The Best PRINCE2® course for beginners

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PRINCE2 was the first project management certification that I got. I had some project experience by that point, but I was still pretty overwhelmed by the volume of material I had to learn, the jargon, the processes, and the weird structure of the exam.

Fortunately, I had the support of a decent trainer and a manager who gave me time to do the pre-work and homework, so I was ready for the test.

Choosing the right PRINCE2 course as a beginner is vitally important. If you can’t grasp the info from the study materials, then you have little to no chance of getting through the exam.

In this article, I’ll share my top tips for choosing the best PRINCE2 course for beginners – whether that’s you or someone in your team whom you are advising.

You’ve already chosen PRINCE2

I’m going to assume that you’ve already decided that PRINCE2 is right for you. If you are working as a project manager, you should be aiming for Practitioner. Foundation is OK for some roles and to prove you can understand the terminology, but it’s not really enough for the job of leading projects.

The career prospects are good for project managers, so let’s get you ready to take the next step and becoming a practitioner!

Which PRINCE2 course is best?

In a hurry? Here’s what you need to know.

I have researched and reviewed a lot of PRINCE2 courses, and the training from Management Plaza is the best.

Now keep reading if you want to learn how I came to that conclusion!

Is PRINCE2 good for beginners?

PRINCE2 is a good choice for beginners and early career project managers or people wanting to move into project management.

It’s a good choice because:

  • It has no pre-requisites (for Foundation, you do have to have passed Foundation to do Practitioner)
  • You can get through it in a week in the classroom
  • There are lots of different ways to study if the classroom isn’t your thing
  • It’s cost-effective
  • It’s tailorable, so you can use it on any project even if the company you work for doesn’t have a project management methodology. You don’t need a PMO to be able to put it to use.

Note: PRINCE2 is not a good choice if you are aiming to work in a predominantly agile project management environment. Agile approaches are not covered by Foundation or Practitioner. While you can tailor the framework, it’s not enough for agile teams. Look at PRINCE2 Agile instead.

I would say, though that it is not enough to teach you how to be a brilliant project manager because it does not spend a lot of time on skills.

For me, the ability to engage stakeholders, work as a team, resolve conflict, solve problems, and so on are key factors in being able to do the job. PRINCE2 will teach you the processes, practices (these used to be called themes in editions prior to PRINCE2 7), principles, and steps of getting a project done.

It teaches you how to do project management.

But it doesn’t teach you how to be a project manager.

Leadership skills and other power skills (AKA soft skills) are things you might already have or can pick up on the way.

On to the courses…

Criteria for choosing a training provider

Perhaps this is going to be your first project management certification. These are the criteria I used to evaluate PRINCE2 courses:

  • Quality of the material
  • Structure of the material
  • Access to a trainer
  • Course time commitment

I was looking for a course that provides a basic understanding of project management practices, processes, and principles (at Foundation level) and then the detailed for the advanced level.

Quality of the material

Too many courses just regurgitate the manual, and I especially don’t like diagrams from the manual cut and pasted onto slides without further interpretation. Having said that, the diagrams in the 7th edition are pretty good, nicer and clearer than previous diagrams, I would say!

You don’t want hundreds of hours of project management training – who has got time for that? Instead, you want a clear, streamlined, easy-to-understand course.

You also want to know that the trainer is being paid fairly, has the right materials, and is capable of delivering a professional experience.

I don’t want to name and shame here when I don’t personally have first-hand experience of a company, but there are some shocking Trustpilot reviews for PRINCE2 courses, so please double-check student experiences before parting with any cash!

Structure of the material

The order of what you learn helps you make sense of the content.

I looked at one course, for example, that has a process walkthrough at the beginning and has a module on starting up a project before the business case practice. I don’t think that makes logical sense to me. Why would you start a project before the business justification is clear? Obviously, you wouldn’t, so why teach it in that order?

The Mplaza Practitioner training starts with the principles, then practices (aka themes), then processes, so you get more into the weeds as you go through. This means the content builds on what you already know as you progress in the course.

Access to a trainer

If you are doing a pre-recorded, self-paced online course, it is important to have access to a tutor for questions. Otherwise, you are flying in the dark.

I like the fact the Mplaza courses have a very active Facebook group, and the lead trainer, Frank Turley, is in there nearly every day supporting students.

I know Facebook isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is good to see there is an active student community and the trainers are committed to helping them succeed.

Mplaza Facebook Group

Course time commitment

I’ve mainly done classroom courses over the years, and goodness, that’s a stretch. The typical classroom course from companies like Spoce (I did a course with them many years ago) goes something like this:

Monday/Tuesday: Foundation content

Wednesday: Foundation exam practice and Foundation exam

Thursday: Practitioner content and exam practice (only if you passed Foundation exam)

Friday: Practitioner exam

That’s intense.

While I was up for that in my 20s, now I have a family and need to be in bed by 10 pm instead of doing homework! I would personally opt now for online training over classroom training, but ultimately that is a decision you have to make for yourself.

For more information on selection criteria, check out how to choose a PRINCE2 course online.

Can I do PRINCE2 without experience?

Yes, you can do PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner without any project management experience. However, you’ll find it A LOT easier if you have got some experience working in a project environment.

It’s hard to understand the context of the processes if you can’t imagine what they would look like in your own workplace.

As you don’t have to evidence hours of project management experience when you apply, PRINCE2 is a great alternative to the Project Management Professional (PMP)® course from PMI, the Project Management Institute. That certification scheme requires the equivalent of several years of experience before you can even apply.

Can I self-learn PRINCE2?

You can self-study PRINCE2. The Mplaza PRINCE2 Foundation/Practitioner course that I recommend takes you from knowing nothing to being able to sit the exam.

It’s logical, well-structured, taught by competent (and personable) humans, and has brilliant support.

Get an exam simulator if you are going to self-study with online learning materials. It’s the best – and fastest – way to identify areas of the syllabus where you are less strong so you can focus your revision time on the right areas.

How hard is the certification exam?

The Foundation exam is straightforward. It’s a multiple-choice knowledge test. If you have the basics down, you will be able to pass the exam.

The Practitioner exam is totally different. It’s full of scenario-based questions with complex objective testing multiple choice options.

I know people who have failed their exams simply because of the time pressure, the stress of trying to interpret the wording in the questions, and the lack of exam practice. Their knowledge of project management was good, but they weren’t ready for the format of the exam itself.

The best way to mitigate that is – if I haven’t labored this point already – get an exam simulator and work through 4-6 (minimum) mock exams online.

I also found it useful to stick tabs in my PRINCE2 manual. I didn’t read any other PRINCE2 books beyond the official manual and the training material provided on my course.

PRINCE2 training manual
This is the old manual I used for my exam, with all the tabs I stuck in to help me quickly reference the points. Make sure you get the latest edition!

Alternatives to PRINCE2 for beginners

The alternatives to PRINCE2 for early-career project professionals are:

  • Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® from PMI
  • Certified Project Management Associate from IPMA (Level D)
  • Project Management Fundamentals from APM (I would say this aligns to PRINCE2 Foundation)
  • Project Management Qualification from APM (I would say this aligns to PRINCE2 Practitioner)

The International Project Management Association (IPMA) has member bodies in many countries. There is probably one near you, so check out what local options you have too.

Your next steps

PRINCE2 is a good choice if you want a career in project management. So what are you waiting for?

Check out the free sample of the best PRINCE2 Practitioner course online. And then maybe you’ll decide you like it as much as I do!

If you aren’t yet ready to sign up for a course, bookmark this page for later! Here are some popular resources that will help you take the next steps:

More PRINCE2® Resources

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