Saturday, August 20, 2011

My thoughts on PMI agile ( PMI-ACP )


When I first heard of PMI agile, I was really skeptical about it. I never thought I would explore it. My initial thought was, how much agile PMI can be?.. I’m sure I’m not alone; there are many others who thought the same, or may be still thinking the same.

When Dave discussed with me about the upcoming ACP+ CSM class we were to teach together in NY, was the first time I got any interest to walk through the PMI agile course content. When I read the content, I was impressed. They have thought of so many aspects to agile engineering and agile in general.

About the Exam:

As usual, Tools and Techniques cover 50% of the exam. These tools and Techniques are divided in to10 different knowledge areas. Rest of the 50% is allocated for the candidate’s knowledge and skills in agile project context, covering 3 levels based on importance.

When I read the content in detail, I can see that it covers lots of stuff, which we should know when we do agile engineering. It talks about many practical aspects including agile modeling, story mapping, estimation techniques and even EVM and ROI calculations in agile context. It’s pretty detail. these materials are available at PMI site.

However, these are my concerns;

1 . In a CSM class, No one can fail the assessment, so the class is not conducted to aim for grades but to learn the concepts. I know almost all CSTs are very keen on transferring basic agile concepts to their students. But looking at the nature of PMI exams, if PMI agile learning hours focuses on teaching tools and techniques to the candidates to score pass marks, then the whole concept of agile will be lost. In that case, how many ACPs will be truly passionate about agile will be a question. In the worst-case scenario, they will be learning to pass the exam but not to practice agile. This has a greater risk in South Asia where there is a highly certification-focused culture.

2. Who is going to conduct these classes? There are only very few CSTs available, so I’m sure PMI will allow PMP trainers to do PMI agile courses ( may be Im wrong, Im not very clear about the eligibility criteria yet), but some of the PMP trainers may haven't really experienced agile or seen the value of agile to teach agile. If they are going to read a book and teach agile without any practical experience that’s going to be a disaster.

3. How rigid the exam questions can be in an agile exam? That’s another aspect to think through when preparing ACP examination questions. Examiners may need to bring up more concepts in to test rather than the theory, which can be learned by reading the course content.

Of course there are prerequisites to take up the ACP exam. This requires sufficient work experience in doing agile projects. I only wish the candidates will follow the protocols instead using workarounds to complete the eligibility criteria.

During last 2 weeks, I met many people who talked about PMI agile. They all had their own opinions about PMI going agile. Following are some of the points I gathered from these small talks:)

Positive points;

1. Many agreed that It’s a good move. PMI is known by every part of the world, but agile alliance is not so big as yet outside USA. Therefore this is a good move to bring agile in to a vast community.

2. Some said that they would never consider doing anything with PMI if not ACP

3. Many agreed that collaborating with PMI, Agile alliance would achieve its vision by changing the way that people work.

4. Some of the PMI folks also mentioned that it’s a good move at the right time. Many large enterprises are moving towards agile, if PMI doesn’t collaborate, it could have been much more difficult for them.

5. I heard some comments from real enterprise project managers that their techies get in to agile and talk more about agile nowadays, so ACP will help them to bridge the gap.

Negative thoughts were;

Some saw ACP as mainly a money making effort by Just introducing another certification while some agile folks thought that ACP may kill the whole concept of agile and there will be a hardcore new agile group to come up soon.

My personal view is, that PMI getting in to agile is a good move., specially when it comes to enterprise level, it will add loads of value, but that all depends how PMI may execute this courses/Exams and its yet to be found-out. I see a good trend towards ACP already; there will be lots of registered candidates for the exams starting from next month onward. I may do the same.

However, I really enjoyed doing our CSM/PMI Agile class in NY with Dave and some really cool 19 participants (most are PMPs) from various industries. Co-Training with an experienced CST was an amazing opportunity to improve my training skills. It was an exhausting exercise to cover-up most the stuff in 3 days. But we had lots of learning and fun. (Thanks to them for criticizing my white board skills so badly, every time I go in-front of the white board I remember you guys :) I really enjoy this group's enthusiasm on agile after taking this class, this group even started a new LinkedIn group to discuss matters among peers. I think they got the concept right; agile is all about sharing, learning and adapting.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Graffiti by Geeks


This is taken from Exilesoft Lunch room. How creative our geeks can be? .. they can scribble when ever they want to..Paint buckets are placed there for them.. I love this office... But I wish none of you will spot my spot on this wall.. :) Do you think this is a good stress relief activity ?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Agile 2011 – Salt Lake City


Back from agile 2o11, long flight back home and still I cannot sleep. I think I’m seriously jet lagged or tired. So I thought to write a small note on what I’ve experienced.
I like the venue, the hotel Grand America and Little America. It’s an extremely nice place. Salt Lake City was a very nice place to cruise around after the sessions with lots of local bars, restaurants and unforgettable local coffee places.

The conference organizers mentioned that there were 1600 attendees from 48 countries around the world this year. Of course it’s huge. Organizing a conference in this scale could have been really hard work.

Talking about the main part, the sessions:
I honestly think the number of parallel sessions could have been lesser than what we had this year. In most the sessions I noticed that there were very minimal attendees, the rooms were empty. By reducing the sessions, they could maintain the quality of the sessions too. Still I know some may not agree with me, as there are more options and topics, attendees will have a better choice to make.
I enjoyed all most all the sessions I attended, there were quite lots of useful things to learn. Most sessions were very interactive. Looking at some of the sessions, I still feel its better if they try to go deeper in to the subject matters instead discussing the problems what everybody knows about, because the agile users have matured over the years. I felt this in some of the sessions such as performance appraisals and agile coaching. This is something that review committees should discuss next year.
Incremental budgeting was one of the sessions I really expected to turn out well.
As a general comment from attendees, what I heard was that the technical sessions delivered met the expectations of the attendees compared to the sessions of the management track. Still, agile contracts and agile decisions were some of the good ones that I attended in the management track.

My session this year was about KANBAN and use of it in the organizational facilitating functions such as HR department. Its an experience stage presentation, so most the work had to be done before the conference. The paper is published in IEEE and it’s included in the conference CD with loads of other conference papers. Actually there are pretty good papers I spotted in this CD, I need more time to read them.

One of the highlights this year was 10-year anniversary of the signing of the Agile Manifesto "Park Bench" event where most of the original signatories presented in one stage, answering the questions from the attendees. I think that was an inspiring moment to agile enthusiastic.

I enjoyed the round table discussion by agile thought leaders. Once again I got the opportunity to enjoy listening to Dave West, a speaker I admire the most. His true passion, natural style and humor makes him an awesome speaker (that’s my personal view anyway :) ) However thanks to the lady who asked the question about their new research areas, I heard a lot of new stuff which I need to Google and learn more. What excited me the most was to know that use of agile in operational management was one of the new research areas they do (they mentioned some acronym which I cannot remember) My experience report this time was related to that, may be I need to work more on the same paper and practice it for one more year to advance it to the next conference. I don’t know.. Its just a thought..
Out of all 3 key note speeches, I managed to listen to only one which is about psychology: positive thinking.

Conference party was quite a nice experience. I think most the attendees had lots of fun.

I heard there were some really cool sessions in open Jam, one of it has been to present a technique to learn foreign languages without using translations, I wish if I could be in the session, but thankful to my friend who taught me about the technique later. I wish if I could catch up Norwegian language a bit using the same technique.

Using the conference for marketing activities has tremendously increased from last year to this year. Sometimes some of the agile coaches overselling themselves were quite disturbing.

Anyway it was a great conference. This is where I really absorb energy by meeting lots of passionate and enthusiastic people. I really enjoy it. I heard that next year conference chair is Mitch Lacey, Im sure he will do a great job and I look forward to agile 2012 in Texas.


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