Have you heard a lot about Agile Methodologies, but you’re unsure how to leverage these skills to improve both your professional future and your project success? Learn how adopting Agile principles and earning the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® certification can take your project management skills to the next level.
While you may have heard much about Agile Methodology and you may have even worked on projects based on these methods, to earn your Agile certification, you need a comprehensive understanding of what this methodology entails.
Agile Methodology was first outlined in the Agile Manifesto, way back in 2001. Since then, this approach to project planning and execution has spread. Initially designed for the software development industry, Agile principles are now being adopted into other sectors, too. So, what does Agile mean exactly? It’s a strategy based on adapting to change, prompt delivery, and continuous improvements. And, it addresses many of the problems that PMP® credential holders face when it comes to successful planning and implementation.
Often, when you’re on course with a project, it can be difficult to suddenly change direction, adjusting plans based on changes in circumstance or client direction. With Agile, you’re planning in short increments, frequently reassessing and readjusting tasks, allowing your team to adapt quickly to any developments.
The foundation of Agile is based on four values as outlined in the Agile Manifesto:
What does Agile Methodology look like in practice? Each project is broken down into manageable tasks. Instead of delivering an entire project by a single due date, pieces of the project are completed incrementally over the course of two to four-week cycles (also known as sprints or iterations).
By working in these short sprints, the client is seeing and providing feedback on projects as they develop, ensuring the end product is in alignment with their vision and goals. The team collaborates directly with the customer as the project progresses. Each team member estimates the amount of time and work their tasks will take, and those estimates are the foundation for the Sprint. So, for example, if you were managing a twenty-page website design project, and the designer estimated that each page would take eight hours of work to complete, you could plan for ten pages to be completed in a two-week (or a ten business days) sprint.
The Agile Methodology does not end with the completed project. The end of each sprint is marked by a retrospective team meeting. In these sessions, team members answer two important questions: “What did we do well?” and “How can we improve?” The lessons learned from each sprint are then applied to future sprints, improving the process each time and minimizing impediments.
To better understand what Agile Methodologies mean and how they relate to project management, explore the 12 key principles as outlined in the Agile Manifesto:
When there are so many other approaches to project management, why should Agile principles be the ones you adopt? The benefits of Agile Methodology are numerous, both for the project team and the client. Let’s look at a few.
With Agile training, project managers are able to deliver value to their clients earlier in the implementation process. Generally, with traditional project management approaches, the client doesn’t reap any benefits from a project until it is completely finished.
Think of it as an office building that’s being constructed, but no one is permitted to move in until the entire building is complete. With Agile principles, tasks are being completed incrementally. In the same office building scenario, once an office space is completed, the tenant can move in, while construction continues on the other spaces. This reduces
Among the benefits of Agile Methodologies is an improvement in overall product quality. Because projects are developed in incremental sprints, improvements are layered on the foundational tasks. In software development, this means the basic builds are accomplished and then in subsequent sprints, that foundation is improved and expanded. As these improvements are made, builds are frequently checked for quality assurance.
The retrospectives at the end of each sprint also play a vital role in quality improvements. In these meetings, problems are identified and solutions are offered. These lessons are applied to the next sprint, and lessons from that sprint are applied to the next, and so on. Thus, each sprint becomes more efficient and delivers better results than the last.
Agile principles play a role in improving working relationships with clients. Because you can deliver better product outcomes at a faster rate, clients are more likely to be satisfied with your work. And because you’re delivering
If you’ve worked in project management for any time at all, you’ve probably noticed that it’s difficult to always have a 360-degree view of your projects, what’s being accomplished, and what impediments your team members are facing. With Agile principles, project control becomes much easier.
When using Agile methods, teams engage in daily sprint meetings in which individual team members provide updates on what they are working on, when they anticipate completing that task, and whether or not any impediments are standing in the way of completing the task on time.
In connection with reduced risk is a rapid and high return on your clients’ investment in the project you’re working on. With each completed task, the value of a partnership with your team increases. Functional products are ready after a few iterations, allowing clients to easily gauge end-user creation, and allowing you to gauge client reaction.
The PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® credential is the leading Agile certification. This demonstrates to employers and clients alike that you have been adequately trained and tested in Agile Methodologies, and you can be trusted to successfully manage projects using these principles.
As Agile becomes more and more popular in the project management space, the certification truly sets PMI-ACP credential holders apart from other project managers, allowing you to leverage this certification for promotions or higher pay.
If you want to add Agile Methodologies to your list of professional skills, earning your PMI-ACP credential isn’t the only way to accomplish this. There are other ways to learn these skills, including the two following training courses:
Though both of these training courses are beneficial and can help you improve the outcomes of your Agile projects, they are no substitute for the PMI-ACP certification.
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Similar to earning the PMP certification, there are a few eligibility requirements you need to meet before you are ready to earn the PMI-ACP certification. These requirements are broken down into three categories:
Once you’ve met these requirements, it’s time to take the exam!
Earning 21 contact hours in Agile practices requires more than just test preparation to pass the exam. These contact hours help you develop skills essential to thrive in your career as a PMI-ACP credential holder. As you’re searching for courses to help you fulfill this requirement, look for ones that cover the following topics:
These are all fundamental skills and topics to cover if you want to be an effective PMI-ACP credential holder. With the right course, you’ll cover all the fundamentals necessary to build a solid foundation for a successful career. It’s crucial that you don’t compromise when it comes to earning your contact hours since these are
In addition to finding a training course that covers all the topics listed above, you also need to ensure the course is a convenient fit for your lifestyle. Here are some of the common delivery methods for Agile certification training courses.
Registering for the PMI-ACP certification exam can seem costly, but it’s important to view it as an investment in your career. And with all the new opportunities that come with the additional certification, you’re sure to reap a high return on that investment.
It’s important to note that having a PMI membership reduces the cost of taking the exam. This membership costs $139 each year, but the cost is offset by the benefits of the membership.
The Costs of the PMI-ACP Certification Exam
*For more information on renewal, see the “How Do I Maintain My PMI-ACP Credential?” section below.
As you prepare to take the PMI-ACP exam, remember to budget for exam fees.
Have you met the requirements for taking the exam? If so, congratulations! You’re ready to apply for the exam.
The first step in the application process is to create an account with the Project Management Institute. Once you’ve begun an online application, you will be unable to cancel the process. The application does not need to be completed in a single session. You can work on it, save your updates, and return to it later. The application will remain open for 90 days.
Once you’ve completed your application, processing usually takes about five business days. After your application has been approved, you have one year from your application approval date to take the exam. If you do not take the exam within a year, you have to start the entire application process over.
Remember: you only have three chances to take and pass the exam during the eligibility period. So, ensure that you are adequately prepared before you start the application process.
While you may be worried about simply passing the exam, you should also be concerned with an additional possible outcome – an audit. PMI wants to protect the integrity of the exam, therefore anyone can be audited to ensure they’ve met the exam requirements. Here are a few important facts you should know about the audit process:
It may be in your best interest to select a training course provider whose courses have been reviewed and approved by the Project Management Institute (PMI) and are listed as a Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.). As a PMI R.E.P., companies must agree to abide by PMI established quality assurance criteria. Choosing a R.E.P. training course provider can eliminate some of the stress in your certification journey and in the case you get audited.
The best way to feel comfortable about the PMI-ACP exam before you take it is to know how it is structured. You’ll walk into the exam knowing what to expect, so keep these facts about the exam in mind.
Although you may have successfully earned your PMI-ACP certification, this isn’t the end of your journey. To maintain your certification, you must meet a few requirements. These Continuing Certification Requirements are crucial to ensuring you are up-to-date on the latest Agile Methodology developments. They promote continuous learning and improvement of your skills.
Instead of viewing the CCR Program as an inconvenience, view it as an opportunity to learn more and hone your talents. It also helps to maintain the integrity of the certification as it can be assumed that everyone who holds the certification is a proven expert in the Agile approach to project management.
All PMI-ACP certification holders are required to earn Professional Development Units (PDUs) to maintain their certification. What are PDUs? These are units used to measure learning and professional development activities. As a rule, one PDU is equivalent to one hour of learning or development.
PDUs can be earned two ways – education and giving back to the profession. Education usually refers to training courses, while giving back to your profession can apply to a number of activities, from giving speeches to volunteering your Agile project management skills to teaching others.
For PMI-ACP credential holders, you are required to earn 30 PDUs every three years, a cycle that starts the day you earn your certification. A minimum of 18 PDUs must come from education and a maximum of 12 from giving back to your industry.
Earning your Agile certification can open numerous doors, both for you and the teams you lead. If you’re considering pursuing the PMI-ACP certification, the first step you should take is to find the right training course for your needs. With excellent preparation, you’re on your way to earning the PMI-ACP certification.
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