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: