PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Comparison and Differences

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12th Apr, 2023
PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Comparison and Differences

For a project to be executed smoothly, it has to follow a proper framework. There are a number of frameworks that can ensure the smooth functioning of a project. Among all the frameworks, the two which deserve notable mention are PRINCE2 and PMBOK. PMBOK is the abbreviated form of Project Management Body of Knowledge. On the other hand, PRINCE2 is the abbreviated form of Projects in Controlled Environments. PMBOK was established by the USA-based Projects Management Institute (PMI), and PRINCE2 was developed by Axelos, which is based in the UK. 

Both these frameworks help in ensuring proper management of the projects, thereby allowing us to easily manage the projects right from the beginning to the end in a seamless manner. This PMBOK vs PRINCE2 article discusses in detail the differences and similarities between the two frameworks so that you have a proper idea about both before resorting to any one of them. 

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Head-to-head Comparison

The table below will help you see the differences between PMBOK and PRINCE2 at a glance.



Descriptive in nature.

Prescriptive in nature.


Emphasis is laid on the project manager's role.

Allows room for an extension to other roles.

Level of Knowledge Covered 


Not as extensive.

Tools or Roles 

Incorporates the use of tools; explains the project management steps.

Explains the roles which make up the project management team.





Gives priority to soft skills.

Gives priority to technical skills.

The section below will explain all these differences in detail. Read on to find out.

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Detailed Differences and Similarities

The table above gives a brief summary of the major differences between PMBOK and PRINCE2. However, this section discusses the difference between PMBOK and PRINCE2 in detail and will provide you with a clearer picture. 

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: PMBOK is Descriptive while PRINCE2 is Prescriptive

Due to its nature, PMBOK is called descriptive. Although it specifies in detail the methodologies of project management, knowledge domains, and the input and output processes, it does not really focus on the technicalities that go into the application of these methodologies. On the other hand, PRINCE2 is called prescriptive because it gives a complete idea about what is to be done in a project, by whom, and at what point of the project.

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: PMBOK Lays Stress on the Project Manager while PRINCE2 Opens up New Opportunities

According to the PMBOK framework, the decision-making responsibility is mainly restricted to the project manager. This framework lays all the emphasis on the role of the project manager. According to PMBOK, the project manager is the one who is to be entrusted with the task of decision-making, resolving conflicts, planning, managing the resources, and everything else that needs to be done for the seamless completion of the project.

On the contrary, PRINCE2, as has already been mentioned, provides specifications on what task is to be performed by whom and when. It simplifies the task by not entrusting a single person with all the responsibilities but coming up with many other roles that can perform the different tasks and ensure proper completion of the project within a stipulated time.

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Extent of Description Provided and Level of Knowledge Covered

PMBOK covers a huge area of knowledge in the field of project management. It has been discussed above that PMBOK is descriptive in nature. It provides a comprehensive guide on how a project should be managed right from scratch to the time that it is completed.

PRINCE2, on the other hand, does not provide the knowledge in as much detail as PMBOK does. Nevertheless, PRINCE2 stresses the need for a strong business case prior to initiating important discussions related to the project.

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Tools or Roles

PMBOK explains how using certain tools can help in the execution of the project. It also describes the different steps that are involved in project management, along with all the input as well as output processes that will enable the proper execution of the project.

PRINCE2, on the other hand, does not explain the domains of project management in detail. Instead, it talks about the different positions that are involved in the project management team. Therefore, both frameworks will enlighten you about the importance of roles as well as tools; you can choose what works best for you based on the requirement of your project.

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Simplicity

This becomes a small yet significant point of consideration when we take any PMBOK vs PRINCE2 discussion on the plate. Sometimes, the choice of the framework also depends on the extent of the simplicity of the framework. Comparison between PMBOK and PRINCE2 has revealed that the processes associated with PMBOK might be complicated, whereas those involved in PRINCE2 might be easier and simpler to implement.

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: Skills (Technical vs Soft)

This can be linked to the fact that PMBOK stresses the role of the Project Manager. PMBOK, therefore, places tremendous emphasis on soft skills in lieu of possessing technical skills for project management. However, there lies a belief that PRINCE2 completely overlooks the importance of soft skills, which is an important attribute of a project manager's character. 

The execution of a project requires the project manager's good networking skills, and a good network cannot be established without proper soft skills. The next part of this PMBOK vs PRINCE2 article will discuss the similarities between PMBOK and PRINCE2. 

PMBOK vs PRINCE2: How They are Similar?

Now that we are done discussing the differences between PMBOK and PRINCE2 let us glance through some of the PMBOK and PRINCE2 similarities. They are as follows:  

  • PMBOK has 10 Knowledge Areas which is akin to the 7 themes of PRINCE2. The PMBOK knowledge areas include topics like project planning, execution, monitoring, and controlling, including all the steps that are required till the closure of the project.  

All the projects that follow this framework have to undergo the following chronology in order to attain completion. This is akin to the 7 themes of PRINCE2 that serve as a guideline for managing a project. These themes are set up before the commencement of a project. A project has to adhere to these themes throughout until completion. 

  • According to PMBOK, the process of project management has to be classified into five groups:- initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closing. This can be equated with the 7 processes of project management that are involved in PRINCE2- starting, directing, initiating, controlling, managing the delivery of the product, managing the stage boundaries, and then finally closing the project. 
  • In both frameworks, the processes are further divided into a number of activities. In the case of PRINCE2, there are 41 activities, and in the case of PMBOK, there are 49. All these activities lead to the proper completion of the project.  

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What Should You Choose between PMBOK vs PRINCE2?

One can never get over this PMBOK vs PRINCE2 discussion! Suppose you are looking for a framework that will provide you with a detailed guide containing all the procedures of project management, the processes involved in it, the approaches, and the tools that are to be put to use. In that case, you can opt for PMBOK, which is much more elaborate and descriptive in nature. 

However, if you want a framework that will guide you through the decision-making parts of project management, you can choose the PRINCE2 framework. It is much simpler as compared to PMBOK. Now that you have an idea of the similarities and differences between PRINCE2 and PMBOK, you can choose the one that will suit you the best based on your project's requirements. 


Binod Anand

Blog Author

A content marketing analyst, Binod’s area of interest is EdTech, marketing analytics, and digital marketing. He is also a professional blogger and writes extensively on skill development. His hobbies include travelling, programming, and watching sitcoms.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1Does PRINCE2 use PMBOK?

Although there are some technical differences between the two frameworks, PRINCE2 and PMBOK can be treated as similar. They are similar in many aspects, which are discussed in the article, yet PRINCE2 does not use PMBOK as it is. 

2What is better than PRINCE2?

There can be project management frameworks that are better than PRINCE2. One of the drawbacks of PRINCE2 is that it focuses more on technical skills and overlooks the need for soft skills for proper project management. APM (Agile Project Management) is a framework that does not only focus on the need for interpersonal skills for efficient project management but also stresses the need for strong management skills. Similarly, ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Liberty) can help in effective quality and cost management.  

3What is the major difference between PMBOK and PRINCE2?

The major difference between PMBOK and PRINCE2 is that PMBOK concentrates all the responsibility on a single individual, that is, the project manager. On the other hand, PRINCE2 aims at distributing the roles. While PMBOK is descriptive in nature, PRINCE2 is prescriptive.

4What are the similarities between PRINCE2 and PMBOK?

Although PRINCE2 and PMBOK are two different frameworks, there are a number of similarities between the two. Although they are addressed by different names, the components of the frameworks are, more or less, the same. For instance, PMBOK has knowledge areas, and PRINCE2 has themes; what is known as processing groups in PMBOK are the same as processes in PRINCE2.

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