EU Organisational Compliance Institute


ICB ® in 3 minutes

Title/definition ICB® IPMA Competence Baseline The basics

The IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB) is the competence standard for project management, and is not restricted to any corporate sector; the Dutch version of the ICB is called the Nederlandse Competentie Baseline (NCB).


The International Project Management Association (IPMA) is a leading worldwide not-for-profit project management association with 55 member associations. IPMA published the first official version of the ICB (version 2.0) in 1999, with a small modification in 2001. Version 3 was published in 2007.
A central concept is the ‘eye of competence’ (Figure 1), which represents the integration of all competencies of project management as seen through the eye of the project manager when evaluating a specific situation. The eye represents also clarity and vision. After processing the information received, the competent and responsible professional in project management takes appropriate action.

Figure 1: IPMA ‘eye of competence’

The ICB defines 46 competence elements covering the technical competence for project management (twenty elements), the professional behavior of project management personnel (fifteen elements) and the relationships with the context of the projects, programs and portfolios (eleven elements). Each competence element consists of a title, a description of the content, a list of possible process steps and experience criteria required for each IPMA level.
The ICB does not recommend or include specific methodologies, methods or tools. The subject areas are described together with methods for determining tasks and, where they illustrate the latter well, some examples of methods. Methods and tools may be defined by the organization. The project manager should choose appropriate methods and tools for a practical project situation.
IPMA offers a Four Level Certification program based on the IPMA Competence Baseline (ICB):
·IPMA Level-A® (Certified Projects Director),
·IPMA Level-B® (Certified Program Manager or Certified Senior Project Manager)
·IPMA Level-C® (Certified Project Manager)
·IPMA Level-D® (Certified Project Management)
Target audience
The primary target audience consists of project, program and portfolio personnel as well as general managers, who play a role in directing them in project oriented organizations. The secondary target audience consists of certification assessors, HR. managers and trainers.

Scope and constraints

The ICB and the four-level certification are not about methodologies or techniques, but about determining how competent project managers are. The ICB is a competence baseline. Besides the basic terms it only names some tasks, practices etc., and does not describe these tasks, practices, etc. in detail.
The strength of the ICB is that it describes all the competences together with the behavioral and contextual competences expected from project managers and their staff. The ICB also describes the different levels of competences for less and more experienced project managers. None of the other frameworks or methods for project management does this. The ICB framework is therefore most suitable as a reference model for the development and assessment of individual project managers.

Relevant links (web links)
Official IPMA website:


ICB ® in 3 minutes