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It’s been a long time coming… maybe the worst kept secret on the planet. The kind of news that catches you off guard, but when you think about it… realize it was inevitable. PMI has finally announced it intends to create an agile project management certification. In my opinion this is great news, though I realize that not every one will share my enthusiasm.
The agile certification space is something I’ve been involved with since 2006 when I was asked to lead track on the APLN Learning & Recognition program. We created a certification that ultimately became the DSDM Agile Project Leader designation. I’ve been fortunate to be involved with the PMI Agile group since it’s inception, and was in Philadelphia with Jesse Fewell over a year ago when this was first conceived.
We’ve had a ton of really smart people involved, people you’d know and respect in the agile community. While I don’t think what we created is perfect, I do believe it is a step in the right direction. I do believe we will learn from this and get better over time. I believe this certification is solid enough to put my name behind and fully support its introduction into the market. I am personally committed to making it better as we learn more. PMI is committed to making this better as we learn more.
Here are some questions I was asked about this certification… I wanted to share my answers with you guys in their entirety… let me know what you think.
How is the PMI-APP good for project management practices?
I’m a believer that certification can be a useful tool to help people establish a baseline of understanding in a given field. Certification can give us shared language, and shared understanding, around the ideas we think are most important. There is a ton of education that needs to happen in order for project managers to safely and pragmatically apply agile concepts in their organizations. This certification will establish a baseline set of competencies for learning and education, and a way to be recognized as someone who understands the basics of agile project management.
How do you view the alignment of agile with PMI standards?
There is synergy between PMI standards and the PMI-APP certification, but they are not totally congruent. Agile challenges many of our traditional notions about project management, especially as they relate to our assumptions about uncertainty. In many fields, software product development being a prime example, it just isn’t in our best interest to know everything up front. Sometimes it is in our best interest to let some of our requirements emerge and we learn more about the developing system. We need credible strategies for managing time, cost, and scope, and being able to know what done looks like, in the face of overwhelming uncertainty.
Why is this certification important to the project management profession and to Agile?
Project managers need to have agile as part of their overall toolkit. It might not be the right answer for every project, or in every problem domain, but agile has become as essential approach for effectively delivering project work in environments where change is the norm. Agile gives us tools for converging on desired outcomes, and working in close collaboration with our customers to maximize the value our projects create. This certification will give us shared language for how to do this… a starting point if you will. It will also help us legitimize agile in organizations that have been resistant to giving these methods a try.
What makes this certification different than other certifications in Agile?
For a certification to be credible it has to be experienced based and centered around a published set of criteria. The PMI certification requires significant field experience using agile methods, education hours specifically related to agile project management, and the ability to demonstrate knowledge about agile in a controlled testing environment. This is a certification specifically designed to help project managers understand what it takes to competently deliver agile project work, and provide a way for them to be recognized for having that knowledge.
Is this good for the agile community, or the end of the world as we know it? Could it be both? I sure do hope so!