Tuesday, March 06, 2018

PMI-ACP Success Story: Being Agile and Thinking In Agile Way Help To Crack The Exam

By Sathish Babu, PMI-ACP, PMP

Agile has revolutionized how software development and project management get done, increasing demand for IT professionals versed in the framework and its many flavours as methodologies. Moreover, Agile has matured now and similar to other domains like Project Management and service management, organizations look for agile experience and certification from the candidates.

I have been working in Agile project management for 2 years and my organization is following Hybrid methodology. Initially I found it quite difficult to change my mindset from Waterfall to Agile practices. Later, I get familiar with agile terms, approaches, tools and techniques. Moreover, in past 5 years, I have been hearing the fast-growing concept of “Agile/Scrum” and decided to study it in greater depth and to go for PMI-ACP® certification as suggested by many aspirants.

ACP Coaching Experience
I strongly believe that choosing the best provider and inspiring mentor would be very important to fulfil my PMI-ACP journey. Mr. Satya Narayan Dash was my coach for PMP and I was very much inspired by his tone, training, book (I Want To Be A PMP) and advice.

I wanted him for PMI-ACP as well and I had contacted Knowledgehut for that. Unfortunately, there was no confirmed batches for next 2 months. So, I ended up subscribing to self-paced training and completed required 21 contact hours and submitted my application. It got selected for Audit and took a week to get approved by PMI®. 

Own Study
The difficult part about this exam is that the content is very broad and there’s no reference standard like the PMBOK® Guide for the PMP exam. The exam is based on 12 books. But there are not many good study guides in the market that distill these 12 books, while keeping the focus needed for the exam. There is a lot of good and free material available online on Agile, but not a whole lot for PMI-ACP. So, finding the right study material is somewhat of a challenge. 

Luckily, I came to know that Satya has written a book for ACP – I Want To Be An ACP. I contacted him and purchased his book. This is the only book that I have referred for the ACP exam and I did not read any of those recommended 12 books. Again, it is well written book like “I Want To Be a PMP” book and I am strongly recommending it to everyone preparing for the ACP exam. This book covers all the required topics for the exam and it exactly matches to the exam content outline.

Being organised can reduce exam stress, and help you make the most of your time. The best way to start your revision is to make a plan and decide when are you going to give your exam and then follow your plan. A revision timetable will help you focus and make the most of the time you have available to study for your exams. 

Listed below is my revision table.

ACP Exam Experience
PMI-ACP exam is mainly focused on Scrum, XP, Lean and Kanban. None of the other methodologies/frameworks found a mention on my exam. About 70% of the questions had Scrum or XP mentioned on them. About 10% were on Lean or Kanban. The exam also gives emphasis on Agile values and principles (about 5% questions). I also remember seeing lots of questions on Agile Estimation.

I have scheduled for the exam on Monday morning, 19th Dec at 8:00 AM. Because morning time works for me and I had weekend before exam to study well and take good rest. I have visited the exam centre a week before to estimate distance, traffic condition, location, parking facility, environment and what ID proofs are acceptable.

On my exam day, I have reached to the exam centre at 7:20 AM and they allowed me to take the exam earlier by 7:45 AM. As instructed by the staff, brain dump is no longer ALLOWED and I was not planned to do either. 

I have answered all questions in 2:30 hours and took 30 mins to review marked questions. I felt that the exam questions (90% questions are situational and role based) were very intelligently designed and required thorough understanding of the subject to answer correctly. Most questions were just one-liners, but the answer choices were super tricky. I hit the submit button 5 minutes before exam ends and finally CONGRATULATIONS flashed on my screen. I thought of shout loudly, jump and dance.

Suggestions for ACP Aspirants
  • More focus on roles and responsibilities of Scrum, XP and Lean.
  • Get a mindset of Agile values and principles.
  • Understand Agile sizing, estimation and Value Based Prioritization.
  • Attend as many mock exams as possible.
  • Don’t delay and timebox your exam preparation.
  • Don't spend too much time on methodologies/frameworks such as Crystal, DSDM, ASD, and AUP. Focus more on Scrum, XP, Lean and Kanban instead. The only important concept from Crystal is Osmotic Communication.
  • If you are a PMP, then be extremely cautious about some situational questions. The right answer on a PMP exam question, can be a wrong answer on a PMI-ACP exam question for a similar situation. PMI-ACP requires a different mindset (servant leadership as opposed to command-and-control).
  • Don’t refer all available sources from the internet. Be careful on what you read and refer.

  • I have learned a lot of things during my preparation that I can actually apply on the job. Compared to PMP, in my current role, PMI-ACP is more relevant now.
  • I want to pursue my career into the next level, in the role of a program manager for a high-end project.

Brief Profile
Sathish Babu is working for Motorola Solutions as a Sr. Program Administrator and having 12 years of experience in Product, Project Management and Service Delivery in Telecom domain.

Book Available for ACP Exam Prep:

PMI-ACP Success Stories:

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