PMI – The Direct Path to Become an Agile Project Manager – with Priya Sethuraman

by Mirek Burnejko

Priya SethuramanThis is an interview with Priya Sethuraman from Project Management Institute.

Priya manage the overall product life cycle for the PMI specialty certifications which include PMI-RMP, PMI-SP and PMI-ACP.

Today we talk about the newest certification: PMI-ACP (Agile Certified Practitioner).

In this interview you will find:

  • What are advantages of the PMI-ACP certification
  • Does PMP helps with achieving PMI-ACP
  • Will we see new preparation materials for PMI-ACP


IT Certification Master: Hello Priya. Tell us something about you and your role in Project Management Institute.

Priya Sethuraman: I am the product manager responsible for managing PMI’s specialty certification offerings, which include the PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP)®, PMI Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP)® and our newest certification offering, the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)®.

ICM: We’re here to talk about the (PMI-ACP) certification. Who should start thinking about this certification?

PS: Practitioners who use agile practices in their projects or work for an organization that is adopting agile approaches to project management are excellent candidates for the PMI-ACP certification. The PMI-ACP recognizes knowledge of agile principles, practices and tools and techniques across agile methodologies.

ICM: To become a PMI-ACP certified we need to complete some tough requirements. Tell us something about them. Why are they so important for you?

PS: As with PMI’s other certification offerings, it is important that candidates meet the minimum requirements to ensure there is demonstrated professional practice in agile practices prior to sitting for the exam. This ensures that someone who is certified not only has passed the examination, but also has a baseline of practical experience working on agile projects as well as working on project teams.

ICM: 50% of the exam is based on agile tools and techniques. Do I need to know frameworks, like Scrum or XP?

PS: The exam itself covers several methodologies under the agile umbrella including SCRUM, XP, Kanban and DSDM, to mention a few. PMI lists eleven reference books on PMI.org, which can help assist in exam preparation.

ICM: Why is it so important to renew the PMI-ACP certification?

PS: PMI-ACP certification holders must earn 30 Professional Development Units (PDUs) in three years as part of PMI’s continuing certification requirements program, which demonstrate they are staying abreast of industry trends and knowledge in agile and engaging in continuing educational activity. PDUs can be earned through self-directed learning, creating new project management knowledge, volunteering and day-to-day professional work in project management. Renewing and maintaining a PMI certification is critical to ensure practitioners are keeping their skills up-to-date in the field.

ICM: What is the best place to start? Where should a PM start their story with your PMI-ACP certification?

PS: A good starting point would be the agile certification page on PMI.org. This is the best place to find information regarding the certification and how to prepare.

ICM: What benefits will I receive after passing the PMI-ACP exam?

PS: For practitioners, PMI-ACP certification holders:

  • Demonstrate to employers their professionalism in agile practices of project management
  • Increase their professional versatility in Waterfall and agile techniques
  • Hold a certification that is more credible than existing entry-level, training or exam-only based offerings

For organizations who employ PMI-ACP certification holders, benefits from agile principles and practices include:

  • Being adaptive to changing business needs—which gives the organization more influence over adding, changing, or removing requirements.
  • Soliciting early and continuous customer feedback—as the customer is involved throughout development, they will end up with an end-product that they want and will use.
  • Having early measurable return on investment—this allows for defined deliverables for each iteration, early in the process.
  • Receiving incremental delivery—rather than a single complete delivery—at the end of the project.

ICM: What other programs are good to move my agile skills to a next level? Should I think about other certifications from PMI, or think about certifications from Scrum Alliance, ICAgile or DSDM?

PS: It would benefit someone working in agile to look at those other certifications individually and assess if they would align with their background. For example, the CSM has no pre-requisite experience requirement to sit for the certification whereas the CSP does. With that, it would be based on the individual looking into the certification offerings to decide what would be the next best step.

ICM: Is it better to pass first the PMP certification and some other agile certifications before PMI-ACP?

PMIPS: The PMI-ACP certification is a stand-alone offering and does not require the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification as a prerequisite. The PMP is centered on the role of a project manager and the PMI-ACP is focused on the application of agile practices in project management. The current role and responsibilities of the practitioner should be taken into consideration when looking at which certification is best since specific working experience and education are required for each. Having a CSM would provide you with 2 days of SCRUM training which can satisfy 14 of the 21 contact hours for the PMI-ACP, and therefore may be helpful to meet some of the PMI-ACP eligibility requirements.

ICM: Let’s talk about the future. Are you going to publish some new materials or trainings for PMI-ACP?

PS: At this time, we do not anticipate publishing new materials for the PMI-ACP. However, our Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) network may be coming up with new training offerings and our Agile Community of Practice consistently adds new resources and materials within the Agile space.

ICM: How will the Project Management certifications world look in 10 years? What do you think about the future of agile programs/certifications?

PS: If you look at PMI’s most well-established certification, the Project Management Professional (PMP), it has grown and adapted to the project management needs of organizations and practitioners since 1984. PMI conducts a Role Delineation Study (RDS) for its certifications every 3-5 years. By doing so, PMI assures that its certifications reflect the current professional role and the day-to-day activities of what project practitioners do on the job. This RDS process helps PMI support the ever-evolving and changing role of project practitioners over the course of time. Therefore, we are confident that our six project management certifications (and any new certifications PMI creates), including PMI-ACP, will keep current with the needs of practitioners and organizations alike.

[This is part of the Interviews with Vendors Series]