Certifications – PMI-ACP or Disciplined Agile – or both

Since PMI acquired the Disciplined Agile certifications, there is often the question regarding the future of the current PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner) certification. I will try and provide my understandings, having studied the content from each, received both certifications and currently teach certification prep courses for each.

The PMI-ACP certification, and related material, presents many of the current agile frameworks and their principles and activities. It also provides a wide range of techniques that can be applied to any project, often regardless of the approach used. These include various methods of capturing, understanding and prioritizing requirements; stakeholder engagement and collaboration; open communication methods; and verification and validation techniques.

Understanding these key topics, regardless of the project approach, allows a practitioner to incorporate these activities. These various activities help deliver a result that meets stakeholder expectations. Rather than only understanding and applying those techniques identified by a specific agile framework, we need to expand and apply best practices from multiple frameworks. This is the knowledge and understanding required to achieve the PMI-ACP certification.

Disciplined Agile takes the best practices from multiple agile frameworks and combines them into a toolkit that can be applied to the context of a specific project.

DA is an agnostic hybrid approach that leverages strategies from a variety of sources as shown below.

DA then provides a collection of options, including practices, strategies and workflows that can be chosen and applied to any project in a context sensitive manner. These include process blades for various organizational areas. In addition, process goals and goal diagrams provide guidance with various decisions and options to help tailor specific activities based on the context of the situation that they face.

Some examples of process goals include Form Team, Explore Scope, Identify Architecture Strategy, Improve Quality, Grow Team Members, and Address Risk.For each of these various aspects, options have been identified. This could be loosely equated to a tool box with various tools to help with work around the house. If you need to fix a loose doorknob, you need to know which tool might work best, a hammer or a screwdriver. Obviously, there are different tasks that will require different tools, but it helps to know how and when to use it.

The various tools that can be used are shown as options on process goal diagrams. But the understanding of the individual options either comes from previous study or requires “just-in-time” internet searches and discovery. Many of these options included are the same techniques which are included on the PMI-ACP exam. As an example, I have included the goal diagram for Explore Scope, including all the various techniques that might be considered.

As I spend more time looking at what Disciplined Agile has provided, I appreciate the expansion of possible techniques to consider. I also recognize the need to have a better knowledge of the various techniques that can be applied. I may have a toolkit for fixing things around the house, but unless I understand the various tools in my toolkit, I may waste time using the wrong tool. Without multiple options we may be in a situation where “if all I have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Through the expansion of various agile techniques which can be applied to a specific context, individuals and teams are able to improve the results provided. DA has provided a virtual coach to help identify
some potential alternatives.

We need to broaden our understanding of various techniques to apply to projects today, and continuously improve the way we are working. The combination of understanding those techniques
that are the basis of the PMI-ACP exam, and then the options provided by DA is a powerful toolkit to provide a consumable solution to our stakeholders and customer.