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Which Certification Is Right PMP® Or PMI-ACP® ?

Are you unable to decide between PMP® or PMI-ACP® Certification? It’s a classic dilemma for professionals looking for PMI Certification.

Both PMP® and PMI-ACP® certification are globally recognized professional certificates. The decision indicates an important shift in your career direction and aspiration. While the final decision should come from you, in this blog I will share few pointers to help you in the process.

PMP® certification is often linked to traditional method of project management. If you are working in an industry or organization with strict command and control structure, PMP® certification is best for you. All non-IT industries still use waterfall model and are dependent on the project managers to deliver successful projects.

But with introduction of Agile in the PMBOK® Guide, this perception has changed. PMI constantly updates the certification content to keep it up to date with the market conditions. PMP® certification carries a greater brand value for professionals around the globe. It is a recognized certificate for any kind of project management irrespective of Agile or non-agile world.

So, before deciding on PMI-ACP® VS PMP® certification, it would be better to list out your specific requirements.

As a PMP® certified manager your roles would entitle you to:

As an agile practitioner your roles would entitle you to:

Now, if you have all ‘yes’ for one certification then you have your answer. But, it often happens professionals get confused even after underling the roles of both the certifications. They have ‘yes’ for both the certifications. This is where the juggling takes place.

What to do when there is a tie between both PMP® and PMI-ACP® certification? I have devised a little questionnaire for you. Score ‘1’ if you are affirmative in either PMP® or PMI-ACP® certification.

I designed this table keeping in view the roles you wish to adhere to and aspire to play.

PMP® Certification PMI-ACP® Certification
You monitor projects, but you do not interact with the complete team.  You only interact with a few sets of people and manage the project in an organized environment. You are leading team and interact with each team member on a regular basis.
You only look at results which team produces; someone else ensures that the team produces the result. You are responsible for your team’s productivity. You are the one who sees the gaps and finds solutions if the team fails to produce desired results.
You do not get into details of how the software develops. You never bother about the build integration and coding issues. You are responsible for ensuring that your team uses the right development practices to help in team productivity.
You are working on system integration projects where you have many teams associated with you.  And, your primary role is to identify and solve dependencies. You are working as a Project Manager of the development team of 10-15 size. Here, your primary role is to ensure delivery, and you do use agile values in making day to day decisions.
You need to prepare complex project planning and monitoring reports. These reports go to the management at a frequency for review- the documentation. You do prepare status reports, but they are not that complex. These reports go to management, but management also connected with you. They do discuss status with you when they need details.
You need to interact with many stakeholders; these stakeholders have been managing project traditionally for a while. Your management is moving towards agile; they want to be lean as soon as possible.

Whichever side scores more would be your option. If you score same on both the sides, then my recommendation would be to opt for PMI-ACP® certification first. PMI-ACP® certification is a new and advanced way of doing work. Once done with PMI-ACP® certification you can do PMP® certification which would be an add-on to your expertise and bring in more credits.

Hope this helps you in deciding what certification course you need to invest in. We are open for all sorts of queries. Do post follow up questions here on our DISCUSSION FORUM

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a project manager be a Scrum Master?

A Scrum master is the team coach. He is the leader in innovating solutions, seeks challenges, motivates, inspires and has a wide circle of influences. The responsibilities of the Scrum Master role do not translate to a project manager. Project Managers need a mix of leadership and management skills.  They work to deliver a successful project within the constraints of the project. They administer, control, seek to maintain the status quo, and have limited influence.  Yes, it is true that now project managers invest their lot of time in team development. But still, they need to have a balance between leading and managing the project.

Is there a project manager role in agile?

There is no formal project management role in any Agile practices. In reality, designated project managers often put in Agile project management. It becomes a challenging situation as a Development team, Product Owner, and Scrum Master shares many of the project management work.
In Agile, there is no one-person show concept; it encourages participative decision making and wisdom of the crowd.

What is an Agile Certified Practitioner?

PMI-ACP® certification from PMI is the fastest growing Agile certificate.  It includes agile approaches such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, and TDD. It is the absolute evidence of your real-world, hands-on knowledge and abilities in using various aPMI-ACP®? For PMI-ACP®gile approaches.

What is agile and scrum?

Agile includes 4 values and 12 principles to deliver value to customers even in an uncertain environment. Scrum is one of the practices to put in place Agile values and principles. It is a framework help to build complex products in uncertain environments.
For more details about what is Agile, please refer:

And for What is Scrum:

I work with an IT company, but we are not using Agile as of now. How do I decided between PMP® and PMI ACP® certification?

Nowadays, it is rare that you are not using Agile.  Agile is not about using specific well-known practices of Agile say Scrum, Kanban, and XP, etc.

If your team is valuing and working as per the 4 Agile Values and 12 principles, your team is Agile.  Whatever way you do work, if your team is valuing:

……. it is Agile.

Let’s talk about if you are eligible or not for PMI-ACP® certification?  For PMI-ACP® certification, you need to show at least 1500 (i.e., eight months) hours of Agile experience.  You need this experience working in an Agile team in the last three years.

For these 1500, PMI considers your involvement in practices which supports agile values and principles. I am again emphasizing, these practices could be anything say -Scrum, XP, Kanban, or something else which your team found value. It could be a team customized and invented way of doing work also.   So, if your team is adhering to Agile Values and Principles in the day to day project work keeping in view the industry demands – you can do PMI-ACP® certificate.

For more details to check your eligibility for PMI-ACP® certification, please refer blog – PMI-ACP® Certification Eligibility Experience Criteria Demystified

I am already a PMP® certified, will PMI-ACP® certification help me in my career?

Answer:  Yes, on fire to fuel your career goals it will help.  PMI-ACP® certification is the fastest growing Agile certificate.
 Let’s first see a brief of PMP® and PMI-ACP® certification, and how they support in your career goal?
PMP® certification is a recognized certificate for effective project management irrespective if you are using Agile or not. In PMP® certification, you get a skill to integrate project areas together to deliver a successful project –
Say scope, cost, schedule, quality, resources, communication, risk, procurement, and stakeholders
In PMI-ACP® certification, you get knowledge of many approaches to Agile such as Scrum, Kanban, Lean, XP, and TDD.  It is a notable channel to become a versatile Agile Practitioner.
So, in case you are in Agile team, and if you want to show evidence of your real-world, hands-on experience and skills in using various agile approaches, you should do PMI-ACP® certification.

If I have to go for both PMP® and PMI ACP® certification, do I need to keep a gap between both the certifications?

Answer:As per PMI rules, you can submit only one certification application at a time. But, you can choose the next certificate immediately after your PMP® or PMI-ACP® certification. PMI does not expect any gap between the two certificates.

In case of overlapping experience, how should I handle my PMP® and PMI ACP® Exam applications?

Answer: If you do PMI-ACP® certification after your PMP® certificate, you need to re-write overlapping experience to map it with PMI-ACP® certification content outline tasks.

For example, if you have mentioned in one of your project for the planning process group:
–    involved in discovering stakeholders needs, actively engaged in developing an overall project management plan.

You can re-write it for PMI-ACP® exam application as follow:
–    Worked with stakeholders to know their interests, needs, and expectations

If you are planning PMP® certification after PMI-ACP® certification, you to need to align that overlapping experience with 5 PMP® certification process groups.
For example, let’s suppose you have mentioned following in your project description:
–    Worked with Team and Product Owner in creating and maintaining scrum artifacts, Product backlog, sprint backlog, and burndown chart.

Now if I talk about creating a Sprint Backlog, it is a planning activity.  In Sprint Planning meeting you create a Sprint Backlog. During Sprint, you monitor and keep updating it.
So you need to align description both in planning and monitoring.