification offerings are the Project Management Institute’s Project Management Professional (PMP) and the UK Government-spawned PRojects IN Controled Environments version 2 (PRINCE2). Working in North America, it’s easy to dismiss PRINCE2 as some obscure, also-ran oddity from across the pond that has limited popularity. A little like afternoon tea or cricket, you hear about it occasionally, but don’t come across it in regular work very often.

However, that is a stereotyped view that no longer applies; PRINCE2 has grown dramatically in the last five years. The end of 2012 marked the milestone of 1 million PRINCE2 exams taken worldwide. Compare that with the July 2013 PMI statistic of 545,098 PMP credential holders, and suddenly the popularity looks more like soccer vs. American football worldwide. (See this infographic for more details on the increasing popularity of PRINCE2.)

Actually, these numbers are trickier to compare than they first appear. The PMI reports active credential holders, but the PRINCE2 number is total exams taken to date. I am guessing since its inception in 1984, many people have taken the PMP but are no longer classified as “active credential holders” since they have since lapsed their membership. So until these two organizations start reporting similar metrics, it will be difficult …


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