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Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Certification Eligibility Experience Criteria Demystified

  • PMI-ACP®
Created on :
June 27, 2016
Saket Bansal
Updated on :
October 8, 2022

A few days back I received an email from a PMI-ACP® exam aspirant; he told that neither he is working as Scrum Master nor having work experience in Scrum framework. His primary concern was – Am I eligible for PMI-ACP® certification as I am not Scrum Master?

I clarified that – YES! You can take the PMI-ACP® certification even you are not working as Scrum Master. Instead of Scrum Master designation or the knowledge of Scrum Framework, PMI considers your involvement in practices which supports agile values and principles.

It is not new to us. We have been observing lately that many professionals presume that it is mandatory to have an experience specifically in Scrum as an eligibility criterion for PMI-ACP® certification test

PMI-ACP® certification is not only designed for Project Managers, Agile Coaches, and Scrum Masters but for those too who have been implementing Agile Values and Principles in the day to day project work keeping in view the industry demands.

Also, after PMI-ACP® Exam Content Outline Changes – July 2015 exam is not just limited to Scrum Framework, it also has space for other frameworks like Lean, Kanban, and XP.

For PMI-ACP® Exam Eligibility Requirements, you require two types of experiences:

  1. General Project Experience:
    For general project experience, you are required to have 2000 hours (i.e. One year) experience working on project teams. All must have been accrued within the last five consecutive years before your application submission.In case you are PMP® certified, you are already fulfilling the general project experience and PMI® will not verify it again.Now, the most important point here to understand is that General Project experience does not imply that you need to have experience in leading & directing the project. It means that even if you are a member of the project team contributing to any (like Development, testing, QA, UI design, database tuning, etc.) of its activities for a year you are fulfilling the required experience.
  2. Agile Project Experience:
    You are required to have 1500 hours (i.e. eight months) of experience working on agile projects. It is an experience with working in a team that is using agile. This experience must have been earned in the last three years. Agile project experience needs to be recorded besides general project experience.Note: In case you are having total 3500+ hours of experience in agile methodologies in last 3 three years, you can mention same projects both in Agile Project Experience and General Project Experience. The basic idea is that in last three years, you must have at least total 3500 hours of experience including at least 1500 hours in agile practices.

Now, the crucial question here is what do you understand by agile here? Is it the Scrum, Lean, XP, Kanban or the customized agile will also work?

Let’s solve the mystery, PMI® does not talk about the particular agile framework which specifies the criteria for 1500 hours of agile experience. It states that an individual should have experience working in a team that incorporates agile values, methods, and tools in the process.

PMI-ACP® Exam includes seven domains. Each domain contains tasks in agile values, methods, and practices. PMI-ACP® exam expects that you are in a team which is practicing in Agile Values and Principles. Also, collaboration within the team is one of the primary focus in Agile Values and Principles, thus if your team doing at least two tasks in each domain, you are eligible for the PMI-ACP® Exam.

To verify your team’s working methodology alignment with agile, let’s have a closer look at these tasks associated with each PMI-ACP® certification domain:

Agile Principles and Mindset

Working with stakeholders to ensure that everyone has shared understanding of agile values and principles.
Using and maintaining visible information radiators showing real progress and real team performance.
contributing to building trustful team environment where everyone learns by experiments and mistakes.
Experimenting with new techniques and process ideas to discover more efficient and effective ways of working.
Collaborating and work together in the team to lower risks and reduce bottlenecks.
Establishing a safe and respectful environment to make improvements and foster self-organization and empowerment.
Practicing leadership to enable others to perform at their highest level and continue to improve.

Value-Driven Delivery

Defining work from the end-user point of view and minimizing non-value added work.
Defining acceptance criteria for features and requirements by gaining consensus.
Selecting and tailor the team’s processes suite to the current organization environment and team experience.
Developing the system incrementally and iteratively.
Conducting proactive risk management using investigations to manage them.
Confirming and enhance value by delivering working software frequently for soliciting customer & user feedback.
Collaborating with stakeholders to prioritize the unit of work.
Eliciting and prioritizing non-functional requirements to minimize the probability of failure.

Stakeholder Engagement

Working with business stakeholders to know their interests, needs, and expectations.
Developing a working agreement among key stakeholders to promote participation and collaboration.
Assessing changes to ensure that new stakeholders are appropriately engaged.
Improving decision quality by fostering group decision making and conflict resolution techniques.
Helping stakeholders make informed decisions by providing transparency regarding work status, work quality, impediments, and risks.
Providing forecasts at a level of detail which allows stakeholders plan effectively.

Team Performance

Devising ground rules in cooperation with all team members to encourage team commitment for shared outcomes.
Contributing to developing team interpersonal and technical skills for all known project objectives to create Maximum Business Value within budget and time.
Contributing beyond your primary skills whenever team requires in support reducing team size and bottlenecks, and to create a high performing cross-functional team.
Contributing to ensure high team morale by discovering team and personal motivators and demotivates.
Involved in close team communication to reduce miscommunication and rework.
Tracking and measuring actual performance to gain a better understanding of team capacity.

Adaptive Planning

Involvement in progressive elaboration of top-level plans as you move forward.
Making plans visible and transparent to increase commitment level and reduce uncertainty.
Involved in refinement of scope, schedule, and cost estimates to reflect the latest understanding.
Adapting the planning process based on the results periodic retrospectives maximize the value.
Adjusting capacity by incorporating maintenance and operations demands to create or update the range estimate.

Problem Detection and Resolution

Working in an environment where each team member can raise risk or issues.
Maintaining a visible, and prioritized list of threats and issues to elevate accountability, encourage action, and track ownership and resolution status.
Communicating status of threats and issues by maintaining threat list and incorporating activities into backlog of work to provide transparency.

Continuous Improvement

Improving team processes by conducting frequent retrospectives.
Seeking feedback on the product by incremental delivery and frequent demonstrations to improve the value of the product.
Challenging existing process elements by performing a value stream analysis and removing waste to increase individual efficiency and team effectiveness.
Creating systemic improvements by distributing knowledge and practices across projects and organizational boundaries.

If your team is practicing most of the things from this list, then it is for sure in alignment with agile values, and as per your role you should be involved in one or many of these activities. It implies that your team must be following most of it, and you should be performing any one of the function that fits your role and that for eight months.

Don’t confuse with your Title, or with your involvement in any particular agile framework. In case you need more details about the PMI-ACP® Certification course, enroll in our FREE PMI-ACP® Certification Introductory Program. You can join the discussion on the same in our Discussion Forum

You can also log into our YouTube channel watch the videos on the related topics. Here, I am providing a handy playlist on various agile topics, which will give you an idea that PMI-ACP® certification  is not just about Scrum framework: