Tuesday, August 03, 2021

ACP Live Lessons Review – One Stop Solution to Ace the PMI-ACP Exam

By John P S Oliver, PMI-ACP, PMP, RMP, PMI-PBA

During my preparation for the Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP®) exam from Project Management Institute (PMI) ®, I’ve prepared strongly to clear the exam. It’s not an easy exam like 2-days Scrum Master course or a Product Owner course, which almost everyone gets!

A question that frequently comes is this:

Is the ACP exam needed for a professional and does it truly help? 

With Agile being widely practiced not only in IT software projects but also in non-IT projects today, the PMI-ACP certification certainly adds value to one’s knowledge and career. This complements the reason why PMI-ACP is one of the fastest growing certifications in the world today. With the booming start-ups, certified agile practitioners are in high demand and having the PMI-ACP certification is certainly a differentiator in the market.

I’ve gone through this course of ACP Live Lessons – Guaranteed Pass course in-depth. I’ve also checked the lesson-end as well as full-length questions. Below is my detailed review.

Why this Course?

Let’s start with the Unique Selling Point (USP) of this course. This course provides you with all the concepts and knowledge gathered from all the reference books (10+) prescribed by PMI for the ACP examination. For example, you have books for Scrum in detail, two books for Kanban, and multiple other books related to Agile. Hence, this course virtually makes it a one stop study guide for passing your PMI-ACP examination. 

The bonus is that it comes with a full Money Back guarantee which speaks a lot about the confidence of the author in his material.

Top Advantages

Some of the top advantages of this course are as follows:

  • This is a complete course since it starts from explaining the PMI-ACP certification, its background, prerequisites, application procedure, exam fees, and exam pattern all the way to maintaining your PMI-ACP certification once you have achieved it. 
  • The course is structured in such a way that it follows the Agile Practice Guide, which is a key guide for the examination.
  • This course also provides you with the mandatory training hours required for qualifying to apply for the PMI-ACP exam.
  • This course is so comprehensive that it will not only enable the student to pass the PMI-ACP exam if they prepare well but will also provide them with the knowledge required to practice agile values, principles and approach in real time projects.

Course – ACP Live Lessons: Key Features

Following are the key aspects of the course – which I found to be unique and distinct.

  • This course is well organized with relevant chapters and topics following the Agile Practice Guide.
  • Each lesson starts with the respective list of domains, sub domains, tasks, tools and techniques (T&Ts) and knowledge and skills (K&S) from the exam content outline (ECO) applicable to the lesson. This helps us in relating the ECO to specific topics / situations which is very useful from exam point of view
  • The durations of the videos are short - the longest being 11 or 12 minutes. This helps the students in a couple of ways:
    • With most students being working professionals and pursue the course in between their work from home, they can easily bookmark and return to the videos in case of a break.
    • They can easily go back to topics that they want to refer or revise.
  • The author uses real life and practical examples to explain the concepts in plain English which makes it easy for the students to understand.
  • The author keeps updating the course in response to changes in the underlying reference material so that the students are up to date with the changes to curriculum.

Most Helpful Topics

Below are some of the topics that helped me the most:

  • Explanation of various agile framework and methodologies
    • Their similarities and differences
    • Scrum events
    • Scrum Artefacts
  • Conflict Management
  • Tools and Techniques for Requirements Elicitation
  • Prioritization Factors
  • Features and Benefits
  • Various Agile Exercises
  • User Stories

This course covers all concepts related to Agile including advanced Agile Management. This helps you to get a holistic knowledge of Agile and not just from an exam point of view alone. This will come in handy when you practically apply agile in your real time projects.

Question Sets

While the lesson-end questions provided me with an opportunity to test my knowledge and understanding of the lesson, the full-length questions prepared me for the exam. 

The one that helped me the most in my understanding of agile principles was "Lesson – 10: Various Agile Exercises". This is truly a differentiator and helps you master agile practices.

Specific and Important Videos 

This is a complete video set and all videos should be viewed in combination to get an overall understanding of the course. There are some videos that I believe are more useful in understanding the concepts better.

  • Videos: 3.1.35, 36 Characteristics of Information Radiators
  • Video: 3.1.44 Collaboration vs. Coordination
  • Video: 3.2.10 Scrum Events – Figure
  • Video: 4.1.7 Features, Benefits, Agile Business Value
  • Video: 4.1.14,15 Prioritization Factors
  • Video: 4.1.25, 26 Backlog Refinement
  • Video: 4.1.51 Agile Contracting Techniques
  • Video: 5.1.8 Stakeholder levels and classification models 
  • Video: 5.1.16 – 27 Eliciting Stakeholder Requirements to Collaboration Games
  • Video: 6.1.12 – Agile Team – Roles and Responsibilities
  • Video: 6.1.14 to 6.1.20 Building Agile Teams to Team Motivation
  • Video: 7.1.19, 20 User Stories and Type of Stories
  • Video: 7.1.61 Agile Earned Value Management (Agile EVM)
  • Video: 8.1.10 Technical Debt
  • Video: 8.1.12 to 23 Risk Management in Agile
  • Video: 9.1.23, 24 Value Stream Mapping
  • Video: 9.1.31 to 45 Retrospectives

It’s pertinent to note that throughout the course, the author uses various examples and snapshots to explain the concepts and metrics:

  • For example, a real-time user for Personas helps you to not only understand the concept but also provides you with a template to use in real life projects. 
  • Some other useful snapshots are the Kanban Board, Task Board, Burn down chart, Fishbone diagram.

The PMI-ACP formula gold card is very useful as I had received a couple of formula-based questions especially on Agile EVM and EMV.

One of the highlights of this course is the yogic vision and yogic revision tips throughout the lessons which induces you to revise important concepts and points from the exam point of view. The tips for before/during/after the exam will guide you to prepare for the exam in an assured way.

Lessons in the Course – ACP Live Lessons

This course has multiple Lessons (from “Welcome” to “Lesson - 12”). Following are some of the important notes for each lesson. 

Lesson – 1: Welcome

The course starts with the “Welcome” lesson which provides you with an overview of this ACP Live Lessons course including details about the Author, his qualification and experience, how to approach this course, and the money back guarantee criteria. In fact, I don’t think moneyback guarantee is needed because I am sure anybody who goes through this course and takes the exam with due preparation will only have success as the outcome.

With this course you will also get the 21 contact hours certificate required for taking the exam (in my opinion, a Big Bonus). This welcome session helps us in getting started with the course.

Lesson – 2: Introduction

This lesson provides the background and overview of PMI certifications and the uniqueness of PMI-ACP certification. It covers the pre-requisites, exam content outline, exam structure, performance domains, tools and techniques, knowledge and skills of PMI-ACP certification. This lesson also provides information on the cost, blueprint and process of the PMI-ACP exam along with guidelines for filling up the application form and maintaining your PMI-ACP certification once you have earned it. 

In short, this lesson helps us in understanding the PMI-ACP certification and sets us on our journey to achieving the PMI-ACP certification.

Lesson – 3: Agile Principles and Mindset (Duration: Over 5 hours)

This lesson covers agile frameworks and approaches. This session covers all Domains, Sub Domain, Tasks, Tools & Techniques and Knowledge & Skills. I had questions on Scrum, XP, Kanban and Lean approaches. 

The lesson helped me through the exercises to remember, yogic vision and yogic revision tips. Especially the Artefacts and Events related to the approaches were presented in a coherent and easy to recall manner. I received a few questions on Scrum roles, events and Artefacts, Information radiators. 

Lesson – 4: Value Driven Delivery (Duration: Neary 4 hours)

This is the lesson that generates the MOST number of questions in the exam. 

I received quite a number of questions in my exam as well. This lesson covers Features and Benefits, User Stories, Accounting Principles, Prioritization factors and Techniques, Backlog Refinement, Risk Adjusted Backlog, Scrum and Kanban, EMV, DoD, Agile Contracts, Compliance, among others.

Lesson – 5: Stakeholder Engagement (Duration: Over 3 hours) 

I received a couple of questions from this lesson. 

This lesson informs in detail on Agile Business Case, Elements of Project Charter, Tools and Techniques for elicitation – Personas, Collaboration games, Communication Options and effectiveness, Synchronous and Asynchronous communication, Levels of listening, Conflict Resolution Strategies, among others.

Lesson – 6: Team Performance (Duration: Nearly 3.5 hours)

Some important topics in this lesson are Modes in Training, Coaching and Mentoring, Levels of coaching, Osmotic Communication, Characteristics of Agile teams, Velocity, Various performance tracking tools etc. 

Burn down charts is another important topic. I received a couple of questions on velocity and burn down charts. 

Lesson – 7: Adaptive Planning (Duration: Over 4 hours)

Important topics from this lesson are Agile Discovery, DEEP Characteristics, User Stories, Story Map, Various estimation techniques, and Agile EVM.

In my ACP exam, I received questions on User Stories, Estimation Techniques and Agile EVM.

Lesson – 8: Problem Detection and Resolution (Duration: Nearly 3 hours)

In my exam, there were questions from this domain as well. It covers Risk Management, Cycle Time and Lead Time, Throughput, Variance and Trend Analysis, Problem Solving Techniques, among others in depth.

Lesson – 9: Continuous Improvement (Duration: Nearly 3.5 hours)

Retrospectives is one of the most important topics from an exam point of view, please be thorough in your understanding of retrospectives – their objective, timing, participants, duration, input, output etc. 

I had a couple of questions on retrospectives, all situational. I also had questions from other areas. This lesson discusses Kaizen, Hybrid Model, Seven Wastes and Value Stream Mapping, Pre-Mortem, Fishbone analysis, Agile Coach – Success and Failure modes.

Lesson – 10: Various Agile Exercises (Duration: 1.5 hours)

This is a bonus for the video lessons and a key differentiator. These exercises provide a great way to measure your level of understanding of the agile concepts and revisit and revise them.

Lesson – 11: 6 Full Length Question and Answer Sets

The questions are of high quality and exhaustive. While the PMI-ACP book has only 3 full sets, the ACP Video Lessons has 6 full length questions and answers and your scores on this will serve as an indicator of your readiness to take up the exam.

Lesson – 12: Final Talk (06m 15s)

This session provides you with tips to prepare for PMI-ACP before, during and after the exam. The PMI-ACP formula gold cards provide you with a ready reckoner of the various formulas used in Agile and will be helpful in your exam.

Brief Profile: 

Name: John P S Oliver, PMI-ACP, PMP, RMP, PMI-PBA

Current Role: Supply Chain Manager

Brief experience details: 23+ years of in ITES operations and project management across BFSI, Healthcare, Telecom and Retail verticals.

More on ACP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass:

ACP 21 Contact Hours Course:

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