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PRINCE2 6th edition Vs APM PMQ Bok7 Are they really so different?

PRINCE2 6th edition (PRojects IN Controlled Environments) and APM PMQ (Association for Project Management Professional Qualification) are both very widely used approaches, in their own right. There are of course, fundamental differences between the two. PRINCE2® is very much process driven, providing a step by step approach to project management (the what) and APM is more of a ‘phase’ based approach, focusing on the entire project life-cycle (the ‘how’).


Processes Vs Phases

There is a lot we can compare between the processes of PRINCE2® and the phases of APM:

1. Starting up a project (PRINCE2®): This process determines whether the project is viable and should be initiated. This aligns with APM PMQ Project Concept which defines the purpose of the project. Both of these processes (or phases) focus on the importance of a ‘business case.’

2. Directing a project: This element exists only within PRINCE2® and provides oversight and direction to ensure the project remains on track.

3. Initiating a project:. Aligning with APM ‘definition’, this phase involves defining the project scope, objectives, and deliverables, and creating a detailed plan to achieve them (PID or Project Definition).

4. Controlling a stage: This process monitors and controls the progress of the project stage against the plan. Aligning with APM ‘deployment,’ which involves putting the plan into action and carrying out the project work.

5. Managing product delivery in PRINCE2® ensures that products are delivered to the required quality, on time, and within budget. This element has no direct comparison within APM.

6. Managing stage boundaries: This process ensures that the project remains viable and that the next stage is ready to begin and exists only within PRINCE2® methodology. 

7. Closing a project: This process in PRINCE2® ensures that the project has delivered its objectives and that the benefits have been realised.

There are no less than 5 more phases that are defined by APM at this ‘phase’. As follows:

Transition: This phase involves transitioning the project deliverables to the operational environment.

Adoption: This phase involves ensuring that the project deliverables are adopted and used by the stakeholders.

Benefits Realisation: This phase involves measuring and evaluating the benefits of the project.

Operation: This phase involves ensuring that the project deliverables continue to operate effectively.

Termination: This phase involves closing the project and ensuring that all necessary documentation is complete.

Starting up a project

The ‘starting up a project and project definition processes / phases’ can be compared with each other but also rely on key documents to kickstart the process. Overall, the PRINCE2® PID (Project Initiation Document) and APM project definition documents serve similar purposes. Both are essential for ensuring that a project is well-defined, well-planned, and well-executed.

Here is how they compare:

1. Purpose: Both PRINCE2® PID and APM project definition documents serve as a comprehensive guide to the project, outlining its goals, scope, criteria and constraints.

2. The management approach in the PRINCE2 PID can be compared to the APM plan. Both documents are living documents that may be revised and updated throughout the project lifecycle as new information becomes available or as the project scope changes. They cover similar headliners including Quality, Risk, Change and Communication.

3. Stakeholder involvement: Both PRINCE2® PID and APM project definition documents require involvement from key stakeholders, such as the project sponsor, steering group, and project team, to ensure that the project is aligned with business needs and objectives.

4. Approval process: Both documents typically go through a review and approval process, to ensure that all stakeholders are on board with the project plan and approach.

Project roles also both compare and contrast:

1. Each has a ‘Project Manager’ role, who is the individual responsible for managing the day to day elements of the project.

2. Project board Vs Steering Group: Project Board is responsible for overseeing the project and providing direction and guidance to the Project Manager. Project board is focused more on the day to day aspect of the project while the steering group is more strategic. However, both essentially deal with governance.

3. Senior User Vs users: frontline workers affected by the project outcomes.

4. Team Manager Vs Product Owner: Both are responsible for delivering the projects outputs but they do differ in responsibilities.

A Team Manager is responsible for managing the project team and ensuring that they are working efficiently and effectively to deliver the project.

A Product Owner (APM) on the other hand, is responsible for defining the product vision and strategy, and for making sure that the product meets the needs of the stakeholders.

5. Project support Vs PMO: While Project support is a function in PRINCE2® for supporting a single project, the PMO (Project Management Office) has a wide range of projects to support at any one time. Project support is more usually hands on, having direct interaction with project stakeholders.

Importantly, Project Support is a temporary role connected to a specific project in question whereas PMO is a permanent fixture.

The fundamental difference between PRINCE2® and APM (Association for Project Management) is the approach to project management. PRINCE2® is a process-based project management framework that provides a step-by-step approach to managing projects, while APM is a more flexible and holistic approach that focuses on the broader aspects of project management and looks at the project in terms of its entire project life cycle.

Both are extremely valuable in their own right and can complement each when used effectively.

For more information on APM visit our APM Training page

For more information on PRINCE2 6th edition visit our training page