I have just finished a week long PRINCE2 Foundation and Practicioner course.  On the course the trainer made reference to the Body of Knowledge (BoK) methodology favoured across the pond and that this was more aligned to behaviours than the processes and techniques used in PRINCE2.  I'd be interested to know the views of the members on how this methodolgy compares to Manager Tools and what people's views are on BoK...

markn's picture

PRINCE2 is a very specific process for running projects that has come out of the UK government. PMBok is less of a strict methodology, rather it's a guide and a common vocab.. more like a dictionary than anything else.

The PRINCE2 methodology really focuses on the governance side of things. What I mean by that is that it's about setting the interactions between the PM and the project's governing body (Project Executive + Senior Supplier and User). What it does really well is defines those relationships and how they'll interact. One especially important part is that you break your project into stages and define when a stage ends and that is it. You can change the budget or the scope but the stage end date is the stage end date. I see this is very useful as a) time is often the first to slip on projects, and b) your governance team (ie: sponsors/exec whatever you call them) are often very difficult to get time with so having predefined points is much better than general "steering committee meetings" every month.

It's a bit more complicated than that with "management by exception" etc, which i'm sure you're all full bottle on now :) however the point is that the PMBok doesn't mandate any of this at all.

What does PMBok do that PRINCE2 doesn't... well it tells you (in broad strokes) how to go about doing some of the things that PRINCE2 skims over. PRINCE2 has 3  techniques listed (Quality Review, Product Based Planning, Change Control) while PMBok lists 5 techniques just for quantitative risk analysis. However it's still fairly broad so it can apply to construction, IT, mining etc projects. This is what i mean by PMBok being more of a dictionary for PMs.

In reality, on a PRINCE2 project you could use a lot of the tools and techniques in the PMBok. However you only use PRINCE2 on a PRINCE2 project. So PRINCE2 is a very specific methodology and PMBok is a generalist toolkit that you can apply to any project.


There are some take aways from PRINCE2 that can be applied anywhere though;

1) It's definitions of authorisation of stages is better than some of the vague "phased" approaches i've read.

2) PBS specify what WBS should always be. ie: Each component should be a noun. Projects are about delivering something .. not just doing somethings.

3) Have the conversation about benefits management up front.



There is a whole bunch of PMBok stuff that can and does work on a PRINCE2 project;

1) The further detail on risk, procurement, time, HR, costs and communications management

2) "Earned Value" it's a worthwhile metric if your project is big enough and you have the systems to support it

3) Plus PMP is a worthwhile credential as it assesses experience and PM knowledge rather than learning a process.


I'm auditing PRINCE2 projects at the moment so the methodology stuff is pretty important to me.... however even though i'm knee deep in process it's still essential to remember that projects are about a bunch of people working together to get a bunch of stuff done.*





* OK i can't help myself.. projects are about a bunch of people working together to get a bunch of stuff done by a certain date for a certain cost to a pre-specified standard...

scoobyslippers's picture

Thanks MarkN - really useful stuff that :)

Found out yesterday that I'd passed both PRINCE2 elements so now to unleash my qualification on my unsuspecting organisation!!!

malcwest's picture



You may both find the free PRINCE2 tools from PROJECT in a box helpful.  Many trainers recommend them to their delegates:

These are totally free forever, this is not a trial