In what may be a nod to the reality that there may be no pure “waterfall” or “agile” in the world, PMI recently released a new “micro-credential” for Agile Hybrid Project Pro. It looked intriguing, so I dedicated an afternoon to going through the course and exam to see what it was about and if it is worth the investment.
PMI’s Changing Training Strategy
For those not familiar, PMI has totally changed up its certification game, doing away with its previous Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) program last year and replacing it with its Authorized Training Provider (A.T.P.) program. There are a number of differences, but the key one is that the new program pulls back ownership of PMP prep material to PMI, rather than leaving it to the providers to develop.
When I spoke with PMI about the program change, they shared that they received feedback from the community that some of the PMP prep content wasn’t doing a good job of preparing PMP applicants. I can see their point – I’ve reviewed content developed by multiple providers, and I’ve been through countless banks of test questions and totally agree that they are not consistent. So, PMI decided that all PMP prep courses should be delivered using content they (PMI) developed. This plan is good for consistency – and also good for PMI’s top-line revenue which makes for a healthy PMI. As a training provider, I have to say it is also nice to not have to try to build that training content myself and keep up with PMBOK updates, or buy it from a third party.
In line with developing and marketing more of its own training content, PMI is launching a new line of micro-credentials with an aim to “certify achievements in specific skills, knowledge, and competencies by focusing on unique subjects and relatively new topics.” These credentials are not as monumental an undertaking as PMP or PMI-ACP, but still come with the legitimacy of a PMI provided credential. In addition to the Agile Hybrid Project Pro, it there is also an Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential and a Citizen Developer micro-credential. For at least the Org Transformation and Citizen Developer credentials, these are the first in a series on each topic. If these succeed as offerings, I suspect we can see many more coming. These are a great idea in the respect that they fit the more modern learner’s need for self-paced training for specific subject matter on demand. They are also a smart way to test the market for new training content, and find more creative ways to add content.
Pricing is interesting – the Agile Hybrid micro-credential goes for $175, the new Organizational Transformation Foundation micro-credential goes for $350 and the Citizen Developer course for $29 – so there is a wide spread in price. With these and more on the way, I could see PMI’s traction from micro credentials eventually rivaling what they take in from their marquee credentials.
Agile Hybrid Project Pro
Per PMI, this credential is “ideal for traditional project managers who are beginning to venture into the Agile or Hybrid space… [this credential] verifies your skillset and increases your value to employers.” So, of course I couldn’t resist.
And of course… 13 PDU’s!
Figure 1 – PDU breakout for Hybrid Agile Project Pro
The credential is still in Beta. PMI says this means the certification is discounted from the $175 list price, and that they require you complete a couple surveys throughout the process so they can collect feedback. I completed the surveys, but didn’t seem to get the discount – perhaps I missed a step. Even at $175, I was happy to jump in.
The content outline is provided here. Like the PMI-ACP and the new PMP, reference material for the credential is not limited to PMI content, but extends to other content in the market. Even without reviewing all this content, if you have some hybrid delivery experience and go through the online course, you should fare well on the exam.
Perhaps because it’s still in beta, the signup process isn’t seamless at the moment, but it is pretty straightforward from the credential page. Once you sign up, you get an email that you have to hang on to, because it’s the one with the working links to the course. For me, I received another email after all the setup was complete for my e-learning page that didn’t show the course – but I could get there using the link in the initial email I received. So, hang on to the email just in case.
Figure 2 – Don’t lose this email if you are taking this in BETA!
Having spent years delivering PMP prep training, this course was a refreshing change. The online self-paced course has 20 modules, each of which is presented through a relatable, real-world use case. These modules follow the same format as the content outline. Each lesson links back to Tools & Techniques from the PMBOK or PMI’s Agile Practice guide, and also provides links back to PMI’s extremely deep Resource library. I’ve never explored PMI’s Resource Library before, but was surprised at the depth and breadth of the content there. When I should have been focusing on my Hybrid Agile course, I found I kept following resource links and going down the rabbit hole in the library. My advice there is to save-off the interesting links for exploration after you finish the course, so you don’t get distracted like me 🙂
Each module has a short quiz to reinforce the topic. The quizzes worked well except there was a type of question – sort of a “category matcher” for some topics where you drag and drop statements (up to 9) to the correct category. You either get it all right or all wrong, and the hints at where you might have gotten them wrong were a bit cryptic, which was frustrating. There were a couple of these questions that I finally just gave up and moved on.
This being an Agile Hybrid course, I went in expecting there to be more content around the nuts and bolts of making hybrid projects work answering the questions:
- How do you manage dependencies when you have multiple Agile teams delivering various parts of a solution?
- How do you coordinate schedules across different Agile teams that may have different methodologies and different sprint cycles or durations?
- How does a PM work with a Product Owner to integrate project-specific deliverables into an overall product backlog?
But, the course did not go to that level of technical detail.
The course focuses more on the people side of working with Agile (managing conflict, leading a team, engaging virtual teams). The parts which did touch on technical processes (plan and manage schedule, plan and manage scope) were pretty high level – perhaps in an effort to keep the course methodology agnostic. But still quite useful for getting you aligned with agile ways of working.
Overall, I’d say this course would be most useful to an established PM who needs to adopt an “agile” mindset to help deliver hybrid projects and needs to understand how that world works.
Once you complete the course, you take the exam through Pearson Vue. It’s a non-proctored, timed, remote exam with 60 multiple-choice questions. The exam felt a bit like a PMP, in that the multiple-choice questions were often situational, and you had to have a good feel for how PMI wanted you to think to pick the right answer. They were challenging enough that when taking the exam, I wasn’t sure if the course had prepared me to pass the exam. But, I passed on the first go, so there you have it!
Was it worth it?
It’s the only “Hybrid Agile” credential that I’m aware of, right now. I think it’s cool and I look forward to putting the badge on my LinkedIn profile. The new micro-credential format may be a response to other training competitors like LinkedIn Learning and Google’s new certs. It’s great to see PMI jump in the fray and start putting out accessible content. And it’s high quality content as you might expect. Plus, it’s a PMI credential that an experienced PM can knock out in an afternoon, so it’s nowhere near the commitment of a PMI marquee credential.
I felt that the scenario-based lessons in the online course were the best part of the process – they made the content relatable and helped reinforce some agile principles and approaches for me. I hope this credential is an indicator of how the PMI will deliver training going forward.
Is this credential going to teach you how to execute Hybrid Agile projects? Not really. It’s a good start for getting in the right mindset, but don’t look for it to give you the technical ins and outs of how to get your projects done in a hybrid world. Is it worth $175? It may be, if you need to demonstrate that you understand Agile Hybrid on your LinkedIn profile. If you’re already there and have the ‘street-cred’ of having worked on Hybrid projects, it may not be super useful. That said, if you do work in a Hybrid world and need to take a course to keep up your PMP, it was a nice way to get 13 PDUs. And coming from a background as an ‘old school’ PM, coursework that helps me develop more of an Agile mindset is good medicine.
And, even if this credential isn’t for you, definitely keep an eye on PMI’s evolving micro-credential space. We might see some really interesting things coming from this space.
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