PMI-ACP® - Agile Certified Practitioner

ACP is an acronym that stands for Agile Certified Practitioner. This is one of the certifications provided by PMI (Project Management Institute). This is the reason that it is called PMI-ACP. It is one of the best certifications in the field of project management. It is a certification that has a very high level of professional integrity. As the name suggests, this certification is a unique combination of agile training working that is used in working on agile projects and then examining agile tools and fundamentals. It is a certification that proves to be really helpful in a professional becoming really successful in the field of project management. With every passing day, the popularity of this certification is growing. The organizations today have started to begun value the agile certified professionals more and more. There are a lot of associations that depend on the practitioners with the agile certifications to use their unique and diversified skills to undertake and complete projects in the most efficient manner possible. Thus, the professionals who have this certification are valued more than the professionals who do not. Moreover, it is important as it makes the people address and recognize the needs of the organizations who actually depend on the professionals with this certification.

In the simplest of words, agile can be defined as an approach that is monotonous in nature and is used to deliver a project in a very cumulative manner from the very start of the project instead of delivering the entire project at the end. In more simple words, the main idea of this methodology is to deliver the projects in sprints or parts instead of delivering the whole project at a time. By doing so, it can be made sure that the customer can check the quality of the delivered part of the project easily.

Who should do this certification?

Well, ACP is one of the best certifications for anyone to do in the field of project management. There are many benefits that one can be very sure of enjoying after completing this certification. So, there are not many reasons for a professional to not take up this certification. However, for the professionals, who work in agile terms, who use agile methods in their practice of project management, this certification proves to be very helpful. It is a very good choice for these kinds of professionals. There are many other agile certifications out there which are solely based on training and exams, but when you get PMI-ACP certified, it is an evidence of the experience that you have of real-world experience and the precious skills that you acquire during the course of this certification. Therefore, this certification, if mentioned on your CV, can prove to be really successful for you to get the desired opportunities. When you have this certification, half of your job is done. You do not have to tell other people anymore than you have the skills required to be a brilliant project manager. The certification does this job for you.

How is this beneficial?

There are many benefits of the ACP certification for every professional who is working in the field of agile project management. The certification is almost a guarantee of huge success in the field of project management. Out of the many benefits that a professional enjoys after getting this certification, here are a few:

1. You enjoy a high demand

Project management is a profession that is becoming more and more popular with each passing day. There is a huge demand for project managers in different industries today. Moreover, the agile techniques and methodologies are also becoming more and more popular among the organizations. With this increasing popularity and a shortage of professionals who understand and can implement the agile methodology, there is a huge demand for the professionals who are certified with ACP. When you hold ACP certification, your value increases by a huge margin for the organization. People with this certification tend to enjoy more demand than the professionals who do not have this certification. So, for the professionals who already have some experience of working in an agile environment as project managers, a certification like ACP gives them a precious chance to boost their credentials.

2. It is beneficial for the organization

As mentioned above, the agile methodology is becoming more and more popular with each passing day. Therefore, more and more companies are adopting the agile methodology and approach. As an ACP certified professional, you are more beneficial for the organization than somebody who is not ACP certified. When more and more professionals who understand the agile techniques and methodology and can implement them very well work together as a team, it is bound to yield great results for the organizations. So, more the number of ACP certified professionals, more will be the success rate for the organization.

3. Better job opportunities

As already mentioned, the mention of the ACP certification in the CV boosts it by a very great extent. It helps you in gaining recognition in your organization, other organizations and as well as other employers. This certification helps you in getting more and more job opportunities and the career advancement that every professional wish to achieve. This certification proves to be very beneficial for a career in agile project management. if you are an ACP certified professional, the doors to many more project development methodologies, collaborations and many better job prospects.

4. Career advancement

Obtaining this certification plays a very important role in the professional growth of an individual. This certification demonstrates the level of professionalism that you possess in terms of agile practices needed in the project management. It proves that you have the necessary experience and ultimate knowledge on the agile tools and techniques.It tells the employers that you have the professional resources required and you can take on and efficiently complete any project based on agile methodology. During the course of this certification, your adaptability in the agile technologies improves and it eventually enhances the customer satisfaction and productivity of the team.

How to prepare for PMI-ACP?

There is no one method of preparation that is accepted as the ideal one to prepare for this exam. There can be no such method for any exam. Every student or a candidate prepares in his own way, with his very own methods and according to his own calibre. If you are not prepared well, taking an exam can be a very daunting experience. In an exam like ACP, it is imperative for the candidate to be very well prepared. The candidate should know the basics and the details of the exam. As already mentioned, there is no specific way to pass the ACP exam. However, there are some things that a professional can do to make sure that he gets through it. Here are a few of them:

1. Go through the PMI-ACP handbook

It is very necessary for an aspiring candidate to go through the ACP handbook thoroughly. The handbook gives the candidates all the details which are required. It gives the details of the exam process and the exam policies and procedures. If someone is even considering the PMI-ACP certification, then the first two sections of this handbook are a must read for him. These two sections of the handbook cover the most basic of information. If the candidate knows all this right from the beginning of his preparation, he is relieved of a lot of stress during the course of the preparation.

2. Develop a schedule

One needs to develop a schedule and follow it no matter what happens. The PMI ACP exam covers an extensive and detailed material which is spread throughout a huge number of reference material. The candidates should know this and understand that this is not some examination that they can cram their way out of. One needs to prepare a schedule and put in at least two hours of daily study in it for three months and then it is appropriate for him to expect success in the examination. Moreover, while developing the schedule, do not develop one that is just not practical. The candidates tend to do this to the peer pressure. But it is no use preparing a schedule if you cannot follow it.

3. Study the right books

There is no set of books that the PMI prescribes for the ACP exam. There I no primary publication for the examinees to study. The Project Management Institute provides a list of reference materials for the candidates. It is important the candidate goes through all of these reference materials. There is another source for this. It is the PMI-ACP Examination Content Outline. This document is helpful for the professionals as it carries information about the agile tools and techniques and also the agile knowledge and skills that the exam covers. The candidates should make sure that the material they buy for preparation contains all the items listed in this document.

4. Self-study courses

With the exam covering such a wide range of material, another option that the candidates can resort to for preparation is self-study courses. There are many of these courses available online. The latest mode type of these self-study courses comes in the form of Agile Videocasts or podcasts. These courses cover many important things like the tools, techniques, knowledge, skills, framework and methods that are required for the exam. Moreover, the biggest benefit that one enjoys by preparing from a self-study course is that these lessons count toward the 21 contact hours that are required of Agile specific training.

5. Attempt Practice questions

A candidate should attempt as many practice questions as possible. There is a very large number of free practice questions available from a huge variety of resources on the web. But you cannot go the entire way with these free practice questions. After a certain point, you need to upgrade to the best quality of practice questions available. To do so, you can subscribe to an online PMI-ACP exam simulator. By doing so, you will have the best quality of questions available. As you become familiar with these practice questions, you should start taking complete 120-question practice exams. By taking these mock exams, you will be prepared for the real exam and its format. It is quite normal for a candidate to be nervous at the time of the actual exam. But being familiar with the formats and the types of questions will prepare you for success.

What is the exam format and how is it conducted?

There is a total of 120 questions in the ACP exam. Out of these 120 questions, 20 are considered pre-test questions. These 20 questions do not affect the score of the candidate. This means that when you appear for the exam, you will be asked to attempt all the questions, but your final score will depend on only 100 questions. The time allotted to the candidates for completing the exam is three hours. Although computer based testing is the standard method for the certification exams of PMI, paper-based testing is also available in some situations. The questions are divided into two parts: 50 percent agile tools and techniques and 50 percent knowledge and skills. The tools and technique include monitoring, adapting, planning and communications etc. The knowledge and skills section is further divided into levels. There are three levels.

Level 1 (33% of total questions): Active listening, Agile manifesto values and principles, assessing and incorporating community and stakeholder values, brainstorming techniques, building empowered teams, coaching and mentoring within teams, communications management, incremental delivery, knowledge sharing, leadership tools and techniques, prioritization, problem solving tools, stakeholder management.

Level 2: Agile terminology, building high-performance teams, business case development, colocation, continuous improvement processes, facilitation methods etc.

Level 3: Agile contracting methods, agile project accounting principles, applying new agile practices, compliance etc.

Requirements

There are certain professional requirements that the professionals need to meet to be eligible for the PMI-ACP certification. These are:

  1. The candidate should have a secondary degree, i.e. a high school diploma, associate’s degree or any other global equivalent.
  2. He should have an experience of 2000 hours or 12 months working on project teams. This experience must have been earned in the last five years.
  3. The candidate should have Agile project experience of 1,500 hours or eight months working on project teams using agile methodologies. This experience should have been earned in the last three years. Moreover, these experience hours are in addition to the 2,000 hours requires in general project experience.
  4. The last requirement is that the candidate must have 21 contact hours of experience of training in Agile practices.

Moreover, the candidates who already hold a PMP or PgMP credentials, they will be accepted as fulfilling the general project experience requirements.