PMI – Agile Certification Examination Outline Launched!

Looks like the PMI-Agile doors have swung open!

Dear Agile Certification Pilot Candidates:

We are following up to let you know that we are releasing the Agile Certification Examination Outline, as well as key reference texts—now both available for downloading on the web page.

Excitement around the PMI Agile Certification continues to grow.  The response to PMI’s announcement about the launch of the certification resulted in positive market reaction as well as a large number of interested applicants—including you. In fact, we have heard from over 5,000 interested individuals who want to know more about the Agile Certification pilot and how they can participate.

Now that you have access to the Examination Content Outline and list of key reference texts, don’t delay in preparing for the PMI Agile certification.  As you know, you will be able to submit an application for the pilot starting in late May 2011. And, testing will begin in September 2011.

To stay up-to-date on the PMI Agile Certification, please go to  If you have questions that cannot be answered by the information on, please contact PMI Customer Care at


PMI Agile Certification Project Team



Some of the books they recommend to study up and a non-“.ashx” version of the document for all those struggling with conversion/pdf issues. 🙂

The following is a list of publications that candidates may find helpful when preparing for the Agile examination. Training providers may also find these references helpful in the preparation of educational courses. After carefully reviewing the examination blueprint and identifying learning needs, candidates and training providers may wish to identify additional resources and study opportunities, as necessary. Please note that this list may be updated from time to time to maintain currency.

  • Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great – Esther Derby, Diana Larsen, Ken Schwaber ISBN #0977616649A
  • 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
  • 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 #032153289

PMI Agile Certification

Examination Content Outline

April 2011







The PMI Agile certification examination will consist of 100 scored items and 20 unscored
(pre-test) items. The unscored items will not be identified and will be randomly distributed
throughout the exam. The allocation of questions will be as follows:

% of Exam

Agile tools and techniques
Agile knowledge and skills







Questions about the tools and techniques will comprise 50% of the examination. These tools
and techniques have been organized into the 10 areas below. The examples given for each area are
provided to illustrate the types of Agile tools and techniques that might be found in each area.
However, these examples do not provide an exhaustive list of the tools and techniques that might
be tested. The toolkits are ranked in the order of their relative importance within the tools and
techniques section of the exam.

Tools and Techniques (50%) of Exam

Including but not limited to:
information radiator, team space, agile
tooling, osmotic communications for
colocated and/or distributed teams,
daily stand-ups
Planning, monitoring, and adapting
Including but not limited to:
retrospectives, task/Kanban boards,
timeboxing, iteration and release
planning, WIP limits, burn down/up
charts, cumulative flow diagrams,
process tailoring
Agile estimation
Including but not limited to: relative
sizing/story points, wide band
Delphi/planning poker, affinity
estimating, ideal time
Agile analysis and design
Including but not limited to: product
roadmap, user stories/backlog, story
maps, progressive elaboration,
wireframes, chartering, personas, agile
Product quality
Including but not limited to: frequent
verification and validation, test-driven
development/test first development,
acceptance test-driven development,
definition of done, continuous
Soft skills negotiation
Including but not limited to: emotional
intelligence, collaboration, adaptive
leadership, negotiation, conflict
resolution, servant leadership



Value-based prioritization
Including but not limited to: return on
investment (ROI)/net present value
(NPV)/internal rate of return (IRR),
compliance, customer-valued
prioritization, minimally marketable
feature (MMF), relative
Risk management
Including but not limited to: risk-
adjusted backlog, risk burn down
graphs, risk-based spike
Including but not limited to: velocity,
cycle time, earned value management
(EVM) for agile projects, escaped
Value stream analysis
Including but not limited to: value
stream mapping





(50%OF EXAM)

The Agile practitioner examination includes 43 knowledge and skill areas, which are presented
below. The knowledge and skill areas have been organized into levels of importance. These levels
suggest the likelihood that a question about a particular knowledge and skill will be included; be
aware that not every knowledge and skill may be included on each form of the exam.

Knowledge and Skills Content

% of Knowledge and Skill Content /
% of Exam

Level 1 (18 knowledge/skills)
65% / 33%

Level 2 (12 knowledge/skills)
25% / 12 %

Level 3 (13 knowledge/skills)
10% / 5 %



Knowledge and Skills

Level 1 (33% of total examination questions)

Active listening
Agile Manifesto values and principles
Assessing and incorporating community and stakeholder values
Brainstorming techniques
Building empowered teams
Coaching and mentoring within teams
Communications management
Feedback techniques for product (e.g., prototyping, simulation,
demonstrations, evaluations)
Incremental delivery
Knowledge sharing
Leadership tools and techniques
Problem-solving strategies, tools, and techniques
Project and quality standards for Agile projects
Stakeholder management
Team motivation
Time, budget, and cost estimation
Value-based decomposition and prioritization



Knowledge and Skills

Level 2 (12% of total examination questions)

Agile frameworks and terminology
Building high-performance teams
Business case development
Colocation (geographic proximity)/distributed teams
Continuous improvement processes
Elements of a project charter for an Agile project
Facilitation methods
Participatory decision models (e.g., input-based, shared collaboration,
PMI’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
Process analysis techniques
Self assessment
Value-based analysis

Level 3 (5% of total examination questions)

Agile contracting methods
Agile project accounting principles
Applying new Agile practices
Compliance (organization)
Control limits for Agile projects
Failure modes and alternatives
Globalization, culture, and team diversity
Innovation games
Principles of systems thinking (e.g., complex adaptive, chaos)
Regulatory compliance
Variance and trend analysis
Variations in Agile methods and approaches
Vendor management







Agile project practitioners engage in a number of tasks in the course of working on projects in
an Agile environment. These tasks have been delineated and organized into six major domains of
Domain I: Value-Driven Delivery
Domain II: Stakeholder Engagement
Domain III: Boosting Team Performance Practices
Domain IV: Adaptive Planning
Domain V: Problem Detection and Resolution
Domain VI: Continuous Improvement (Product, Process, People)
While these domains and tasks are not used in the construction of the certification
examination, they are important. The domains and tasks delineated here may form the basis of
educational and training programs and materials. These domains and tasks may also provide
guidance for professional development initiatives. Recognition of the tasks may help shape the
ways in which Agile project management is understood across industries as organizations continue
to adopt Agile frameworks in project management.



Define Positive Value

Task 1
Define features and project work in terms of end-user and
stakeholder value by focusing on maximizing value
delivered and minimizing non-value-added activities in order
to keep the delivery team focused on maximizing the value
Task 2
Incorporate experience from each delivery by soliciting
feedback and lessons learned in order to surface new
information about and optimize the value of the system.
Task 3
Sharpen the requirements by defining acceptance criteria for
the most important features on a just-in-time basis in order
to articulate a shared definition of “done.”
Task 4
Select and tailor the project methodology based on project
and organizational characteristics in order to maximize
project success.

Incremental Development

Task 5
Compose small releasable system increments by organizing
requirements into minimally marketable features in order to
achieve a rapid return on investment (ROI) and to allow for
the incorporation of feedback.
Task 6
Define product increments for both internal evaluation and
external release in order to expose integration, performance,
requirements, compatibility, usability and other problems
early and at minimal cost.
Task 7
Frequently release high-quality project deliverables to
stakeholders so that they can evaluate and provide feedback
on the value delivered.
Task 8
Investigate and communicate termination opportunities in
order to assist the business to optimize benefit-to-cost of the
system developed.
Task 9
Maintain system design quality by timely updating the
internal design in order to reduce the overall cost of
incremental development



Avoid Potential Downsides

Task 10
Plan early and proactively mitigate project risks by
identifying them and/or utilizing spikes or proof of concepts
in order to manage their unknown affects on project
Task 11
Use operational reviews or periodic checkpoints to identify
and mitigate dependency risks in order to ensure
expectations are managed and stakeholders are aware and
Task 12
Solicit customer feedback by developing and demonstrating
working, integrated stages of the system in order to ensure
that the functionality meets customer needs.


Task 13
Prioritize both features and related project work to balance
stakeholder value, business value, and residual risk by
incorporating both value- and risk elements into the
requested work set in order to maximize total value
proposition over time.
Task 14
Reprioritize requirements periodically in order to reflect
changes in the environment and stakeholder understanding.
Task 15
Elicit non-functional requirements to ensure that the solution
satisfies operational and maintenance parameters in order to
minimize the impacts of failure



Stakeholder Needs

Task 1
Identify and engage effective and empowered business
stakeholders who are engaged with the team in order to
ensure that the team is knowledgeable about an agreed,
prioritized feature set reflecting all stakeholders’ interests.
Task 2
Identify and engage all stakeholders (current and future) by
promoting knowledge sharing early and throughout the
project to ensure the unimpeded flow of value throughout
the lifespan of the project.

Stakeholder Involvement

Task 3
Establish stakeholder relationships by forming a working
agreement among all stakeholders to promote effective
collaboration and participation of stakeholders on project
Task 4
Maintain proper stakeholders’ involvement by continually
assessing the changes in the project and organization that
affect the stakeholder landscape in order to ensure new
stakeholders on the project are appropriately engaged.

Stakeholder Expectations

Task 5
Establish and maintain a shared understanding of success
criteria, deliverables and acceptable trade-offs by
facilitating awareness among stakeholders in order to align
expectations and build trust.
Task 6
Communicate team progress and development capabilities
in order to help the business stakeholders make informed
decisions about scope, time, and cost.
Task 7
Manage stakeholders’ expectations around minimal/most
likely/optimal project outcomes, balancing accuracy and
precision, so stakeholders have greater assurance that
those outcomes will help them meet their business



Team Formation

Task 1
Facilitate the team in collectively creating ground rules and
internal processes in order to remove fear of conflict and
strengthen members’ commitment to shared outcomes.
Task 2
Help form cross-functional teams by ensuring all skills and
resources necessary are readily available in order to enable
the team to deliver on their commitment.
Task 3
Identify team members that have the right combination of
soft and technical skills and encourage them to be
generalizing specialists in order to maximize teamwork and
reduce bottlenecks.
Task 4
Ensure the team has a common understanding of the values
and principles of agile and a common knowledge around
the agile practices and terminology being used.

Team Empowerment

Task 5
Empower the team to self-organize around the work in order
to manage the project’s complexity and produce effective
Task 6
Create a safe team environment by allowing people to
experiment and make reasonable mistakes so that they
learn and continually improve the way they work.
Task 7
Continuously discover team and personal motivators and
de-motivators in order to ensure that the team remains
motivated and productive throughout the project.

Team Collaboration

Task 8
Establish collaborative behaviors among the members of
the entire project team by applying group decision making
and conflict resolution techniques in order for them to take
responsibility for outcomes and improve their effectiveness.
Task 9
Facilitate close communication within the team and with
necessary stakeholders through colocation or collaborative
tools in order to reduce the cost of miscommunication and



Team Commitment

Task 10
Facilitate commitment by protecting the team from outside
distractions in order to establish a predictable outcome and
optimize the value delivered.
Task 11
Align project and team goals by sharing project vision and
aligning team objectives with project objectives in order to
ensure the team understands how their objectives fit into
the overall goals of the project.
Task 12
Encourage the team to measure its capacity by tracking and
measuring actual deliverables in previous cycles in order
for members to gain a better understanding of their velocity
and commitment.



Levels of Planning

Task 1
Plan at multiple levels (strategic, release, iteration, daily,
etc.) creating appropriate detail using rolling wave planning
and progressive elaboration to support the necessary level
of understanding.
Task 2
Engage the team and customer in planning activities to
create practical plans that balance priorities and team
capabilities in order to gain increased levels of
Task 3
Make specific commitments to project sponsors and
manage expectations around those commitments based on
actual project experience in order to set and manage
sponsor expectations.


Task 4
Coach the team to adjust the cadence and the planning
process based on project characteristics and/or the
size/complexity/criticality of the project deliverables.
Task 5
Inspect and adapt the project plan to reflect changes in
requirements, schedule, budget, and shifting priorities
based on team learning, delivery experience, feedback, and
defects in order to maximize business value delivered.


Task 6
Encourage the team to create estimates that reflect current
understanding of the effort to deliver the project by
including all the aspects of delivery (analysis, development,
test, refactoring, deployment preparation, etc.).
Task 7
Refine estimate ranges so that they reflect the current level
of uncertainty and the team’s own ability and skills in order
to manage stakeholder expectations.

Velocity/Throughput/Cycle Time

Task 8
Capture a measure of the accepted work completed in a
given time frame in order to gauge progress and extrapolate
Task 9
Adjust planning capacity by considering maintenance and
operations demand to ensure team does not over commit



Task 1
Create an open and safe environment to surface problems
and impediments that are slowing the team down or
preventing its ability to deliver value.
Task 2
Proactively engage the team at various points in the project
to identify risks and create mitigation strategies.
Task 3
Ensure impediments are resolved and/or reset expectations
in view of impediments that cannot be resolved.
Task 4
Maintain a visible list of risks and impediments in order to
elevate accountability and track ownership and resolution
Task 5
Communicate status of risk and impediments in order to
manage the expectations of the impacted stakeholders



Task 1
Tailor the process to the project by adapting practices for
the team, organization culture, and delivery goals in order
to ensure that the team is effective within established
organizational norms.
Task 2
Incorporate feedback by conducting frequent retrospectives
in order to improve process, individual, and team
Task 3
Adjust team composition and work practices to improve
efficiency within the existing process with a goal of keeping
a team together long term.
Task 4
Remove wasteful process elements by challenging existing
process elements in order become more efficient.
Task 5
Create systemic improvements by disseminating
knowledge and practices across project and organizational
boundaries in order to avoid re-occurrence of problems
identified, improving the effectiveness of the organization
as a whole.
Task 6
Improve team member knowledge and skills by pairing team
members in order to improve overall team effectiveness and
lowering risk around knowledge silos.
Task 7
Evaluate work efficiency in order to identify opportunities to
reduce waste.
Task 8
Experiment with new techniques and process ideas for
short periods in order to discover more efficient and
effective ways of working.


*No copy write issues intended!

5 Replies to “PMI – Agile Certification Examination Outline Launched!”

  1. Glad to see they are forcing practioners learn multiple approaches, not just “purist scrum.”

    Disappointed in their notion of “daily standup” instead of “meetings as necessary”.

    I have a lot of problems with daily meetings, especially when forced to stand.

    But they are crossing a middle road between red meat for the agile base, and enough potatoes for the corporate drones.

    I’m especially pleased that it is an “Agile” and not “Scrum” certification.


  2. Check out all these ebooks available for free on my blog at farax-ahmed[dot]com. Just to help anyone who might be interested in pursuing the certification

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