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PRINCE2®Agile vs PMI-ACP®: What’s Best for You?

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17th Mar, 2021
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12nd Sep, 2020
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PRINCE2®Agile vs PMI-ACP®: What’s Best for You?

Changing industrial trends and the mass adaptability of agile practices have transformed the way organizations work. Over time, a number of project management methodologies have cropped up to suit different industry needs, and today’s business leaders have a wide array of frameworks to rely upon. This has led to the inevitable need for skilled project management professionals who are well-versed in different frameworks. When it comes to the widely popular Agile methodologies, the presence of multiple certifications in agile / agile project management methods can seem overwhelming to aspiring professionals. 

This article will give you a comprehensive overview of PRINCE2®Agile and PMI-ACP® (Agile Certified Practitioner) certifications to help you make an informed choice. 

Project leading

Project leading

What is Project? 

Due to the accelerated pace of change, today’s enterprises have to cope with the complexities of emergent requirements over the course of a project. Strategic business decisions are often made after taking stock of competitors actions, technological advancements, regulatory changes, ongoing business developments and so on. In order to compete and thrive in the future, existing ways of working must be aligned to adapt to these evolving needs. 

Example: Today every bank across the globe offers innovative banking products and services like mobile banking applications, ATMs etc. These changes have been adopted to cater to the evolving expectations of customers while adapting to the latest technological advancements. 

Projects are the means of introducing change. A collective effort from different stakeholders needs to be pumped into the project initiatives to deliver the products and to accomplish the objectives within definitive timescales. 

Example: The Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of a country is planning to design, build, roll-out and implement a Health ID card system for its citizens within a year. This project will benefit the government and its citizens in various ways. Different organizations such as government, health ministry, hospitals, technology providers have to work collaboratively to implement the product within the identified timescale, cost and quality. 

Project Manager planning
Project Manager planning

What is Project management? 

When different stakeholders come together to deliver a unique product within an estimated timescale and cost, there should be someone who needs to be accountable and responsible to manage the different aspects of the project.  Project management broadly revolves around key activities such as plan, execute, monitor and controlManagement of projects is an art which includes skills like leadership, domain knowledge, interpersonal skills, people management, powerful communication, stakeholder engagement, conflict management, business acumen etc.,  

Example: A central library run by a private firm is looking to launch a digitized version of its books. A Project Manager is identified to manage the scope, cost, time, quality, risks, resources, stakeholders, communications etc., from the beginning to the end of the project.  

Project managers and their organizations can choose to apply the right methods, tools, techniques, standards, guidance, good or best practices to run their projects.  

Why agile in project management? 

 As digital transformation is catching up with many organizations, business demands are also increasing, and the requirements for products and services is continually evolving as well. To meet the demands of businesses todayproject-driven organizations should look for ways to increase the speed of product delivery while upholding quality. Agile project management is an iterative approach to delivering a project throughout its life cycle. The Agile framework helps project managers to stay on top of emergent requirements and adapt to change more readily, delivering products that are better aligned with customer expectations. 

With agile methods such as Scrum being widely accepted and used in today’s organizations for software development projects, more agility is seen in the delivery teamsProduct development in Scrum teams occurs in shorter iterations/timeboxes (2 weeks to 4 weeks). This is because the goal is to deliver minimum viable products (MVP) or a feature/functionality within shorter sprints. 

Example: As a part of digital transformation, a school wants to launch a mobile app. In the beginning of the academic year, the first section of the app was ready and launched for use. During the launch, it only had a login and a digital diary feature. In the second month, they added few more features such as timetable, attendance tracker. In the third month, new enhanced features such as progress card, online payment options were added. By the end of six months, the app had varied features to suit the needs of the school, teachers, students and parents and it added value to all categories of stakeholders iteratively.  

The Contrast of Waterfall Vs. Agile ways of working:

The Contrast of Waterfall Vs. Agile ways of working:

The Contrast of Waterfall Vs. Agile ways of working:

The reason for agile’s popularity is because of its ability to address the new demands being placed on the project team.  

Prince2 Processes

Prince2 Processes

What is PRINCE2®? 

PRINCE2® (PRojects IN a Controlled Environment) is widely considered the leading project management method. It is a unique, light weight, scalable, flexible, highly tailorable, principle-drivenagile enabled framework to run your projects.  

PRINCE2 revolves around the concepts of principles (value statements), themes (focus areas to run the project) and processes (steps involved to accomplish project objectives).  

Let’s get introduced to the PRINCE2 elements: 

Principles: 

Continued business justificationBusiness value
Learn from experienceLessons are sought, recorded and acted upon; continuous improvement
Defined roles and responsibilitiesAll stakeholders represented
Manage by stagesProvides management control and realistic planning horizons
Manage by exceptionAuthority delegation for directing, managing and delivering within tolerances
Focus on productsQuality-centric approach to planning
Tailor to suit the projectTailor to suit project environment, size, complexity, importance, risk, etc.

Themes:

Business CaseWhy?
OrganizationWho?
QualityWhat?
PlansHow?, How much?, When?
RiskWhat’s the impact?

Progress
Where are we now?
Where are we going?
Should we carry on?

Processes:

Starting Up A ProjectVerify whether the project is worthwhile and viable.
Directing A ProjectDecision making, allocation of resources and estimating expenditure.
Initiating A ProjectSetting up a firm foundation (controlled environment) for the project.
Managing Stage BoundariesPreparation for management review including stage planning.
Controlling A StageDay to day management of the work, issues and risk.
Managing Product DeliveryProduct creation, delivery and acceptance.
Closing A ProjectFinal delivery, acceptance and project evaluation.

PRINCE2® Process Flow Diagram:

PRINCE2® Process Flow Diagram

PRINCE2® Process Flow Diagram:

Processes are at the core of the PRINCE2 framework. Application of themes, principles and tailoring of the processes makes it easy to adopt and adapt which reduces the bureaucracy of project management. At the same time, it provides the proper governance to keep the projects justified.

What is covered in PRINCE2 Agile™?

Project Environment

Project Environment

If PRINCE2® is already agile, what is PRINCE2 ® Agile? 

PRINCE2® Agile guidance is all about tailoring PRINCE2 to incorporate Agile methods. PRINCE2 is a neutral project management framework which can support both traditional waterfall projects as well as agile or adaptive or iterative projects.  

To provide guidance on how to integrate high velocity models or practices into the existing projects for both IT and non-IT industries, PRINCE2 Agile considers ScrumKanbanLean approaches. The intention is not to explain all the agile frameworks in detail; but rather is to show practitioners how to amalgamate PRINCE2 with other agile practices. PRINCE2 considers agile as a collection of behaviours, concepts, frameworks and techniques.   

In a nutshell, PRINCE2® Agile is basically a marriage between PRINCE2 and Scrum practices 

PRINCE2®Agile vs PMI-ACP®: What’s best for You?
PRINCE2’s core concepts of principles, themes and processes are tossed up with agile concepts, techniques, behaviours, practices which fuels more velocity into the existing framework.

PRINCE2®Agile vs PMI-ACP®: What’s best for You?

Certification: 

PRINCE2® Agile has two levels of certification (Foundation and Practitioner) 

Foundation Exam: 

  • Multiple choice 
  • 50 questions 
  • 1 hour to complete the paper 
  • Achieve 28 or more out of possible 50 marks (55%) to pass the exam 
  • Closed book exam 

Practitioner Exam: 

  • Multiple choice 
  • 50 questions based on project scenario 
  • 2 hours 30 minutes to complete the paper 
  • Achieve 30 or more out of possible 50 marks (60%) to pass the exam 
  • Open book exam. You can use the “AXELOS® PRINCE2 Agile™ guidance book” 

Certification Scheme: 

Prior project management experience is not required to take up the certification 

Certification Scheme

What is covered in PMI-ACP®? 

The Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner is a credible certification which provides thorough knowledge to project managers using agile methodologies.  

Agile umbrella

There are many agile practices other than Scrum that are widely used in the industry such as eXtreme Programming, DevOps, Test Driven Development (TDD), Behaviour Driven Development (BDD), Feature Driven Development (FDD), Crystal, Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD), Dynamic Systems Development Method (DSDM), Kanban, Lean Product Development etc., Most of these practices revolve around the core concept of iterations with other variations. Most of these practices are ‘IT-only’ frameworks.  

Agile mindset and principles play a vital role in executing the projects in a different way as compared to the traditional ways. Right from covering the concepts of agile values, mindset, practices, terminologies, most of the above-mentioned agile models are covered in a greater detail in this program.  

Concepts and techniques like agile contracting, agile risk management, earned value management (EVM), cumulative flow diagrams (CFD), estimation techniques, relative prioritization, work in progress (WIP) limits, Kano analysis, product backlog grooming, personas, user stories, story maps, wireframes, product road map, minimum marketable feature (MMF), definition of done, continuous integration, burn chartsstakeholder engagement, leadership, building agile teams, coaching, osmotic communication, timeboxing, planning poker, release planning, problem solving, lead time, cycle time, defect rate, control limits, throughput, velocity, variance and trend analysis, value stream mapping, continuous improvement, retrospectives, learning cycles etc., are imparted as a part of this certification course.

PRINCE2®Agile vs PMI-ACP®: What’s best for You?

Certification: 

  • 120 Multiple choice questions 
  • 3 hours to complete the exam 
  • Closed book exam 

Prerequisite: 

  • Secondary degree 
  • 21 contact hours of training in agile practices 
  • 12 months of general project management experience within 5 years.  
  • 8 months of agile project management experience within the last 3 years. 

Differences in these certifications:

ParametersPRINCE2 AgilePMI-ACP
Topics coveredIt is a blend of  PRINCE2® and Scrum.Spans across many approaches of agile.
Governing bodyAxelosProject Management Institute
Exam bodyPeoplecertPearson VUE
Exam modePaper-based test, computer-based test and Online proctored examOnline proctored exam
PrerequisiteNo prior project management experience is required. PRINCE2 Foundation or PRINCE2 Agile foundation certification is a prerequisite for taking up the practitioner exam.Secondary degree
21 contact hours of training in agile practices
12 months of general project management experience within 5 years.  
8 months of agile project management experience within the last 3 years.
Training4 days of training from an Accredited Training Organization (ATO) by Axelos3 days of training from a Registered Training Partner (REP) by PMI
Cost of training & certificationApproximately Rs. 40,000 to 50,000Approximately Rs. 40,000 to 50,000
Maintaining the certificationFoundation certification has a life time validity. Practitioners need to earn 20 continuing professional development (CPD) points every year.Earn 30 professional development units (PDU) every three years.

Merits and demerits of both these certifications: 

Merits of PRINCE2® Agile:  

  • PRINCE2 Agile provides a good governance model to run the project with guidance on how to incorporate any agile model 
  • It does not favour one agile approach over any other although Scrum is taken as a reference to explain the concept of tailoring.  
  • It can be applied to any type of project and can easily be implemented alongside specialist, industry-specific models.  

Demerits of PRINCE2® Agile:  

  • It does not touch upon the various project management tools or techniques which are essential for project management. 

Merits of PMI-ACP®: 

  • It prepares the project managers to become versatile with different types of agile project management practices. 
  • Coverage of different types of tools and techniques polishes one’s ability to manage scope, cost, time, quality, risks, resources, stakeholders, communication etc. 

Demerits of PMI-ACP®: 

  • It does not have an exclusive body of knowledge (BOK) like PMBOK® guide. Reference to different literature and books may be essential. This means a structured way to agile project management is missing in its approach.  

The best-suited certification: How to pick the right one? 

  • PRINCE2® Agile can benefit the existing PRINCE2® communityPRINCE2® Practitioners, anyone who is using agile in Project ManagementEven organizations and individuals outside the PRINCE2® communityhaving experience with agile can benefit from this certification. It is also ideal for total novices. If you fall under any of the categories mentioned above, you can pick this certification as your first step in the project management world. This is also the right choice for professionals and enterprises that serve clients based in UK, Europe and Australia. 
  • PMI-ACP is a one-stop solution for project managers and agile teams keen on expanding their skill-set to manage various agile projects. If you are ready to dedicate at least 2 hours every day for 1 to 2 months for exam preparation and earn a globally recognized certification, go for it.  

Conclusion:

Every practice has its own strength and weakness. Ultimately, it is up to the organizations and practitioners to choose the right project management methodologies to suit their needs and business/career goals 

Profile

Manikandan Mohanakrishnan

Author

Manikandan M is a Senior Consultant with over 18+ years of industry experience. He is specialized in Service Management, Project Management, Process Consultancy, Learning & Development, IT Infrastructure Management, Business Relationship Management, Partner Management. 

Manikandan worked as a Project Manager with IBM India Private Limited where he was responsible for the delivery of complex infrastructure projects for an Australian Bank. 

Additionally, he worked as a Service Delivery Manager with TPV Technology India Private Limited to manage Service Operations and Projects across SAARC nations. 

Over the past 5 years he focused on training and consulting with various service providers. 

He delivered more than 500+ sessions on Service Management and Project Management modules.