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.


Jorge Andres Ramirez on 11:12 AM said...

I've been working on a Scrum article that should be appearing this week in my blog regarding what i think it is a sectarianism inside the Scrum community. Your post is very good highlighting some of the current problems.

Having already a split between and ScrumAlliance, and now having the PMI certification many questions arise. Did they all work together at some point to align the syllabus? Is there one of the certifications that can be considered THE certification? What about the eligibility criteria?

I have the feeling that this new certification might increased the feudal feelings inside the Scrum practitioners because even if guys like Sutherland keep saying that where do you get the certification from does not really matter this message does not seem to be passed to some of the fundamentalist practitioners.

On a separate point, concerning the certification oriented model, I think it has became the norm in most of the world. It is the same in Latin america and US(even if here hands-off experience has a lot of value) As a matter of fact the only place where I haven't seen that orientation is continental Europe but it is quickly changing and HR recruiters are adding more and more value to IT certifications, at least in France and Spain. It would be to have more feedback from other practitioners in different locations.

Thushara Wijewardena, PMP, CSP on 10:10 PM said...

Thanks Jorge, interesting to hear about your perspective to it.


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