AgileExams.com Controversy Resolved…Sort Of

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Well it turns out the “controversy” about AgileExams turned out to be the biggest of misunderstandings.

The Testimonials Were Authentic: Several of AgileExams customers contacted me and revealed the root cause of this confusion is the fussiness of PMI.org’s online certification registry:

  • The name on the testimonial may not be the same format as the name in the registry (e.g. Joel Bancroft-Conners explains you can find his name by searching ‘Bancroft’, but not ‘Conners’)
  • There are occasional delays from passing when a candidate passes the exam, until they are listed in the system.
  • Most of all, candidates may choose not to be listed in the registry (which beguiles me, since the whole point of a certification is to assert to people that you’ve accomplished a structured learning program)

However, there are some bitter hard feelings left over. Joel posts an excellent analysis of the situation: The issue is not the issue. Apparently Yes, the testimonials may be authentic, but that didn’t stop the controversy from happening. In any crisis management situation,  (e.g. Joel cites The Toyota Prius), the response to the crisis often matters more than the core problem.

Privacy is not an effective crisis management response for public issues: In response to the issue, the owner of AgileExams has asserted his privacy by removing his LinkedIn profile from the internet, and personally asking me to refrain from using his name, which I have done. Yes, he has the right to his privacy, but only if he choses to remain in the private. Once you go out into the public with a product, you offer some of your privacy in exchange. Some examples from last night’s Republican debate show the point. Newt Gingrich blasted the press for highlighting the personal nature of his marriage. He made the point that some things are personal, and not related to public life. But then Newt promptly forgot his got high-and-mighty position when he questioned Mitt Romney about not releasing his tax returns. It turns out if you run for public office, you lose some of that right to privacy. Likewise, if you release a product online, then you have to expect the public scrutiny of 2 billion internet users.

Personally, I’m glad the service was exonerated. It further validates the efforts of the 515 project managers who earned the certification. Also, I believe the service made a substantive contribution to the community. So, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry that AgileExams had the misfortune to endure this controversy, but alas sometimes it is the price one has to pay to be successful.


AgileExams.com Embroiled In Controversy

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Today, the Agile journalistic blog AgileScout.com posted a discovery that testimonials for the PMI-ACP exam prep service, AgileExams.com, may be engaging in some false advertising.

Controversy 1: Several of the testimonials come from people NOT listed as PMI-ACP certificants. PMI offers a public registry on its website, which allows employers to verify whether someone has the PMI certification they claim to have. Curiously, several of the customers quoted on AgileExams.com are NOT listed as certification holders. For example, the site quotes Jonathan Daly saying “…your site made the real exam a breeze”, but Daly is not listed in the PMI-ACP registry. Granted, PMI offers certificants the option of NOT being listed in the registry, for privacy reasons. But granting permission to be quoted, and then not granting PMI to list you in the registry seems odd.

Controversy 2: The advertised customer success rate is a bit naive. The post also reveals that AgileExams.com asserts that of their customers who actually took the the PMI-ACP exam, a full 97% passed. Unfortunately, PMI provides no way to tabulate failing candidates. Instead, AgileExams.com offered an open call for its customer to self-report whether they passed or failed. Not surprisingly, only 3% of his survey respondents admitted to failing the exam. As a trainer myself, I have received 0% of my own customers saying they failed the exam. Yet, I’m not naive enough to assume that nobody failed. I can only know for sure that nobody is willing to admit to their trainer that they failed.

Controversy 3: The site offers little in the way of Agile reputation . The site owner, [name omitted], is a relative unknown in the agile space, and some skeptics want some information as to who is involved in the product’s creation, and how it was put together. However, other people have commented directly on the blog post that they care less about this, and more data about the product’s effectiveness.

Summary: In the end, what looks like a juicy controversy may just be some circumstantial misunderstandings. Here’s how AgileExams.com can clear all this up:

  • Update the website with testimonials from candidates who are listed in the PMI-ACP registry.
  • Update the website to focus on the LinkedIn testimonials: http://www.agileexams.com/linkedin-group-testimonials/
  • The site owner can post an open letter on his website explaining who worked on the product (including the associated AgileBOK.org), whether they bring any agile expertise to bear, and the methodology they use for building the site.

In my opinion, some simple website edits can quell this controversy, and also build the product’s reputation at the same time.

What about you? What do you think of the website’s product, and the claims it makes about the product?

Yes, I Am Writing a PMI-ACP Exam Book

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I’m excited to announce that I’m writing a book to help agile practitioners earn the new PMI-ACP agile certification. 4 years ago, I started by helping PMI launch the Agile Community of Practice. Then 2 years ago, I worked with some great experts on building the certification program. Now, this book is the next step in my journey to encourage project leaders to grow in their understanding of Agile project management.

Also, this book will benefit from a lot of talent. I’m writing the book with my good friend Hiren Doshi. We’ve engaged visual communication experts Take-Action.com to illustrate the book, and have brought on some good editors.

Our target is to complete the book by the start of 2012, but anyone who’s written a book knows there are challenges to that. For example, people are beginning to post their initial feedback on the exam, which may cause a lot of last minute changes to what information is most helpful.

Also, You can go to the official website and download a free sample chapter to see what we’re trying to achieve.

So here is my question: What would you like to see in a PMI-ACP exam book?