Which certification is best … PMP or PRINCE2…?

If you want to be a better project manager, the answer is that neither certification is good enough!

In 2011, Starkweather and Stevenson compared PMP certified project managers and uncertified project managers in North America. They found “there was no difference in project success rates”. Cantania et al (2013) found the same thing two years later and Joseph and Marnewick found the same thing in South Africa in 2018.

There are some studies that support the value of PMP and PRINCE2 certifications but they are mainly published by the certifying organisations themselves. The value seems to be in having a standardised process, or a common language, but their evidence does not suggest higher project success rates are realised through the available certifications. Thomas and Mullaly (2008) conducted research sponsored by the highly influential Project Management Institute (PMI) and could not find any compelling evidence that project management added value. The best they could find was that “value was in the eye of the beholder”.

We believe the reason technical knowledge based certifications like PMP and PRINCE2 do not lead to higher project success rates is because they do not evaluate people and organisation skills which are more important than technical skills. We are currently conducting research to see if competency based certifications like IPMA lead to better results. We are also investigating whether people with higher levels of people and organisation skills have higher success rates irrespective of their qualifications. Interested? Click here to share your experience in our survey.

Of course if you want PMP certification to get shortlisted for a job, then go for it. Our advice however, don’t pay too much for it. The cheapest course possible is probably the best for you … maybe go online and get some kind of guarantee that you will pass the exam.