PMI-ACP Certification

Unknown reference: lean-agile-software-develpment
2016 08 01 head

I learnt quite a few new acronyms and techniques when studying for the PMI-ACP certification program. In this post, I collected these acronyms, some definition and the bibliography you should know before attending the examination.

The main advantage of having it is that you no longer need to argue with PMI certified product managers if agile is applicable to software projects.

The main interest of PMI-ACP certification is their collection of concepts taken from Agile, eXtreme Programming, Scrum and Lean.

It could be worth your money to buy the book "The PMI-ACP Exam: How to pass on Your First Try", Andy Crowe, First Edition 2012. The book itself is not rocket science, but it contains two hundred questions which are similar to the ones you will encounter during the examination.

To get your 21 PDUs necessary for the examination, you must attend a training course. I booked an online course at Simplilearn for a reasonable price. The content was reasonable. The test questions were good.

The renewal of the certification again requires PDUs. I took online training in interesting areas such as coaching techniques, how to manage effective and efficient meetings or how to write good protocols. Some online videos of Mike Cohn also count for PDUs.

Chapter List

  1. PMI ACP eligibility, examination content

  2. Agile product management APM Framework, agile product lifecycle

    1. Envision

    2. Speculate (During the speculate phase, the product stories are delivered. This phase involves planning and delivering tested stories in a short iteration, constantly seeking to reduce the risk and uncertainty of the product).

    3. Explore,

    4. Adapt,

    5. Close.

    6. Scope, Costs, Time

    7. Blog: Value (releasable product), Quality (reliable, adaptable product), Constraints (cost, schedule, scope) [1]

  3. People, Products and Processes

  4. The five identified core risk areas for a product are: Intrinsic schedule flaw, Specification breakdown, Scope creep, Personnel loss and Productivity variation.

  5. Planning, monitoring, adapting

  6. Estimation in agile projects

  7. Communication on agile projects

  8. Analysis and design on agile projects

  9. Agile quality

  10. Soft skills for agile product leaders and negotiation

  11. Value based prioritization of requirements

  12. Managing risk on agile projects

  13. Metrics and charts on agile projects

  14. Agile value stream analysis

  15. Knowledge and skills

    1. Agile team members should be flexible and adaptable.


The examination reference list of PMI ACP is (the titles in italics are also part of the CAT reference list)

  1. E. Derby, D. Larsen, and K. Schwaber, Agile Retrospectives. Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2006 [Online]. Available:

  2. A. Cockburn, Agile Software Development, Second. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2006 [Online]. Available:

  3. M. Sliger, The software project manager’s bridge to agility. Addison-Wesley, 2008 [Online]. Available:

  4. L. Adkins, Coaching agile teams. Addison-Wesley, 2010 [Online]. Available:

  5. J. A. Highsmith, Agile project management. Addison Wesley Professional, 2010 [Online]. Available:

  6. G. Smith and A. Sidky, Becoming Agile. Manning Publications, 2008 [Online]. Available:

  7. M. Cohn, Agile estimating and planning. Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference, 2005 [Online]. Available:

  8. J. Shore and S. Warden, The Art of Agile Development, First. O’Reilly Media, Incorporated, 2007 [Online]. Available:

  9. M. Cohn, User Stories Applied. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2004 [Online]. Available:

  10. K. Schwaber, Agile Project Management with Scrum. Microsoft Press, 2004 [Online]. Available:

  11. lean-agile-software-develpment

It is interesting to compare the above list with the reference list of the Certified Agile Tester CAT

  1. L. Crispin, Agile testing. Addison-Wesley, 2009 [Online]. Available:

  2. M. Cohn, Succeeding with agile. Addison-Wesley, 2010 [Online]. Available:

  3. C. Larman, Agile and Iterative Development. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2003 [Online]. Available:

  4. K. Schwaber, Agile Project Management with Scrum. Microsoft Press, 2004 [Online]. Available:

  5. E. Derby, D. Larsen, and K. Schwaber, Agile Retrospectives. Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2006 [Online]. Available:

  6. M. Cohn, User Stories Applied. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2004 [Online]. Available:

  7. T. DeMarco, The Deadline. Dorset House Publishing Company, Incorporated, 2011 [Online]. Available:

  8. T. DeMarco, Peopleware productive projects and teams, Third. 2013 [Online]. Available:

  9. K. Beck and C. Andres, Extreme Programming Explained, Second. Addison-Wesley Professional, 2004 [Online]. Available:

  10. H. Kniberg, Lean from the Trenches. Pragmatic Bookshelf, 2011 [Online]. Available:

  11. D. J. Anderson, Kanban. Blue hole press, 2010.

Terminology and Acronyms

The more terms and acronyms you know, the easier the examination will be.

2016 08 01 active listening

  • Active Listening

  • ARCSThe Attention Relevance Confidence Satisfaction is relevant for motivational theory and process for systematic motivational design

  • Affinity Estimation, e.g., story points or tee-shirt sizes. The Affinity Estimating exercise is best conducted on Product Backlogs larger than 20 items. It is best when you have at least 40 items which allow for groupings to easily become apparent.

  • ATDD Acceptance Test Driven Development - Discuss, Distill, Develop, and Demo - see also Behaviour Driven Development BDD

  • Continuous Deployment CD. The Continuous Delivery CD is not part of the examination.

  • Cumulative Flow Diagrams CFD

  • Continuous Integration CI: multistage integration is running additional tests for performance, load or stability

  • Collaboration versus Coordination: Work Together versus Share Information

  • Cycle Time = Flow Time

  • The acronym DEEP Detailed Appropriately, Estimable, Emergent, Prioritised. Split story into smaller stories.

  • DRY Do not Repeat Yourself

  • EI Emotional Intelligence

  • EISA Emotional Intelligence Skills Assessment Perceiving, Managing, Decision Making, Achieving, Influencing

  • EQ Emotional Intelligence Quotient

  • Error-feedback ratio: is the number of new defects injected when fixing existing defects. Several years ago, Jerry Weinberg conducted studies on the error-feedback ratio and found that a 20% difference in the feedback ratio leads to an 88% difference in completion time (bad enough), but the next 10% increase leads to a 112% increase.

  • Earned Value Management EVM - this is standard PMI theory -

    • PV (Planned Value) = BAC (Budget At Completion) \* Planned Percentage Completed Budget Cost of Work Scheduled

    • AC (Actual Cost) - Budget Cost of Work Performed

    • EV (Earned Value) = BAC (Budget At Completion) \* Actual Percentage Completed - Sum (PV[Completed]) from start until current

    • CPI (Cost Performance Index) = EV / AC (Actual Cost) indicates if we are under or other budget

    • SPI (Schedule Performance Index) = PV / AC indicates if we are early or late

    • ETC (Cost Required) = (BAC - EV) / CPI - This metric is the forecast amount to complete the remaining work -

    • EAC (Forecast Cost for the total planned work) = BAC / CPI = AC + ETC

  • Five Levels of Conflicts

    1. Problem to Solve (Good Teams) → Collaboration, consensus Collaboration and Seeking a win-win situation. Consensus-Learning where every team member’s head is with regard to the issue and, in time, arriving at a decision everyone can back.

    2. Disagreement → Negotiate, support

    3. Contest → Accommodate

    4. Crusade → Shuttle between parties

    5. World War → Protect to avoid injuries

  • JBGE Just Barely Good Enough

  • INVEST Independent Negotiable Valuable Estimable Small (Sized appropriately) Testable

  • Internal Rate of Return IRR, the higher, the better. The internal Rate of Return (IRR) is used to express the return on product in % terms when comparing two different cash flow streams.

  • JIT Just In Time

  • Kano Model: Must have, Linear feature, Delight

    • Threshold or basic attributes must have attributes, otherwise the product is incomplete. Threshold features are those that must be present in the product for it to be successful. They are often referred to as must-have features.

    • Performance attributes are linear, the more, the better

    • Excitement attributes are delights

  • MMF Minimally Marketable Feature

  • MoSCoW Must, Should, Could, Would

  • Net Present Value NPV → FV = PV * (1+i)^n, FV is future value, PV is the present value. It is the number of periods/years; you can interpret as the higher, the better

  • Payback Period, you can interpret as the lower, the better

  • PESTLE Political, Environmental, Societal, Technological, Legal, Economical

  • PMI-ACP Project Management Institute Agile Certified Practitioner

  • Product Owner: Committed, Responsible, Authorized, Collaborative, and Knowledgeable

  • Project management methods

  • Relative Weighting Method

  • Retrospective: Set the stage, Gather data, Generate insights, Decide what to do, Close the retrospective

  • Risk

    • Risk Board

    • Risk Exposure (Risk Sensus) → Risk Probability * Risk Cost = Risk Exposure

    • Risk Management Process: Identify, Assess, Respond, Review of risks

    • Strategies: Avoid, Mitigate, Transfer, Accept

  • ROI Return On Investment (Benefits - Costs) / Costs in percent. The higher, the better

  • ROTI Return On Time Invested (done in 60 seconds)

    • 0 = "I would have been better off making a Starbucks run. Complete waste of time" or Lost Principle: No Benefit Received for Time Invested Break-Even

    • 1 = "You really should have let me stay at my desk and code"

    • 2 = "This was an OK meeting. About as valuable as if I haave been coding" or Received Benefit Equal to Time Invested High Return on Investment

    • 3 = "Surprisingly, this was more valuable than if I have been writing code"

    • 4 = "Wow, this meeting saved me tons of time. Thank goodness I did not skip it to code" or Received Benefit Greater than Time Invested

  • RUP Rational Unified Process: Inception, Elaboration, Construction, Transition phases

  • Staging: The process of defining and prioritizing the nonfunctional requirements for scaling is called staging. Staging occurs prior to the start of the first sprint and takes just one day. During this day, the nonfunctional scaling requirements for this particular product are determined and placed in the Product Backlog.

  • Shu Ha Ri: can be considered as concentric circles, with Shu within Ha, and both Shu and Ha within Ri. The fundamental techniques and knowledge do not change.

    • "protect", "obey" — traditional wisdom — learning fundamentals, techniques, heuristics, proverbs

    • "detach", "digress" — breaking with tradition — detachment from the illusions of self

    • "leave", "separate" — transcendence — there are no techniques or proverbs. All moves are natural. Becoming one with a spirit alone without clinging to forms; transcending the physical

  • Scrum

    • pillars: Transparency, Inspection, Adaptation

    • Scrum of Scrums = Meta Scrum

  • SDLC System Development Lifecycle

  • Servant Leadership

  • SIP Software In Progress

  • SMART - Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant Time-bound -

  • TFD Test First Development

  • Test Driven Development TDD

  • Extreme Programming XP

  • Wideband Delphi

  • Wave: Wave is the Product Planning structure with a Medium-range time frame (3 months) with story level capability and capability commitment. Waves, or milestones, are intermediate points, usually from one month to three months apart. Waves can have both a product management and a technical function. From a product management perspective, they provide a chance to review progress and make adjustments.

  • Work Breakdown Structure WBS

Below some additional definitions

Regardless of what we discover, we understand and truly believe that everyone did the best job they could, given what they knew at the time, their skills and abilities, the resources available, and the situation at hand.

— Norm Kerth's Prime Directive (should be used in review and retrospective)
  • Story Points versus Ideal Days - and Elapsed Days -

  • Crystal Clear requires

    • the following properties:

      • Frequent delivery of usable code to users

      • Reflective improvement

      • Osmotic communication preferably by being co-located

    • Crystal Clear additionally includes these optional properties:

      • Personal safety

      • Focus

      • Easy access to expert users

      • Automated tests, configuration management, and frequent integration

  • Agile Coach Failure Modes: Spy, Seagull, Opinionated, Admin, Hub, Butterfly, Expert

  • Root-causing a defect or testing the feasibility of an algorithm or a third party solution is an example of a spike

  • Measure: ascertain the size, amount, or degree of (something) by using an instrument or device marked in standard units or by comparing it with an object of known size

  • Dysfunctional teams pyramid: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, inattention to results

  • According to DeMarco, Fragmented knowledge workers may look busy, but a lot of their business is just thrashing. The minimum cost penalty is 15%

  • The declaration milestone is a verbal notice from one person to another, or to multiple people, that a milestone was reached.

  • The three coach styles are Teaching, Coaching, and Advising.

  • The quantity of function is scope, measured in terms of user stories, use cases, requirements, or features (depending on a particular situation). In software, these may be measured ultimately as objects, modules, classes, or lines of code.


  • Which of the following correctly defines the team members themselves managing assignment of the day-to-day tasks required to deliver stories at the end of each iteration? Workload Management

  • Which of the following techniques can be used to apply to bring down the Lost Opportunity Cost within your team? Team Collocation

  • When should the Product Owner provide feedback on the work results? Just in time reviews

  • Who is the most appropriate person to monitor all the risks in an Agile product? The product manager

  • Which of the following is false about Velocity? Velocity cannot correct Estimation errors

  • Which of the following is NOT the skill for Agile coaches for facilitating change? Reaching agreement

  • Which tool combines the estimation techniques of expert opinion, disaggregation and analogy? Planning poker combines expert opinion, analogy, and disaggregation into an enjoyable approach to estimating that results in quick but reliable estimates.

  • Which of the following metrics can be BEST standardized across teams? Business case realization -The PMO can help the teams to enable timely decision making by standardizing the metrics.-

  • Which is the communication technique where you repeat back a summary of what the other person just said to you to confirm understanding? Reflective Listening is a communication technique where you repeat back a summary of what the other person just said to you to confirm understanding. Another benefit in this situation is that having a person hear their own ideas in another person’s voice/words may make it easier for them to be objective.

  • Adaptation depends upon understanding a wide range of information, including an assessment of the product’s progress, technical risks, the requirements evolution, and ongoing competitive market analysis. Which are the areas where every team needs to constantly evaluate and make appropriate adaptations? Product Value, Product quality, Product status, Team performance -Every team needs to constantly evaluate and make appropriate adaptations in the following four areas - Product Value, Product quality, Product status, Team performance-

  • A standard for measuring or evaluating something. Metric - A metric is a standard for measuring or evaluating something.-

  • What BEST describes the characteristics of a Learner at Level 3 or in the Fluent stage of learning? Learners in the Fluent stage are experts -The Stage 3 Learner is at the stage of mastery. He is able to figure out the end effect of any procedure and to make his way to that end.-

  • Scrum uses the sashimi technique to require that every slice of functionality created by the developers be complete. All the requirements gathering and analysis, design work, coding, testing, and documentation that constitute a complete product are required to be completed in every Sprint and demonstrated in the Sprint increment of functionality. Sprints are kept short enough that the stakeholders don’t lose interest in the product before the Sprints are completed. And stakeholders can see that they have an opportunity to redirect the product at the start of every Sprint to optimize the value they derive from the product. At the end of every Sprint, stakeholders see new functionality. Models, requirements, and internal artefacts might be of use to the developers, but they are never shown to the stakeholders.

  • Feature X has a value of 12 and the total value of all features is 35. If the feature is estimated to cost 56%, what is the priority of this feature using relative weighting? Correct Answer is B. The priority of the feature is determined by dividing the relative value by the cost %. Hence the answer = (12/35)/(0.56) = 0.61.

  • The 100-Point Method was originally developed by Dean Leffingwell and Don Widrig for use cases and is used for prioritization as well. It is a voting scheme where each stakeholder is given 100 points that he or she can use for voting in favour of the most important requirements. How they distribute the 100 points is up to them: 20 here, 10 there or even all 100 on a single requirement if that is their sole priority.

  • When a team member approaches the Coach with a complaint about another team member, what conflict resolution technique should the Coach use? Three-step intervention path Every team needs to constantly evaluate and make appropriate adaptations in the following four areas: Product value, Product quality, Team performance, Project status.

  • Normative methodologies are based on solutions or sequences of steps known to work for the discipline. Electrical and other building codes in house wiring are examples. In software development, one would include state diagram verification in this category.

  • Iterative development means that we build a partial version of a product and then expand that version through successive short time periods of development followed by reviews and adaptations. Feature-based delivery means that the engineering team builds features of the final product or, particularly with industrial products. At least a close representation of the final product (such as a simulation model). Iterations are constrained to produce a result within a certain period of time—a time box (as short as 1–4 weeks for software). Time boxes force closure; they force us to make something concrete, often before we are quite ready. Incremental development means that we build these products such that they could be deployed at the end of one or more of the iterations.

  • Forecasting the financial value of a theme is the responsibility of the product owner, but it is a responsibility shared with all other team members—programmers, testers, analysts, product managers, and so on.

  • Decision Framing focuses majorly on, Decision framing focuses on who gets involved in the decision process. Managers who make decisions without input from subordinates and peers make poor decisions. Engineers who make decisions without input from managers and peers make poor decisions. Who makes the decision is less important than getting the right people involved in the decision process.

  • Which of the following charts shows the total number of story points completed through the end of each iteration? Cumulative story point burn-down chart

  • During critical problem-solving, you can ask probing questions, use active and reflective listening, Lead to an answer, but one should avoid injecting their own ideas.

I wish you success for your certification.

1. Jim Highsmith removed all blogs. Try to find the blog beyond scope schedule and cost: the agile triangle.