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The agile methodology is rapidly becoming more popular in project management. As an approach that promises speed and flexibility, it is easy to see why agile is attracting popularity. After all, many organizations have criticized “water fall” or traditional project management approaches for the measured approach that seems to emphasize process over results. Others have raised the question of whether agile is just another flavour of the month in the project management world.
Where Did Agile Come From?
I first encountered agile in the software development field. As I understand it, agile remains most popular and understood in software and IT circles. A major part of the appeal lies in the fact that one can test and adjust software quickly. In contrast, applying agile to the building construction industry requires more of a conceptual leap. That said, there were presentations on applying agile methods to the legal industry and construction at the 2015 PMI Global Congress. There are creative people in the profession!
Agile Training Courses and Certifications
I write this article shortly before the start of the PMI Global Congress in Orlando. Given that fact and all I have learned from PMI, it makes sense to start with the Project Management Institute’s resources.
Published in 2001, this document is considered the foundation of agile. Unlike ISO standards or other similar documents, the manifesto is admirable for its clarity and brevity. The manifesto is summarized in twelve principles. These principles include the following:
“Business people and developers must work together daily throughout the project.”
“The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a development team is face-to-face conversation.”
The emphasis on live conversation is remarkable. I would tend to agree with this observation. I wonder how to reconcile this idea with the rise of virtual project teams. The authors clearly intended to speak to the concerns of software development. It is thus no surprise that software developers continue to be the most significant agile professionals.
As one of PMI’s newest certification programs, ACP is not yet well known compared to the PMP. Earning the certification attests to your commitment to learn and grow. As with other PMI certifications, the ACP requires a combination of specific project experience, completing an agile course and completing the exam. In addition, there is a fee to apply for the certification. In terms of cost in time and money, the ACP is an expensive option. The professional benefit is that relatively few people hold this certification so you will stand it if you seek it out.
Cornelius Fitchner’s professional education programs are widely respected for good reason. In early 2015, I went through several of his programs to prepare for my PMP certification. I have no doubt that his agile training programs are excellent and well worth your time. An important note to consider is that his programs provide both a solid education in the fundamentals and preparation for specific exams.
4. Becker Professional Training
While I do not have direct experience with Becker’s programs, I respect their strong track record in professional education. For example, many accountants have used Becker’s programs to complete their professional exams. At the time of this writing, Becker offers two online agile courses: an introduction to agile
and an ACP prep course
. Becker also stands out to me in the continuing education space because they have been proactive in aligning to PMI’s Talent Triangle.
This free online course provides an introduction to agile for project managers. Topics covered include agile implementation and when to implement the method. The University describes the program as a short course. If you are starting at ground zero, this course may be suitable for you. It is also a good option if you prefer a university style learning experience on a budget.
Agile Project Management Books and Resources
For those who prefer to build their knowledge with books, you are in good luck. There are several good agile books and articles on the market that serve as a useful introduction as well as helping more advanced professionals.
For Dummies books offer a great introduction to various topics. I have long found this book series to be an excellent way to learn about technical subjects. This 2012 book is written by an author with expertise in Scrum. This book is a good choice if you find textbooks or technical books difficult.
If you have invested months or years of study and practice with the PMBOK Guide and traditional project management, agile may be a threat. Does the agile trend suggest that you will have to abandon all the skills and knowledge you have worked so long at developing? The answer is no. This book is a well suited to professionals seeking to make a transition from traditional (sometimes known as waterfall) methods to agile. The authors made a good case that agile methods are fully compatible with the PMBOK Guide. Further, the myth that agile means an end of rigour and order will also be covered.
Published in 2004, this book focuses on the requirements challenge. As many project managers and business analysts know, gathering and clarifying requirements on a project is often a time consuming and uncertain process. Yet, well crafted requirements are a foundation for project success. In this book, you will learn several ways to gather requirements including surveys and indirect approaches.
One reason that many projects fail to meet time, cost and quality requirements is failure to plan. In his 2005 book, Cohn explains how the agile approach can be used to improve estimates. Iteration and adapting the plan are major points covered in the book. The book also ends with a case study so you can see how this planning and estimation approach works in practice.
As a regular contributor to ProjectManagement.com, this resource is a must read for serious project managers. On this website, you will find articles, webinars and other resources. One of the best aspects of the website are the agile project management templates that you can use and apply in your daily work. To get the most out of the website, log in with your PMI member credentials.
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