Saturday, October 31, 2015

PMI-ACP Prep: Scrum and Kanban – Similarities and Differences

[NEW: ACP Exam Prep Book Available - "I Want To Be An ACP" (Link)]

Takeaway: Scrum has seen wide adoption in the agile world. In recent years, Kanban, a mechanism taken from Toyota Production System (TPS), has been gaining popularity. Scrum Alliance's state of scrum report 2015 states that 42% respondents use Scrum exclusively and 43% combines Scrum with Kanban. Also, in the new edition of PMI's Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) exam from 2015, Kanban has been emphasized. In this post, I seek to outline the various similarities and difference between Scrum and Kanban. 

In my PMI-ACP and other Agile related sessions, I get a number of questions on Kanban. In fact, in my earlier post on PMI-ACP new exam, I wrote:
“In past few years, a trend has been visible: Scrum is the most used one; Kanban is being used more now; however, organizations mostly follow their way of Agile implementation. The last one is interesting! Few follow Agile or Scrum or Kanban practices by the book per se, rather it is mostly customized as per the need of the organization.”
The scrum report of 2015 shows some interesting data. Though it does not show how many use “only” Kanban (logically it would not, as the report is for Scrum), I believe many organizations use Kanban while going for Agile implementation.

Data Source – State of Scrum Report, 2015 from ScrumAlliance

So, what are Kanban and Scrum?
Complete description of them is beyond the scope of this article. I’ll provide a brief summary.
Kanban is a Japanese term taken from TPS, which means “visual card” or “signaling card” or “signboard”.  Toyota used Kanban cards to trigger pull and limit the amount of work under progress. There are 3 key principles of Kanban: [v.i.z] visualize the workflow, limit work in progress (WIP) and manage the workflow. There are some more principles, which have been derived by proponents of Kanban. However, the mentioned three are the key ones. 

Scrum, which is by far the most used framework, provides an iterative and incremental approach to product development. In every iteration - called sprint – a set of features are taken up by team and then delivered at the end of iteration. Well, to be precise, "potentially releasable" version of the product. There are certain key ceremonies which one has to follow and there are prescribed artifacts which should be available. 

Now, let us look at the similarities and differences. I have seen similarities and differences help. Hence, taking that approach. The list, of course, is not exhaustive. There can be others. 

Similarities: Scrum and Kanban

Differences: Scrum and Kanban

As noted in my earlier post, PMI-ACP exam has changed, there has been certain focus on Kanban. 
“For the new PMI-ACP exam, the reference book list has changed and quite a few new book have been added – especially for Kanban – perhaps matching the trends in the Agile world.” 
It is important that you understand the concepts of both Scrum and Kanban to do well in the exam. Hence this post and believe it will help in your preparation.

Book  for ACP exam:

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

PMP Success Story - The Creative PMP in the Fast Lane

Aditi Jain committed to a final round of PMP study with 10 day deadline, triggered by a Chinese fortune cookie! And the fortune cookie foretell turned out to be true. More importantly, her hard work finally paid off. She is a proud PMP today. 

Aditi was part of my class in February 2015. I asked – “What you want to do with your learning here”? I remember her telling that she wanted to apply them in real life. She is a fashion design and media professional and added diversity and depth into our discussions, which had banking, software, construction, networking and voice professionals. 

One of her concerns was moving from one country to another – actually from one continent to another - and how it will impact her. She managed it quite well, as you can read below. Her experience is also unique as she comes from a different industry. Go on and know how she did it.


OMG!!! What an amazing ride to attain the PMP® Certification. Without knowing the PMI-isms, I was high gear into schedule compression techniques of ‘crashing’ and ‘fast tracking’ with pangs of ‘resource levelling’ right from initiating to closing.

The decision to get a PMP® certification was primarily due to the fact that I wanted to expand my knowledge base and have alternatives to my current Industry which is Fashion and Media. But after learning the PMI way it astounds me how much my Industry can benefit from these standards. To be able to apply these in creative domains can have astounding results.

PMP Training Experience
I took my 35 PDUs training sessions led by Mr Dash. The experience was compressed into informative, happy, and motivating sessions. We had lots of fun too.

Own Study
After moving to the US in March straight after the contact classes, I took the PMI membership as Mr Dash had recommended. Settling in the new country was my prime focus after moving in. Then my girls went on a long 2.6 month summer break. I had consciouly decided to start prepping by September end, after they resumed school.  By the beginning of October, when I fully committed to study, I had doubts on my ability to prepare and pass the exam due to the time that had elapsed. So one fine day after a delicous Chinese meal, my fortune cookie read “You will soon pass an important test”. This was the sign! This chance affirmation was what I was looking for. And it was what triggered me to schedule the exam right away for 10 days ahead.

My PMP Exam Experience
I was scheduled at the Lakeshore Parkway Prometric Center in SC, USA.

Preparation Strategy
  • Phase 1: Read PMBOK by processes followed by knowledge areas seconded with HeadFirst PMP (not as specific as I would have liked). My key takeaway is to understand concepts by relating them to real life situations to retain them.
  • Phase 2: All classroom materials – they are surprisingly really good.
  • Phase 3: Online and mobile app Q&A’s, free test, where I focused on gaps and tried to know why I got them wrong.
  • Phase 4: Daily Brain Dump practice including 47 Process Chart and Key Formulae and Earned value Management inferences.
  • Phase 5: Take a Break the entire day before.
Exam Strategy
Time flies when you are sitting in that chair and giving the tests. Where I usually completed tests within 2 hours at home, it took me about 3hrs 10 mins on the actual exam with no breaks.
  • First 1 hour to 3 hours: I answered 50 Questions per hour on an average and marked the unsure ones. The first hour is the longest and then answering is much quicker as time progresses. 
  • Final 1 hour: Review all the marked/doubtful questions of which I had around 20 and use balance time to review the first 30 to 40 questions.
The PMP certification may be beneficial in itself. However, the learning of the standard is the key, which I intend to apply in my personal life as well. 

Brief Profile:
Aditi Jain: 
Certifications- PMP. Freelance Journalism. NSE. Fashion Design
A creative with over 12 years of varied work experience in industries of Fashion, Retail and Online Media. 

Aditi’s online PMP profile is available at PMI’s Online Credential Registry.

I am thankful to Aditi for volunteering to contribute and write her experience. Also she has her own family to look after, which has its own load.  Few people do that, though many get PMP certified. 

I believe it will enrich you and will help you to prepare for your PMP exam.

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