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PMI-ACP: The certification for complex projects

I am one of eight in the PMI-CIE chapter to hold the PMI-ACP certification. That’s eight out of 349 members (2%). Compare that to 205 members holding the PMP (59%).

So what’s going on? Is the PMI-ACP difficult to obtain? Specialized? Unpopular? Undesirable? 

Unappreciated

The Agile body of knowledge is unappreciated by the project management community, and this is to its detriment. The Agile framework is brilliant, and is superb for projects where the solution is complex and not perfectly defined. This is why Agile is so prominent in the software development field. With software, you typically know that the application should do this and that, but often the manifestation of the solution morphs as users get their hands on the software and provide feedback. 

Not a substitute for waterfall

Agile is not a substitute for traditional project management. Rather, it is a framework with methodologies that work really well on certain kinds of projects. As mentioned, software development is a perfect candidate for Agile. I build software solutions at my current job, and can attest that trying to apply traditional project management methods to the development process is very difficult and ineffective. I switched to Scrum (the most prevalent methodology under the Agile umbrella) about two years ago and have enjoyed much better results. 

Agile is not just for software, though. I worked on an email marketing improvement project last year. All the team knew was that performance could likely be improved, and there were some good (but unvalidated) ideas on the table for how to obtain those improvements. This element of learning then reacting is where Agile excels. Naturally, startups and product development fit this bill. I’ve also heard of Agile in journalism, teaching and even local government. 

By way of contrast, I recently started working on a project plan for moving my company from Google’s enterprise email platform to Microsoft’s cloud service, Office 365. The solution in this case is crystal clear, and the project team cuts across many different groups in the company. Careful planning and sequencing of events reveals a critical path that I can use to manage the project outcome. Agile would be ill-suited for this project mainly because my project team is not dedicated—rather, the organization is looking to me to coordinate the dispersed team. Agile is reliant on self-organizing teams. 

The sweet spot for an Agile project is complex, unvalidated solutions. And that’s where the PMI-ACP comes in. All test questions are framed as situations in an Agile environment where you, the Agile practitioner, must respond with the right mindset and understanding of Agile principles. This can be a challenge if you’re practiced in the PMP mindset. It’s not that one is better than the other; it’s that one is more appropriate than the other in a certain context. Agile doesn’t work very well when you apply a waterfall mentality, and vice versa.

Iterative vs. incremental

Perhaps the biggest departure from waterfall is the iterative (versus incremental) delivery of project deliverables. Traditionalists stumble over this concept because they are trained in a model that originated in the manufacturing and construction industries—where deliverables are physical and not easily changed. A good agilist doesn’t think incrementally. Instead, he’ll do a crude version of the solution from start to finish. His goal is to get something in the hands of the customer (or an internal proxy of the customer) so he can obtain feedback and learn from doing. That learning then informs the next iteration, which could be as short as two weeks. This iterative process continues until the solution is refined into something ideal, or pretty darn close to it.

The PMI-ACP

I have come to really enjoy the profession of project management because I like being a professional who can deliver results on strategic initiatives. There is an art and science to getting things done, and I love the pursuit of mastering both. The PMI-ACP is validation that I know how to lead an effective process of delivering complex solutions—the kind that are not easily prescribed.

Oh, and one more thing. Agile is fun. It’s fun to create, learn and adapt. As your momentum starts picking up, you start to feel like your team is an oracle of problem solving. Learn more by reading Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff and JJ Sutherland.

About Jeffrey Ober

I joined PM-ICIE in 2013 when I realized that my job was actually a project management job. I was hungry for solutions and gobbled up as much knowledge as I could. In that pursuit I have obtained six project management certifications: PMP, 120PFC, Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (LSSBB) and now the PMI-ACP. Check out my LinkedIn profile for more tantalizing information about my professional history. 

BOARD MEMBER ELECTIONS

This is the time of the year when we reach out to you again to seek your participation in running your beloved PMI California Inland Empire Chapter. This year, we have the following positions open on our board for nominations:

  1. VICE PRESIDENT OF OPERATIONS

  2. VICE PRESIDENT OF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

  3. VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAMS

     All these positions contribute to the success of your chapter and help us further the art of Project Management. Volunteering is also a great way to develop new skills, prepare yourself for the next position you are looking for, and get valuable management experience. Volunteering also helps you network with hundreds of our members and it does look good on your resume. Position descriptions are shown below

     So if you are ready to volunteer, please send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  with the position you want to be nominated for, and a brief statement of purpose describing why you think you are a good fit for this position. The last date for receipt of interest from interested candidates is November 30th, 2016. Elections for the positions will be held in the 2nd week of December, 2016.

President Barack Obama Signs the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act

Washington D.C.- 16 December 2016

Legislation to improve program management practices and bolster workforce development becomes law

President Barack Obama has signed into law S.1550, the Program Management Improvement and Accountability Act of 2015 (PMIAA), which will enhance accountability and best practices in project and program management throughout the federal government. The legislation, strongly endorsed by the Project Management Institute (PMI), was approved by both chambers of Congress with overwhelming bi-partisan support. President Obama signed it into law on Wednesday, December 14.

January President's Update

As we start 2017 I wanted to take a moment to talk about the many benefits available as part of your membership in our chapter. The Executive Board and our team of dedicated volunteers are working hard to greatly expand the Chapter offerings this year.

Starting this year PMICIE will offer events throughout the entirety of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. We are acting on the results of our recent membership survey and are holding meetings and events where you live and work. For the first time in our history, we have begun offering PDU granting meetings in 4 locations: Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, Temecula and the Coachella Valley. We have also begun an online lunch and learn program which will offer 1 PDU webinars to our members.  

In addition to expanding our monthly meetings we are also vastly expanding our educational offerings. As you know we hold a highly successful PMP exam prep workshop three times a year but for the first time this year we will offer a PMI-ACP exam prep workshop and a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification course. We are also working on a project management fundamentals course for those of us just getting started in the field.   Your chapter membership provides significant discounts on all our educational offerings.

Feedback Needed! Chapter Satisfaction Survey Available!

Project Management Institute is committed to serving its valued stakeholders as well as the broader project management profession. As part of our ongoing commitment to product and service excellence, and in support of automating the Strategic Alignment Planning and Reporting process, PMI is evaluating Chapter members’ satisfaction. As Chapter leaders, we strive to deliver value to members through the programs, services and networking opportunities Chapters offer. Member participation in this survey will enable us to enhance Chapter services.

All Chapter members will receive an e-mail with a link to the 2017 Chapter Satisfaction Survey. Please note, members of more than one Chapter will receive one e-mail survey invitation per chapter. 

We encourage all Chapter members to participate. The survey will take approximately ten minutes and this opportunity to provide feedback will only be available for a couple of weeks. 

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Chapter Membership

Total Members 550
New members this year 145
PMP® Members 288
CAPM® Members 7
PgMP® Members 2
PMI-SP® Members 1
PMI-RMP® Members 0
PMI-ACP® Members 11
PfMP® Members 0
PMI-PBA® Members 2
PMP/CAPM/PgMP/PMI-SP/PMI-RMP/PMI-ACP/PfMP/PMI-PBA are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.