When we talk about sprints, we aren’t exactly talking about running at an extremely fast pace on a track field, or crossing the finish line at the end of a 5k marathon.
By sprint, we are referring to an incredibly popular form of project management known as agile project management or APM.
If you have experienced even the slightest taste project management, then you probably have at least heard of agile project management.
APM is more than just another buzzword; it has changed how organizations and project teams approach and manage projects, specifically software development, app development, IT and other technical projects. And since we can no longer live, work, or survive without technology, the knowledge and demand for agile knowledge and experience aren’t going away any time soon.
In this article, we will provide an in-depth look at what APM is and why it’s important for your project management career now and in the future.
What is APM?
Despite popular belief, the agile methodology isn’t really a methodology; rather, it’s a philosophy that is comprised of several “mini” methodologies. (Don’t worry, we will get into this later in this article.)
Although it might seem like APM is a relatively new concept, the truth is APM has been used in project management dating as far back as 1957. However, APM wasn’t really discussed as a standard project management practice until after the 1970s.
In fact, it wasn’t put into practice until 2001 when a group of software developers published the Agile Manifesto, which became the official proclamation of using an agile approach to software development projects; thus, marking the birth of agile project management as we know it today.
Agile project management is an iterative approach to planning and guiding project processes. These processes are typically completed in short development cycles known as “iterations” or more commonly known as “sprints”. Typically “sprints” last between two weeks and up to 30 days, depending on the organization and the types of projects.
The overarching goal of APM is continuous improvement. In fact, according to the 2015 Pulse of the Profession® report published by the PMI, 75 percent more organizations that adopt agile methodologies see more project success than their competition (56 percent).
APM “Mini” Methodologies
As we mentioned above, the APM philosophy is made up of different “mini” or micro methodologies. These methodologies include the following:
- Scaled Agile (or also SAFe)
Regardless of the type of micro methodology, each one helps enhance flexibility, response, collaboration, and problem-solving among project teams and even clients, increasing the likelihood of project success all around.
How Does APM Work?
Many professional project managers joke that agile project management is a fancy name for “organized chaos”. This is likely because projects that follow an agile methodology are scheduled a bit differently. There is still a project start date and a final deadline, but scheduling activities and tasks is a little different.
Each task or activity (or “story”) is scheduled in a “sprint” period. Each project team member is assigned their own tasks to be completed during the sprint. The team then has two weeks to complete their tasks. The project team can involve a group of software developers, IT specialists, and other various stakeholders.
Upon completion of the sprint, the team then reviews each task or iteration. This is also known as the sprint retrospective and is typically conducted in a meeting format. The goal of this meeting is to determine what worked, what didn’t, and how the team can learn from the sprint session. The goal of this meeting is to determine what can be done better for the next sprint as well as the next steps in the project.
Agile Tools and Leadership
So, what exactly makes up an agile project? In short, APM typically involves the following:
- Regular stand-up meetings to help enhance team collaboration
- Often supported by visual workflows
- Prioritized task backlogs
- Shorter work cycles
What Does Agile Leadership Look Like?
Many experienced and professional project managers and certified ACP practitioners adopt a “servant”-like leadership role when managing agile projects. This form of leadership is really effective in increasing team collaboration, productivity, and also building a sense of community.
The leader’s role in these projects is also sharing power in decision-making processes, ensuring project success. An agile project leader also practices active listening and empathy, and really works to build a level of commitment among project team members.
All in all, many tech companies and organizations have adopted APM methodologies. However, agile project management is really being adopted by organizations extending beyond the scope of technology. Any organization that has a need for design thinking, building a collaborative culture, and solving unique problems will benefit from APM.
How the ACP Certification Accelerates Your Project Management Career
The demand for professionals with agile methodology knowledge and experience is higher than ever. There are a number of APM certification programs designed to benchmark and test professionals' knowledge and competency levels with the framework.
All in all, APM is incredibly important for your project management career. So, if you are thinking about a career in project management, or how to accelerate your current project management career, earning your official ACP certification is a great place to start.
In order to take your career to the next level, you can journey down the path of agile project management, especially if that is your niche. You can also “stack” your existing PMP certification with the ACP certification, accelerating your project management career even further.
Your ACP certification will give you a competitive edge over your peers, other candidates, and even your clients in today’s organizations and the job market.
What is the ACP Agile Management Course?
In addition to various PMP Certification resources and exam prep courses, Project Vanguards also offers an ACP Agile Management exam preparation course. This course covers all the key areas that you will need to learn and study in order to pass the ACP certification exam. You will also learn real-world applications of the various agile approaches and methodologies, all of which are incredibly crucial to the future of project management.
In ACP certification exam prep course, you will gain the necessary knowledge of agile principles, practices, and tools used throughout various agile methodologies. You will also learn how to apply various agile methodologies to help decrease product defects. It will also teach you ways to improve team productivity, the delivery of business value, and increase overall project success.
How to Prepare for the APM Exam
Some official PMP certified and ACP certified project managers believe that the ACP exam is a little easier than the PMP exam. Some believe that this is because the ACP exam questions are more situational and pertain to real-world project situations rather than testing the individual’s scientific memory of various formulas.
Although there isn’t any real concrete data on this, some statistics show that approximately 70 percent of ACP exam takers pass the exam, compared to only 60 percent of PMP exam takers.
Regardless, if you decide you want to go for the APM exam, be sure to enroll in an ACP exam preparation course with Project Vanguards, and be prepared to study between three and six months, similar to the PMP exam in order to increase your chances of passing the exam on the first try.