IPMA, PMI, PRINCE2 – where is which project management standard the strongest?

The importance of projects has steadily increased in recent years. In the business world, they are even considered crucial for the development of companies.

Gerald Aquila

Gerald Aquila

389 words • 4 minutes

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That's why many companies use project-based standards to provide a helpful framework. But which standard is the best for which project environment?

The three major internationally recognized project management standards include IPMA, PMI and PRINCE2.

IPMA, short for International Project Management Association, has been in existence since the 1960s. This standard can be used for any type of project in any industry. The guidelines of the IPMA are set out in the common international base document "Project Excellence Baseline" and serve as a framework. No specific processes or instructions are given - rather, basic elements and methods can be found. For example, the baseline also includes methods for promoting social skills, such as creativity techniques or conflict management. In addition to the management of projects, information is also provided on program management and the management of project-oriented organizations.

PMI is the abbreviation for Project Management Institute. Developed in the late 1960s, the PMI, with nearly half a million members worldwide, is the largest of the three project management organizations. For about 30 years the PMBOK (Project Management Book of Knowledge) has been published - a collection of widely used and proven methods, processes and tools of project management. The standard is constantly reviewed and developed with the help of its users whereby social skills are rather neglected. Although the PMBOK has been generalized, this standard tends to be used by larger companies and for international projects.

PRINCE2 stands for PRojects IN COntrolled Environment 2, a standard evolved in Britain in the late 1980s. Originally developed for IT projects, this standard is characterized by precise instructions. PRINCE2 is procedure- and result-oriented as well as highly scalable. However, this standard may be a little too heavy for small projects. Another advantage is the use of uniform terms and documentation styles which prevents misunderstandings and different interpretations.

Choosing the right project management standard

Since every project environment and every team consider different aspects to be important, it cannot be generally said which standard is suitable for which project environment. Although it is extremely important for a project-oriented organization to agree upon a standard or combination to prevent misunderstandings and communication difficulties, applying a standard alone will not ensure project success.

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Relevant Project Management Terms

Classic Project Management  

The classic project management, also called the waterfall method, is characterized by precise planning and a plan-oriented execution. Deviations in time, costs and project scope should be kept to a minimum. Typically, the project is subdivided by milestones and executed in accordance with the following project phases: Initiation, planning, control and completion.

Project Management  

Project management is the initiation, planning, control and completion of a specific activity, the so-called „project“.

Project Organization  

Project organization is the team that implements a project. It defines itself from its own structure, its own rules and its own culture. A characteristic of the project organization is that the organization exists for a limited period of time, which does not exceed the duration of the project to be completed.

Glossary