January 21, 2018


Project management advice, tips, tools and recommended resources for existing and aspiring project managers.

Clash Between the Titans: PRINCE2 vs Project Management Professionals

This post was sourced from an article that was published in “The Project Manager” magazine, authored by Dr Christopher Worsley.

The clash referred to here is between the institutions or training companies providing PRINCE2™ courses and who are promoting method accreditation versus training organisations offering courses that promote professional project management.

It has taken time and much research, some funded by the national and international project management associations, to develop a consistent view about what makes a good project manager.

There remains work to be done, but consensus is growing about their attributes, and for a professional curriculum and valid assessment criteria to be created.

Where is the problem?

The problem is the difference between education and training.

Not sure what the difference is? Simply check your reaction to your child coming home and saying he/she had sex training rather than sex education at school today!

Institutions who offer PRINCE2™ would claim that some 50 000 individuals sit the PRINCE2™ tests every year, while the institutions who offer PMP certification educations would be hard-pressed to find 5 000 taking advanced project management qualifications worldwide.

We need to worry that the personal development budget for future project managers is being consumed by training programmes, when this money could be better spent in educating them in project management.

Senior executives want people skilled at running projects. People skilled at running projects are distinguished by their attitudes, their skills, the responsibilities they intuitively accept, and the tasks and procedures they follow.

It is a well-researched finding that the best predictor of project performance is level of previous project experience. None of these are the outcomes from the typical five-day accreditation training course, including two days of tests.

What project management education does, is develop judgement and attitudes. It focuses on disciplines, not procedures, and forces focus on the factors that lead to success in projects.

There is a place for procedures. They are the distilled wisdom from hundreds of man years of others’ experience, but they are not rules, they are guidance; something that someone – whose only exposure to project management is a method course and anecdotal experiences, shaped by that method – rarely grasps.

How to resolve the clash?

The first and most important thing is to make the case for developing project management expertise, rather than project method expertise.

The major project management organisations, such as the APM, the International Association of Project Managers (IAPM) and the Project Management Institute (PMI), must make their cases much clearer and deliver to the marketplace clear guidelines about what good project management education should look like.

Both the APM and the PMI have long-standing entry-level knowledge programmes that are preferable starting points for project management education, but they suffer from many of the same faults as the method accreditation courses, with a public image that attaining these underwrites some sort of professional status in project management when they patently do not.

And project managers who value their contribution to their organisation and to their country should demand loud and clear that they are professionals and expect professional status with all that comes with it: recognition, responsibility and qualifications.

Dr Christopher and Louise Worsley are Managing Directors of PiCubed, Delivering Change through Projects, Portfolios and Programmes, a South African centre for excellence in project management. It is a sister company to CITI – a highly respected project management education and consultancy business in the UK.

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