The PMI-ACP agile quiz – a critique

I took the Program Management Institute (PMI) Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) survey to assess my knowledge of agile this morning. I was prompted to check into it after having attended a PMI session called:

“Why PMI-ACP Certification is Red Hot…and How You Already Qualify to Receive It.”

I posted some ruminations on PMI interpretations of agile in my post earlier today: PMI-ACP Certification – Hot or Not?.

I missed 3 out of 20 questions on the agile survey. I had some problems with some of the questions. So maybe it’s just too new. Suggest you take the survey yourself before reading my interpretation.

Here are the ones I got wrong or that I found confusing:

What is the difference between a release, and an iteration?

The “right” answer is “A release consists of many iterations”.

I answered “They are mutually exclusive”.

For one thing, the “many” in the “right answer” is misplaced. I’ve done projects where we released every iteration. That’s not “many” iterations.

Secondly, sometimes an agile team works on multiple tracks across multiple products within iterations that can be released independent of iterations and of other products. What if your team also does production support? Right – this isn’t the clean, book-learning of “a release is comprised of a number of iterations”. It’s based on the reality of teams out in the wild. If you want to test, I think it should be based on reality rather than some simplified Pollyanna view where teams work on only one product at a time and discover that their work magically fits into n-iterations. (Note to APLM tool creators).

Hence my answer: they are mutually exclusive.

What is the timing of when XP teams work on features?

The “right” answer: “Sequentially”. My answer: “In any order”.

Clearly “once all the requirements are complete” is not correct.

And “simultaneously”, another possible answer, is … well… I don’t know. I guess it could have been a reasonable response.

“Sequentially” doesn’t make sense to me, though I see how they inferred this as the correct answer. I think it’s about proceeding “sequentially” through the prioritized backlog (or – since we’re talking XP here, probably Master Story List is more apt). A couple of problems with this though:

If I have multiple dev pairs they are almost always working on different stories simultaneously.

The sequencing of the backlog (using biz value, risk, etc.) is an exercise that causes stories to flow into an iteration. Within an iteration – typically the focus of the XP Team as stated in the question, the sequence is usually not so important (unless you have dependencies or other factors driving sequence).

Of course, Kanban throws a whole ‘nother wrinkle here. Still – multiple people are working on different stories simultaneously.

What is the definition of method tailoring?

Never heard that term before, but I guessed right. More context on the question, or a rewording, would be appropriate.

On an agile project, sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace for what time period?

The “right” answer is “Indefinitely”.

We talk of “sustainable”, not “constant” pace. “Consistent” may be more palatable, but still – “constant” seems wrong.

Secondly – the pace question is usually a comment on the agile team – not the external stakeholders, and certainly not the users.

I answered “for an iteration”. I have always thought of the iteration beginning and ending ceremonies – particularly the retrospective – as a break from the pace of the iteration: a time to come up for air, collect our thoughts, then hunker down and proceed. Again – Kanban has a more constant pace, so adds another wrinkle.

With respect to a sprint, what does velocity measure?

The answer is “the amount of work a team can accomplish in a given sprint”.

First – velocity is a more general agile term that is not specific to scrum. I would generalize the question/answer.

Second – velocity is not necessarily what it “can” accomplish. There’s historical velocity, for instance, which measures what a team has accomplished in past iterations. I would modify the answer to say “accomplishes” rather than “can accomplish”.

Ah well. I’ve always found these attempts at agile assessments fraught with confusion. Multiple choice tests are difficult when the content is complex and context-dependent.

I’d love to hear feedback. Did you take the test? How’d you do? Any comments on my criticisms?

This entry was posted in Agile, Certification, PMI, Project Management. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Time limit is exhausted. Please reload the CAPTCHA.