Friday, October 16, 2020

Seven Steps to Achieve the PMI-ACP Certification


Takeaway: You will learn how to get certified as an Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP®) from Project Management Institute (PMI®). In the market, there are a lot of myths running and learn how to do it exactly.

In this post, I’ll keep the steps simple. This will help you to know and absorb quickly. 

If you want to have a detailed discussion on how to proceed with the exam, then you may want to watch the recorded global webinar. 


Long back, I had written on how to get PMI-PMP certified in seven simple steps. Many PMPs have gone through those steps, joined my courses or sessions and have cleared the PMP exam. This post is in similar lines, though it’s for the PMI-ACP certification exam. 

Now, let’s start right-away with the minimal steps for being a PMI-ACP.


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Step – 1: Prerequisites

Minimum 12 months of unique non overlapping "General Project Experience", in which you have spent 2,000 hours in project teams. This experience should have been accumulated in the last five years. 

AND

Minimum 8 months or 1,500 hours of unique non overlapping "Agile Experience", where you have worked in Agile methodologies. This experience should have been accumulated in the last three years. 

For details, please visit: https://www.pmi.org/certifications/types/agile-acp/exam-prep 

Please note that by "General Project Experience", it doesn’t mean you should be a Project Manager or a Product Manager or a Portfolio Manager or Program Manager. If you are an Engineer, Lead Engineer, or a Team Lead/Project Lead/Module Lead etc. and you have done general project work, you are eligible. Similar is the case for Agile experience.  

Step – 2: Membership

Once you are sure of prerequisites, then go ahead. If not, please be careful. PMI does not tolerate any kind of malpractice. 

If sure, it is better to get a PMI membership. To have that, you have to pay an amount to PMI. Have an account at https://www.pmi.org/ and pay the amount.

Note: You may NOT be a member, but still can get PMI certified. However, if you are a member, then the overall cost is somewhat less and you also get the benefit of various journals and magazines from PMI. 

Step – 3: 21 Contract Hour Program

You need to have 21 contact hour programs to take the test in addition to the criteria in Step – 1. This is in addition to the General Project Experience, Agile Experience and is termed as Agile Management Education. And this is mandatory. 

Step – 1 and Step – 3 are with respect to professionals with a Secondary degree or global equivalent.

Step – 4: Experience Validation

PMI validates your claim of experience and hence requires you to put the experience in detail at their website. You have to prove that you have 2000 hours of General Project Experience and 800 hours of Agile experience. 

Note: If you are a Project Management Professional (PMP), or Program Management Professional (PGMP), then you won’t need to show this project management experience, because PMI has already validated this experience.  

If it is found to be fake (they will have the contact details of your previous company, managers etc.), your application will be rejected. And PMI strictly follows it. 

Step – 5: After the Validation

After your experience is validated (normally within two weeks), you will be invited to take the exam. PMI randomly selects applications for validation. If you are not selected, you will be informed about the application being approved. 

For the final exam you have to pay the exam fee. 

After paying, you will have an ID, which will be required to schedule via PearsonVUE. You can schedule in advance at a PearsonVUE center near to your locality. (https://home.pearsonvue.com/pmi

Ideally, you should take the exam after 6/8 weeks of getting the contact program. One normally loses motivation. ACP is relatively easier compared to the PMP exam. However, this exam’s standard is much higher compared to various ‘Master’/ ‘Expert’ certifications that you would be seeing in the market, which are done with little or no effort!  

Step – 6: At the Exam

You have to take a print out of the invitation for the exam and valid government issued identity proof. The exam is of 3 hours with 120 multiple choice questions. 

You can take the ACP exam in both online proctored mode or traditional-center based

Note: Do NOT consider the PMBOK guide as your reference for the ACP exam. In fact, I would suggest that you don’t read it at all! There is a list of books and the Agile Practice Guide from PMI, which will be your references. 

You may want to read a number of PMI-ACP success stories in the below link:
PMI-ACP Success Stories 

You will be notified on your pass or failure at the exam center itself by PMI. It will be reflected on your computer screen. You can take a print out of your certificate. 

The final certificate will reach your snail mail address afterward.

Step – 7: If you fail

You can go for another attempt and you have to pay an additional fee. You can give three attempts including the first one in one year. The one-year timeline is set from the day your application is approved. 

Conclusion

As noted earlier, after going through the steps, if you want to know a detailed discussion on this topic, you can follow the below link for webinar. In the global webinar, conducted by MPUG, I’ve also answered a number of questions related to which credential to go for, how to prepare etc.

Global Webinar: Want To Be A PMI-ACP? The Primary Steps to Take


References:

[1] Book: I Want To Be An ACP, The Plain and Simple Way, Second Edition, by Satya Narayan Dash

[2] PMI-ACP Handbook and PMI-ACP Exam Content Outline (ECO), by Project Management Institute (PMI)


Sunday, October 04, 2020

Agile Asanas: Mapping Traditional Project Roles (PMBOK) to Agile Frameworks


I get this question many times from management practitioners on how various roles in a project will translate to the roles in Agile frameworks. Let’s say your team is following the Scrum framework, where you have three roles: Scrum Master, Product Owner and Team Member. 

How will these roles map to the traditional project roles? 

[ To read all posts in Agile Asanas series, use this link. ]


For the mapping, I’ll take the reference of the PMBOK® guide, which is considered to be a leading  guide in project-program-portfolio (PPP) community . But that doesn’t help if you have some idea in Scrum. Also, because I mentioned in the post title how to map to the Agile frameworks - not in particular Scrum – you need to have an understanding in approches as well, e.g., XP, Kanban, among many others. 

To answer this question, you need to have these three:

  • Very good understanding on the role of a PPP Manager, the role of team members and stakeholders.
  • Sound understanding of the roles played in various Agile frameworks such as XP, Scrum, Kanban, Scrumban etc. 
  • A change in the mindset as you move to Agile.

For this Agile Asana article, I assume you have a sound understanding of the project team and roles and also a solid understanding of various Agile frameworks. 

With this assumption, let’s understand briefly the knowledge areas (KA) of the PMBOK guide.

Traditional Knowledge Areas 

The below table informs on the various knowledge areas applicable for a project, as noted in the PMBOK guide, 6th edition.


In the above table, do note that Resource Management entails:

  • Human resources such as team members, contract workers.
  • Non-human resources, which can have physical as well as non-physical resources.

Another tricky area is the Stakeholder Management

  • Your team members are also your stakeholders. 
  • There can be hidden stakeholders in your project or even completely unknown ones. Hence, stakeholder identification is an iterative process. 

Next Mapping the tables to the individual roles in Scrum/XP/Kanban etc. I’m not going to use any specific framework or method in Agile. Hence, I’ll keep the terms to be generic across the roles. 


Mapping Project Roles to Agile Frameworks

As you can see in the below table, I’ve mentioned varieties of roles such as Product Owner (PO) or Product Manager, Scrum Master (SM) or Agile Project Manager (APM). It can be also Kanban Flow Master in Scrumban approaches, and Team or Development Team. 


Considering the table, I’ve noted some key points below:

  • Quality is everyone’s responsibility. Hence, “Yes” has been put for all three roles: PO, SM/APM and Team.
  • Risk management and mitigation are also everyone’s responsibility. Hence, “Yes” has been put for all three roles.
  • Stakeholder Engagement: The Product Owner deals with the customer/sponsor and brings the customer and other needed stakeholders to reach an agreement on the features or functionalities to be taken up.
    The Scrum Master (or Agile Project Manager) main job is to protect the team from external interruptions and interventions. Hence, this role is significant in dealing with the stakeholders. 
  • Communication happens across all these roles and hence, “Yes” has been put for all of them. 
  • Resource management involves management of both human and non-human resources. As you would have noticed, I’ve put the TEAM as the owner of human resource management. This area is acted upon differently by other two roles in an Agile team. 

It’s also pertinent to note that there will be other managers, stakeholders such as partners, regulatory bodies that may be involved in a project. If such is the case for your project, you can decide on their roles in the project and with whom they can interact with. For example:

  • If regulatory bodies are there, then there will be compliance needs. In such cases, the Product Owner or Product Manager will be involved. 
  • If the project is part of a bigger program or portfolio, then during integration, other managers can play a role for integration.


Conclusion
As you can see, it’s not that difficult to map the responsibilities of the project manager to various roles. Of course, for that to happen, you need to have a sound understanding on what project management is about and roles being played by the team in an organization. 

However, the hardest part is usually the third part mentioned in the beginning:
A change in the mindset as you move to Agile.

To understand more on Agile Mindset, you can read the following piece:

If you can address it in your team, you are well set to move into Agile frameworks.


References:






Sunday, September 27, 2020

Out of Sequence (OOS) Logic: Splitting In-Progress Tasks in MS Project


I received the following question from one the participants in the global webinar on dependencies, leads and lags.


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Good Morning Satya,

Thanks for the presentation yesterday.  I was looking for a more simplistic manner to present to new superintendents and APMs this subject.  I like the way you laid out the predecessor column and successor column and think that is a great way to simplify it for others.

I filled out the survey information and made the following comment at the end of the survey:

I posted a question that was never asked - not sure why.  The topic was rather elementary and was expecting to be able to resolve issues we have with entering Actual Start dates that contradict the dependency entered - increasing the duration of the task due to an early start yet maintaining the logic which many times no longer applies.  The fix for this is to actually modify the task dependency to accurately reflect how it was started in relationship to the predecessor.

At some point MS Project (I believe it was with the 2007 release but may have been before that) changed the way task dependencies were handled when updating the project schedule.  The process used to hold logic until an Actual Start date was entered and then it reverted to calculating the task finish date by adding the duration to the Actual Start date entered.  Now Project maintains the task dependency even if the Actual Start did not follow the logic created.  Using your examples:

Task A – 4d

Task B – 4d – Task A FS

Task B Actual Start on day 3 in lieu of day 5

Task B duration now becomes 6d long

Our company is a multi-family general contractor in central Florida.  We build large apartment complexes, senior care, hotels, timeshares (which are few and far between these days), etc.  Our schedules deal with larger groups of units and we use a lot of leads and lags to overlap trades.  I was hoping this issue would have been discussed and I guess I was wondering if there is a specific way to create schedules that alleviate or minimize the impact of this condition.  My fix is to adjust the logic to accurately reflect the date we want the subcontractor to complete the scope.  It is hard to get PMs and APMs to actually focus enough when updating to pay attention to this issue.  As a result, I lean heavily on SS+ relationships.  Could you convey your view on this please.

Also, on the topic of SF dependency, I look at that logic differently.  I use it to create a Start and Finish date for a scope of work that needs to complete prior to a scope that has a fixed date (either by dependency or constraint though I rarely use constraints in my schedules).  An example would be normal weight concrete (though we refer to it as “lightweight concrete” in our schedules) at corridors and patios which is usually a long lead item requiring it to be scheduled 6-8weeks prior.  There is a scope of work that needs to be completed prior to this work (engineering inspection, plywood & gypsum sheathing, door pans).  The predecessor work may need to be completed out of sequence with the normal framing scope to accommodate the long lead task.  Comments?

Thanks again for taking the time to present and for your time with these questions.

DAVID HAMMOND | Scheduling Manager

18 Years of Service

WINTER PARK CONSTRUCTION

WWW.WPC.COM

221 Circle Drive |  Maitland, FL 32751

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This question was repeated by others who use my MS Project courses and some who had joined the webinar. Hence, I decided to put it as a post. There is another question on SF dependency, which I’ve already explained in the webinar. 

Now, let’s see the first question and how changing dependency changes the duration “visibly” to additional days! 

The Situation

I’ll outline the situation that David has used and I’ve put similarly in my explanations. 

  • Two tasks – Task A and Task B
  • Duration – 4 days for each task
  • Task B follows Task A with a Finish-to-Start (FS) relationship. 
  • It has no lead or lag. It’s a pure FS dependency. 
  • You saved this plan, baselined and started tracking. 

So far, no problem at all. This is shown below. 

 

As shown above, both Task A and Task B, are of 4 days duration. There is a FS dependency between these two tasks. The black bar below the blue bar is for the baseline. The redline is for the status date, which is as on Wednesday (Day 3) end.

But then the problem arises when you start Task B ahead of its “planned start”. In other words, the “actual start” of Task B is ahead of the “planned start’. 

It means the following:

  • Task A planned start is on Monday (Day 1) and finish is on Thursday (Day 4). It’s going according to the plan. By days, I mean only working days. 
  • Task B's planned start is on Friday (Day 5) and it finishes on coming Wednesday (Day 8). This is because of the FS relationship.
  • But then Task B actually started 2 days before, i.e., instead of starting on Friday (Day 5), it started on Wednesday (Day 3). 

This is how it’s represented in MS Project.  


Can you see the problem above?


The Problem

Task B has a splitting line drawn in-front when the actual start is on Tuesday (Day 3). In other words, the total duration looks to be 6 days instead of 4 days. 

This is what David notes in his problem and tells the Task B becomes 6 days of duration. Because Task B has now the following dates in its duration:

  • Day 3 (Wed) + Day 4 (Thu) + Day 5 (Fri): This week, which totals to 3 days.
  • Day 6 (Mon) + Day 7 (Tue) + Day 8 (Wed): Coming week, which totals to another 3 days.

The representation at least shows that Task B is of 6 days of duration, instead of 4 days. Hence, it becomes confusing for many. 

However, MS Project software correctly notes the values in the Tracking table. The default table is Entry table and I’ve switched to Tracking table by going to View – Data – Tables – Tracking table.

As you can see, in the tracking table, Task B’s remaining duration is still 4 days, not 6 days! 

Nevertheless, some management practitioners want to show the dependencies properly with FS dependency and no-split at all and that’s what David’s needs were and also others who sent related questions. 

The Solution

To have the dependency shown without any splitting of tasks, all you have to do is clear the related checkbox in the global setting. You can do so by going to Backstage View – Options – Schedule – Scheduling options for this project – Split in-progress tasks.


By default, it will be enabled. You have to clear this checkbox. 

After you disable split in-progress tasks, you can have the below representation in MS Project.

As you can see, now the dependency is shown properly. For Task B, the schedule has shifted two days to the left (also from the baseline) and the total duration “visibly” is 4 days, not 6 days.  

Cautions

Be careful with such situations as there will be consequences for it. As the MS Project software notes in splitting in-progress tasks the following. 

“Allows rescheduling of remaining duration and work when a task slips or reports progress ahead of schedule.

If this check box is cleared, progress information is recorded on the originally scheduled dates, regardless of when the actuals took place. Likewise, remaining work is not scheduled to maintain the task relationship.”

This statement is significant as noted in MS Project software tool. If you are clearing the checkbox, then the progress information will be on the originally scheduled dates. Also, the remaining work of the tasks will not be scheduled to maintain the task relationship. 

Conclusion

When a task deviates from a pure FS relationship, then various software will have different representations depending upon the logic set. 

When a pure FS relationship is changed–as in our case the actual start of the success task is before the planned start, the FS relationship is no longer pure. The logic is also no longer pure. This kind of logic among tasks is known as out-of-sequence (OOS) logic. 

If you are a scheduling manager or a scheduling professional, you should be clear about various OOS logic that can happen in a schedule and the subsequent impact on the schedule. 


Articles on MS Project: