Not surprisingly, there is considerable agreement between the two publications in most project areas, especially now that PMBOK® Guide ("The Guide") has increased its section on processes. But one of the main observations in comparing the two previous versions is the same, namely: The Guide states what should be done and what information is needed, but offers no help on who and how, whereas PRINCE2 does.
Those who have compared the two methods in the past have made the point that The Guide offers a better connection between a project or program, and their link to an organization's strategic thinking. What is overlooked is that in PRINCE2 a deliberate decision was made some time ago to limit the ties with programs. This is because its sister publication, Managing Successful Programmes (MSP) covers this area, and does so far more comprehensively than The Guide.
The treatment of project organization is very different in the two approaches. The Guide places projects in a larger program environment and includes the concept of a Project Management Office (PMO). However, it is difficult to see a clear project organization structure or understand the relationship between the project manager, the PMO and senior management. In fact, the composition of the PMO is rather shadowy, being a mixture of management higher than the project manager, a pool of project managers and project support, and having responsibility for staff allocation. Another major difference is the apparent or potential exclusion of the project manager from the work to define the project charter (Project Initiation Document in PRINCE2 terms).
The subject of project plans is an area of significant difference between the two approaches. PRINCE2 offers a set of plan levels, i.e. project, stage and team, plus the concept of exception plans where any plan is in danger of failing to stay within its agreed limits. The Guide does not clearly offer this concept. Instead, it covers the requirements and contents of the Project Plan in great detail and expands that detail where needed.
Another different approach is in the concept of "stages" ("phases" in The Guide terminology). PRINCE2 uses the concept of management stages, that is, the division of the project into chunks of work between which there is a need for the Project Board to check on the status before committing to the next stage. The Guide's phase concept leans towards the technical phases of a project.
In The Guide, Configuration Management is only briefly touched on, whereas PRINCE2 devotes a chapter to this topic. However, the Guide covers procurement in great detail, whereas this area is not covered by PRINCE2. A more detailed comparison is provided in the following pages based on the chapters of The Guide.
1. Ibid, pp 90,
121 & 354
2. PRINCE2, Chapter 19, p275