Certification Insider

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Cornelius Fichtner help you with your PMP Exam Prep (https://www.project-management-prepcast.com) as well as earn free PDUs (www.pm-podcast.com/pdu). Passing the PMP Exam is tough, but keeping your PMP Certification alive is just as challenging. Preparing for the exam requires an in-depth study of the PMBOK Guide and dedicated study discipline. And once you are PMP certified, then you are required to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every 3 years to keep your certification alive. Let me help you make this journey easier with tips and tricks on how to prepare for and pass the exam as well as efficiently earning your PDUs once you are certified.

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Episode 419: Setting up a PMO in 100 Days

Episode 418: Essential Business Management Skills

Episode 417: Leading During A Disaster

Episode 416: How Millennial Project Managers get Results without Authority

Episode 415: Emotional Intelligence Tools for Smoother Projects

Episode 396: More Projects Are Using Agile Than Ever

Categories: Agile, Agile

(Click to download MP3...)

Joseph Flahiff, PMP, PMI-ACP

Are you using an adaptive life cycle to manage your projects? You know, something that falls under the general umbrella of Agile like Scrum, XP, Kanban or DSDM?

And if your answer to this question is yes, then think about when exactly you started using these approaches, because that date says a lot about you and your organization. If you started 20 or more years ago then you can consider yourself to be an innovator, but if you started just recently you are a laggard. (And just in case you are wondering, I would put myself in the middle with what is called the "early majority".)

But no matter when you started your journey into Agile it might be interesting to know how many of us out there are actually using Agile on our projects. And according to Joseph Flahiff (www.whitewaterprojects.com -- www.linkedin.com/in/josephflahiff) there are more than you would think.

How many more? He doesn’t have an exact number, but then again nobody knows how many waterfall-based projects there are either. However, studies done on this subject and a number of other indicators lead him to believe that Agile is now the new normal. The number of Agile projects is massive, which is just one more reason to also get started with your PMI-ACP Exam Prep

(This interview was originally published on The Project Management Podcast.)

Posted on: August 22, 2017 08:35 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Episode 391: My Agile Exam Application Got Audited

Categories: AGILE, Agile

(Click to download MP3...)

Jonathan Hebert, PMP, PMI-ACP

Are you by any chance thinking of getting your certification as a PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®? Great. Because that certification is our topic.

Today you are going to meet Jonathan Hebert (https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-hebert-pmp-csm-pmi-acp-0712471) who not only passed his PMI-ACP® Exam, but he also got audited in the process. So he has a story to tell!

As you know, the rules of all Project Management Institute (PMI)® exams are such that we are not allowed to discuss specific questions from the exam. But we can discuss Jonathan's overall experience, how he got his PMI-ACP Exam Prep, his general thoughts on the process and his recommendations to you. So you can look forward to an experience and tip filled interview on how to prepare for and pass your PMI-ACP Exam.

Full disclosure: Jonathan Hebert and Cornelius Fichtner both work for OSP International LLC, makers of The Agile PrepCast and The PMI-ACP Exam Simulator.

(This interview was originally published on The Project Management Podcast.)

Posted on: June 05, 2017 05:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

Should I become PMP® Certified or Agile Certified?

Categories: Agile, PMP®

Should I become PMP® Certified or Agile Certified?An interesting question that some of my students have been asking lately is whether they should spend time studying for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam or concentrate on studying for the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam. In response to this question I give one of my favorite answers as an instructor – “Well…. it depends!” You might as well ask me "Should I get a Master’s Degree in Mathematics or Physics?” Or "Should I become a Painter or a Philosopher?"

The answer to this question cannot really come from me, but it has to come from within you and depends largely on your goals, desired career path and preferences. For example, do you want to be managing a 10-Year project for SpaceX to send satellites to Jupiter? Then do your PMP® Exam prep first, because we are talking serious Waterfall-based approaches. Or do you want to be working for a small startup company developing software? Then go for PMI-ACP® because you need Agility. So the answer isn't "what Cornelius says", but instead "what you want and what you need". To help you determine which is a better fit for you, let’s delve into the benefits of each approach and then you can make your own educated decision.

Waterfall or Agile? – Projects and Career Path

In order to determine which certification is more important for you to obtain as a project manager really starts with the question of what type of career you are seeking in the project management field. Just like many organizations need to decide if Waterfall or Agile Project Management is the right choice for any specific project, so it is also true that an aspiring or current project managers need to decide which type of project management training and experience will help them successfully continue their project management career well into the future. The PMP exam is largely based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), which outlines mainly a Waterfall Project Management best practice approach to successfully executing projects, while the PMI-ACP (as well as other Agile Project Management certifications) are based on an Agile Project Management best practice approach.

Waterfall Project Management Overview

Waterfall (sometimes referred as ‘Traditional’) Project Management involves an in-depth upfront planning process and follows a linear, pre-determined project schedule over a specified period of time. Waterfall projects are typically predictable, have a definitive end date, and have explicit procedures of how projects are initiated, planned, executed, monitored and controlled, and closed (Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle). The advantages of using the Waterfall method to manage projects is having clear expectations and meeting those expectations by achieving certain milestones. Waterfall originated in the Manufacturing industry as a result of understanding that changes in scope mid-project were usually very costly. Generally companies use Waterfall on their projects when:

  • They have executed a similar type of project previously and it is almost cookie-cutter
  • They are able to determine up front the specific project scope and requirements
  • They can fairly accurately estimate the resources, cost and work effort necessary to finish the project on budget and on time

Agile Project Management Overview

Agile Project Management is an iterative approach that helps project teams deliver the highest value work possible to the customer within a rapidly changing environment. The essential aim of Agile is to be flexible and be able to adapt to changes rather than being forced to execute against a pre-defined plan that may become obsolete as the project progresses. There is usually no definitive end date because the customer may decide at any point in the project that the functionality already delivered is sufficient for their needs. And Agile also uses Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle. The only difference is that product components are delivered to the customer every 2-4 weeks rather than only at the end of the project, so that they can provide feedback to ensure the project team is headed in the right direction. Agile originated in the Software Development and Mobile Application industries to help companies be first to market with new and innovative products, giving them a competitive advantage. Generally companies use Agile on their projects when:

  • They do not know specifically what they want
  • They do not know how long it's going to take to produce
  • They do not know how much it will cost to produce

The Future of Waterfall and Agile Project Management

So you may be wondering what the future of both Waterfall and Agile Project Management is and what types of opportunities will be available to you as a project manager. Well I firmly believe that Waterfall will never truly go away since some of the basic principles are also used in Agile, such as decomposition, rolling wave planning, continuous improvement and process tailoring, to name a few. Aerospace, Medical Device and Government Contracting will still be alive and well for many years to come, although they are now embracing a ‘Hybrid’ Project Management approach, which allows companies to tailor their processes to a combination of the best practices of both Waterfall and Agile. However, it will be important to have your PMP certification in order to understand the basics of how these mainly traditional companies have been operating in the past.

Waterfall or Agile? – What’s Right for You?

If you decide that Agile is the career path for you then there are a few different ways you can go. The first would be once again to gain a good foundation in Waterfall by obtaining your PMP certification but also getting your PMI-ACP Certification soon after, which will provide you an  overview of Agile principles, best practices and different Agile methods. This will give you a solid background in both Waterfall and Agile Project Management methodologies that will position you nicely for the new ‘Hybrid’ approach that many companies are embracing. You can also choose to go with an organization that is new to Agile and become a champion or driving force for change across the company using Agile. And lastly, if you really want to be ‘extreme’, you can choose to seek out companies that are cutting-edge and use advanced Agile methods such as Lean Software Development, Kanban and Extreme Programming, which will require more extensive and specialized certification training outside the realm of the PMI-ACP certification.

Waterfall or Agile? – How About Both?

In my own experience I have seen that many aspiring or current project managers decide to obtain their PMP first since it is the most globally-recognized Project Management certification and is still the methodology used on the majority of projects being executed, and then obtain their PMI-ACP certification in addition to their PMP. I believe this is a good way to go because once you understand the basics of general project management by obtaining your PMP, you may start to work on a few Agile projects with your company and decide it’s a better fit for you. And bear in mind again that the majority of contemporary projects are no longer strictly ‘Waterfall-Only’ or ‘Agile-Only’. More traditional companies in the Aerospace, Medical Device and Government Contracting industries are now embracing a ‘Hybrid’ Project Management approach, which allows them to tailor their processes to a combination of the best practices of both Waterfall and Agile.

So… once again… when you ask me the question ”Should I become PMP Certified or PMI-ACP Certified?”, in the end… it depends! And it really depends on you!!!

Posted on: March 14, 2017 06:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (10)

Episode 382: Top Five Warning Signs that Agile Isn't Working

Categories: Agile

(Click to download MP3...)

NK Shrivastava

This interview about why Agile might be failing in your organization with NK Shrivastava was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss his presentation and white paper Top Five Warning Signs That Agile is Not Working for You. Here are the abstract and conclusion:

Abstract: There are good possibilities of success when adopting an agile approach in an organization, but five symptoms in particular serve as warning signs that the organization’s agile transformation is not working well.

The five warning signs include: (a) no signs of value delivery for over 3 months, (b) teams resisting customer changes, (c) teams “waterfalling” sprints, (d) customers foregoing involvement in development and testing, and (e) lack of visibility for agile in the organization. Potential solutions for these problems are also described in this paper. Many organizations can solve these problems internally, but sometimes an external resource such as a change agent or an agile coach is needed. By addressing these issues, organizations can increase the chances of a successful agile transformation.

Conclusion: Agile doesn’t work by itself. Organizations that implement agile with minimal team support and expect it to work perfectly “out of the box” will likely be disappointed. Successful agile adoption depends on factors at the organization and team levels. Organizations need the right mindset, a strong commitment, a culture conducive to implement agile, and the ability to secure resources and outside help as needed. Teams need the training, skills, and empowerment to absorb and implement agile principles. With these factors in place, organizations and teams should be able to build the foundation for agile success.

(This interview was originally published on The Project Management Podcast.)

Posted on: January 16, 2017 01:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

Episode 381: Scaled Agile for The Enterprise

Categories: Agile

(Click to download MP3...)

Joy Beatty

We continue our look at the topic of scaled agile that we started in the previous episode, this time by looking at "agiLE" - Agile in the Large Enterprise.

This interview about Scaling Agile with Joy Beatty, PMI-PBA was recorded at the Project Management Institute (PMI)® Global Congress 2016 in San Diego, California. We discuss her presentation and white paper Making "agiLE" Work: Agile in the Large Enterprise. Here are the abstract and final thoughts:

Abstract: Almost all large enterprises are making some transition to agile practices. There are many approaches to scale agile in the large enterprise, and we’ll give an overview of the most common scaled approaches and their limitations. This paper also discusses the most common challenges our customers’ teams are facing when scaling agile and provides suggestions to overcome those challenges.

Final Thoughts: This sounds like a daunting task—to transition to agile approaches in a large organization. However, with solid collaboration and communication, it’s absolutely doable. Teams will constantly be collaborating through elicitation, answering questions, and testing the actual product. Business analysts have a critical role to play in keeping the collaboration running smoothly, including helping to facilitate backlog grooming and elaboration, participating in planning in sprints, working with interfacing teams to identify dependencies, and serving as a product owner proxy on any teams as needed. Likewise, project and program managers can act as advisors about appropriate levels of process, help guide projects toward common goals, and ensure a focus on prioritization based on business needs. Instead of instilling a hierarchical control between PMO and product owner, in agiLE the PMO and product owner work together to achieve the objective. The real goal for agiLE teams is self-organization and creativity, while still contributing as a part of a large organization

(This interview was originally published on The Project Management Podcast.)

Posted on: January 08, 2017 11:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)
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