Why would a hard core agilist need a PMP certification?

About 6 month ago, I decided to sign up for PMI-PMP certification. At that time, I already have my Certified Scrum Professional certification, using the essay format (which like better than the current multiple choices format, but that’s topic for another discussion), and have coached many scrum team. My move has perplexed a few people, but after I explained my rationale, it all made sense. So, I thought I would share this as the first blog on our site.

I  first thought of getting a PMP designation more than a decade ago when first entering the software development management realm. At that time, it is simply due to the “gold plating” factor. I even studies PMBOK.  However, after encountering and loving Scrum and then various agile methodologies, I have grown to distance myself from PMI’s believe that complete structure, process, and control can lead to successful project completion. I have seen it, over and over again, fail in real life. I had several opportunities in the past decade to get a PMP certification but have always resisted it. Now that I have years of agile experience behind me and having risen from managing teams to look at enterprise-wide agility, I find myself in an interesting position. I often has to debate/discuss the merits of agile against waterfall thinking and find my opponents has raise some really good arguments on governance for larger organizations. In addition, I feel uncomfortable arguing blindly against someone without knowing enough about their believes. Thus, I took action.

I signed up with an online course, www.simplilearn.com, for two weeks. Went through the application process and registered for an exam in three weeks since I started. Without going over the details, I passed it on the first try. That does not mean the tests are easy or that it is ineffective. In fact, the questions are very practical and well thought out. The testing process is Through this short, yet concentrated study of the principles, knowledge area, and practices, I learned to appreciate the thoughts and work that many people have put into body of knowledge. I came out a different man. A more humble man knowing more about things unknown. The most interesting thing I found is that both PMBOK and agile are based on Demings PDCA cycle. Yet, the result of each adaption so different from each other. Maybe it can be attributed to PMBOK contributors came mainly from managerial roles in large organizations and most agile methodologies born from developer’s community. The two communities are approaching the same endeavor from different ends of the pyramid.

Personally, I believe there is value in the knowledge, artifacts, and processes included in PMBOK. In fact, all of them are necessary under certain situation. PMI as an institution is also adapting to the change in the wind and move toward more iterative and agile approaches. In practice, though, the PMLC methodology has been way overused by people to fit most or all situations. What’s worse, is that due to the thoroughness of the methodology, it takes more time to deal with each process and artifact, even more to justify that they are not needed, than it will actually take to develop software. That’s the reason why so many software developers are fed up with PMLC and fell in love with agile. Agile makes logical sense for grass root software development. PM methodology makes sense for business governance. That’s why the “new” breed of methodologies like Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) and Disciplined Agile Delivery (DAD) have been receiving a lot of attention in the software development community and especially welcomed by large enterprises who are traditionally waterfall shops.

Overall, I am happy with the decision to get PMP. It opened up new perspective for me, especially as senior management and business owner. It also gave me more ammunition and laser guided targets for my agile vs. waterfall discussions 🙂