Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Daily scrum

If you come from the traditional world, this will be something new for you. A daily meeting with the whole team?
Yes, and for several reasons it works in the most cases perfect!
So to show you some of the benefits for this meeting, we have to take a deeper look at the rules for this daily returning meeting.

First of all, in scrum our team is not bigger than max. 9 people.
You can find visitors at the daily stand up meeting, but (important for the exam!!) they can listen only, they are not allowed to say or even to interrupt.

Secondly, the topic is highly concentrated: everyone answers only three questions!

1. what have I done since the last meeting?

2. what do I plan to do today?

3. Are there any obstacles in my way?

And nothing else!!! For a good daily stand up meeting it is important to concentrate on these questions. And as the "stand up" therm says, all team members should stand around in a circle, close together, this helps to keep the meeting short, good teams will not need longer than 15 minutes. For the ACP exam you will learn, that verbal communication is the best communication, so here you have verbal communication in its best form.
One last thing, even it might be hard, but the best is, if this meeting is ALWAYS at the same time. If you prefer it in the morning or in the even, this is a team decision.

So but if there is the need for further discussions?
Then the team will schedule an extra meeting and only the really needed people get invited.
The scope of the daily stand up meeting is the give everybody an overview and the take care that all know what is the "workbench" of his coworkers.

But what do I do if I work with distributed teams? 
Even then you follow the rules, every day for 15 minutes, they all answer the 3 questions via a video conference or in the worst case via a phone. Important is, that the information is shared between all involved team members.

Please read and learn carefully the principles of this meeting, in the exam you will find some questions about this meeting.

Good Luck!

Thomas Schneider
PMI chapter SFBAC

Upcoming PMI San Francisco Bay Area Chapter events/training's can be found on our calendar at

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rolls you have to know for the ACP Exam

For the ACP exam you have to be very familiar with many different Methodologies. So far this is no big problem. But there is one obstacle, they have different rolls defined and you have to be very careful not to mix them up and as well you have to know the tasks and meanings of these rolls.
And if you already have your PMP, then better take everything what you learnt for the PMP and hide it somewhere in your mind, until you have passed the ACP exam.

So let’s take a look at some of the Methodologies:


It makes sense to start with Scrum as there you will find some rolls with very good defined definitions and boundaries. In Scrum we know:

Product Owner
he / she is the Representative of the customer in the team. This roll is very important, it is the interface to the customer, the interface to the stakeholders and he / she is should have the business knowledge about what the team is developing. But he / she is not a project manager! Even the Product Owner will present  the vision for the project to the team. Be careful, you will find questions concerning who sets the priorities for the deliverables for example. Or who decides about the content of a scrum or the backlog.

Scrum Master
Do not mix it up with a project manager!!!!
A scrum master has to take care, that the process is understood and tries to keep the team focused on the right way. Besides this he / she shields the team from all inferences coming from third parties and he / she removes any obstacles for the team.
If you like it, think about the scrum master like a good mum, who takes care that you do the job in the right way and you cares that nobody disturbs you.

In scrum we have a rule for a ideal team size.
It is very simple: 5 to 9 members are a perfect team, or if you like it a bit more formal: 7 +/- 2. The team is a high motivated self organized team. I know this is very ideal, but it will help you in the exam. With Scrum we talk about cross-functional teams, who manage them by themselves and have all needed knowledge. So it is the team who is responsible for the output and the timelines.

Project Manager
In Scrum, there is no definition for a project manager. But this does not mean, that all scrum projects run without a project manager, it means only that scrum has no definition for this roll and that it is up to the company or the team to decide who takes care for the job which is in other projects fulfilled by a project manager. For the exam you have to remember that in the ideal scrum world we do not talk about the roll of a project manager.


In XP we have the roll of an Coach, he / she is a team member and helps the team to follow the rules of XP. This is important as XP is a very disciplined framework.

XP involves the customer most of all frameworks. The job of the customer is to create (not necessary to write) and prioritizes the stories for the next iteration. The customer has the right to add or to remove stories from the backlog and influences so the release date. The priorities what has to be developed first are set by the customer. The customer will set the acceptance criteria for the product.

He or she estimates the effort for the stories, takes the responsibility for accepted jobs and of course he / she writes the tests and the code. With XP programmers work always in pairs. One is the pilot, the second one is the navigator.

I do not found this roll in all books. The tester supports the customer who has to create the acceptance criteria and the tests. He or she transforms them then into the right format. He executes all tests and communicates the test results with the programmers.

There is no rule, that every team must have a tracker. But once they have one, it is his job to monitor the progress of the team, and the schedule and to post the latest results.

In some books you can find this expression, I don't know if it is really used, but I like this functionality. The batman takes care for all organizational items and for requests which would go to other programmers. The idea behind is, to keep the team focused and avoid any interruptions to the work from outside.


here you will find no defined rolls!

FDD Feature Driven Development

Here we have not more than 9 roles!
We have a
Project Manager !!
Chief Architect
Development Manager
Chief Programmer
Class Owner
Domain Expert
Technical Writer

These rolls are listed more for reasons of offering a complete overview. So far neither in my exam nor in any other I have heard or seen any question regarding FDD.

TDD Test driven Development
here you will find no defined rolls!

Kanban and Lean

As Kanban and Lean are more collections of guides and good practices, it can not be seen as a framework to run a project. So you will see on the exam no questions regarding Kanban or Lean and rolls.

I hope this helps a bit.

Good Luck!

Thomas Schneider
PMI chapter SFBAC

Upcoming PMI San Francisco Bay Area Chapter events/trainings can be found on our calendar at

Monday, July 22, 2013

ACP requirements - where do I find help

If you are in the process of thinking to take the ACP Exam, you have to start with your registration on the global homepage.

Similar as with the PMP you have to fulfill some requirements.

At the moment the requirements are not that hard to fulfill. You need:

General project Experience 

Agile project Experience

Training in agile practices 

Examination with agile projects

In detail you can find them all here.

The good thing is, if you already hold a PMP certificate, you have gained the necessary 2000 hours working experience and you need only to proof the additional 1500 hours in agile project subjects. And here it is good enough to be involved in agile projects, there is no requirement to be a specific part or to run a special function inside these projects.

For more details about the ACP and how to apply, you should download or read the ACP handbook, which PMI provides for everybody.

You can find the ACP handbook here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Good Literature to get ready for the ACP exam

Literature for the ACP Exam, free book reviews

You are in the process of studying for the ACP Exam?
Then you need some good sources for getting ready for the Exam. Besides the fact that you have to collect the 21 hours for the preparation, you should buy one or two books, so that you get the same information or even more information from a different point of view.
One criterion for a good book should be a test simulation or at least a lot of sample questions, to get a feeling what you will see in the exam later.
For the PMP, the first address is always the Pmbok, but with the ACP you won't find a PMI Pmbok, so you have to look for books you like.
So here comes some help. The PMI IS CoP, the PMI Communities of Practice started an initiative to distribute interesting Literature in relation to any PMI topic. For more details please visit their homepage: PMI IS CoP
At the moment they have more than 150 book reviews and yes, there are book reviews for three books about the ACP Exam preparation.
My friend Frédéric gave me the okay to share the links with you. So below you will find the link to three book reviews as a pdf file.
I hope this will help you a bit.

Thomas Schneider
PMI chapter SFBAC

Book review I

Book review II

Book review III

And last but not least, here the complete list of all eleven books, which PMI takes as the foundation for all questions of the ACP Exam.

  • Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great
Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Ken Schwaber
ISBN #0977616649 
  •  Agile Software Development
The Cooperative Game – 2nd Edition
Alistair Cockburn
ISBN #0321482751

  • The Software Project Manager’s Bridge to Agility
Michele Sliger, Stacia Broderick
ISBN #0321502752

  • Coaching Agile Teams
Lyssa Adkins
ISBN #0321637704

  • Agile Project Management
Creating Innovative Products – 2nd Edition
Jim Highsmith
ISBN #0321658396

  • Becoming Agile: an imperfect world
Greg Smith, Ahmed Sidky
ISBN #1933988258

  • Agile Estimating and Planning
Mike Cohn
ISBN #0131479415

  • The Art of Agile Development
James Shore
ISBN #0596527675

  • User Stories Applied
For Agile Software Development
Mike Cohn
ISBN #0321205685

  • Agile Project Management with Scrum
Ken Schwaber
ISBN #073561993X

  • Lean-Agile Software Development
Achieving Enterprise Agility
Alan Shalloway, Guy Beaver, James R. Trott
ISBN #0321532899
As this list can change from time to time, here the link here you can find the latest version:
LINK PMI Books for ACP

Monday, July 8, 2013

What do I need to know for the ACP Exam?

First of all, I have to say, about everything you will find here and on the internet, there is no guarantee that it covers all you will see on your Exam.
Only PMI could tell you that 100% correct, but they never will do so.

So on what should you concentrate?
Most of the questions are short and straight forward.
You will find a lot of questions in relation to Scrum, XP and Lean frameworks. There the roles and the responsibilities are important to know.
Kanban, Lean is important as well, Crystal, FDD and DSDM are not that often asked. But anyway you should know what the differences between these methods are.
A good source to learn these topics, are the Glossaries of the ACP books you can find on the market.
 You have to understand the Artifacts, the different types of meetings, input and output of these meetings, the daily Scrum and other ceremonies.
This is important as you will be asked several questions with scenarios where you have to find the right answer based on these topics.
Further you should be familiar with “Burn down charts”, Velocity, story points, cumulative flow diagram, WIP and why it is so important
You will find multiple questions based on scenarios and how best will you apply agile practices under different scenarios. Mostly on Team, Scrum, Communication stuff.

And as I heard, there is a change about EVM, EV, PV. This week I heard the first time, that there was a question with some calculations, so you can see; PMI adds always new questions and that there is a continuous change in the level to pass the exam.

Good Luck!