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The Message in the Mention

Guest post by Ronn Faigen, © Copyright 2013

Ronn Faigen

Ronn Faigen is the General Manager for APMG-US, part of APMG International, a global accreditation and qualifications organization. In this capacity, Ronn is responsible for increasing the awareness and adoption of internationally recognized best practices, among them PRINCE2®, Managing Successful Programs (MSP™) Portfolio, Program and Project Offices (P3O®) and ITIL®. Prior to joining APMG-US, Ronn held a number of executive management positions in technology companies involved in digital imaging, educational software, and high availability clustered computing. Ronn began his career with IBM, where he spent fourteen years in a variety of customer-facing roles.

One of my jobs in APMG is to try to correct the commonly held perception that the PRINCE2® project management methodology is directly competitive to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBoK®), and that project management professionals who hold a PMP® certification have no need, or receive no benefit, from earning a PRINCE2® certification.  When project managers tell me their methodology is the PMBOK®, like Pavlov’s dog I instinctively launch into an explanation that the PMBOK® is a framework, whereas PRINCE2® is a methodology.  While the awareness of the complementary nature of the PMBOK® and PRINCE2® is much greater than it used to be, the belief that the two are mutually exclusive approaches locked in some kind of death struggle is still widespread.

So you can imagine how happy I was to see that in the latest edition of the PMBOK® (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, 5th Edition, page 2, section 1.1, third paragraph), PMI was quite specific in the difference between the application of the PMBOK® framework and the need to accompany its use with a methodology.  And here, in parentheses, a mention was given to PRINCE2®.  In one short sentence, and in a guide that will be in the hands of project managers everywhere, PMI has reinforced the message that the PMBOK® and PRINCE2® are complementary.

Why does this make a difference?  Because there is a tremendous value to an organization adopting a standard, proven and tailorable project management methodology.  In areas of effectiveness, staffing, and governance, to name just a few, having a consistent approach to managing projects brings tremendous benefits.  Organizations who believe that by adopting the PMBOK® framework they have implemented a common methodology are mistaken.

The methodology an organization adopts does not have to be PRINCE2®.  Many experienced project managers have developed their own methodologies.  Perhaps their employers have decided to make that the standard, and are willing to incur the costs and effort to document, train, maintain, and enhance this over time.  The advantage to PRINCE2® is that the documentation, training, maintenance, and enhancement is done using input and experience from a world-wide body of practitioners, creating an internationally recognized best practice and saving individual organizations time and money.

Perhaps this brief mention will stimulate organizations and practitioners to examine their approach to projects, look at the wide variety of individual methodologies that are actually being applied, and start the process of exploring the adoption of a standard approach to project management.   And whether the selection is from in-house, PRINCE2®, or some other variant, they will start to deliver more of the intended benefits and have more success with their management of their projects.

PRINCE2® is a registered trade mark of the Cabinet Office.

PMBoK® and PMP® are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

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