PMI-ACP® and Scrum Alliance CSP–Two Complementary Certifications


In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP® and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference” (or as I refer to it, the “Agile Desk Reference” for short), he combines the material to study for two certifications, the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner or PMI-ACP® certification as well as the Certified Scrum Professional (CSP) certification sponsored by the Scrum Alliance.

This is particular true if you are software development, because that is the industry orientation of the CSP certification.  The PMI-ACP® certification, has a wider industry orientation, and so going after that certification alone would make sense if you are in a different industry.

Some of the other major differences are that the CSP test is slightly longer, requiring one to answers 150 questions in 3 hours as opposed to the 120 questions in 3 hours required by the PMI-ACP® certification exam.   Interesting enough, the work experience requirement for the two tests seems to be more intense for the PMI-ACP® certification, which requires 2,000 hours of project management work experience plus 1,500 hours of experience using Agile methodlogy.   The CSP test merely asks for 2,000 hours of Scrum related work.

The last comparison is that the CSP requires you to maintain your certification with a continuing education requirement over a two-year cycle, the PMI-ACP® certification requires a three-year cycle instead.

This blog is going on the assumption of looking at the PMI-ACP® certification first, because of its wider application in the PM community.   The last post in this preliminary material on Agile will discuss the Ethos of Agile Project Management, that is the justification for using Agile methodology on a project.

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The Need for an Agile Desk Reference


In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP® and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference” (or as I refer to it, the “Agile Desk Reference” for short), he talks briefly about why he created the book in the first place.

As you may be aware, for those studying for the Project Manager Professional certification exam, there is a single reference called the guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge or the PMBOK Guide® for short.    However, in creating the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner or PMI-ACP® certification exam, PMI has not yet created a definitive guide that is considered “official” by the PMI organization.

Instead, they give a list of reference materials which include the following:

  • Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great by Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Ken Schwaber
  • Agile Software Development The Cooperative Game by Alistair Cockburn
  • The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility by Michele Sliger, Stacia Broderick
  • Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins
  • Agile Project Management: Creating Innovative Products by Jim Highsmith
  • Becoming Agile: …in an imperfect world by Greg Smith, Ahmed Sidky
  • Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn
  • The Art of Agile Development by James Shore
  • User Stories Applied: For Agile Software Development by Mike Cohn
  • Agile Project Management with Scrum by Ken Schwaber
  • Lean-Agile Software Development: Achieving Enterprise Agility by Alan Shalloway, Guy Beaver, James R. Trott

The practical problem faced by someone wanting to study for the PMI-ACP® certification exam is that these books cost over $500 if you bought them all.    However, John Stenbeck found an even more fundamental problem faced by someone who decides to buy all 11 of these textbooks:   they don’t always agree with each, which creates the risk of confusion among those who are studying for the exam.

That is why John Stenbeck created a single-volume Agile Desk Reference that taught the core principles of Agile and, in doing so, created a set of Agile project management processes that are analogous to the 47 traditional project management processes outlined in the PMBOK Guide®.    It is for that reason why I have chosen John Stenbeck’s Agile Desk Reference, not just because it does combine all of the Agile principles in one volume, but because of his innovative approach in presenting those principles.

The next post will talk about one additional innovation, and that is the fact that he has a version of the Agile Desk Reference which also contains the principles of Scrum for those who are going after the Certified Scrum Professional Exam from the Scrum Alliance.    His rationale for combining these two sets of principles in one volume is the subject of the next post.   Of course, you can get the Agile Desk Reference as a single volume without the added Scrum material if you so choose, but the next post contains a convincing argument for getting the expanded Agile Desk Reference.

Memrise–Building the Memory Palace a Brick at a Time


In a previous post about language learning, I discussed Duolingo, a language-learning app that I use on a daily basis to learn European languages.   The ONLY criticism that I have about the program is that I wish it also offered non-European languages, that is, languages other than those in the Indo-European family which for the most part (with some exceptions such as Greek) are written with the Latin alphabet.    The languages I had in mind in particular are Chinese, and Japanese, both of which I have studied before, and Korean and Hindi, which I have not.

However, the interface can only handle the current languages based on the Latin alphabet, so I remained contented in my disappointment, until I found a recommendation by Benny Lewis, author of the blog Fluent in 3 Months (and a new book with the same name), that to memorize vocabulary in ANY language, one should try Memrise.

I tried that recommendation and now am practicing Japanese and Chinese an a daily basis along with my daily Duolingo language practice for European languages.   In the rest of this post, I would like to discuss the features I like about Memrise.

to be continued on 03/02/2015