Get Agile certified, but which one to choose?

Over the last 10 years, Agile methodologies are increasingly being used by NZ organisations to run IT projects. Agile is not suitable for all IT projects, however those with ill-defined or changing requirements, or a long timescale, can be run more successfully in an Agile manner. If an IT project is planned to run for 9 -12 months, what you need to deliver at the end will not be the same that you thought you needed to deliver at the start.

Historically, change during projects was thought to be a bad thing. Scope was controlled to limit change as much as possible. These days, change within projects is an essential element of delivering the right project at the right time. The best way to make a project fail is to make a plan at the start and keep to that no-matter what. Agile methodologies are much better equipped to cope with change than non-Agile ones.

What Agile qualification should I get?Get Agile Certified

This was a question I asked myself in 2008 – At that time, Agile was generating a buzz within NZ, and I was looking for a way to learn more. I attended a 2 day Scrum course, and came out with the Certified Scrum Master qualification, and a good overview of Agile, and the mechanics of Scrum.

In 2011, I asked that same question again. During the intervening years I had worked as a project manager across several organisations, and had used different methodologies in each of them. I had also read extensively on Agile, and different methodologies associated with that.

The Project Management Institute (PMI)® (of which I had been a member for many years) had recently announced its intention to release a new Agile qualification – PMI Agile Certified Practitioner® in early 2012. The more I read about that, the more I became excited about not just the qualification, but the opportunity to learn the content required to pass the exam.

Unlike its other qualifications, PMI does not have a Body Of Knowledge book for PMI-ACP®. Instead, it provides a list of recommended reading books, and an examination content guide. The exam is split into Agile domains:

  • Agile Principles and Mindset
  • Value-Driven Delivery
  • Stakeholder Engagement
  • Team Performance
  • Adaptive Planning
  • Problem Detection and Resolution
  • Continuous Improvement (People, Product, Process)

In addition to the domains, the exam covers different Tools, Techniques, Knowledge, and Skills required in an Agile environment. This is one of the key areas where PMI-ACP distinguishes itself from other qualifications – it does not just focus on a single methodology – instead it covers different methodologies including Scrum, Kanban, Lean, Test Driven Development, Xtreme Programming & others.

It has been my experience working in Agile environments that no organisation runs its projects identical to the chosen methodology. Each company may take a single methodology as a starting point, but over time they adapt that to suit their own environment (sometimes that works well, sometimes not). Going from macro to micro scale, some Agile organisations such as Spotify even allow each agile team within a project to determine what methodology (or mix) they want to use themselves. This empowering/self-organizing is a key tenet of the Agile Manifesto.

PMI-ACP: Why it’s different to other Agile Certifications

By giving you exposure to a wide range of the most popular Agile methodologies, the PMI-ACP content provides you those tools in your toolkit to determine what methodology is appropriate to use. In sufficiently large Agile projects, as the project progresses, it is appropriate to use different methodologies at different project stages – however, you need the base knowledge or experience of those to make the right decisions.

The other key differentiator with PMI-ACP is the experience component. Similar to their Project Management Professional (PMP)® and Program Management Certification (PgMP)® qualifications, PMI-ACP has a prerequisite of experience:

  • 2000 hours of general project experience working on project teams
  • 1500 hours working on Agile teams or with Agile methodologies within the last 3 years.

This experience requirement for PMI-ACP relates to the P of the acronym – Practitioner. In order to obtain this qualification, you need real experience working on Agile projects. See how the PMI-ACP certification compares to other Agile Certifications on this handy comparison chart.

Project management has elements of being a science, maybe even an art, more than anything else it is a craft. While you can learn a certain amount from education, it is practicing project management that makes you a good project manager. The PMI-ACP qualification shows not only do you have the knowledge of the materials, but also the real-world hands on experience and skills.

I am happy that I made the right decision to get PMI-ACP in early 2012. PMI has a requirement for ongoing learning and application of knowledge to maintain the qualification. This keeps you current with the latest knowledge in an ever-changing business landscape. I recently recertified my PMI-ACP qualification through a combination of practical application (working on Agile projects) and additional self-directed learning.

About the Project Management Institute (PMI)

PMI recently announced changes to the PMI-ACP qualification following a Role Delineation Study with over 1000 agilists across 60 countries. From this, the new Domain in the exam of Agile Principles and Mindset was added to the exam, and the 62 tasks within the 7 domains were validated/updated.

PMI currently has over 8,500 people worldwide with the PMI-ACP qualification. I believe that with move towards Agile projects, particularly blending methodologies within those projects, that PMI-ACP is a qualification that will continue to gain value as employers realise the benefits of having qualified staff working on their projects.

By Peter Gleeson – PMP, PRINCE2, CSM, PMI-ACP

Repost from original article dated 27 July 2015 10:00am

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