Which training school?

Where to start? You are looking for a project management training. Which training is best? Does an ‘ordinary’ training project management work or should you choose PRINCE2, IPMA, DSDM, Scrum, PMBOK, or one of the many other systems?

A general training project management

There are many providers of a (basic) project management training or course in “project-based work”. These courses focus on the practical knowledge and skills that a project leader must master. In most courses this means project management, and also in ours the emphasis is more on the practical application of project management than in much more extensive courses, such as IPMA and PMI, which are explained below. But there is a lot of overlap with IPMA and PMI, because almost all the methods and techniques used in those systems are found in virtually every project management course.

There are 2 types of project management courses: the training for so-called ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills. The hard skills are skills such as making a plan, writing a project plan, making a budget, dividing tasks and managing the project. The soft skills are about things like: how do I manage a team, the competencies of a project manager, how to listen to the wishes of clients, how to negotiate with the team and clients, how to be ‘firm’ in difficult periods, and so on.

Some project management courses put more emphasis on the hard side and other more emphasis on the soft side of project management. And some focus exclusively on one of the two.

More information about our project management course can be found here.

Training PRINCE2

If someone wants to learn project management, sometimes “PRINCE2” is called up. It is a popular system of project management that has arisen in the IT world. PRINCE2 is a very formal and procedural system that is suitable for the larger projects in larger (and formally organized) organizations. Although PRINCE2 is well known, satisfaction with PRINCE2 is not unanimously high.

One Dutch study asked project leaders how pleased they were with the PRINCE2 methodology and found that only 11% were satisfied. There followed a fierce discussion in which PRINCE2 supporters stated that dissatisfaction was not due to the method, but rather to how PRINCE2 was being applied and that hardly anyone applied the method properly. In any case, PRINCE2 is not a solution or remedy for all project management problems.


Anyone looking for a project management course and thinking of PRINCE must realize that PRINCE2 is mainly about the procedures within a project, about the phase transitions in a project (“what status does the project have?”). A lot of basic skills for a project leader are NOT treated within a PRINCE2 program: such as making a plan, drawing up a budget, or motivating and selecting a team.

PRINCE2 project management is therefore not really practical. Furthermore, PRINCE2 is especially applicable when the entire organization does it. If that is not the case, as a project leader you have only limited benefit from a PRINCE2 program (even though it will always look good on your CV).

Some of the trainers at www.projectmanagement-training.nl are PRINCE2 accredited and we certainly use elements from the method. Due to the lack of practical applicability and the great emphasis on procedures, however, we have decided to provide PRINCE2 training as a tailor-made solution only if a client explicitly requests this.

For enrolment into accredited PRINCE2 trainings we have to refer you to our competitors: look here for an overview of PRINCE2 courses.

IPMA project management

IPMA stands for international project management association. This organization has a certification system for project management on 4 levels:

IPMA-D: Certified Project Management Associate

IPMA-C: Certified Project Manager

IPMA-B: Certified Senior Project Manager

IPMA-A: Certified Projects Director

Ipma D is the entry level and Ipma A is the highest level. In fact, as a project manager, you must have at least level C. Level D is more of an ‘awareness-raising diploma’. IPMA is a very complete system and just like PRINCE2 a fairly formal project management system. For every project situation there is a ‘procedure’ or checklist in the handbook, which you must be able to reproduce on the IPMA exam.

Ipma certificates are personal. You not only have to take an exam but also submit your CV and have completed a minimum number of management hours per year. In addition, you must replace the exam every five years (IPMA D every 10 years) and pay an exam fee again. In the Netherlands, until the end of 2014, the IPMA exam and the corresponding certification were carried out by ‘Cito’ (which also carries out tests of school children), since 1 January 2015 it has been possible to obtain an IPMA diploma here.

The certification costs between 650 and 2700 euros and recertification costs 500 to 850 euros, depending on the level. An IPMA diploma may be too much for small organizations, but for those who work in large organizations, it can be a valuable career booster.

Click here for more information about IPMA.

IPMA is not so much a training as a certification system for project managers. Our project management training works with many components from the IPMA system but is not a complete IPMA training including preparation for the IPMA exam (D or C). Some students decide to do this exam by including some self-study, but most of our students do not attach much value to the IPMA diploma, on top of the certificate that they receive from our training (see further under ‘regular training project management’ below).


PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge. It is not so much a training as a standard that attempts to capture all knowledge about project management. The PMI-PMP courses, among other things, are based on PMBOK. PMI stands for the Project Management Institute and PMP stands for Project Management Professional. The PMP program is very similar to the IPMA program, but its’ style is even more instrumental. It is made up of many regulations and fixed ‘step-by-step plans’.

PMP is particularly popular in the US and will brings something ‘American’ in terms of style. In Germany it is also relatively better known than in the Netherlands. Furthermore, the training program has a substantial associated cost: exams with many multiple choice questions; different ‘levels’ of project leadership; and recertification (and extra payment) every few years. To maintain your PMP diploma, you must achieve a number of ‘points’ each year (additional schooling), for which there are also costs involved.

Click here for more information about PMBOK.

Providers for PMP courses in the Netherlands.

Agile project management training

The agile project management methods are hugely popular. In particular if you work in IT and software development it can make sense to apply Agile project management. In addition, more and more elements of Agile management are now being used in the creative sector and other sectors (especially in creative or difficult to predict projects).

It would take too long to explain the difference between traditional and Agile project management here, but familiar Agile methods are DSDM, Scrum and XP. DSDM is a formal method with relatively many rules. Scrum and Extreme Programming (XP) are relatively ‘easygoing’ methodologies. In fact, it is advisable for modern project managers to at least be aware of Agile before applying to work for some projects.

Click here for more information about our Agile and Scrum training.

Read more about Agile.

Learning project management

Above, we’ve presented the most famous and talked about project management schools and systems. There are many more, some of which have already disappeared (In the past, for example, ‘PRISMA’ project management was popular, and has now been replaced). New schools and systems will come and go. Once you have looked at one or two of the methodologies, you will see that the content between them is usually very close.

For most beginning project managers, an ‘ordinary’ training in project management or project-based work is best. Afterwards, one might consider also learning PRINCE2 or obtaining an IPMA certificate, especially if the organization in which one works prescribes one of these standards.

This text is brought to you by Wouter Baars. Wouter is an independent trainer in project management and one of the trainers / consultants of Projectmanagement-training.nl.

Here you will find an overview of our training courses for project managers.

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