Be Agile or PMP…..

Lots of Buzz in my Project Management classes regarding Agile or Scrum Process, which for this blog we will say comes under the umbrella of Agile.

Should you PMP or Agile?  What’s the difference?  Why should I care?

My recommendation, after researching and speaking with PMPs and CSMs is that if you want the most flexibility, start with your PMP and add-on your CSM.  If you plan to work mostly or only in the software development industry, you may consider the Scrum Master certificate by itself.  Read on for reason behind this conclusion.

Students continually ask “What do interviewers mean by project methodologies?”  And “What does Waterfall or Scrum?¹ have to do with that?”

Scrum Master

Do you really want this title?  It sounds very “Game of Thrones..™”

But wait…Some of you ask, I’ve heard the buzz, but tell me what’s happening.

PMP (Project Management Professional) is a certification leveraging a framework.

CSM (Certified Scrum Master) is a certification leveraging a process.

—-They are not, necessarily, mutually exclusive—-

Let’s break down some common conceptions we know about Project Planning using what we call the Waterfall Approach, vs Agile planning with the Scrum approach.

  • The Waterfall approach emphasizes keeping the initial plan.  We formulate a purpose, set objectives, get sign-offs and create our work packages from the initial plan.
  • The Scrum approach uses adaptive planning, things can change as implementation happens.
  • The Waterfall approach assumes we know everything upfront.
  • The Scrum approach assumes there are things yet to be revealed and is focused on learning throughout the project.
  • The Waterfall approach does not appreciate change and you must initiate change requests with sign-offs.
  • The Scrum approach believes there are benefits to change (given parameters, of course)
  • The Waterfall approach assumes change is bad and can be controlled (usually)
  • The Scrum approach assumes change is normal and can’t be helped.
  • The Waterfall approach assumes the Project Manager is in control.
  • The Scrum approach assumes the Team Leader and individuals are in control.
  • The Waterfall approach uses the Project Manager to work the plan.
  • The Scrum approach allows the Team Leader flexibility to work and re-work the plan as “good” changes appear.
  • The Waterfall approach require the work is executed as dictated by the original plan.
  • The Scrum approach prefers letting the Team execute as they see fit.
  • The Waterfall approach optimizes conformance to schedule and budget.
  • The Scrum approach optimizes business value, time to market and quality.
  • The Waterfall approach is concerned about delivery and time constraints.
  • The Waterfall approach may lead a Project Manager to believe that if we just work the plan, it will be completed according to plan.
  • The Scrum approach may lead people to believe they don’t have to do up-front planning.

I also found Brian Crawford’s bullets on the differences between the two approaches helpful as well.

According to Brian Crawford’s article on his Website,, his opinion is that Agile may also be used for certain non-IT projects.

Personal observation:  Agile/Scrum approach works well when used in software development.  Teams can produce results or work during what’s known as a Sprint.  This is a specific time period (recommended by SCRUM of 30 days, but can vary) in which the team works to accomplish tasks.  The team then reports what it has accomplished to the project owner.  This could work well for software since the end-user or owner may find that they want to make adjustments from the original requirements.  These adjustments can then be made by the team in the next Sprint and reviewed again.


If you were building a road or a bridge, using Sprints may be a bit tricky.  For instance, could you have your team start construction and 30 days later have them change the design of the building at the owner/end-user’s whim?

Perhaps a combination of the two approaches works.   Note that on the Project Management Institute website Scrum Master certification is offered, so again, it doesn’t necessarily mean my way or the highway. (Pun intended)

Thoughts, please!  I would love to hear from more PMPs and CSMs who are hands-on so I can make valid recommendations to my students.


¹In 2001, 17 pioneers of similar methods met at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah and wrote the Agile Manifesto, a declaration of four values and twelve principles. These values and principles stand in stark contrast to the traditional Project Manager’s Body Of Knowledge (PMBOK). The Agile Manifesto placed a new emphasis on communication and collaboration, functioning software, team self-organization, and the flexibility to adapt to emerging business realities.

SCRUM is NOT an acronym, so don’t drive yourself crazy like I did trying to figure out the meaning.

About Arena Computer Software and Management Training

Stephanie D. Hutcheson is a skilled and practiced Microsoft Certified trainer who brings over 20 years of experience with her to the classroom.
This entry was posted in Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s