Sunday, November 12, 2017

PMI-ACP Success Story: Learn Agile Concepts in Greater Depth To Earn This Credential

By Umasankar Lakshmana Dass, PMI-ACP

I’ve been working as a team lead in Scrum projects for the past 6 years but I didn’t have any certifications on it. Hence, I decided to study agile in greater depth. 

First in April 2017, I completed my Scrum master certification. Later, I decided to achieve Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) before the end of 2017.

ACP Coaching Experience
I nominated myself for the PMI ACP training in July 2017. I completed by training end of July. The classes were conducted over weekends (22nd, 23rd and 29th July 2017) so there was no impact to the work. Of course, it was challenging to compromise the weekends. All logistics were well taken care of and absolutely no hiccups on all three days. 

We had very interactive sessions and wonderful batch-mates. And we had one of the best coaches - Mr Satya Narayana Dash. Since he has hands-on experience with agile coaching, the practical examples he gave us was very useful in addition to the classroom exercise. 

What I liked the most in the sessions is that the focus was not limited to passing exam but to gain the knowledge on agile values, principles, practices and methodologies.

Good thing with ACP is that you just need to understand the concepts behind values. That’s it. No need to memorize anything. It is important to read out the Agile manifesto, its 4 values and the 12 principles. Also, more than reading, it is also about applying the thoughts behind it.

The preparation starts from being attentive in the class. From the questions I received during exam, I felt that at least 60% – 65% could be easily answered if we just go with the training flow. There were many key takeaways from the training -  the key concepts, shortcuts, discussions on different scenarios, exercises, etc. 

Own Study
After the coaching completed, I have revised all the seven domains in the first week. This helped me to remember many of the concepts and it helped me to face the exam with confidence. Later I spent 1 hour every day for two months. Also, in parallel I submitted my online application.

I ordered Andy Crowes book. After reading the book twice in a month, I took up mock tests from the book. Apart from this book, it is the training material and the class notes I have gone through for my preparation.

I wrote all the key points in a notepad while learning. This will help you to remember and recollect. I kept my learning notepad handy and referred to it whenever possible. 
It was tough to allocate one hour every day for two months but I kept myself committed to it. It is all about being agile with yourself.

ACP Exam Experience
Once I was confident after finishing my daily study for 2 months, I scheduled my examination for 2nd November (4 weeks after preparation). I choose the morning 8 am batch so that I have a fresh mind. 

To crack the exam, I had only one strategy to “Give my best” and answer all the 120 questions on time. I also read few experiences of other successful candidates on how they took the exam.  

I had most of the questions from Scrum and Kanban methodologies and questions related roles in those. It is important to understand all methodologies, principles, values, roles, artefacts and practices. As long as we believe in agile values, understand the fundamentals behind each of the framework/methodology, it is simple to pass the exam. I read all the tasks in all domains.

The primary advice is “Do not panic”. There will be lot of twisted situational questions that you have not seen in your mock ups. Keep yourself calm and focus on the options. You will be able to figure out the answer easily. Also, take one or two breaks to relax and focus more during the exam. 

Suggestions for ACP Aspirants
  • Revise regularly.
  • Buy a book a for preparation and also for your reference.
  • Write and learn during preparation.
  • Keep calm, never panic. 
  • Never procrastinate your preparation after classroom training.

First, I’ll be very happy to update my linked in profile and my signature with PMI ACP ;-). My primary aim is to learn and explore other methodologies in addition to Scrum and Kanban. In addition, I’m aiming to train other colleagues in implementing the right agile practices.  

After passing the exam, I’m feeling on the top of this world. My sincere thanks to my coach, my batch mates, my colleagues and my family for supporting to achieve this certification. 

Brief Profile 
L Umasankar
Team Lead 
Having 12+ years of IT experience in Mainframe application programming with expertise in banking domain in areas of maintenance activities and project management.

Footnote: This is a new initiative taken to share the experiences in ACP exam by fellow professionals and to inspire others in learning and applying Agile values, principles and practices. ACP exam from PMI takes time to prepare, a deeper understanding on Agile values and principles and also ability to learn and apply a number of Agile methodologies/frameworks in Lean-Agile spectrum. I am thankful to Umasankar for sharing his experience, which I believe will enrich and guide others in their journey for PMI-ACP credential.

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