Chasing After The Latest Fad or Evolving

Washington DC PMI Chapter LinkedIn GroupThis last weekend, I had an interesting exchange on the PMIWDC LinkedIn Group discussions board.  This healthy exchange of viewpoints came about from the following message:

In June, PMPs numbers are down by over 4000 while the PMI Agile certification numbers are on a steady rise. What is preventing the ACP from really getting traction? [link to graphic showing the upward trend of the PMI-ACP]

Because that LinkedIn group is not public, I won't include the persons name.  Rather, I will refer to him as "Mr. PMP, CSM, ITIL" and include his responses in red.  Even if I don't agree with everything he writes, I have to respect a differing viewpoint.

PMP numbers likely vary slightly throughout the year and 4,000 is less than 1%. Plus, in the current economy, I don't think a drop is surprising at all.

Now about PMI-ACP. In my opinion, the PMI-ACP has no market (no one asks for it and, as you note, no one is really seeking it even after PMI lowered qualifying standards to get it). It is simply a me-too certificate competing with already established certifications by and Besides, it is mislabeled as Agile when all it talks about is Scrum without ever using the word Scrum--making it even less distinguishable.

Personally, I'd rather see PMI focus its efforts on strengthening the PMP, and the overall body of project management knowledge and practice, than chasing after the latest fads.

[Mr. PMP, CSM, ITIL], interesting opinions. I always find these "corrections" compelling. Everyone can read the August edition of PMI Today (the source of my numbers) and draw their own conclusions. It could be there were 4000 people who really weren't project managers in the first place, thinking they needed a PMP, and then realized they really did not. We'll never know for sure.

As for the PMI-ACP, the qualifying standards were corrected while the certification was still in pilot. I know this because I was in Miami with PMI when it happened. It just took several months to get the change implemented in the application process. At least there is a qualifying standard. You and I both have a CSM, yet we both know there is no qualifying standard for that.

The PMI-ACP is not all about Scrum. Again, I know this because I helped create the ACP and because I am the Co-Lead of the ACP support team at the PMI Agile CoP. I won't disagree that a large percentage of the ACP is Scrum related but in VersionOne's latest State of Agile survey, a majority of Agile practitioners are using Scrum to deliver value to their respective organizations. I think the certification is pretty representative of contemporary Agile practices.

If you'd rather PMI focus its efforts on strengthening the PMP, I'm curious how you will feel about the upcoming PMBOK Guide revision and Software Extension. Both include Agile knowledge and practices. Does that mean PMI is chasing after the latest fad or is it evolving?

Derek, I'll admit the 5th edition draft PMBOK is troubling--almost as if some folks are trying to sabotage the PMBOK or simply making changes for the sake of changes. Don't get me wrong, I am not against change but some of what is occuring is not good, doesn't fix some problems in the 4th Edition and introduces some new contradictions and confusion. Waiting to see what the final release settles on. 

Stats can be fun and too often misleading. I don't think month-to-month changes in active certificate holders is very meaningful and PMI-ACP's less than six month track record is nonetheless too short. It's 7 to 18% month-to-month increases are already faltering, losing 32% of it's growth rate in the latest month. During this same time, PMPs dropped just under 1%. If both of these two latest trends continue, PMI-ACP will max out around 6,923 and reach parity (with current month declining) PMP in just over 38 years. 

As a reality check, PMP and CAPM make up 99.2031% of PMI's certificate holders. I suspect the overall number of 'traditional' projects is a not too dissimilar ratio. Adding in the few thousand CSM and other certificate holders won't significantly shift this ratio. And traditional project management is, if practiced well, agile and not the caricature painted by Agile and Scrum advocates.

Listening to people who are participating in the PMBOK revisions sounds a lot like legislation in the government. In the beginning, a bill with a bold new idea or fix is presented. In order to close the deal, the bill gets watered down and new stuff that really has nothing to do with the original bill gets introduced. I can totally see that happening with the PMBOK. But I do think common agile concepts and practices should be included. The question is, will it be a square peg in a round whole, based on the format of the PMBOK?

Speaking to the certification stats, I once presented a correlation graph claiming an increase in ice cream sales caused deaths by drowning. It was merely illustrating that metrics can be used to support just about any claim. If PMI gets more market penetration in India and South America, I think the overall growth rate for the PMP (and ACP) will continue. With PMI being the marketing machine that it is, I see the ACP cannibalizing market share from ScrumAlliance and, not from the PMP.  Only time will tell.

It's my belief that "Agile" practices will be accepted as "Traditional" practices over time. Until then, the misinformed will believe it is a silver bullet. It's funny, when I coach new clients, I always have at least one project manager tell me that he or she proposed similar changes to leadership but was ignored. I've also had attendees of my training tell me that having PMI offer an "Agile" certification legitimizes it as a possible delivery mechanism. This isn't new stuff! Whatever gets people talking works for me.

HT: Project Management Institute

HT: VersionOne

Official PMI-ACP Numbers

PMI Certifications January 2012The PMI-ACP pilot has concluded and the Agile Certified Practitioner certification is officially one month old.  The numbers are in!  Per PMI Today, January 2012 concluded with 542 PMI-ACPs.  Not too shabby for its first month.  The PMP is still PMI's shining star, at 4047 new PMPs.  What surprised me were the numbers of PMI's other certifications.  Only 11 people got the PMI-SP in January.  It makes me wonder, what is the PMI-SP certification's value and longevity in the PMI ecosystem?  I ask because the PMI-ACP reached a number in one month that took the other certification a few years. And so it begins.  Will PMI-ACP be the next PMP?  What do you think?

PMI Agile Contact Hours versus PMI-ACP PDUs

I get asked on a regular basis what the difference between a contact hour and a PDU is. When people come to my PMI-ACP exam prep class, they qualify to claim 21 Agile contact hours.  If they currently have another PMI credential, they could choose to apply those 21 hours as a PDU.

PMI Agile Contact Hours

When completing your PMI-ACP application, you are required to report (among other things) your "Agile" education. They will be referred to and measured as contact hours. To qualify to sit for the ACP exam, you need 21 contact hours.


 Professional Development Units (PDUs)

PDUs can only be applied if you have a PMI credential.  If you try to claim a PDU and you don't have a credential, PMI will politely either tell you don't have permission to that area of the website (where you claim the PDU) or they will send you a friendly email. The image below is only viewable if you have at least one PMI credential.

Reporting PDU

Hope this brief overview helps. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.


How to Claim PMP PDUs as a Non-PMI Member

Claiming PDUHow would I claim PDUs if I'm not a PMI member? This question keeps coming up in conversation.  I offer the hypothetical situation where someone sees value in the new PMI-ACP certification but is hesitant to become a member of PMI.  I guess it would be complete fantasy if not for the fact there are about 100,000 more PMI credential holders than PMI members*. PMI reported as of November 2011, there were 370,744 PMI members and 469,051 PMPs.  Add the CAPM, PMI-RMP, PMI-SP, and PgMP and I think we get to our 100,000.

100,000 people realized you don't need to be a member of PMI to maintain a PMI credential, particularly the PMP.  They save a $119 membership renewal fee in exchange for being charged more for PMI events and products or not having access to the Communities of Practices.  Granted, if they aren't really engaged in the Project Management or Agile community, maybe it's worth saving the $10. For the record, I think being a member of the PMI Agile Community of Practice is worth the cost of membership.  Seriously, it's only $10 a month!  But I digress.

The focus of this post is for those 100,000.  The key to claiming PDUs is having a account. Yes, the glue that holds this all together is a free account, not a paid membership.  Your potential membership and credentials will be linked to this account.

If you're applying "project management" educational credit toward exam eligibility, there is a different way to claim those hours.  For example, if you take my PMI-ACP class, you can apply 21 PDUs toward any of the current PMI credentials and also apply 21 contact hours toward ACP eligibility.

But you still don't need to have a paid membership.

*Source: December 2011 issue of PMI Today

The Future of Agile & PMI

During my session at the AgileDC conference, I talked about the past, present, and future of Agile. I drew a parallel between the adoption curve of Agile and Geoffrey Moore's adoption curve of technology.  Even before the Agile Manifesto was penned, there were Innovators introducing agile practices and mindsets.  In the last ten years, the early adopters and visionaries have taken Agile to the next step of market acceptance.  I'll admit, I only started using agile practices about 6 years ago.  During that time, as acceptance of Agile has grown, the Agile "mantra" has been relatively consistant.  I like to use the word mantra because Agile really does create a transformation.  If the values and principles of the Manifest resonate with you, you become an adopter, a proponent, and a member of a community.

The Agile community is a self-organized group of like-minded people and market adoption has been very organic.  So, back to my session at AgileDC.  I wanted to make a point of saying that Agilists do what they do because something resonates within them.  What we are doing, as Agilists, feels like it aligns with why we do it.  We want to deliver more value.  We want more interactions and collaborations. We respond to change.

Now, let's look at the Project Management community, specifically that group related to the Project Management Institute.  The primary difference between the PMI community and the Agile community is Project Managers don't appear to be joined by a common cause.  Rather, they are joined by a common certification. PMI's goal is

“Serve practitioners and organizations with standards that describe good practices, globally recognized credentials that certify project management expertise, and resources for professional development, networking and community.“

While I was doing research for my AgileDC session, I came across an interesting fact.  What Project Managers (associated with PMI) are doing does not align with why they are doing it.  Scan the blogoshere and you'll find less content about how to become a better project manager and more about how to pass the Project Management Professional (PMP®) exam.  Though the graph above about Agile Adoption is subjective, the graph below is not.

Something happened in February 2008.  It was the last time there were more members of PMI than there were PMPs. (260,458 vs. 259,694) Since then, the gap has widened to 366,854 PMI members and over 466,163 PMPs.  Project managers, associated with PMI, find more value in a certification than they do being a member of a community.  But can you blame them?  Job listings require certifications or accreditations.  Hiring managers search for acronyms and not people.  The simple truth is some are pursuing the mastery of performance-based objectives versus learning-based objectives (ie. getting a passing score on an exam versus getting better at a craft).  Since credential holders don't have to be a member of the community to maintain their PMP status, they dropped their memberships.  If not for the fact that I could not be a member of the PMI Agile Community of Practice without being a member of PMI, I would probably have ended my membership as well.  But, that alone is enough for me to stay.

The Agile Community of Practice (CoP) and it's leadership are self-organized.  I get a different vibe from them than I do others associated with PMI.  It's less about how do I maintain my certification and more about how can we help others.  It is my hope that as the Agile CoP grows, its servant leadership and passion will spread to other areas of PMI.

With the PMI-ACP certification, I'm very curious how this will impact the Agile community and the PMI community.  When I did my last PMI-ACP prep class, 66% of my learners were PMPs and 33% of the class was not associated with PMI at all.  Will the PMI-ACP just be another group of letters to appear in a hiring manager's keyword search or will it become more than that?  I truly hope it is the latter.

If you are a member of PMI, I strongly recommend that you join the Agile Community of Practice (it's free for PMI members).  The writing is on the wall, people.  It's a sign of things to come.  What if you are a PMP but not a member of PMI?  I think joining the Agile CoP is worth the price of the membership.  Regardless of what happens at PMI, Agile will continue to be an ever-evolving self-organized force.