Webinar Recap: Want To Be A PMI-ACP? The Primary Steps to Take

Please find below a transcription of the audio portion of Satya Narayan Dash’s session, Want To Be A PMI-ACP? The Primary Steps to Take, being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations. You may watch the live recording of this webinar at your convenience.

Kyle: Hello everyone, and welcome to today’s MPUG webinar. If you want to be a PMI-ACP, here are the primary steps to take. My name is Kyle and I’ll be the moderator today. Today’s session is eligible for one PMI-PDU and the technical category. The MPUG activity code for claiming that with PMI is on the screen now.

Like all MPUG webinars, a recording of this session will be posted to mpug.com, shortly after we wrap up and all MPUG members can watch the recordings at any time and still be eligible to earn the PDU credit. All the sessions you’ve logged on demand can be submitted to your webinar history, and the live sessions you attend are automatically submitted.

Within your history, you can print or download your transcript and certificates of completion, including the one for today. You can access that by logging on to mpug.com. Click on My Account, and then click on your Webinar History link.

If you do you have any questions during today’s session, please send those over at any time using the Chat Question Box on the Go-To Webinar control panel. We do have time set aside at the end to answer those questions for you today. All right, we’ll go ahead and begin.

We’re very happy to welcome back Satya Dash today. Satya is a management professional, speaker, coach and author of six books, including the book I Want To Be An ACP. Under his leadership, over 100 professionals have earned the Agile Certified Practitioner, ACP certification, and many have written their detailed success stories.

He frequently writes on Agile topics, bringing in innovative practices. You can follow his web presence at managementyogi.com. So with that said, I’d like to welcome you back Satya, and I’ll hand it over to you to get us started with today’s session.

Satya Dash: Thank you Kyle for having me here. It’s a pleasure to be with you again, and we’ll be talking about this topic, Want to be A PMI-ACP, the primary steps that you have to take. So Kyle has already given an introduction about me, so I’m going to skip this slide.

In this webinar, the agenda is the value of PMI-ACP certification. How to be a candidate ACP from an aspiring ACP. How to be an actual ACP from a candidate ACP? Then we’ll see how to continue being an ACP. There are certain requirements which you have to meet in order to continue being Agile Certified Practitioner that is ACP. Then how to approach the ACP exam in a world impacted by COVID-19 crisis.

So first, the value of PMI-ACP Certification. Why should you go for it? So, first thing it is coming from PMI, which is Project Management Institute, a body for project management related certification based in the US. It is a well recognized and trusted body, and it is in business for over 50 years.

The ACP certification takes sincere effort on your part to earn. Now, the reason I’m telling this sincere report, is because I have seen that there are people who get suddenly certified as an Agile Practitioner within two days or three days of training. So you have master in Scrum, or master in Kanban or like a professional in Lean.

So it is not possible to have a certification in just two days and you become a master in the topic. Life doesn’t work like that. The real world is not like that. You cannot be a master chef or a master cook just by doing a training of two days. Is it possible that you will become a master chef? Or you are not a master technician just by working 24 hours.

Similarly, if you are getting a certificate with two days of training or three days of training and you become a master, it is really unbelievable. It doesn’t happen. The real world is not like that. On the other hand, ACP certification takes sincere effort on your part to earn it.

The whole gamut of frameworks and methodologies you’ll be learning while doing ACP certification, such as XP, that is Extreme Programming, Scrum, Lean, Kanban, Crystal, FDD, which is Feature Driven Development and TDD, which is Test Driven Development, among many others.

You’ll be knowing DS DNE, which is Development in Northern Europe or you will be knowing about BDD, which is Behavior Driven Development. There’s a lot of frameworks and methodologies which you will be learning as you proceed with this certification. The exam is well-structured, well administered, tested professionally, and recognized within Agile Management Community.

So, there has been a number of professionals who are already certified on this ACP certification, as of 21st May 2020. Worldwide, there are more than 35,000 ACP certified professionals. As far as I know, the value is definitely higher, and as PMI study, I think 2018, they had a study. If you are a certified ACP, there is a salary hike of 7%.

If you are a PMP along with ACP, the salary hike is more. So definitely you are also having a salary boost. Another thing is the certification is constantly changing and evolving to accommodate the needs of Agile Practitioners. Now in the world of Agile, things are not static. Life itself is not static, the world is not static. New methodologies will come. New practices will emerge and PMI understands it, and they incorporate those things into the ACP certification. For example, last year, they audited a number of books into the ACP certification reference and they removed also a number of books. So it is constantly changing.

Another aspect is it is predominately situational and scenario based. You’ll be facing questions, which will be scenario based. So, you can apply theory learning in the real world. Exam, the ACP exam is a test of your stamina and patience. I would like to also tell this one here, because the exam duration is three hours. Before three hours, you’ll have a 15 minutes kind of break familiarity with respect to the computer adaptive tests that you are doing. After the exam is over, you will have a survey. So overall you will be spending around 3.5 hours at a stretch without any break. So it is a test of your stamina and patience.

As I just told you, the applicability of your learning will be based on the real world. The questions will be scenario based. Sometime long questions, one paragraph. Sometimes just one line question. But predominantly more than 90% of your questions will be situational.

It is aligned with standard for educational and psychological testing. So they are also doing a psychometric evaluation of the person who is taking the exam. It pre-checks your academic and industry experience, including the general management experience, and Agile experience. This is also a globally accepted credential because the presence of PMI is around 200 countries. So if you are saying you are a Certified ACP Professional, you are most likely to be recognized in around 200 countries around the world. That is a great value. Other than the salary boost, which people like, this is also I believe is a great value.

Now, the certification applicability. Many people think the ACP Certification is very particular or very much specific to the project managers or senior managers or to the delivery managers. It is not. This certification is applicable for product managers, senior product managers. You will learn a number of techniques. A number of tools. You will have a number of skills, knowledge about various product management techniques.

For example, prioritizing the product backlog or refining the product backlog, doing an own value management with respect to the product backlog or estimating, or having the various project accounting principles with respect to product management.

Then of course, Scrum Masters, Kanban Flow Masters They can also go for this certification. Senior executives in an organization. In my class as I interact with people or in my sessions or people who purchase my courses or book I have seen many senior executives also go for this certification.

Then you have project managers, program managers, or portfolio managers. There is the PPP, the triple P managers. Of course, they can have the certification. Then team members. So many people think it is a management certification. No, if you look at the name, the name is telling you it Agile Certified Practitioner.

Now the practitioner, a team member can also be a practitioner. A team lead or a technical lead, or a project lead. Even the engineers, hardware engineer, software engineer, mechanical engineer. These people also can have Agile Certification. Now you’re thinking, how about mechanical engineer I just said.

Agile has been- they are in software industry primarily. But if you look at the applicability is there in various industries. In my class, I see primarily from software industry, but I have seen people across industries, such as media, fashion industry, medical profession, construction business, of course, mechanical I just said, and you have software professionals.

So it is applicable to the varieties of team members, as a practitioner of Agile practices. So as you can see, the certification can be taken by all. Not just professionals in project management related role. You learn a lot of techniques related to product management, the project management, and also team practices that you will be knowing.

Next is, the steps to be a PMI-ACP. So in the subsequent discussion, we are going to have from aspiring ACP to a candidate ACP. Then from candidate ACP to a successful ACP. By successful ACP, I mean, you are ACP certified.

So first, aspiring ACP to candidate ACP. The pre-requisites to be a PMI-ACP. So as you can see there are four columns in this table, educational qualifications, your general project management experience, your Agile project experience, and training. So in education, you are going to have a secondary degree, which can be a high school diploma or associate degree or global equivalent. Or you can be a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree from Global Assessment Certificate, that is GAC related program.

So this is newly added. This part is recently added. If you are a secondary degree holder, then you need to have 2,000 hours or 12 months working on project teams. This experience should be done in last five years. Now, if you are already a Certified PMP, or a certified PCMP, that is Program Management Professional, or a Project Management Professional, this experience has already been validated by PMI. So you need not to show this experience if you are already a PMP or PCMP.

Then Agile Project Experience. As you can see, it is not talking about project management experience, and that is what I told some time before. It is applicable across product managers, Scrum master, team members, engineers everywhere. So, Agile experience is 1,500 hours or eight months working on project teams using Agile methodologies. This experience should have been accumulated in the last three years.

Now, here, in this case for bachelor’s or postgraduate degree you need to show eight months of Agile team experience. Training, if you are a secondary degree holder, then 21 contact hours of learning and the hours must be earned in Agile practices. So you can go for, this is called contact hour or 21 contact hours of learning with respect to ACP certification. In this case, you need to have 35 contact hours of formal education related to Agile practices or related to Agile projects.

Now, here are some important notes. Your experience should be non-overlapping experience. Now what do I mean by non-overlapping experience? Let us say you have come January 2020, I’m saying 2020. Come January 2020, you have a project running until say, July 2020. Now, if you have another project parallel there, so that is happening from January to let us say March 2020.

Now you cannot support these projects together. You can solve only one project, that is project one from January 2020 to July 20, or if you want to solve both the projects and you are filling out your application form, then you have to show from April onward to July for this project. And for this project, from January to March 2020. So for project one, from this length to July and for project two, it is from January 20, until March 2020.

Now, experience does not mean you are a designated Scrum master or Agile project manager, or a project manager or any other. As we saw, it is applicable to even your team members, to the engineers, so that level they’re going. So you can be a delivery manager, can be a product manager, can be a senior product manager, can be a director of a PMO, can be a vice president. I have seen varieties of professionals in my sessions or interactions or classes and they can all go for the certification.

Experience would also be with respect to seven performance domains, is mentioned in the examination content outline or the ICO for short. We’ll see this seven performance domains, which is outlined in the ICO shortly. If you meet the prerequisites and desire to be an ACP, fill up your application form and submit. It has to be approved by PMI. Post approval, you are a candidate ACP. So from aspiring ACP, once PMI approves your application, you are a candidate ACP.

The exam fee for a member, that is PMI member, is $435. For a non-member it is $495. Now, once your application is approved from that day, you have one year window to appear for the exam three times, including the first attempt. In case something goes wrong in the first attempt, you can retake the exam for $335 if you are a member. If you are not a member, then the fee will be $395.

So this is the examination process for your ACP exam. First, you do an application submission. You have 90 days to submit once it started. For example, today we are on 7th of October, let us say on 10th of October 2020, you started opening the application form by going to PMI official site, which is pmi.org. As you open your application form, you have 90 days to fill up and submit your application form. Once you have submitted your application form, there will be a review of your application form by the PMI team. It will take 10 days or two weeks or 10 business days for the review. It is possible, your application may be selected for audit.

Now, audit is random. So PMI has nothing against you, particularly. It is not that they hate you and that’s why they went for audit for you. It is random and computer-selected. So in case audit happens, let us say you started your application form and you filled up by 25th of October, when it was submitted the application form, the computer will immediately tell you.

I repeat, it is going to tell you immediately that your application has been selected for audit. So from 25th of October, you’ll be given extra 90 days to have the materials collected. What about the audit related information they’re asking you, and you have to send it to PMI by a normal post and this has to be sent to the United States. The official address, they’ll be giving you and you have to send it.

In case your application form is not selected for audit, then they’ll ask you for application payment. If selected for audit, and it has been approved, then again, the fourth step of application payment will happen. As we saw, if you are a member, it is $435. If you are not a member, it is $495. Then the fifth step, after you make a payment, you can schedule for your exam. The exam is conducted by Pearson Group, which is in partnership with PMI and you can schedule your exam.

The exam structure will be available. So you can go for a traditional mode of exam, that is going to the center and getting the exam or you can go for the online proctor mode exam. Now, this is very useful in the current scenario of COVID-19 crisis, to go for online proctored exam where you can sit in the comfort and safety of your home and give the exam. So either way you can go for.

In the exam, you’ll have multiple choices. So you’ll have questions, and for every question, you will have four choices. These choices, are in radio buttons. In radio buttons, you have only one correct answer. After the exam is over, you are certified. The day you are certified the certification cycle will begin.

So let us say you filled out your application, we’ll take the same example, 10th of October, 25th of October you submitted. Assuming it is not selected for audit, it got approved. So let us say by 5th of November, your application got approved. Then from 5th November to 5th of November 2021, you have one year window to give the exam. Let’s say you give the exam in January or February 2021 and after you get the exam, let us say February 10th, 2021, you got certified. Then from February 2021, you have 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024. So three years window, you have to renew your certification and to maintain your certification.

So from 2021, till 2024. You have ’21, ’22, ’23 years, in that period, you have to accumulate 30 PDUs. PDU stands for, Professional Development Unit. So there are many ways to get the PDUs, which we’ll see shortly. You have to renew every three years. So for renewal, they will ask if you are a member. There is a fee which is a lesser amount. If you are not a member, there’s also a fee. This is the overall process you have for the ACP exam.

Now, the reason the are certification maintenance, as I understand, because they want you to be in touch with Agile practices. Learning is always a continuous process. Learning doesn’t happen on a one time basis. So I think it is a good practice, and you have to continue. If you want to continue your certificate, you have to maintain it and you have to renew it.

Next, candidate ACP to successful ACP. So, this is the next step. We are going to see, we saw from aspiring ACP to candidate ACP, that is your application has been approved and we are going for the next step- how to be a successful ACP that is ACP Certified. This is the exam structure. In the exam, you’ll have 120 questions. Out of 120 questions, 100 questions will be scored purpose, whereas 20 questions will be unscored purpose.

Now, this unscored questions, the process of PMI that’s evaluating. Are the questions becoming tougher or complex, or they’re becoming very easy? So that is for evaluation purpose. But for you, as an exam taker, there is no way to distinguish between the scored questions and the unscored questions. So, you go with a mindset of 120 questions to be done in three hours or 180 minutes. Here are some suggestions. There is no negative marking, hence I would definitely suggest attempt all the questions.

Now, the exam report will have four performance setting categories, for seven performance domains. As I said some time before, that will be seven performance domains taken from the exam content outline on which you’ll be rated. So the ratings are above target, target, below target, and needs improvement. So if you have say out of seven performance domains, you have target, say, two, two, and below target in one, and needs improvement in one, you may pass or may fail. There is no pass percentage. Officially, PMI doesn’t disclose or inform any pass percentages. Only guaranteed pass, if you are above target or target in all the seven performance domains.

Guaranteed fail, if you are below target or needs improvement. The rest of the combinations and permutations with respect to seven performance domains, how they evaluate and whether they tell you pass or fail, that is decided by PMI itself. You will have your score if you are going for online proctored or the traditional going to the center physically. Either way, your exam, whether you have passed or failed, it will be instantly known to you. Now, after you have cleared the exam, you have succeeded as an Agile Certified Practitioner from PMI.

Now, you’ll be thinking, what are the performance domains we have in ACP? Now, this is the examination blueprint. Domain one has there are seven performance domains. There’re just seven performance domains. So in domain one, you have Agile principles and mindset. Domain two, value driven delivery. Three, stakeholder engagement, then team performance. Then you have adaptive planning. Then you have product problem detection and resolution. Then you have continuous improvement. For every domain, there are percentages of questions, which are given to you. So 16% questions, which translates to 19 questions out of 120 questions. Similarly, for the rest of the domains you have percentages and an equivalent number of questions deliver 100% and 120 questions. Now if you look at some domains have higher number of questions. For example, value driven delivery has highest. The list is of course, on continuous improvement. So you need to have some tactics with respect to some minor strategy on how you are going to crack the exam. So as you can see, this you have to score definitely well in value driven delivery. Agile Principles and mindset, you have to score really well.

Then you have stakeholder engagement. Again, 21 questions you have to do well. Other areas, the last two, problem detection and resolution and continuous improvement, you may have not a very perfect understanding or very thorough practice, but still you can have a slightly less, and you have a chance of clearing the exam. However, do note that this percentage of questions is tentative. This is not casting iron or written on stone. It is possible, in Agile Principles and mindset, you might get 10 questions. Here you might get 15 questions. But overly, they try to maintain the similar range with respect to questions, what they have informed in that ACP exam blueprint.

Next, we have domains, sub domains, tasks, which we are going to discuss. The seven performance domain we just saw. The seven performance domains will have sub domains. Not every performance domain will have sub domain. Some of them will have sub domains. Some of them won’t have sub domains.

Taking an example, value-driven delivery will have, these are the sub domains. Define positive value, avoid potential downsides, privatization, incremental development. And every domain will have a number of tasks. So here is an example taken from value-driven delivery, under defined positive value. Define requirements by getting consensus on the acceptance criteria for features and adjusting time basis in order to deliver value. So it domain will have sub domains. And in every domain you will have a number of tasks tasked.

Together, you have 13 sub-domains spread across seven performance domains, and together you have 62 tasks spread across the domains. In addition to other domains, sub domains, and task you will also have 10 tools and techniques, which you need to be thorough about. As I said, from the very beginning, you have to put in the needed effort to earn the certification. It is not a candy.

Like you say, for two days of training and you’ve got a candy, then you forgot on the third day, what you learned on the second day. So you have to really put in the effort. So 10 tools and techniques are Agile analysis and design, Agile estimation, communication, interpersonal skills, metrics, planning, monitoring, and adopting. Then you have process improvement. Then you have product quality, then risk management, then value based prioritization. So tools tells you what to use. Techniques tells you how to use.

In addition to these tools and techniques, you have 33 knowledge and skills. Now, these 33 knowledge and skills, I have not listed all of them. We have some of them, like Agile values and principles, Agile frameworks and terminology, communication management, leadership, developmental mastery models, Agile hybrid models, Agile project chartering, Agile contracting, Agile project accounting principles, principles of system thinking.

In audition, we have additional tools and knowledge and skills. Now, what is the difference? Knowledge is telling you what you know. Skills, how to apply that knowledge. So we have 10 tools and techniques. Tools, telling you what to use. Techniques, how to use. Knowledge, what you know. Skills, how you are going to apply that?

Now by this time, it will be getting pretty confusing for you. So we have a number of domains, task, sub domains, tools and techniques, knowledge and skills. How do they actually fit together? What is the picture here? So we already saw, the domains will have sub domains whenever applicable, and the tasks will be under the domain. Under domain, internally we’ll be using tools and techniques, and knowledge of skills.

Now, tools and techniques, are part of domain or sub domain and are described to use the task statement. Let’s take an example. It is a task for, from Agile principles and mindset. This is domain one. This task is telling you, practice visualization by maintaining highly visible information radiators. Showing real progress, and real team performance in order to enhance transparency and trust. So here is the key word, highly visible information radiators.

So this is, information radiator is a tool and technique under communication. We had seen the 10 tools and techniques, Under that, we had communication as a tool and technique under communication information radiator, is actually the tool and technique, which they’re talking here with respect to Task 4, under the domain of Agile principles and mindset.

Similarly, for every domain, you’ll have a number of tasks. You have to read that task and you have to find out, what are the tools and techniques applicable here, what are the knowledge and skills applicable here and what value you are going to get out of it. Now, PMI is not explaining which tool and technique will fill into which domain. Or which knowledge and skill will fill into which domain. That, you have to interpret. That, you have to find out.

So we can find out on your own or you can refer a book which has already done the hard work for you. That is your choice. Similarly, knowledge and skills are part of domain and sub domain and they’re described to be used in that task statement. There is also some overlap between tools and techniques and knowledge and skills. For example, we saw a tool and technique called interpersonal skills, which is a tool and technique, which is overlapping with respect to knowledge and skills such as leadership, motivation, facilitation. That is also, if you look at going back to Agile Value and Principle, this is a knowledge and skill. This is also a domain. So this confuses many.

But here, when they’re saying knowledge and skill, you have to know the four Agile values and 12 principles. That is what they’re focusing on here. When they’re talking of Agile values and principles, there’s a previous domain that we saw. So in that case, you have one of the sections will be this knowledge and skills. In addition to that, it will have a number of areas in that domain.

So let us take an example. I have taken a domain here, adaptive planning. We saw seven domains, first domain Agile principle and mindset. Then you have value-driven delivery, then you have team performance. Then you have stakeholder engagement. Then you have adaptive planning. We have problem detection and resolution, and you have continuous improvement. So seven domains we have already seen. I have taken adaptive planning as an example.

Now, if you look at adaptive planning, these are the tools and techniques. There’s left side, there’s this tool and technique. On another side, I have put K&S. I have done my own mapping and this is taken from the book, I Want To Be An ACP. Here under Agile analysis and design, I have product roadmap user stories, more of it. Actually user stories has been introduced initially in the first domain of Agile principles and mindset and further explanation has been given here in adaptive planning.

Then you have backlog, which includes product backlog. Similarly, under planning and monitoring, we have release planning, iteration planning, time-boxing, daily stand-ups meetings. Then Agile estimation under this tool and technique, you have relative sizing story points, T-shirt sizing, risk management. We have architectural spikes, risk spikes. Then you have under metrics earned value management for Agile process. This mapping is falling under adaptive planning. This is my way of presentation. This will be given to you directly from PMI. This also will be coming from PMI, but which one is fitting into which domain?

Mapping into the individual task. As I said, every domain will have tasks. In tasks, you have to find out which tool and technique and which knowledge and skills that you have to be familiar with. Then under knowledge and skills, you have Agile discovery, Agile sizing and estimation, value-based analysis and decomposition. So these are the things that you can have.

So with respect to MPUG, I have written a number of articles. For example, product roadmap. There is an article. So I’m just going to tell you, you might want to refer to those articles. So for product roadmap, it has been explained here, Agile release planning. I have explained product Story Map, product backlog. So this is the URL link on that. There are stories, which are also falling under adaptive planning. This is an article written on MPUG website.

There’re stories about stories in Agile development. Then you have Earned-value management, which is a very recent article. So I think this is the last article, last month I wrote, and you can read this article. Then you have Story Map. So story map also, I wrote recently a couple of months before. So over the years, MPUG has given me the opportunity to write a number of articles and help you to understand the concepts with respect to Agile.

So these articles are not one page or two pages, these articles are detailed. It will be on an average, it is eight to 10 pages, and you will understand deeply. Sometimes also I add videos so that you really understand as you go through the articles. Now coming back, continue being an ACP. So now, let us say you went through, gave your exam. Now you are a Certified ACP. As I said sometime before here, PMI’s approach to education is continuous learning. I believe it is a good approach because learning has to be continuous. Even in your final, final phases of your life, maybe when you are 60 or 65 or 70 plus, if you are living that long, you still have to learn. Learning has no end. You have to continuously learn.

That is what PMI is focusing here. They are saying, when you want to continue the ACP credential, you have to accumulate 30 PDUs, that is Professional Development Unit. Now these PDUs, fall into two categories. Education category, and giving back to profession. That is your professional profession or that is Agile related thing that you have to maintain, PDUs.

So Education category, you have 18 PDUs and they are giving back to the profession, you need to have 12 PDUs maximum. Here, at least 18 PDUs. Under education category, you have three subcategories. Technical project management, where you need to have at least four PDUs; leadership, again, at least four PDUs; strategic and business management, at least four PDUs. Now these things map to the talent triangle as PMI calls it. So you need to have four PDUs from here, four PDUs from here and four PDUs in respect to strategic and business management.

Now, if you accumulate 30 PDUs, if you remember our example, let’s say you got certified in February 2021, 2022 to 2023, then 2023 to 2024, you have three years. In this three years window, you have to accumulate then you have to renew. Renewal fee is $60 for a member, $150 for a non member. Now coming to the final part of this presentation that we have, that is ACP exam in COVID-19 crisis.

So, the whole world is actually going through this crisis right now. And as far as I see it, I think you also will be knowing it by this time, it will continue well into the next year. So we don’t have any vaccine yet. There is no vaccine available, maybe next year or early next year, something will be available and it has to be effective. It is possible, you are attending this session in different parts of the world, in your respective countries. It is possible, we might get a vaccine towards the end of 2021 or possibly December 20 or November 2021.

So this virus that we are facing this crisis, the health crisis that we are all facing, it is going to be there for at least 1.5 years or a year. In addition to that, you will have economic impacts. That is going to be there and economic impact is going to be felt for a very long time, as far as I can see it. I don’t know about you. My belief, it is going to be a long winter. So the winter is going to begin., and this winter with respect to the virus that we are facing, it is going to be a very, very long one.

I don’t want to make you alarmed, but I know some countries might even may not  recover till 2024 or 2025, such as the economic impact in many countries. Now, Agile approaches will be used more because as the economy shrinks and you have trouble, they’ll go for Agile approaches. The reason is, Agile focuses on iterative and incremental development. So instead of single release economics, Agile goes for multi-release economics. Now, what do we mean by multi release economics? Let us put a diagram here.

So I’m putting a timeline here and let us say, initially, you have the dollar here. So this is positive. This is negative. As you start building on your project, or working on your project, your money will be shrinking because you are putting money. Then you released. After you released, there will be a breakeven point here, so your profit will start and your breakeven point will be here and you’ll get the money back. Right?

So this is a typical waterfall model. It is a big bang approach. The release will happen after two years or 18 months And after 18 months, it will go on to market for two years or three years. It will remain and you will get your profit after two or three years. that is a single release economics.

Whereas in Agile, it is multi-release economics. By multi-release, I mean, you are frequently releasing. So you are raising one here, and you are getting a profit there. You’re releasing another one, you are getting a profit, another one. You’re releasing the third one, another profits going up.

So if you combine this curves, because instead of 18 months, your cycle will be reduced to one month or maximum three months. You have to release to customer. And customer if they like it, of course they’re going to purchase it. So instead of a single release economic, you have a multi-release economy here, because you are releasing frequently into the market and getting money from the market.

So Agile is going to be used more and more as I’m seeing it, including other practices such as DevOps. Now, because of the COVID crisis, PMI has already launched the online proctored exam. Now, online proctored exam, that is a step by step approach I have mentored in my site. So this is the link for it. So I’ll go here. So this is the URL. This is the site on which you have PMI online proctored exam, how to take it step by step. They’ve had it at a broader level before online proctored exam, during the online proctored exam, and after the online proctored exam.

So three steps overall and internally you have, then in addition to that, if you go to this link, this is the URL, as I told, and this is applicable for all PMI exam, whether it is PMI Certification, ACP Certification, or you have the PBA Certification or CIPM, is that applicable for all.

Related to that, there’s another link I have. I have condensed it to 11 steps. And I have put three important videos because I felt this is very important for people who want to go for online proctored exam. People don’t know where is the white vote. People don’t know where’s the calculator.

People have no idea what will happen during the proctored exam. There are notes available, but I have put a set of videos consisting of three videos. And these are pretty detailed. On an app, total it will be around 20 to 30 minutes of videos. So we have the overline to PMI overview, with respect to PMI online proctored exam. Then we have part one in 11 steps simplified. And then we have part two, 11 steps simplified. It is freely available. You can go through and I believe this is going to help you a lot.

There’s only one thing I would like to mention here, in the PMI-ACP exam, you do not have any break, the break is available for longer duration exam, such as PMP, which is a four hour duration or PPPA, which is also a four hours duration. Now, ACP is a shorter duration exam. As we saw some time before, it is 180 minutes or three hours. So in that case, you do not have a break. So you sit in the exam, then you have to continue for three hours without any break.

Before three hours, you’ll have a 15 minutes window to play with the system or the software that will be running. Get familiarity with respect to the Pearson rules software that you’ll be running. Like what is the next button, the previous button, how to mark, how to highlight, how to see the whiteboard, how to see the online calculator. Can you open the whiteboard online calculator together?

Or if you want to have a chart or talk with your Proctor, what you are going to do, which icon you have to click. Or if you want to note down something, where you can note down under whiteboard or the icons in the whiteboard, all those things you can play for 15 minutes, have a look at that.

Once the exam start, of course, you have to attempt the questions, 120 questions. The exam finishes after three hours, you have another 15 minutes window, which is optional. That is for the survey of the exam. Survey it, how is your exam experience? They will have a set of questions, which you may want to take or may not want to take.

Overall together, it is three hours, 15 minutes here, 15 minutes here. So 3.5 hours. Of course, if you are going for a traditional mode exam, you have to travel, but I will definitely suggest you go for online proctored exam. In that case also, you have to prepare around half an hour before, because PMI is saying that before the exam begins, you have to login 30 minutes before. So we have to be there in the examination environment for nearly four hours.

But you won’t have any break in the ACP exam. So be prepared for it, as I told you sometime before in the beginning, I said, the exam is a test of your stamina and test of your psychological ability because the questions may get stressful. So you have to practice it. So when you practice, think like you are sitting in an exam center, and practice your full length questions accordingly.

As I close, these are the final suggestions I have. The final suggestions are, avoid MOOC. If you are going for PMI-ACP exam. The MOOC stands for Massively Open Online Courses, where the course sells for per $5 or $10. The reason I’m saying avoid these things, because when you pay $10, expect a return of $10. Do not expect a return of $100 or $200. I have seen people expecting $1,000.

Life doesn’t work like that. We are not in that business. The only business maybe, which will give you a return of $100 or $200 on an investment of $10, maybe it is like drugs business, but just on a lighter side. In real world, it doesn’t work like that. If you have $10 or $5, at best you can expect $15 or $20 return. In MOOC, what you have for $5 or $10, the course quality is going to be very poor. I’m yet to see a course where the quality is good and where they really cared about the student learning.

Penny-wise as the saying goes in English, penny wise and pound foolish, so you spend here $5 thinking that you are very intelligent, you spend less money, but then you have to refer multiple courses. You have to refer multiple books, you have to refer multiple quick bucks, and that is a headache. By the time you are over, instead of $10, you’ve already spent around $400. That is totally useless.

Next is avoid aggregators who basically want to make a quick buck. Now, what do I mean by aggregators? By aggregator, I mean, that will be sites who will be selling everything. Starting from ACP, then you have other exam certification, maybe Citrix, maybe Microsoft, maybe Google, maybe other certification. They are like a kind of like a [inaudible] shop. So you can buy anything.

The problem with aggregator is, they are not invested in it. They really don’t worry because somebody is buying it. They’re not really worried who buys it, who doesn’t buy it really, but doesn’t bother them. For example, if you are going to buy a car, let us say you are going to buy a Mercedes car, you don’t go buy a Mercedes car from a aggregator who’s selling all varieties up from maybe $1,000 car to maybe a Tesla car of $40,000. So you buy a car, but actually you want to buy a Mercedes or a Tesla car, you have to go to the showroom of Tesla or at Mercedes. So that is why you go for this place where actually people really care about it.

Next is, a good preparatory book. You have around 12 reference books and guides for the PMI-ACP exam. Unlike PMP exam, which has a reference guide called Project Management Body of Knowledge, the PMI-ACP exam doesn’t have a standard. Rather, the PMI-ACP exam is telling you, you have one guide, which is Agile practice guide and you have 11 reference books. Now, what are those? We’ll go again. So I’ll go to PMI site. So this is the link for PMI-ACP certification. We have the reference books here. Review the current list of reference list.

So it might get updated, the reference list, but so far it lasts more than one year. I have not seen any change. So if you look at this Agile Practice Guide, is by PMI. Then you have many other authors, which you have to refer. So if you have time, maybe two, three years, you can go through all the books and prepare, or you can go for a book which has done the hard work for you, which combines all the reference books and guide. You can decide which way you want to take. It will be your choice.

Then next, validate the coach or the trainer who will be giving the training. The 21 contact hours, if you remember, and we have 35 contact hours related to Agile. The reason I say coach and trainer should be good, because that will be your first step. They’re going to teach you what you should do. Now, the genuine ones, they create really PMI-ACP who are certified. And those people, also will be writing ACP success stories. Now by success stories, I do not mean go to the E-commerce site where someone has written any success story. E-commerce site by this time, you are intelligent people and I believe you understand all these things, E-commerce site is filled with paid writing, paid advertisement.

So those are totally non-credible. So if a success story is there, a PMI-ACP’s writing, his name will be there. His certification credential will be there. PMI maintains a registry in which the name will be there. The date on which the certification earned and which place it was earned, you can make a search. These are genuine success stories. And if the coach or the trainer is a genuine one, that person will be writer. Those people frequently write. They present, they speak with respect to Agile topics, even find out. So this can be anyone but validated one.

You have to validate the coach or the trainer, Because as I told you, the first beginning, baby steps, they will be teaching you. And later on, if they’re really interested in your success, they’ll be continuously involved and engaged with you. The more engagement, you are with the person who knows what to do and what not to do.

You’ll have your time really safe. And of course, you are going to be more motivated. Personally, I have seen people who remain engaged throughout that preparation have a very high chance of success. So you can buy anything, then you forget, it’s like buy and forget. Or buy and remain engaged till you get certified.

Then another thing I would definitely say, you need to have real world experience. The real world experiences, we saw 120 questions We’ll be there out of, I said around 90%, plus. Questions will be situational questions. So real-world experience matters. Now, without real world experience, you really cannot crack the exam. Some expedience real-world is needed. So we have the academic qualifications. We have the industry experience. And also we have Agile related industry experience.

Now, if you don’t have that and you think you will get certified as an ACP, it is not going to happen. You have to put in the needed effort for it. Or you can go for a training, which is two days of training. And you are a master in scrum. Three days of training, you are a master in lean. It doesn’t happen.

To give you a real example, I have met with hundreds of such kind of masters. Master in Kanban, master in scrum or lean certified professional. Then I ask, “Can you tell me the four values and 12 principles because you have a certification in that. You are saying you are a master in this, or a kind of expert in this area. Can you tell me the four values, and 12 principles of Agile.”Believe it or not, not one out of hundreds I have met, not one can answer four values or 12 principles. I have never met yet.

Then I ask, “Forget 12 principles, just tell me four values. Can you tell me four values?” Not one. I repeat, not even one can tell me what are the four values in Agile manifesto. I again reduce the standard, then I ask, “Forget four value. Just tell me two values. Can you tell me two values of the manifesto?” They cannot tell two values.

Then I finally come to the last one, “Can you tell me just one value. Just one.” That also, they cannot tell it frequently. Only one person as far as I remember in last seven, eight years, only one person told that value, just one value, but that was not a proper complete sentence. He tried, but he couldn’t do it.

Now, the value is in principles, these are the A, B, Cs of Agile. This should be on your fingertips. Now after being a master in this area or that area, if you cannot tell me just one value out of four values and 12 principles, I won’t take the certification kindly.

If I’m sitting at the other end of the table as an interviewer, and this person cannot tell me a single value do you think any person in my place is going to recruit that person, just because he has a paper? A piece of paper, he was just telling he’s a master in this or a master in that.

It doesn’t work. So again, you have to really put in the effort to earn the certification. And because you have put in the real effort, you are going to remember for a very long time.

So with this I am coming to an end. These are the references I have taken the book, I Want To Be an ACP: The Plain and Simple Way. This is my book. The URL is his one. This is the overview. The details is [inaudible] this one. The details [inaudible] index is available in this link. I have also taken reference for PMI-ASP handbook and PMI SEP Handbook and PMI SEP Equal which is examination content outline. The link is this one from PMI site but the domain, how to map the domain with the proper tools and techniques, knowledge and skills those are my interpretations, which I presented in the previous slides.

With this, I’m coming to an end and I’ll be taking questions and answers. Sorry. I’ll be answering your questions if you have any, and I’ll be handing over to Kyle. So Kyle, over to you.

Kyle: Thanks Satya. We do have some questions that have come in. So thank you for sending those, everyone. So you’ve definitely touched on this, as far as preparation materials, things like that. TJ and Paul were both curious getting recommendations for prep classes. Let’s see the other one you haven’t, may not have covered practice exams to prepare the exam.

Satya Dash: Okay. So in the exam, you have 120 questions. As I said, you have a 100 scored, and 20 unscored. But if you appearing for the CPA exam, you have to go with 120 questions. And questions are situational. So my advice will be, do not take questions from the internet.

In the internet, internet is like a big market. Everyone is shouting. Everyone is shouting, they’re an expert. Then you have a multiplex, which is YouTube. So from the market, which is noisy, then you go to the multiplex, which is YouTube, again, you will be get lost. It’s a big rabbit hole. The rabbit hole doesn’t have any end. So when you go for questions, go for questions which are really situational in nature. First thing.

Second thing, how many questions you have to attempt? I would expect at least three full length questions you should go for. Now, practice questions you can go for a book. So in my book, which I just told, there are three full length practice questions. So you can go, and there are sample questions available. There are also other books in the market. So as I told, see success stories, see how many pieces they have written. Are the people who are writing about ACP these are genuine people. The questions standard is really good. The sample questions will be available and chose your questions.

So at least three full length practice questions, which is 360 questions. In addition to that, I would say around 1,000 to 1,200 questions will be needed to be really prepared for the ACP exam. But when you go for the questions, go for high quality questions, situational questions, not from internet, not published, there are thousands of questions freely available. One line question, then direct one, two, three, four questions are not, they’re not like that in the exam.

Questions we’ll test it, really they’re going to test it. So to repeat high quality questions, number of questions should be 1,000 to 1,200 questions, at least three full length questions, you should try. And you go for which one is the best suitable for you with respect to the complexity, the toughness. And of course, the price of the book or the video course, or the material that you are purchasing.

Kyle: Thanks Satya. That’s good advice. We appreciate that. Next question came from Victoria. Victoria was curious if the 30 PUs that are required are in addition to the 60 required for the P&P maintenance. Are those separate or can those be combined?

Satya Dash: Right. That’s a good question. So here’s the thing. I’ll go back to the slide. Here is the answer to your question, Victoria. So you have 60 PDUs of course, that you need for PMB. And he had 30 PDUs with respect to PMI-ACP. This two are separate certifications. Okay. But the thing is when you apply that for the PDU and you submit your PDUs, you have to fill in for both PMP as well as PMI-ACP. So for PMP, you put zero, but ACP, you put two or three.

If it is governing PMP, as well as ACP. So two for PMP, two for ACP, in other words, 60 PDIs will be separate and distinct for PMP. These 30 PDUs will be separate and distinct for ACP certification. These two are totally two separate set of PDUs, though that is the overlap when you submit your PDUs. but when you go 40 to 60 will be submitted for PMP, 30 will be submitted for ACP.

Kyle: Okay, great. Thanks for clarifying that. Next question came from Lisa asking for someone that qualifies to attempt the PMI certifications, do you have a suggestion on which certification I should get and in what order I should attempt to earn those for the most benefit? For example the PMP, ACP, SA, what would you recommend?

Satya Dash: All right. That is also a good one, Lisa. So here’s the thing. My recommendation will be foresee in which business you are in. Are you in Agile related environments, are you in project management, or are you in risk management, are you a stellular? First find out in which environment you are in, that is the business in which you are working. So if you are working in Agile, go for Agile certification, first. If you are in project management and you are there for a long haul, so go for PMP. After that, you can go for ACP. That is one aspect.

Second aspect is learning on a long-term basis. I said two days or three days are not really effective learning. So, in a long-term basis. Find out which one will give you the longest term learning with respect to maybe Agile, maybe risk, maybe project management, program management, portfolio management, business analysis. Find out which one will give you the long-term basis learning.

Then of course the most important one that return-value investment or the value that you are getting. So when you go for a certification you are spending, even for ACP certification, the certification fee for a member is $495. Then you have a membership fee which will be around $130 to $240. So together it is around $640. In addition to that, of course you’ll be buying material and it will be, let us say around… Then you have 21 hours of contact, hours of learning or 35 contact hours. So together, maybe you have $1,200, $1,300, you’ll be spending.

And on top of that, you will be spending time. People forget time, time is money. So you invested time, that is also around $2,000, which is not directly translated to money, but it is consuming your energy, your effort. So you have to look at, you invested around, say $2,000 to $2,500. And in that case, how much return you are giving to get on a long-term basis. Whichever is going to give you the highest return on investment, go for their certification.

So to recap, one is the business you are in. Number two, the long-term learning and applicability. Number three, the return on investment, which gives you the highest value.

Kyle: That’s great advice. Thanks Satya. That takes us right up to the end of the session here. So, thank you for the great session, Satya. We really appreciate it. Anything else before we close out today?

Satya Dash: Thank you Kyle for having me and thank you for everyone being present, asking your questions. Hopefully I was able to answer your questions and thank you for listening.

Kyle: And thank you. For those of you claiming the PDU code for today’s webinar, I’ll get that back on the screen for you now. Today’s session eligible for one technical PDU. And if you missed any set of this session or would like to go back and review anything that was presented, the recording will be posted to mpag.com in just a couple hours and you’ll receive an email with a link to view that.

We do have some great sessions on the calendar as well. Next week on the 14th, Tim Ron will return for a session on leveraging the latest Office 365 Project tools and tool capabilities. Later on the month on the 28th, we’ll have the session covering project management, critical event management and the COVID-19 reflections.

So that’ll be a with three presenters, more of a podcast form. So that should be a great session and it’s actually free and open to anyone. So if you have anyone that may be interested, colleagues, friends, you can share that link with them and they can register and attend for free.

With that said, that wraps up today’s session. So thanks again, Satya and thank you to everyone that joined us live or is watching this on demand. We hope you have a great rest of your day. We’ll see you back next week. Thanks.


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Written by Satya Narayan Dash
Satya Narayan Dash is a management professional, coach, and author of multiple books. Under his guidance, over 2,000 professionals have successfully cracked PMP, ACP, RMP, and CAPM examinations – in fact, there are over 100 documented success stories written by these professionals. His course, PMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass, has made many successful PMPs, and he’s recently launched RMP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass and ACP Live Lessons - Guaranteed Pass. His web presence is at https://managementyogi.com, and he can be contacted via email at managementyogi@gmail.com.  
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  1. Very detailed and insightful session Satya. I had so many doubts in my mind about ACP and you ve always been and you are the best teacher and person who has clarified them. Thanks a lot.

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