Which one – APM, PMI and PRINCE2

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 training including 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.


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  1. A very interesting post laying out valid arguments and pros/cons for each of the three core project management qualifications.

    For me, there is a differential to be made between for example, the APM and PRINCE2. The APM BoK provides rounded project management tools, techniques and awareness; whereas PRINCE2 provides a project management process framework. As I have said in many a meeting and many a blog, the two approaches should not be viewed as independent and opposite, more that they are complimentary – as this post alludes to.

    This blog provides a welcome impetus to the discussion over project management approaches, and opens the debate towards a single project management approach. I am yet to decide whether a single approach is appropriate (I change my view daily!) – but I am convinced that there is confusion amongst project management practioners and employers – and I think this is damaging to the profession. Why re-invent the wheel when there are tools/techniques/processes that can be readily utilised?

    I do think businesses need to recognise that there are a number of project management approaches available to practioners. I have two key messages: (1) that these approaches are not in opposition to each other, they are complimentary; and (2) that the approaches do not have to be followed to the ‘T’ for every project, it is a case of mix and match as appropriate whilst maintaining a core/standardised approach throughout the business.

  2. Doing it by the Bok?

    When I met Lancaster Uni’s Project Management Msc students on Monday, a couple of them questioned the requirement to employ every tool, technique or process in the Bok in every project. Interesting that they seemed to regard the Bok as a ‘how to’ manual, which it clearly isn’t. Neither is it a requirement to do things exclusively by the APM Bok or anybody else’s for that matter.

    However, what is important is convergence, clarity and complementarity (is there such a word?) which is all to the benefit of more successful project delivery and that’s why we are piloting a route into the APMP which recognises the achievements of Prince 2 Practitioners. Anyone wanting to find out more about the fit between the two should read the OGC’s white paper on the topic which you can find at http://www.best-management-practice.com/

  3. am please my post attracted so much comment and debate. I am working closely with a major consulting organisation that has clients who work with client’s using all three BoKs. We have had real success combining all three into one common framework. Prince2 give the overall process, APM give the strategic client framework covering governance and the PMBoK provides guidance on the detail of deliver.

    Clearly not all elements are relevant to all projects management is about appropriate use of process not blindly following the cook book, but a combined approach can combined the strengths of the three approaches. For more details give us a call at Parallel Projects.
    .-= paul naybour´s last blog ..Frontpage Categories =-.

  4. My query here is based on Construction Project Management. There was a time when stating Construciton when saying Project Management was the only consideration but times have changed and i find that there is a slight void between Project Management and Construction Project Management. I also am having this dilemma at present. After years of experience i am back in the UK taking my MSc in Construction Project Management and although a rigid advocate of the CIOB CoP for Project Management – for Construction and Development have come to fully recognise the benefits of PRINCE2 but then become unsure as to wether APM BoK or the PMBoK route proves better suited for my own particular industry. The PMBoK has an add on for Construction Based Construciton Project Management, but i cannot find this within the AMP which is leading to my decision of which route do i chose to follow. Any advise?

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