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A Guide to Project Management Courses


A Guide to Project Management Courses

Many employees are offered project management training as part of their career development plan. Others, who are not currently working in the project management arena, fund their own training to enhance their career prospects. In both cases, you need to ensure that the course you take will be recognised by potential employers or promotion boards.

So if this is your first specific project management qualification, steer away from courses that cover specific aspects of project management such as planning or risk management. Instead, go for courses that give you a good grounding in the discipline. These will tend to be linked to one of the leading project management methodologies, such as PRINCE2. At the time of writing, the technical job search site, Jobserve, had 255 jobs or contracts being advertised, that required PRINCE2. And that’s just one site.

Bear in mind that project management is a very wide-ranging discipline and most jobs are for managers who can cover the broad spectrum of project management work. You may be better off adding a second string, such as Agile, rather than focusing on one particular strain of project management.

PRINCE2 isn’t the only methodology out there, although it’s probably the most widely used, so let’s look at the types of courses available so that you can make up your mind which is best for you.


The PRINCE2 foundation and practitioner courses follow on from each other. The foundation level gives the project professional a thorough grounding in the concepts of PRINCE2, and its structure. One of the great benefits is that it enables them to understand some terms they may hear in meetings, such as “exception report”. Additionally, it introduces the various documents that are used, such as Risk Logs .

For this reason, the foundation level appeals to different kinds of people. One group are project administrators who need to be familiar with the method and its requirements. Another group are those considering a move into a project management career. And then there are people who may already be working as project managers, but realise they will need the qualification to move on to bigger and more complex projects.

The latter group will be taking the foundation as a basis upon which they’ll build by taking a practitioner course. These courses can be taken separately or combined. The practitioner assessment focuses quite strongly on tailoring the method to specific project contexts.

2. Agile

Agile methodology is increasingly being combined with PRINCE2 as a requirement for project managers. As much a philosophy as a project method, it centres around producing working software rather than documentation or other products. This is why it’s often combined with PRINCE2 which can provide structure for the whole project, while a single sub-team may also be using Agile to produce work. Agile projects have short work horizons or “sprints” and review their work at meetings called “scrums” led by scrum masters.

Agile is probably best seen as an strong second qualification to add to a PRINCE2 practitioner certificate. On its own, it won’t be so useful in obtaining work as a project manager because there are some project areas where it’s not very widely used.

3. Lean Six Sigma

Another useful add-on rather than a project methodology in its own right, and another discipline that is part business method and part philosophy. The basic problem with Lean Six Sigma in project management is that it’s unlikely that the whole team is going to understand the underlying philosophy. That can make practical implementation across a project problematic. However, some insights, such as the fact that reducing variability will increase quality, can be applied without sending the entire team on a Six Sigma course. Course graduates get a Certificate of Completion.

4. Project Management Professional – PMP

Widely used in the US, PMP is less commonly used than PRINCE2 in the UK and Europe. This trend may be magnified, as the 2018 version of PRINCE2 will be translated into nearly a dozen European languages, leading to even wider adoption across Europe. This is not to undermine the fact that PMI is a global organisation and that the PMP is very much a respected qualification.

The method defines knowledge areas and process groups and is aimed at developing project managers who can work on diverse projects, including large and complex programmes. Courses usually involve looking at case studies in order to prepare students for the exam questions. To qualify, you have to show that you are working in the area, so it’s not really for novices.

5. Managing Successful Programmes – MSP

Definitely not for beginners, MSP is a key qualification for project managers who are moving into programme management. It’s not so concerned with detail, more with strategic management and emphasises stakeholder management and communications which are key functions for programme managers. For project managers who already have PRINCE2 and want to manage larger and more complex programmes, MSP is definitely the next step.

I am the founder of Startup Today. I am the main writer and have put in many hours of work into creating this blog. If you want to find out more about me then lets get in contact.

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