PMP vs Agile – Round One

September 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm (Agile)

This question was posted on LinkedIn today.

What is the best PM Methodology? Will all these large number of new methodologies stand the chance next to the good old Waterfall?

My response.

As a recent convert to the PMI world I have noticed that Agile and Scrum are tactical tools and PMP is a strategic tool.

PMI is 30+ years worth of real world experience and I really hate it when someone disregards PMI lingo as buzz words. To me it shows that they do not full understand the PMP methodology. This is part PMI’s fault by having such a high barrier to entry through cost, the years of experience prior to, continuing ed, etc… But whether or not you want to get the PMP behind your name and pay the money to be in the club, one should still study its methodology because you are studying 30 years worth of collected, real world knowledge and experience. I feel it’s the first place one should go to increase their PM knowledge (and certainly not the last).

Agile and Scrum could be considered open source and thus have no barrier to entry, they flexible by design, and have appeal with workers who like details and could care less about the over all strategy. Using Agile as an employee management tool increases employee motivation and buy-in which increases the chances of a projects success.

Agile works best where the project and its requirements are ambiguous. You deliver a working product earlier and make it better with each iteration, which helps keep morale up and the instant gratification high. Agile also brings a new set of employee best practices to software development methodology but can’t solve the whole problem of project management by itself (critical path, cost estimation, cost monitoring and controlling, scope creep!, etc.) The dirty secret is you have to have a pretty self-sufficient team to run it in true Agile fashion.

Also, every Agile project can be said to be delivered on time and thus a success because you always deliver the date regardless of the requirements. Agile isn’t constrained by the Triple Constraints.

I’m not really bashing Agile, I will run a software development project like an Agile project, but I’m still going to do the 44 processes that the PMP requires.


  1. jkeippela said,

    I understand what you are saying, but, PMI/PMP is NOT a methodology. Agile is a methodology. PMI is just knowledge. Specifically 9 knowledge areas and 5 process groups. PMI will say that it is NOT a method, only that in a project you will touch all of the 42 processes in some way shape or form. It does not say to do A before B etc. You keep going back through these areas as the project moves along. I kept calling it a method until I was corrected by one of the Minneapolis PMI board members, who I found out later, was one of the core team members on the 4th edition rewrite of the PMBOK.

    I look forward to reading your blog.


    Jason Keippela, PMP

    • Michael said,

      Jason, you are absolutely correct. I scanned the Fourth addition after reading your comment and the PMBOK states, “As a foundational reference, this standard is neither complete nor all-inclusive. This standard is a guide rather than a methodology.”

      It’s a bit of semantics though, because in the glossary methodology is defined as, “A system of practices, techniques, procedures, and rules used by those who work in a discipline.”

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