Should I become PMP Certified or PMI-ACP Certified?

Should I become PMP Certified or PMI-ACP CertifiedAn interesting question that some of my students have been asking lately is whether they should spend time studying for the PMP® Exam or concentrate on studying for the PMI-ACP® Exam. In response to this question I give one of my favorite answers as an instructor – “Well…. it depends!” You might as well ask me "Should I get a Master’s Degree in Mathematics or Physics?” Or "Should I become a Painter or a Philosopher?"

The answer to this question cannot really come from me, but it has to come from within you and depends largely on your goals, desired career path and preferences. For example, do you want to be managing a 10-Year project for SpaceX to send satellites to Jupiter? Then do your PMP Exam prep first, because we are talking serious Waterfall-based approaches. Or do you want to be working for a small startup company developing software? Then go for PMI-ACP because you need Agility. So the answer isn't "what Cornelius says", but instead "what you want and what you need". To help you determine which is a better fit for you, let’s delve into the benefits of each approach and then you can make your own educated decision.

Waterfall or Agile? – Projects and Career Path
In order to determine which certification is more important for you to obtain as a project manager really starts with the question of what type of career you are seeking in the project management field. Just like many organizations need to decide if Waterfall or Agile Project Management is the right choice for any specific project, so it is also true that an aspiring or current project managers need to decide which type of project management training and experience will help them successfully continue their project management career well into the future. The PMP is based on PMI’s PMBOK® Guide, which outlines mainly a Waterfall Project Management best practice approach to successfully executing projects, while the PMI-ACP (as well as other Agile Project Management certifications) are based on an Agile Project Management best practice approach.

Waterfall Project Management Overview
Waterfall (sometimes referred as ‘Traditional’) Project Management involves an in-depth upfront planning process and follows a linear, pre-determined project schedule over a specified period of time. Waterfall projects are typically predictable, have a definitive end date, and have explicit procedures of how projects are initiated, planned, executed, monitored and controlled, and closed (Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle). The advantages of using the Waterfall method to manage projects is having clear expectations and meeting those expectations by achieving certain milestones. Waterfall originated in the Manufacturing industry as a result of understanding that changes in scope mid-project were usually very costly. Generally companies use Waterfall on their projects when:
•    They have executed a similar type of project previously and it is almost cookie-cutter
•    They are able to determine up front the specific project scope and requirements
•    They can fairly accurately estimate the resources, cost and work effort necessary to finish the project on budget and on time

Agile Project Management Overview
Agile Project Management is an iterative approach that helps project teams deliver the highest value work possible to the customer within a rapidly changing environment. The essential aim of Agile is to be flexible and be able to adapt to changes rather than being forced to execute against a pre-defined plan that may become obsolete as the project progresses. There is usually no definitive end date because the customer may decide at any point in the project that the functionality already delivered is sufficient for their needs. And Agile also uses Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle. The only difference is that product components are delivered to the customer every 2-4 weeks rather than only at the end of the project, so that they can provide feedback to ensure the project team is headed in the right direction. Agile originated in the Software Development and Mobile Application industries to help companies be first to market with new and innovative products, giving them a competitive advantage. Generally companies use Agile on their projects when:
•    They do not know specifically what they want
•    They do not know how long it's going to take to produce
•    They do not know how much it will cost to produce

The Future of Waterfall and Agile Project Management
So you may be wondering what the future of both Waterfall and Agile Project Management is and what types of opportunities will be available to you as a project manager. Well I firmly believe that Waterfall will never truly go away since some of the basic principles are also used in Agile, such as decomposition, rolling wave planning, continuous improvement and process tailoring, to name a few. Aerospace, Medical Device and Government Contracting will still be alive and well for many years to come, although they are now embracing a ‘Hybrid’ Project Management approach, which allows companies to tailor their processes to a combination of the best practices of both Waterfall and Agile. However, it will be important to have your PMP certification in order to understand the basics of how these mainly traditional companies have been operating in the past.

Waterfall or Agile? – What’s Right for You?
If you decide that Agile is the career path for you then there are a few different ways you can go. The first would be once again to gain a good foundation in Waterfall by obtaining your PMP certification but also getting your PMI-ACP Certification soon after, which will provide you an  overview of Agile principles, best practices and different Agile methods. This will give you a solid background in both Waterfall and Agile Project Management methodologies that will position you nicely for the new ‘Hybrid’ approach that many companies are embracing. You can also choose to go with an organization that is new to Agile and become a champion or driving force for change across the company using Agile. And lastly, if you really want to be ‘extreme’, you can choose to seek out companies that are cutting-edge and use advanced Agile methods such as Lean Software Development, Kanban and Extreme Programming, which will require more extensive and specialized certification training outside the realm of the PMI-ACP certification.

Waterfall or Agile? – How About Both?
In my own experience I have seen that many aspiring or current project managers decide to obtain their PMP first since it is the most globally-recognized Project Management certification and is still the methodology used on the majority of projects being executed, and then obtain their PMI-ACP certification in addition to their PMP. I believe this is a good way to go because once you understand the basics of general project management by obtaining your PMP, you may start to work on a few Agile projects with your company and decide it’s a better fit for you. And bear in mind again that the majority of contemporary projects are no longer strictly ‘Waterfall-Only’ or ‘Agile-Only’. More traditional companies in the Aerospace, Medical Device and Government Contracting industries are now embracing a ‘Hybrid’ Project Management approach, which allows them to tailor their processes to a combination of the best practices of both Waterfall and Agile.

So… once again… when you ask me the question ”Should I become PMP Certified or PMI-ACP Certified?”, in the end… it depends! And it really depends on you!!!

The Effectiveness of Various PMP Exam Study Techniques

The Effectiveness of Various PMP Exam Study TechniquesIf you are just beginning or are in the middle of studying for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Exam, you probably already know that in order to pass, you need to fully understand both A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) – Fifth Edition, Project Management Institute, Inc. and the Project Management Institute (PMI) Code of Ethics. You have probably spent some time thinking about the many study techniques available to you. In this article, I examine four PMP Exam study techniques, their effectiveness, and some possible alternatives, you may not have considered.

Continue Reading

PMBOK 6th Edition Release Date and Timeline

This article is a brief overview of the release date for A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) Sixth Edition and how this affects the PMP Exam.

In addition to giving you all the dates of the PMBOK 6 release we will also give you our recommendation on which version you should use for your PMP exam prep studies.

This article will be updated over time as PMI releases more specific release dates.

Continue Reading

90-Day Simulator Extension Access for customers who didn’t pass the PMI Exam

If you are a customer of The PM Exam Simulator and unfortunately didn’t pass your PMP, CAPM or PMI-ACP90-Day Simulator Extension Access Exam, we will give you 90 additional days of access to the simulator.

Extension Policy

If you didn’t pass your PMI Exam then you can get your access to The PM Exam Simulator extended, provided you adhere to the following notification process:

  • You are a paying customer of The PM Exam Simulator.
  • You did not ask for a refund on your account.
  • You took your PMP, PMI-ACP or CAPM exam but didn’t pass it.
  • Send a scanned version of your Exam Score Report to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. within 45 days of the failed exam attempt. (Don’t have a scanner? Take a picture with your smart phone.)
  • In the email please tell us the first name, last name and email address from your simulator account

We will extend your access if you meet all the criteria.


Have the Right Mindset for Your PMP Exam

Have the Right Mindset for Your PMP ExamThe fact that you are reading this article means that you are interested in getting your PMP. You may have already taken some steps, perhaps you are gathering information about it or perhaps you have done more than that. The good project manager that you are, you hopefully have in mind or even written down on paper a roadmap, timeline, and a set of steps to get your PMP. This is all well and good, but no matter where you are in your PMP preparation journey, what we want to emphasize in this article is the importance of having the right mindset for your PMP exam.


Continue Reading

PMP Material NOT in the PMBOK® Guide

Depositphotos 15775033 xs

If you are studying for or plan to study for the Project Management Professional (PMP®) Exam you have likely heard you need to read A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) at least three times. But, did you know that reading the PMBOK® Guide is not enough to pass the PMP Exam? One popular misconception concerning the PMP Exam is that it is based solely on the PMBOK® Guide. It is a great study tool but there is material on the PMP Exam that is not covered in the PMBOK® Guide so you need to locate and select quality supplemental resources to cover this additional material. The PMP Exam covers a variety of questions to include those that are based on the PMBOK® Guide, situational type questions and those that cover other project management concepts not necessarily included in the PMBOK® Guide. Here we will look at some additional resources you can use to help ensure you are as prepared as possible for the PMP Exam.

Continue Reading

Meeting Management Techniques for the PMP Exam

Depositphotos 9036774 xs

Have you ever been in a meeting and then sent a text message from your phone that read: Help! I'm Stuck in this Meeting and They Ran out of Donuts? I hope that you never have to and I also hope that anyone attending YOUR meetings never feels that such a cynical text message is necessary when you are leading it.

But what exactly makes a good meeting? What are the meeting management techniques that project managers have to know and master? Meeting management is part of the PMP Exam Content Outline, so it is possible that you’ll be asked about this in your exam.

In this article I will cover what you need to know about this subject for the PMP Exam, and you’ll also pick up some great tips for managing successful meetings every time. I’ll share exactly what you have to do to manage your meetings successfully including the 10 essential meeting management techniques that you won’t want to miss!


Continue Reading

Project and Process Tailoring for the PMP Exam

Project tailoringAccording to A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) a project is “a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result”. Being that each project is unique it is important to also understand that an organization's project management processes will likely need to be tailored in order to ensure project success. Project tailoring takes into consideration that project management processes are not "one size fits all", meaning there will be many times when processes need to be adjusted (added, removed, or revised) in order to ensure project success.

Tailoring in project management can happen at any time and for any process being applied to a project. Organizations often have a project methodology in place and may realize that this methodology needs to allow for adjustments to best manage a variety of projects. As a project manager you cannot blindly follow a methodology, you need to know how to assess a project to determine what processes will need to be adjusted in order to achieve a successful outcome for your project. Here we are going to look at a very high level method for process tailoring. This four step method includes: evaluating existing processes, assessing the project, documenting the tailoring process, and re-evaluating.

Continue Reading

2016 PMP Exam Update and The PM PrepCast / The PM Exam Simulator

Update status overview:

  • The PM Exam Simulator: 100% Updated
  • The PM PrepCast: 100% updated
Logo of The PM PrepCast

If you are preparing for The Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam, then you are probably aware that the PMP Examination Content Outline has changed, and that PMI is changing The PMP Exam on January 11th, 2016 .

We have already identified the new exam content and are currently in the process of adding new lessons to The PM PrepCast. We're also adding new questions to The PM Exam Simulator. This is a free update for our current students who have not yet taken their PMP exam.

Here is our FAQ and project status update:

Continue Reading

Lessons Learned Management Techniques for the PMP Exam

Depositphotos 36778049 s 2015Learning the lessons of past projects is important if you want to improve as a project manager. Understanding what worked and what didn’t is essential for your professional development when managing projects and for getting better outcomes each time.

This article contains everything you need to know about lessons learned management techniques to help achieve exactly that. Lessons learned management techniques for PMPs are the knowledge and skills that a project manager needs to be able to use lessons learned to improve their projects.

They are different from the lessons learned about passing your PMP Exam. Those lessons are about exam practice and how other people prepared for and passed the PMP Exam. If you are in fact looking for lessons learned on how to pass the PMP Exam then you’ll find lots of tips and advice at

Back to lessons learned management techniques: they form part of your PMP Exam so this article will both help you prepare for questions on the topic and give you the tools you need to learn from your experiences on projects.

Continue Reading

How to Prepare for the PMP Exam in 30 Days

Fast PMP Exam Preparation

You are asking yourself right now, “Where do I start to guarantee I pass the PMP exam in 30 days”? Be patient, stay calm, and continue to read this quick article to understand the steps of this process – how each step leads to the next. So remember – finish one step before starting the next to prevent yourself from becoming overwhelmed. Preparing for the PMP exam will take daily dedication to studying and understanding the material.

Preparing for the PMP exam takes time and while I do NOT advocate a fast approach, sometimes there are “legitimate” reasons that require you to sit for the exam within 30 days (or sooner). Perhaps your employer has established this deadline for contractual reasons, perhaps you have found a highly desirable open position you would like to apply to but need the PMP for highest qualification, or perhaps you signed up to take the exam nearly a year ago but then you procrastinated and now you only have 30 days left before your eligibility runs out.

What follows are key steps, processes, and resources that, along with your dedication, will allow you to prepare for and pass the PMP exam in 30 days (or less). Let me begin with some general thoughts on how to get started.

Continue Reading

The PMP Exam Changes After 11 January 2016. Here’s What This Means For You.

11 January 2016 PMP Exam Changes

Every five to seven years, the Project Management Institute (PMI)® performs a “Role Delineation Study (RDS)”. This is basically a big survey among project managers like you and me from around the world with the goal to identify what it is that we do on our projects. As a result of the most recent RDS, PMI now has a pretty accurate picture of the tasks that we project managers perform, as well as the knowledge and skills required for our job.

PMI has used this information to update the PMP Examination Content Outline. This document is the basis for the PMP Exam. And because this document changed, the PMP exam also has to be updated.

The update to the PMP exam is scheduled for 11 January 2016. Please click here to learn what we are doing to update our trainining products like The PM PrepCast...

Let’s first look at why this change is happening and then we will examine what this means for you. You’ll be surprised at how little is actually changing.

Continue Reading

More Articles ...

Related Articles