Agile for PMP Candidates
After releasing the new PMBOK guide edition number Six , a lot of my students are worried about the agile considerations and topics in the PMP exam , now what is the exact update and inclusion of the Agile project environment in the PMBOK 6th guide ?
A section was added to each management knowledge area with the title of “Considerations for Agile/Adaptive Environments “, before we start talking about the Agile topic for the PMP exam, Let’s have a brief about the agile project management.
- What’s Agile Project Management?
Agile project methodology relies on breaking down the project into small pieces that are completed in work sessions that run from the design phase to testing and quality assurance. These sessions are often called sprints, the term for iteration used in one specific and popular Agile development method known as Scrum , Sprints are generally short, running over days or weeks , they are typically two to four weeks long , The core benefit of Agile development is that this helps reduce the chance of large-scale failures, because there is continuous improvement throughout the project lifecycle .
- How the Agile Project Management Works?
The first fact you need to know about agile project management that it doesn’t require the presence of a project manager, although the existence of the project manager is an essential part of success in traditional delivery methodologies such as the waterfall environment, the project manager’s role under APM is distributed among team members , with few important roles as follow :
- Product owner:The person in charge of bridging the gap between the customer, business stakeholders, and the development team. The product owner is an expert on the product and the customer’s needs and priorities. The product owner works with the development team daily to help clarify requirements and shields them from organizational noise. Simply, the product owner will set the project goals, The product owner is sometimes called a customer representative
- Development team members:The people who create the product. In software development, programmers, testers, designers, writers, data engineers, and anyone else with a hands-on role in product development are development team members. With other types of product, the development team members may have different skills , like in the construction field , the development team will include designers , engineers from different disciplines , Most importantly, development team members should be versatile, able to contribute in multiple ways to the project’s goals .
- Scrum master:The person responsible for supporting the development team, clearing organizational roadblocks, and keeping the agile process consistent. A scrum master is sometimes called a project facilitator. Scrum masters are servant leaders, and are most effective when they have organizational clout, which is the ability to influence change in the organization without formal authority, he helps set priorities and shepherd the project through to completion.
- Agile mentor: Someone who has experience implementing agile projects and can share that experience with a project team. The agile mentor can provide valuable feedback to new project teams and to project teams that want to perform at a higher level. Although agile mentors are not responsible for executing product development, they should be experienced in applying agile principles and be knowledgeable about many agile approaches and techniques.
However, project managers existence is not essential in Agile Project Management. Many organizations still use them for Agile projects specially in larger and more complex projects, but the organizations generally place these project managers in more of a coordinator role with the product owner taking responsibility for the project’s overall completion.
- Agile Vs Waterfall approaches to project management
To highlight the differences between agile and project management, they are four key principles you need to talk about :
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation;
- Individuals and interaction over process and tools;
- Responding to change over following a structured plan;
- Prototyping/working solutions over comprehensive documentation.
Traditional (Waterfall ) approaches will tend to treat scope as the driver and calculate the consequential time and cost; whereas ( agile ) commits set resources over limited periods to deliver products that are developed over successive cycles.
Agile and waterfall approaches to project management exist on a continuum of techniques that should be adopted as appropriate to the goals of the project and the organizational culture of the delivery environment.
Overall, agile and waterfall approaches to project management both bring strengths and weaknesses to project delivery, and professionals should adopt a ‘golf-bag’ approach to selecting the right techniques that best suit the project, the project environment and the contracting parties with an emphasis on the behaviors, leadership and governance, rather than methods, that create the best opportunities for successful project delivery.
- Agile Project Management Pros and Cons
Proponents of Agile Project Management say the methodology delivers numerous benefits. Those include the rapid deployment of solutions, more efficient use of resources, greater flexibility and adaptability to changing needs, more rapid detection of problems — and thus quicker fixes — and increased collaboration with users and, therefore, products that better meet user needs , There are also potential drawbacks, however, including a tendency for projects to go off track, a lack of documentation and less predictable outcomes.
Because Agile management relies on the ability to make decisions quickly, it is not suitable for organizations that tend to deliberate over issues for a prolonged period or for those that take decisions to a committee .
What I need to know for the PMP Exam in regards of the Agile project management?
First of all you need to go through the section talking about the Agile/Adaptive project environments considerations in the PMBOK 6th edition , you will find this part at the beginning of each knowledge management , below am listing some tips and information you need to be aware of in a high level .
When integrating a project, the project manager needs to allow the team to perform detailed product planning and delivery. The project manager should also facilitate collaborative decision making and ensure the team’s ability to respond to changes, Requirements go through scope discovery where the project stakeholders propose beneficial additions to requirements. Usually prototypes help to refine the requirements.
The product owner creates the product vision and roadmap, eventually resulting in a product backlog. This backlog is delivered in one more release, with each release having multiple sprints or iterations. The features or user stories for each iteration are decided at the start of that iteration, based on customer needs, and termed as the iteration backlog. Burndown charts are used to plan and track pending user stories on daily basis whereas burnup charts for completed user stories. Multiple approaches (traditional, agile, hybrid) can be mixed. Scaling factors which apply to agile projects are team size, geographical spread, organizational complexity, policies and technical complexity.
In agile lifecycle, high priority items from product backlog are worked in an iteration. The project management processes performed in each iteration are: collect requirements, define scope , create WBS, validate scope and control scope. Whereas in a predictive life cycle, collect requirements, define scope and create WBS are done once and later only in case of changes. Validate scope done for each deliverable/phase review and control scope will be ongoing . Product backlog (product requirements, user stories) will be the current needs of an agile project.
Initial labor cost estimation is lightweight as scope is not finalized, whereas detailed estimation may be performed for short term horizons (iterations). In case of strict budgeting for high variability projects, frequent cost adjustments will be necessary.
Frequent quality reviews using retrospectives will be performed. New approaches for quality improvement are tried by performing root cause analysis during retrospectives of initial iterations and based on the evaluation; the decision to use, adjust or drop them in subsequent iterations is made. Small batches of work help to uncover quality issues early in the lifecycle when overall change of cost is lower.
An agile team has generalized specialists not SMEs to adapt to customer demands. Collaboration among people becomes very important to gain agreements for fast capacity adjustments or to use lean methods.
Agile communications are quick and frequent with regular reviews, which motivate team and provide transparency.
In agile projects, more risks must be addressed in general due to incremental work and changing customer demands, therefore frequent risk reviews are required, or in every iteration. Cross functional teams, knowledge sharing, and a living requirements document also help to manage risk effectively.
When contracts are used in agile project, a shared risk model with sellers is advised. MSA (Master Service Agreement) for overall work, and appendices or supplements for adaptive work will work better than signing off a single contract.
Agile projects require direct engagement with stakeholders than through management channels as it is co-creative process. Transparency is essential and for this purpose, information radiators or wall charts create the desired effect.
A decision-making method in agile projects is the first of five. When the project manager requires the team member inputs to make a decision, a fist indicates no support, all fingers open implies full support, anyone not showing at least 3 fingers will have to discuss their objections.
Practice 10 potential Agile Questions for the PMP exam!
Linda is managing an agile software development project for her organization, She asks business stakeholder to create user stories, which will be used in the development and testing of the new application. The main purpose of a user story is :
To document feature or functions required by stakeholders
To create a record of issues encountered on the project
To perform what-if analysis
To communicate progress
A user story is a way of stating a requirement, often using the following format: As a ” role ” , I want ” functionality/Goal ” , so that ” business benefit/ motivation ” . User Stories may be developed in facilitation sessions or as part of other requirements-gathering activities.
Correct Answer : Choice 1
Questions 2 :
An adaptive life cycle is used when the detailed scope should be defined and approved before the start of an iteration , adaptive life cycles are also referred to as all of the following except :.
Incremental life cycle
Iterative Life cycle
Agile Life cycle
Predictive life cycle
Adaptive life cycles can be agile , iterative or incremental ,It can also be referred to as Change driven lifecycle , It is used when the detailed scope should be defined and approved before the start of an iteration .
Correct Answer : Choice 1
Using the time boxing periods in Agile projects helps minimize the scope creep for which of the following reasons?
It forces the team to create project WBS using their stories
It forces the sponsor to allocate a scrum master who helps in eliminating scope creep .
It forces the team to process essential features first , then other features .
It forces the team to convert the user stories into epics .
Using the time boxing periods in Agile projects helps minimize the scope creep as it forces the team to process essential features first , then other features .
Correct Answer : Choice 3
Question 4 :
Lina is managing an application development project with an adaptive life cycle , due to the nature of the project , many of the project management processes are repeated in each iteration of the project except :
Develop Project Charter
Due to the adaptive environment of the project , many of the project management processes are repeated except the Develop Project charter process which is performed once before the start of each project .
Correct Answer : Choice 1
Question 5 :
A number of teams are developing an enterprise system using the agile approach for product development, which of the following is a major risk item for such a complex project being performed in an agile environment ?
Number of interconnected dependencies between the features deviations by different teams.
Number and sizes of teams developing the larger features
Scope definition and freezing early during the planning phase.
Emphasize of the schedule control over risk management
In adaptive lifecycles, when multiple teams are developing large number of features the number of interconnected dependencies becomes a major risk item.
Correct Answer: Choice 1
Question 6 :
Shadi is managing a research project for his organization , typically research projects are not clearly defined and involve a lot of uncertainty , the project has four phases on which a phase can only starts when the previous phase is completed , What project lifecycle and phase to phase relationship should the project manager use for this project ?
Predictive life cycle with sequential phase to phase relationship
Iterative life cycle with sequential phase to phase relationship
Predictive life cycle with overlapping phase to phase relationship
Iterative life cycle with overlapping phase to phase relationship
The project manager should use the iterative lifecycle since project phases and activities will most probably be repeated as the project team understanding of the projects requirements increases, as phase can only starts when the previous phase is completed so this is a sequential relationship.
Correct Answer: Choice 2
Question 7 :
Projects operating in agile environments were high degree of uncertainty exists and where the scope is not yet fully defined, may not benefit from detailed cost estimations, due to frequent changes , instead , lightweight estimation methods can be used to generate a fast high level forecast of project labor costs , which can then be easily adjusted as changes arises , Detailed estimations can be :
Reserved for short term planning horizons in a just in time fashion
Never developed in agile project
Only developed if the project stakeholders allowed the project management to do so
Developed early during the project but never updated due to frequent changes
In agile/adaptive environments, detailed estimates are reserved for short term planning horizons in a just in time fashion, the rest of the choices are incorrect.
Correct Answer: Choice 1
Question 8 :
____________ Indicates that planning and documentation are iterative or ongoing activities.
Fill in the blank.
Progressive elaboration is a characteristic of projects, It allows project management team to manage the project on a greater level when the project evolves .
Correct Answer: Choice 4
On demand scheduling is one of the tools used in Agile Projects, this type of scheduling relies on :
A Schedule that was developed previously for the development of the product or project increments.
Discretionary dependencies that can be changed by the project team.
Skills of the project manager rather the skills of the project team.
A Backlog or intermediate Queue of work to be done.
It pulls work from a backlog or intermediate Queue of work to be done immediately as resources become available.
Correct Answer: Choice 4
Which of the following is an agile prototyping technique showing sequence or navigation through a series of images or illustrations?
Nominal Group Technique
Storyboarding is an agile prototyping technique showing sequence or navigation through a series of images or illustrations, other choices are graphical techniques designed to achieve their objectives.
Correct Answer: Choice 4