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Zero to APM Introductory Certificate (IC): A Graduate’s entry into the world of Project Management

APM Introductory Certificate

APM Introductory Certificate

Last Wednesday I started my first graduate job, Thursday morning I was back in the classroom. I was sitting in a conference room in Reading with 5 other ‘students’ waiting to begin the APM Introductory Certificate.

As it was one of Provek’s public training courses we were all from a variety of different backgrounds and companies. We ranged from the lone, lowly graduate with zero experience to a Gatwick engineer who had been managing projects for years.

Thankfully Nathalie, our trainer, was great at pitching the material at my level (the lowest level) but progressing quickly to challenge those who were picking it up quicker. So when I asked what a Gantt chart was it didn’t take her too long to recover!

The APM IC covers a lot of ground, it is a lot to absorb in two days, but the structure allowed for frequent repetition of older information. Each of the units logically builds on and expands previous modules meaning that whilst you progress you are naturally revising previous modules.

Provek’s method of teaching was very hands on, we were dragged out of our seats for activities at frequent intervals and whilst we complained a lot about the movement it was extremely helpful for our understanding of the units. Often the activities helped us grow in confidence or revealed areas we needed to return to, usually to our collective dismay!

Nathalie’s depth and breadth of experience helped her give us relevant and helpful real world examples as well as take the information she was giving us that one step beyond the theoretical to help us apply it when we were back in the work place.

One area I had a slight advantage was how recently I had done exams, many of the other delegates hadn’t done them in a while. My most recent exam experience however, wasn’t particularly helpful. As an English Graduate I haven’t done an exam with a definite right answer in a while, no long-winded explanations of my reasoning in this exam!

The exam was thankfully quite simple, 60 multiple choice questions, it didn’t stop the frantic highlighting and rereading during our final pre-exam minutes but it did make the actual exam far less stressful than I was expecting.

The questions are designed to thoroughly explore your understanding of the intricacies of the terms used and sometimes the difference between two answers was tiny until you (hopefully) remembered an important distinction.

After an hour it was all over, we were outside going over the questions we had struggled with and waving goodbye to the invigilator and his home décor magazines.

A week later I’ve passed and whilst they assure me now that if I hadn’t passed I would still have a job – I’m not so sure!

It was a brilliant experience, the training was of a high standard and I am very happy to now be in possession of my very own professional qualification, bring on APMP!

APM IC online and exam online

APM IC online course and exam for £125

Study online for APM IC Introductory Certificate with online exam for only £125!

Get a fundamental awareness of project management terminology and contribute to project success with the on demand APM IC online Introductory Certificate solution.

Take the APM IC online course and exam anywhere and at any time using the excellent training materials on The PM Channel and the new APM IC online exam.

The price of £125+VAT represents a huge saving of 30% on the current price. But hurry because our offer only lasts until the end of August 2013.

Candidates will have access to the full APM IC online course materials for 12 months on The PM Channel.

Click here to discover the APM IC online modules on The PM Channel

Candidates will be able to complete the online examination by utilising remote live proctoring from 1 October:

• Candidates can choose time and place for exam (24/7, 360 days a year)
• Secure delivery with locked browser, invigilating throughout and immediate indication of result
• Verified exam result and electronic certificate within 3 working days

 Having sat the APM IC exam at the beginning of the year, and then test ran the APM IC online exam in July, I am delighted to say that this convenient, flexible approach really is the future for e-learning. Although it is still administered under strict exam conditions, it does seem to take most worry and stress out of the equation. The best part is most definitely not having to wait a few weeks before you receive your results as they appear instantly!

Which project management qualification is right for you?

What recognised project management qualifications are available?

The figure below summarizes the core project management qualifications available and indicates the job roles most appropriate for each qualification.  This article is drawn from the useful project management qualification guide produced by Provek

Roles relevant for each project management qualification or certificate APM APMG PMI
Project team member, New project manager, Project office staff including Co-ordinator/planner. (Project experience not required, but advantageous). APM Introductory Certificate PRINCE2 Foundation CAPM Certification(Certified Associate of Project Management)
Project Manager (Junior), Work Package Manager, Project Office Manager (typically min 2-3 years project experience) APMP PRINCE2 Practitioner PMP (Project Management Professional)
Project Manager (typically min 3 years managing non complex projects) APM Practitioner Qualification (PQ) None None
Senior Project Manager (typically min. 5 years managing complex projects) Designation: Registered Project Professional (RPP) None None
Programme ManagerProgramme Director None, but considering introducing a qualification MSP (Managing Successful Programmes) Foundation, Practitioner and Advanced qualifications. PgMP (Programme Management Professional)

In addition to the above broad based project management qualifications and certifications, both the APM and APMG offer project risk management qualifications.  Provek provide public and in-house risk management certification courses which includes the examination.

To understand more about the qualifications and how they best suit your needs please see the answers to the questions below.

What are the benefits of achieving a qualification or certification?
Who are the recognised Project Management bodies?
Is there benefit in achieving more than one qualification?
Is there any benefit in achieving both APM and PRINCE2 qualifications?
How do I choose between APM or PRINCE or PMI qualifications?
Do training courses include the examinations or are they separate?
If an individual does not pass the examination, can they re-sit?
APM are planning to achieve chartered status.  What does this mean? 
What is the cost for attending training and taking the examination?

What are the benefits of achieving a project management qualification or certification?

Both an individual and the organisation they work for should benefit from an individual achieving a project management qualification or certification. Dependent upon the nature of the organisation and its business, some of the key potential benefits are as follows.

Benefits to the organisation:
  • Best-practice knowledge, skills, tools and techniques acquired through the training necessary to achieve a qualification are deployed back in the work place.
  • Improved capability and competence to deliver an organisation’s programmes or projects, resulting in increasing customer satisfaction and reputation, saving costs, utilising resources more effectively and positively impacting morale.
  • Supports individuals with their personal and career development planning. This in turn can result in increased appreciation of, and commitment to the organisation, by the individual.
  • Catalyses improvements to an organisation’s own project or programme management methods and processes through gaining an understanding of best-practice.
  • Enhances the credibility of the organisation to own clients and customers through having project or programme staff that have achieved externally recognised certification or qualification.
  • External recognition of an individual’s project management knowledge and capabilities indicating a core level of embedded understanding, which is then likely to be applied back in the work place.
Benefits to the individual:
  • Provides the individual with additional and portable knowledge, skills, tools and techniques in order to be more successful in managing and delivering projects or programmes.
  • Enhances career development prospects through having achieved an externally recognized qualification or certification.
  • Demonstrates to the employer, the individual’s desire, commitment and capabilities to learn and improve themselves, and thus improving an individual’s reputation within the organisation.
  • Provides an external industry-wide benchmark of an individual’s project management knowledge and competence.

Who are the recognised Project Management bodies?

There are three main recognised bodies for project management who provide a range of project management best-practice methodology, principles, qualifications, certifications and professional membership.  Reassuringly, there is considerable overlap concerning what each of the three bodies considers as best-practice project management.

The differences between the three bodies tends to be more related to the level, focus, breadth and depth of project management principles, processes, techniques and methods rather than there being any fundamentally conflicting views about best-practice project management.

The three main recognised project management bodies are:

  • Association for Project Management (APM) – The APM is the largest independent professional body of its kind in Europe with over 20,000 individual and 500 corporate members throughout the UK and abroad. Their aim is to develop and promote project management across all sectors of industry. At the heart of APM ethos is the APM Body of Knowledge (APM BoK), comprising fifty-two knowledge areas required to manage any successful project. APM BoK provides a framework and key principles for managing projects. Training and examinations are delivered through APM Accredited Training Providers. The APM is currently seeking a Royal Charter to have project management recognised as a profession.  APM is headquartered in the UK.
  • APMG-International – APMG administer qualifications, certifications and accreditations on behalf of the Cabinet Office and before that the OGC (Office of Government Commerce). The Cabinet Office are the owners of the PRINCE2 method for managing projects and MSP for managing programmes. PRINCE2 is an acronym for PRojects In Controlled Environments. MSP is an acronym for Managing Successful Programmes. Training and examinations are delivered through APMG Accredited Training Organisations. PRINCE2 is a structured process-based method for effective project management. It is a de facto standard used extensively by the UK Government and is also widely recognised and increasingly used in the private sector. APMG is headquartered in the UK.
  • Project Management Institute (PMI) – The PMI is the largest global membership association for project management professionals. At the heart of the PMI philosophy is ‘A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)’. The PMBOK Guide comprises core project management processes and techniques, and also includes professional responsibility. Training is delivered through PMI Registered Education Providers (REP). Examinations are delivered through separate approved assessment centres. This does not involve the REPs. Candidates schedule an examination directly with an approved assessment centre once their eligibility has been validated by PMI. PMI is headquartered in the USA.

Is there benefit in achieving more than one project management qualification?

Particularly for individuals pursuing a career in project and programme management, the qualifications can be seen as a ladder.  It is aligned with their increasing project or programme hands-on experience, level of role and required or expected competence.

For example, for an individual following an APM route, when new to project management they may take the APM Introductory Certificate examination to demonstrate a broad awareness of best-practice project management.  As the individual gains some project experience and becomes a work package manager of a large project or a project manager then APMP certification will provide formal recognition that an appropriate level of breadth and depth of best-practice knowledge has been acquired.  After the individual has been project managing for several years, taking the APM Practitioner Qualification can then be worthwhile to demonstrate an appropriate level of competence externally recognized. Also it is the only qualification involving project management assessment of its kind available in the UK.

Is there any benefit in achieving both APM and PRINCE2 qualifications?

Yes there can often be for many people. Some organisations deploy both APM and PRINCE2 training and qualifications. APM and PRINCE2 are not mutually exclusive, and are not competing methods of project management. For an individual project manager it can be advantageous to have an understanding of both APM and PRINCE2, for example in engaging with clients and suppliers who may use one or both approaches.

APM training and qualifications are designed to ensure that individuals and teams have the appropriate generic knowledge and understanding in the key areas and principles of project management. APM training is appropriate for anyone involved in project management. It provides the foundation for using project management methods such as PRINCE2. APM also includes consideration of softer skills aspects such as conflict management, negotiation, teamwork and leadership in a project environment.

PRINCE2 provides users with a structured process driven methodology suitable for any organisation undertaking projects. PRINCE2 related training is most suitable to those either using (or about to use) the PRINCE2 method or one that is based on PRINCE2. It will also benefit those who do not work in a PRINCE2 environment as its general principles and emphasis on structure and deliverables will facilitate best practice.

How do I choose between APM or PRINCE or PMI project management qualifications?

The figure below is to assist in considering which qualification or certification awarding body to follow:

Factors to consider APM APMG PMI
Syllabus based upon APM Body of Knowledge – 5th Edition (2006) and a 6th Edition (2012) has been released OGC’s PRINCE2 manual 2009 EditionOCG’s MSP manual 2007 Edition PMBOK 4th Edition 2008
Geography Mainly UK, increasing within Europe Mainly across Europe, founded in public sector US based, most globaly recognised
Professional membership available Yes, (but not linked to qualifications) No Yes (and requires PMP qualification)
Best-practice sharing/forums among members Yes (through specific interest groups and annual conference) No Yes (regional chapters)
Other factors to consider Qualifications fully aligned with IPMA (International Project Management Association) Levels A to C. APM progressing towards Chartered Status and register of Chartered Project Professionals (ChPP) New PRINCE2: 2009 edition due for formal issue mid 2009.Re-registration exam to maintain Practitioner status required after 3 to 5 years Eligibility requirements to satisfy prior to sitting any exams based on education attainment, relevant training hours and project experience.To retain certification status requires evidence of continuous professional development – CAPM every 5 years; PMP every 3 years.

In addition to the above factors, also consider the relevance to your own organisation or industry sector:

  • Consider if any of APM, PRINCE, MSP or PMI are already being deployed in own organisation.
  • Consider project management approach or method most common for own clients and to lesser degree own suppliers.
  • APM’s BoK provides broadest range of project management topics including both soft and hard skills. Provides framework, principles and rationale for each critical area of project management, but not a prescribed method.
  • PMI’s PMBOK provides core processes for project management and also incorporates professional responsibility of practitioners.
  • OGC’s PRINCE2 provides a process-driven structured method for project management.
  • OGC’s MSP manual provides a framework for managing programmes.

Should you require a more detailed comparison between APM and PRINCE2 specifically, please see Provek’s “PRINCE2 or APM – how do I choose” page.

Do training courses include the examinations or are they separate?

Most Provek qualification based training courses incorporate the examination at the end of a training course. The training course will also provide examination question advice, tips and practice to help prepare the candidate. There are also self-study options for some courses, which require minimum or no classroom time. Should the candidate prefer this latter option, they simply attend the classroom to sit the examination.

If an individual does not pass the examination, can they re-sit?

Yes. There is also a significantly reduced charge for re-sitting an examination. Also normally there is no minimum timescale before a candidate can re-sit. The re-sit exam should be scheduled to a timescale that suits the other time commitments of the individual and allowing sufficient revision and study time.

APM are planning to achieve chartered status. What does this mean?

If the APM achieve chartered status then it will become the body responsibility for setting standards and creating a code of conduct for the profession of project management in the UK. Once the APM has chartered status, it can then set up a register of chartered project professionals by assessing and admitting people who meet the standard for chartered status.

At present, the designation of registered project professional (RPP) has been implemented as a forerunner to the  chartered project professional (ChPP).

Download this paper on which project management qualification as a pdf

Studying for APM Introductory Certificate on The PM Channel

The APM Introductory Certificate gives you broad knowledge of project management focused on the definition of key terms.

If you are interested in a self study distance learning course, the on demand video project management training solution on The PM Channel for the APM Introductory Certificate is worthwhile considering.

This comprises 18 modules covering the full syllabus and also has a number of exercises with model solutions and practise examination questions with answers.   The total study time is recommended at between 10 and 15 hours.


To see what it is like, you can try a couple of the modules out for free.  Information about the examination, including practise questions are available as well as one module on Project Lifecyles and Project Reviews.

The APM Introductory certificate is available on the Introductory Certificate for £49/ year.

Is the APM Introductory Certificate suitable for you?

The APM Introductory Certificate project management qualification gives you broad knowledge of project management focused on definition of key terms.

Compared to PRINCE2 Foundation qualification, the APM Introductory Certificate project management qualification requires less study time (about two-thirds that of PRINCE2 Foundation), covers a broader range of project management topics and is pitched at about the same level of difficulty.

It is great for people who are about to be a team member on a significant project, or who are needing to be a work-package manager on a project, or who are needing to manage their own small departmental project.

If you want to hear more, please watch Neil Mooney explaining the APM Introductory Certificate in a couple of minutes on The PM Channel.

This qualification has no pre-requisites and people from a wide range of different backgrounds successfully have achieved the APM Introductory Certificate. They have had backgrounds such as personal assistant, marketing consultant, finance administrator and engineering technician.

However generally, most people who choose the APM Introductory Certificate have had some exposure to projects and project management in their jobs.

The syllabus for the qualification covers a broad range of topics from the APM Body of Knowledge and most of the 60 questions in the one hour multiple choice examination are based on correct definition of key terms in project management.

Topics covered include:

• Project Management
• Programme and Portfolio Management
• Project Success and Benefits Management
• Project Context and Stakeholder Management
• Project Life Cycles & Project Reviews
• Business Case
• Project Sponsorship & Organisational Roles
• Project Management Plan (PMP) and Reporting
• Scope Management
• Scheduling
• Estimating
• Risk Management
• Project Quality Management
• Change Control and Issue Management
• Configuration Management
• Procurement
• Communication
• Teamwork and Leadership

However, the depth of study is limited to mainly definitions and so the learning objectives for scheduling for example are:

• Define scheduling
• Define total float and the term critical path
• Define Gantt (bar) chart
• Define baseline
• Define milestone

Most classroom courses are two-days in duration and require little or no pre-course study. The one hour examination is taken at the end of the second day.  On line self study courses are also available.

A new on demand video project management training course for the APM Introductory Certificate is available on The PM Channel.