Professional project managers are in high demand today.
In fact, the demand far exceeds supply.
Project managers are bred with a number of skills and knowledge areas that are crucial for not only managing projects, but also helping organizations of all shapes, sizes, and scope reach their goals.
This includes product research and development, adopting in-house software and technology for project teams, managing client projects, and overseeing project execution to ensure overall success.
Furthermore, as companies and organizations today evolve and transform, and adopt new technology and innovate, the need for qualified project managers isn’t going away any time soon, particularly certified agile project management practitioners.
In this article, we are going to take a deeper look at agile project management, what it is and why it is so beneficial, and what you need to do to start a successful agile project management career.
What is Agile Project Management (APM)?
Agile project management sounds complicated. In fact, many professional traditional project managers are often overwhelmed by it.
This is because agile project management, or APM is different than traditional project management in terms of management, planning, execution, and delivery. It requires more of a flexible, or “agile” approach to assigning and managing tasks and also breaking project milestones down into smaller iterations. These small iterations are also commonly referred to as “sprints”.
Furthermore, the agile philosophy is designed to put more emphasis on collaboration among team members and project stakeholders, and building a process around continuous feedback and improvement, rather than wait until delivery.
At its very heart, agile methodology is about getting project teams to work together to solve problems.
Yes, APM involves changing the way project managers think about and approach projects; however, APM is proven to help project managers and project teams complete projects successfully.
What Are the Benefits of APM?
APM encourages a different level of thinking, specifically design thinking. As a result, many agile project managers have adopted agile software and incorporated “sprints” to help reach project goals.
Because the agile philosophy involves shorter iterations or sprints, many are under the false impression that APM is really best for shorter, cyclical projects. However, the truth is that APM can work for both short and long-term projects.
In fact, author of the New York Times bestseller SPRINT: How to Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, Jake Knapp believes, “the bigger the challenge, the better the sprint.”
Here are some key benefits to APM:
- Focuses on solving problems and addressing big challenges
- Encourages design thinking
- Enhances team collaboration
- Motivates project team members
- Increases productivity
- Focuses on continuous improvement
- Increases visualization (prioritized tasks and project status)
- Boosts project speed
How Do I Know if a Project Management Career is Right for Me?
A benefit to beginning a project management career is that you can become a certified and professional project manager from any number of other positions, experience levels, and industries. This includes technical, business, health care, or government and military backgrounds, just to name a few.
Although project managers really come from all walks of life, the requirements for certain project management positions can differ between individual companies and industries.
So, how do you know if a career in agile project management is right for you? Here are a few tips to help:
1. Think About Your Interests. What interests you most about a career? Think about your previous jobs—what did you like or dislike? What tasks and/ or responsibilities do you feel you would enjoy most or would be best at?
2. Make a List. Once you have had a chance to think about your likes and dislikes, make a list of your top skills and strengths. Be honest with yourself. If you are unsure, then you can review previous employee reviews, or ask a coworker or manager what they think your best attributes are in your everyday job.
This step can help you significantly when making a decision about a project management career.
3. Dream About Your Dream Job. We all have a dream job—what’s yours? Take some time to think about what a rewarding, interesting career looks like for you. Again, think back to some previous jobs you’ve had or applied for. What interested you most about those jobs?
It's also a good idea to consider job or environmental factors, such as the following:
- Travel frequency
- The ability and flexibility to work from home
- Achieving a work-life balance
- Independence vs. working in teams or with people
- Decision-making power and authority
- Daily interactions
It’s also best to consider your short and long-term goals. Where is your career headed? Where would you like it to go? If you are new to the work force, where do you see your career in five years? How about 10 years?
4. Research Project Management Roles. After spending time really thinking about and making a list of your top interests, needs, strengths and weaknesses, and what a rewarding career looks like for you, now it’s time to research different types of project management roles.
You can do this by reading blogs or listening to podcasts from project management professionals, looking at job descriptions and postings, and even network with other project managers. You can interview them and ask them questions to see if you think a PM role is a good fit for you.
These might seem like simple questions, however, they can help you make some pretty big decisions about your career.
What Skills or Certifications Do You Need to Earn Your ACP Certification?
There are many paths to becoming a certified project manager, and there isn’t really any “right” or “wrong” way to do so; it really depends on you—your skill set, your knowledge and experience, the types of projects you like to work on and manage, and your own personal preferences and professional career goals.
Similarly, no one project manager is the right fit for every type of project management and every organization.
So, what makes an awesome project manager? Here is a short list of the primary skills of a great agile project manager:
- Strong verbal and written communication skills
- “Soft” skills (i.e. high level of emotional intelligence)
- Leadership skills
- Open and honest communication
- Extreme attention to detail
- High level of organization
Project managers who can comfortably apply and display the above skills immediately increase their level of credibility, enabling them to lead highly successful project management careers.
How Earning Your ACP Certification Advances Your Project Management Career
Furthermore, project managers who have decades of experience in project management often choose to supplement their careers or even increase their earning potential by adding official certifications to their list of qualifications.
The Project Management Professional (PMP) program offered through the Project Management Institute (PMI) is the only recognized certification in project management. Many agile project managers end up pursuing the Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) certification program.
However, many colleges, universities, and continuing education programs and institutions now offer Master's degrees in project management and certification programs as well.
It’s no secret that project management has come a long as our society and business world has changed and evolved. Therefore, earning your ACP Certification can significantly impact your project management career, giving you a prime competitive edge over your peers and colleagues in today’s organizations and job market.
In terms of education, project managers often hold Bachelor's degrees in a business or related field. In fact, according to the PMI, there are more than 800,000 project managers who have an official, active PMP certification.
All in all, ACP certifications are the best way to advance your career in project management. 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.
Where Can I Take an ACP Agile Management Course?
In addition to various PMP Certification exam prep courses and other resources, Project Vanguards also offers an ACP Agile Management exam preparation course. This course is structured to cover all the key knowledge areas of agile project management that will be covered on the ACP certification exam.
In summary, the ACP exam prep course covers the following:
- General knowledge of agile principles, practices, and tools
- How to apply various agile methodologies
- How to improve team productivity
- How to deliver product and business value
- How to increase overall project success
- How to apply the various agile principles in real-life situations and projects
All in all, much like the PMP exam, it’s important to plan, prepare, and study for at least three to six months prior to taking the exam. Although it definitely requires a bit of a time and financial investment on your part, earning your ACP certification just might be the best thing you do for your career.